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MADBALL For The Cause

By Nathan Dufour, Great White North
Thursday, June 28, 2018 @ 1:27 PM


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MADBALL
For The Cause

2018, Nuclear Blast




Death. Taxes. Hardcore. These things keep coming back time and again forever circling like a pit of eventuality, and in the centre of it, arguably, is NY’s MADBALL. The band have been stalwart proponents of the form distinctly their own, the rallying cry of “Hardcore lives!” echoing over decades now. MADBALL are dependable. Even the most dependable workhorses need to stretch now and then, for the cause, of course.

For The Cause represents MADBALL at both their best and most perplexing, the band squarely still inside the box they drew themselves but this time the lines are blurred between a tried and true formula in hopes of artistic growth and, surely, personal maturity. Check out the serviceable clean singing present through the album as well, with third track “Freight Train” plainly eschewing the trappings of the genre with lyrics such as “I’m sick of talking about paying dues, it’s all a game fool, life changes the rules.” But does this invalidate the amount of heart present on For The Cause by seeming to take the piss out of the bravado MADBALL is known for? No. Does the sing songy nature and awesomely almost country tinged guitar solo potentially alienate longtime fans and new converts? Yes. And that’s the point. This is not the same band that demonstrated their style so many years ago.

“Tempest” finds Cricien in repose, wondering aloud if the world he has brought kids into is coming to and urging people to essentially be nice. And then, the old reliable MADBALL brings back the Doc Marten stomp with “Old Fashioned”, bringing thirsty riffs from old dogs trying to learn some new tricks and is easily a standout track on an album that is hard to digest. But hey, when did hardcore get soft anyway? No haircuts here, boys and girls. Oh and then it just gets weird.

Ice-T stops by to spit some bars (did I say it right) and it straight up slays. The protracted d-beat gives way to another cleanly sung (relatively) song. And it is intriguing. Tim Armstrong, who produced For The Cause, shows up in better form than he has in RANCID for literally years. And it seems, unfocused but with a strange precision.

Look, MADBALL has been MADBALL since Freddy Cricien was 12 years old or so, and I have read elsewhere complaints about his voice quality. Stuff it. The man is weathered, has seen more and done more than several others, and track “For You” is one of the best ballads I have ever heard and I do not say that nor use the word lightly and brings in shades of early AFI in terms of feeling and instrumentation (albeit a lot heavier).

For The Cause is a hard album. It is a hard album to love because musically and lyrically it diverges from the patented MADBALL formula and, honestly, it won’t be a release I reach for often when I want to listen to MADBALL. What it is, is a statement. The worth of that statement on the whole, well, I am not sure I am qualified to say. Give it a spin and decide for yourself.

3.0 Out Of 5.0


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