This might as well turn out to be their best album
A lot of time passed since February 2008 when Maximum Penalty unleashed the first songs from this album in the internet. Well, the slight postponing obviously paid off because “Life & Times” turned out really great.
For a band with a history dating from the mid 80’s you’re bond not to expect big surprises. There are some, though. If Eddie Sutton from Leeway sang for Madball, the result would have sounded pretty much like that. And the band also seems to have moved away a bit from their strong Bad Brains influence, displayed during the 90’s. Also, this time the album, unlike 2002’s “Uncle Sam” which was recorded only by Jim Williams and Rich McLoughlin, has been written by all of Maximum Penalty together. The band has also been joined by bassist Jonathan Buske whom we all know from Terror and Rag Men.
Some quite hardcore and 100% New York sounding music hits you from the very first, title and somewhat auto-biographic song. Without any stops of fills the vocals flow from the verse into the chorus and gang shouting of lyrics like “There is no remorse, hate is what’s respected”. Williams’ vocals have always been one of the band’s strong sides. Songs like “Paper Bullets” are practically driven by them. The same, but with more speed is displayed in “Thereat Assessment” which at least for me is the best song here. The tempo change towards the end is absolutely killer! There are 15 tracks in the CD so there's enough for everyone to like.
The album sounds more focused than its predecessor and actually more focused than all of Maximum Penalty’s full lengths so far. The music has a lot more to do with the classic “Demo 89” and the “East Side Story” EP. The other important thing is the production, made by Dan Korneff, which is completely crisp and definitely the band’s biggest achievement in that direction.
It wouldn’t be unfair if “Life & Times” turns out to be your favorite Maximum Penalty record. And I do hope they tour for this album in Europe, not leaving a certain part of it out of course.
Verdict: 5 / 6