I guess that a record that sounds like the artist behind it but is also different to what has come before is one of those musical clichés that makes us roll our eyes as soon as you either read another writer, fan or musician say it, right?
“For the Cause” sounds just like Madball but also, different to what has come before. Sorry, not sorry! They really have hit that sweet spot on this one and it sounds like a natural progression.
This could be to do with the fact that bassist Hoya Roc is the sole composer this time out and was apparently prolific this time out. Perhaps it is also to do with the fact that they had none other than Tim Armstrong of Rancid fame, producing and steering the Madball ship in the studio, capturing the performances and helping with creating what sounds like special vibe.
Bear in mind that the ‘Ball have been a thing for 25+ years and vocalist Freddy Cricen and the aforementioned, Roc are the heart and soul. They have seen a lot of changes and remain an un-fuckable-with institution. “For the Cause” then could have just been phoned in but it sounds hungrier than ever. These dudes are still as passionate and pissed off as they have ever been and long may that continue.
Kicking things off with ‘Smile now, Pay Later’ is a smart move as it has that trademark Madball groove that makes you want to go fucking nuts in your living room. The hardcore played with a metal guitar tone is still all present and correct with loads of crunch and weight.
‘Rev Up’ is one of the albums curve-balls with guest vocals by Psycho Realm’s Sick Jacken. Sections of this song have a ragga-metal vibe in a way that Skindred could only dream of. There is also plenty within the track such as that hardcore double time tempo that Madball are masters of.
‘Freight Train’ and ‘Tempest’ are of such a high quality that it doesn’t matter that they are basically the kind of track that Madball can write in their sleep. There is always room for that in my view. The latter has the line “Karma’s coming, with a full clip!” Yeah, I know, cool as a cucumber. That is the sort of impact lines you want from Cricen and he doesn’t disappoint all over the record.
‘Evil Ways’ is stellar and I hope they make a video for this because it has a cameo by none other than the greatest MC ever, Ice-muthafucking-T. He is an enduring hero of mine and this track is perfect for his appearance because it sounds more like Bodycount than Bodycount.
I feel it necessary to mention that Mike Justian, who is one of the most technically gifted drummers of his generation, really does respect the songs and the outfit he is a member of. On only his second recording with the band. He locks in and does just enough to be noticed without overdoing a single beat or fill. He almost gives the band more of a hip hop beat that they always eluded to but never quite bulls-eyed.
‘The Fog’ has a much purer punk rock vibe than anything else the band has but their name to and features producer Armstrong on guest vocals and although is not unwelcome, is a definite dip in the flow to these ears.
This is a band that can go on punk rock, Hardcore and Metal bills and win over people and For the Cause is likely to do the same if people will give it a once through.
A peer of mine wrote that “this could be the bands best work yet” and it’s hard to disagree…