Hardcore Lives

Written by: PP on 15/07/2014 00:06:50

With an imposing title like "Hardcore Lives", Madball have clearly set out to prove their studio output is still relevant and they're not just dinosaurs living on their legacy releasing a mediocre album every few years to keep going. They've succeeded. "Hardcore Lives" is the best Madball album in as long as I can remember, and much of that can be attributed to the fact that it is also the most diverse Madball album in years. Previously, the band have been perfectly content at delivering their stomping New York Hardcore by the books with little if any desire to push their expression outside the safe confines of their pioneering 90s hardcore signature sound. That changes on "Hardcore Lives", which I'm guessing has to do with the positive influence of new label Nuclear Blast who are almost legendary in their ability to squeeze the best out of the bands on their roster each time.

Production-wise, it means "Hardcore Lives" is a crisp, crystal clear effort that leaves the muddled, stereotypically heavy-for-the-sake-of-being heavy sound behind for a more varied expression. "Doc Marten Stomp", the best Madball song in at least a decade, is the perfect example of this with its melodic, almost Comeback Kid style gang shouts meet melodic screaming style soundscape. It's irresistibly catchy and guaranteed to get the circle pit going at live shows with its high-octane tempo. But fear not, if the stomping, two-step style Madball is what you're really looking for, those tracks are also present here. The first single from the record, "DNA", delivers classic Madball in a punishing manner with its down-tuned grooves and slower tempo. But while it's a good track, it's the relatively more experimental tracks (on the Madball scale) that are more interesting. "Nothing To Me" is another one of these with its unusual rhythm for a Madball song - even if it does bring to mind "Nothing In Your Head" by Terror in this scribe's mind.

Speaking of Terror, their singer Scott Vogel is featured in a cameo during "True School". Other guest appearances include Toby of H20 / Hazen Street on the recklessly speeding "My Armor" and the brutalized female fury of Candace from Walls Of Jericho during "Born Strong". The latter happens to be one of the best songs on the record with its repetitive chorus being delivered with the appropriate degree of in-your-face factor to ensure its "DIG DEEP" shouts are never leaving your mind, ever.

But let's not oversell it. The low-down, thumping style of New York Hardcore that Madball is known for is very much present throughout the record, despite the occasional side-step into something a little bit more varied. These moments are important, however, because it helps "Hardcore Lives" avoid a feeling of monotony it might otherwise risk having. So let me put it this way: This is Madball's way of delivering textbook NYHC, except the textbook is now available on a Kindle instead.


Download: Doc Marten Stomp, Nothing To Me, Hardcore Lives, The Here And Now
For the fans of: Sick Of It All, Agnostic Front, Terror
Listen: Facebook

Release date 27.06.2014
Nuclear Blast

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