Madball’s fifth full-length and first in five years, Legacy, is by-the-book New York City hardcore. The vaguely metallic guitar riffs are simple and punchy, the shouted gang choruses are perfectly suited for fist pumping, and the motivational lyrics deal with themes of pride, unity, standing tough and confronting your fears. This kind of record might have been considered vital in 1989, when twelve-year-old vocalist Freddie Cricien formed Madball with members of his brother’s band, Agnostic Front. But the fact that these pioneers paved the way for a generation of straight-ahead hardcore acts doesn’t excuse Cricien’s embarrassingly hackneyed lyric sheet and the total lack of variety between songs.
Sure, Legacy is well produced, competently played and easily digestible. It also happens to be really boring. Punk purists will argue that Madball is “keeping it real” and “staying true to their roots,” and the band members spout that very rhetoric in interviews on the accompanying DVD. Don’t believe the posturing: They’re just trying to distract you from the fact they were surpassed long ago by the bands they influenced. Legacy, indeed.