Lionheart – Welcome to the West Coast III
Released: December 9th, 2022
Rob Watson // Vocals
Walle Etzel // Guitar
Nick Warner // Guitar
Richard Mathews // Bass
Jay Scott // Drums
Someone – who is only marginally interested in heavy music – asked me recently what the difference between hardcore and metalcore is, as they struggled to tell the difference. I can understand this, from the point of view of an untrained ear. For the trained ear, it’s easy: I explained that, stylistically, hardcore is kind of a fusion of metal and punk, while metalcore is kind of a coalescence of metal and hardcore. Sound-wise, hardcore is gnarlier, simpler, more straightforward, and rawer. While modern metalcore is darker, more melodic, more complex (there is really no such thing as ‘prog-hardcore’ – or if there is, it’s a tiny niche subgenre, while there is very much a thing as prog-metalcore.)
And hardcore’s principle elements and characteristics, and its contrasts with metalcore, can be heard clearly and easily on this, the seventh album from long-running Californian outfit Lionheart.
Welcome to the West Coast III is a nasty, crunchy but accessible slice of modern hardcore, pleasing to the ears of aficionados of the hardcore genre, a style of music that virtually never changes or progresses (or does so very slowly over time). Hardcore just is. And that’s the way its fans like it. All the elements are present: the short, sharp, gnarly AF songs, the ballsy, gutsy vocals, the thick guitars, the simple, driving drums and general stripped-back aesthetic.
At the same time, the production has managed to retain the rawness of the music while remaining clear, razor-sharp and listenable. The anthemic nature of hardcore music, the gang vocals and fist-pumping singalong choruses come across with power and clarity, while the simple but super-punchy riffs and grooves hit like Mike Tyson in his prime.
Also present are the now-common multiple guest vocal spots, featuring such luminaries as Jamey Jasta of Hatebreed, no less than Bodycount‘s Ice-T himself, and several others. All up, more than half the tracks on WTTWC III feature a guest of some description, and the differing vocal styles and approaches provide a welcome offset and contrast to Rob Watson’s infectious, exuberant but somewhat limited howlings.
Best track honours I have to give to (true) opener ‘Death Come in 3s’, which veritably explodes out of the speakers and signals the intentions of this album in no uncertain terms. Elsewhere, ‘At War with the Gods’ is a blistering, two-and-a-half-minute anthem, and ‘Exit Wounds’ features one of the fattest grooves on the album, and closes proceedings in angry and impactful style.
All up, this is an absolute, 100%, unadulterated modern hardcore release. If you don’t like hardcore music, this will do little to change your mind, but if you’re a fan of the style, this is likely to be in your top albums of 2022.
Lionheart – Welcome to the West Coast III tracklisting
1. The Trilogy Intro
2. Death Comes In 3’s feat. Jamey Jasta of Hatebreed
3. Hell On Earth
4. Live By The Gun feat. Ice-T of Bodycount
5. Cold Water Farewell
6. Stories From The Gutter feat. AnyMoney from E.Town
7. New Money I Old Pain
8. Deathbed Confessional feat. Jamey Jasta of Hatebreed
9. At War With The Gods feat. Los of Demadre
10. Bonnie & Clyde ’05
11. Exit Wounds feat. Alex of Malevolence
Welcome to the West Coast is out December 9th via Arising Empire.
Review By – Rod Whitfield
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