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Madball - "Empire" (CD)

Madball - "Empire" CD cover image

"Empire" track listing:

1. Invigorate
2. Danger Zone
3. Timeless
4. All Or Nothing
5. Glory Years
6. Empire
7. Shatterproof
8. The End
9. Con Fuerza
10. R.A.H.C.
11. Hurt You
12. Tough Guy
13. Dark Horse
14. Spider's Web
15. Delete
16. Rebel4Life18

Reviewed by on September 24, 2010

"It's straightforward hardcore delivered in a way that only Madball can and helps the band sound as fresh today as they did when they released 'Set It Off'"

The great thing about Madball is that, much like Motorhead and AC/DC, you know what to expect when they release a new album. While the examples mentioned always provide balls-out rock and roll, Madball never fails to produce solid hardcore music, and as expected, "Empire" is no exception. The album opens with "Invigorate," a two minute song that encapsulates everything that's so great about the band, as well as hardcore in general. It's aggressive, in-your-face and best of all, it sounds fresh, which is always an obstacle to overcome when it comes to a new album. The song also makes interesting use of the vocal delivery frontman Freddy Cricien has become more accustomed to as a hip-hop artist. All in all, a fantastic way to kick off the album.

From then on, the album continues on a path of destruction, following "Invigorate" with "Danger Zone" (which is not a Kenny Loggins cover). The lyrical theme of "Danger Zone" is a recurring theme on the album, one of warning and the issue of respect, which is echoed in the songs "Tough Guy" and "Delete." However, never having been one to constrict themselves, the album deals with a number of subjects with its lyrics. From the recent oil spill incident in "The End" (just in case you weren't sure that the lyrics were inspired by the event, Cricien barks "Fuck British Petrol!" at the end), to the Hispanic heritage of Cricien and bassist Hoya Roc in the forms of "Con Fuerza" and "Spider's Web," which are sung almost entirely in Spanish, their love of the hardcore genre and what it embodies is evident with tracks like "R.A.H.C." and "Glory Years."

The music itself is exactly what fans of the band wanted. It's straightforward hardcore delivered in a way that only Madball can and helps the band sound as fresh today as they did when they released "Set It Off" in 1994. Songs like "Shatterproof," which features Cricien's older brother Roger Miret of Agnostic Front, are relentless and never once lose their momentum, traveling at break neck velocity from start to finish. Other songs, such as "Dark Horse," have more of a groove to them, while the closing number "Rebel4Life18" has an almost epic feel to it, resulting in an album with enough variety to keep it interesting, while never straying from its core audience.

All in all, "Empire" is another triumph for the band. It's exciting from start to finish and will please fans of the band, as well as newcomers to Madball and the hardcore genre itself. With sixteen songs on the disc, it may look from the outside that "Empire" might be the type of album to drag a little. Those fears are quickly put to rest when one realizes that the record is only thirty five minutes long, allowing enough time for the listener to appreciate every track.

Highs: "Rebel4Life18," "Delete" and "R.A.H.C." all have the potential to become live favorites.

Lows: Considering the number of tracks, there are only a few that really stand out.

Bottom line: "Empire" is another jewel in the crown for one of the kings of New York hardcore.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)