REVIEW: BALL OF DESTRUCTION
(This review is part one of a Vinnie Stigma Special series) Madball's "Ball of Destruction" E.P. came out in 1989 on In Effect/ Relativity Records.
This album, which is the best album ever written whenever you are listening to it, starts off with the songs "Smell the Bacon" and "What's With You" played back to back. The very first thing you can hear on this album is Roger Miret playing bass. That in itsself is something to think about. One of the coolest frontmen in hardcore for a decade, suddenly playing an instrument (not counting when he 'played' guitar on cable access). The second thing you hear on this album, is Vinnie Stigma. This very second is the same second that this record goes from great, to instant classic, such as with every other record that Vinnie Stigma ever played on*. The first thing that Stigma does on this album, is hit the shittiest powerchord you have ever heard. I don't know if he did that on purpose, or if he really didn't give a shit, and this is exactly why I love Stigma. The drums build up, and the next thing Stigma does is a pick slide, also known as the worst thing you could possibly do with a guitar. Pick slides are for assholes and have never sounded cool, ever. Except ofcourse, if done by the best guitarplayer in the world: Vinnie Stigma. The song gets going, and is composed of the manliest of manly riffs. It's hard, stupid, and amazing. After repeating this riff four times, the song is done. I can only picture Stigma writing this riff, and figuring well, what kinda fuckin' riff am I supposed to play after this? Fuck it, song's done. Next. So let's recap what we have up to this point: one song, consisting of one riff, that clocks in at about 20 seconds, featuring lyrics about cops (pigs, bacon, smell the bacon, get it?), and is basically just a moshpart.
As soon as this song is done, Will Shepler hits the snare, announcing that it is time for "What's With You". This song, unfortunately, I cannot review. I do not know how. OK, fine, let me try: this song consists of a two note riff, that is played and then stopped, interrupted by a split second pick slide, played and stopped again by another pick slide, then played faster four times through, paused again, then played even faster. Then, a two note 'moshpart' is played (which lasts for two seconds, and features the best line in music: "what's this fucking revolution about?"). Then, the fast part is played again. And that's it. The total of both songs played back to back adds up to zero minutes and thirty-three seconds. It is at this point that you realize you are, in fact, listening to the best music album of all time.
The next song is a little gem called "Discriminate Me", originally written by the Psychos and popularized by Agnostic Front. This means that Stigma had been playing this song for about a decade when "Ball of Destruction" was recorded. Discriminate Me is literally the only song that could have been played behind the madness that is the opening track/s, because the opening riff is, basically, retarded. It sounds like it was written by a mongoloid child, who had a spasm in his left hand, forcing his fingers to uncontrollably slide back and forth between two notes over and over. It is the best guitar riff written in New York City. Once Vinnie is done partying up the fretboard with it, he knows only one thing: do a fuckin' pick slide. It's the only way he knows to let the listener know that the next part of the song is going to the sickest moshpart he or she has ever heard. This pick slide is a harbinger of truth, and the next three notes played will get anyone with half a braincell in the pit. Is there anything better than moshing while a twelve year old kid is singing "Give me a job, I gotta survive"? Apparently this kid also kept getting called a crook and a scum. NYC in the 1980s, it was a rough place to live. And let's not overlook Shepler, playing more drumrolls than humanly possible underneath a three note riff. He was thinking of Raybeez when he did this, I can feel it. Once the moshparts ends, a dumbed down version of the first riff (the mongoloid one) is now played, just for good measure. Fuck, that rules.
After these demented brainmelters of songs, Madball finally chooses to take it easy on their listeners with "We Should Care". At a mildly slower pace, a simple four note riff is played, until one of the highlights of the E.P. comes up: those two notes accompanied by the words "why...die". I have always wondered if this line was inspired by the band YDI (pronounced "why die") and I will never find out, because I'm definitely not going to ask. This is one of the only songs on the album where I'm not sure if it was written by Agnostic Front/pre-AF bands. It's slightly less insane and doesn't show up on any old demos or setlists. Then again, it features a classic party skin moshpart, and the New York classic "Bleh!". Anecdote: One time I saw Madball, and I'm not sure if they played this song (doubt it), but Freddy ended the song with a good old Bleh, and then went on to explain the origin of this classic word/sound. I felt honored, and I am going to honor this moment by not telling you.
Side A of the record ends with the best title any song has ever been given, namely "Colossal Man". Written by the Psychos, this song is perhaps the most retarded one out of the whole bunch. The song starts with a single chord hit/cymbal crash, followed by the hardest words ever uttered into a picrophone. You know what they are, and I would feel ashamed to have to repeat them in text, on a blog, on the internet. The song starts (after a sick pick slide, ofcourse), and the riff doesn't make any sense. The chorus doesn't either. One time they played this song with Hoya singing, and Stief and I (us being in a band named after the song) went totally nuts, moshed like idiots and confused every wigger in the house. Anyway, once the chorus is sung a second time, the moment of truth has finally arrived. This is the moment where the best guitarplayer in the universe and beyond does the one thing that guitarplayers do to show off their talent: Vinnie Stigma plays a fucking guitar solo. A feat he had not accomplished, or felt necessary, since roughly 1984. This solo, without any doubt, defies not hardcore, not loud music, not even all music ever composed. It defies human nature. It defies consciousness. It defies rules, regulations, rationale. It is beyond any and all comprehension. I don't know if Vinnie accomplished this masterpiece by an outer body experience, a moment of clarity, or smoking a fuckload of dust, but I'm sure if Jesus would have been alive to hear it, he would have moshed.
If you are not yet convinced that this record is in fact the best product ever sold to mankind, you can now flip it over. There is a side B. The first song on this side is my personal favourite. Simply called "Get Out", this song is about getting out. It starts off, oddly enough, with a riff from Agnostic Front's thrashmetal album "Cause For Alarm". It is played once, until Shepler decides he has had enough. Shepler wants to party, and announces this with his signature single hit on the snare. Now, another one of Stigma's patended four note riffs is yanked out of his guitar over a completely stupid drumbeat (sometimes referred to as the "skinhead fast" beat), one that no one had played in New York in years (unless you maybe want to count ABC No Rio as being part of New York). All over this animal of a song, the words "get out" are repeated endlessly, along with some other ones. If that isn't convincing enough, this is all followed up by... you guessed it, a pick slide by Stigma. You know what that means. A three note moshpart is coming up. Only this time, you prick, it is accompanied by Freddy Madball, the singer of Madball, saying the only thing that would have made sense: "Madball". When writing a moshpart for this song, Stigma knew that nothing would ever beat the moshpart from "Discriminate Me", so he figured he would just play that one, but altered, just enough. Well, either that happened, or Stigma had no fucking clue what he was doing, I don't know. Stigma rules. Ofcourse, once the moshing is done with, the fast riff is once again repeated, but before you start to notice similarities to the other songs, Freddy grabs your attention with this: "stay the fuck out". That's right, get out, AND stay out. The fuck out.
The next song is the Agnostic Front classic, "Last Warning". What can I even say about this one? Classic bassline, another shitty hit on a chord, another pick slide, another four note riff, another chorus written by a mongoloid with broken fingers, and the song ends with the stupid riff being played even faster. Is there anything this else songs need?
And what's best to play after an Agnostic Front song? That's right, an Agnostic Front song. Well, Psychos song, fine, but from an Agnostic Front record. This one is called "Fight", and is about fighting. I am pretty sure Freddy picked the songs by awesome one liner content, because you just cannot go wrong with "break their legs, we're gonna break their legs". The word "fight" is said 22 times in this 13 second song. You should probably give up on writing music now.
The final song on this record, is apparently the first Madball song ever written, and perhaps the only Madball song on Madball's first record. It's a party skin anthem called "It's My Life", with lyrics by a kid who just started growing pubes, talking about shaving his head. The verse has four notes, and the chorus has two. When the song is done, Freddy yells "skinhead" (the 15th and final time this word is said on this record), and then they play the song again. Fuck you.
*United Blood, Victim In Pain, Cause For Alarm, Liberty and Justice, One Voice, Live at CBGBs, Last Warning, Ball of Destruction, Droppin' Many Suckers, Set It Off.