Madball, one of New York’s longer-running acts trucking in the hardcore milieu, came to prominence during the early nineties with a a single featuring a handful of Agnostic Front’s brain-trust. That group, which is oddly best known for its cover of “Crucified,” remains a cultural crossroads for the genre, after which divisions among city-centric eighties hardcore scenes devolved to surprising lows. Henry Rollins frequently gets tagged as the figure moving punk from a haven for pencil-necked geeks to a place where tough guys exert dominance. But more than that much-maligned figure, New York’s mid-to-late eighties scene should be understood as the turning point. Granted, if you’re squatting in some abandoned building, being able to dole out beatings is worthwhile. The ability just doesn’t always need to be taken to shows. But Madball sounds like it should soundtrack the murder of some schnook on the Lower East Side. After the band jettisoned its AF members, Freddy Cricien fronted a group interested in merging hardcore, metal and thrash. Songs’ runtimes don’t usually move beyond two minutes—best-case scenario, it’s all over in less than sixty seconds. After a trio of mid-nineties albums, the band settled on a relatively consistent sound, turning in gang-shouted choruses and barely audible grunted verses. While the group persists in being recalled for thrashy tempos, it’s the breakdowns when Madball works best—from “Spit on Your Grave” to “Timeless” from the group’s newest disc, 2010’s “Empire.” Being true to oneself and fighting well doesn’t provide for much lyrical development, but if you’re punching a guy in the face while dancing, it might not matter too much. (Dave Cantor)
June 24 at the Bottom Lounge, 1375 West Lake, (312)666-6775. 5:30pm. $20. All ages.