As a total fan of hardcore metal, it's a genre that doesn't always make a lot of sense. Certainly, there's no real questioning why a band like Agnostic Front is the "Black Sabbath" of the genre. Equally, it's not much of a surprise that Biohazard was so well regarded as they broke the style into the mainstream with the big budgets that record companies put into a few of their early releases. What is surprising though is the almost complete lack of respect that Madball has always received. Now 20 years old, Madball is the single most consistent band of the genre. Each and every album has achieved a level of excellence that only a select few has come close to achieving. With that said though, they just never became one of those elite bands. No matter though, because those of us that know realize just how incredible this band truly is. HARDCORE LIVES just keeps the train of excellence rolling.
This won't be a long review because there's just not a ton to write here. HARDCORE LIVES proves that Madball rules. It's as simple as that. If you can simply listen to a song like "Doc Marten Stomp" and not understand that, then it's your hearing that needs a full medical workup. That song, and all the songs on this half hour or so of continues metal punches to the groin, proves that Madball has lost none of their punch. "DNA" has that addictive riff that bands like Hatebreed have taken to define their sound. It's provided here by guitarist Mitts, who's about as good as anyone in the game. Other songs like "My Armor" features former WWE superstar CM Punk, and yet that's fairly unimportant compared to the crushing groove of the song. Vocalist Freddy Cricien is a beast like always on HARDCORE LIVES. His voice is punishingly solid and powerful. He and Pro-Pain vocalist have long had a similar sound, and that hasn't changed at all here. Listening to tunes like "Beacon Of Light" or "The Balance", it's pretty much impossible to hear anything but power and emotion coming from Cricien.
PITRIFF RATING - 95/100 - HARDCORE LIVES is not a statement of fact as much as a heartfelt emotion portrayed from the souls of Madball's members. Madball is one of those bands that simply delivers excellence each and every time out, and there's no letdown this time around. HARDCORE LIVES is as strong as anything this genre is producing today.