Review: “Welcome To The West Coast II” by Lionheart

Having recently reviewed “Anger Issues” by Florida Deathcore heavyweights Traitors, a band who had announced their farewell and then returned, we decided it was time to review “Welcome To The West Coast II” by Lionheart, another band who did exactly the same thing. This Metal life is addictive!

“Welcome to the West Coast II” is the follow up to the critically acclaimed 2014 album “Welcome to the West Coast“. Lionheart have built a reputation for significant and motivating sing-a-long choruses and meaty breakdowns, the hallmarks of what we’d call the classic hardcore scene.

The album starts with “Cali Stomp”, a straightforward, old school introduction, the sort of thing you’d find on any classic hardcore album. It’s a piece of magic that simply tells the listener where the band are at now. “Still Bitter Still Cold” then kicks in, lyrically describing some of the hardships the band have gone through in their lives up to this point. Musically, the band deliver Metallic Hardcore with a clean barked vocal that gets the point across while you band your head and sing along. “Shelter” then comes in with a funky hardcore bassline from Travis Pacheco while frontman Jay Scott praises his mother. “We never had much, but we had enough, that much is true. This one’s for you”. It’s a great balance between saying thank you and describing some of the upbringing that got the frontman to this point. “Cursed” then steps back into the more metallic hardcore side and it’s at this point that you come to realise that all the songs here could have different titles. There is enough repeated lyrics in the choruses and the verses for that. That’s not critisim, it’s part of the bands catch on this one, that hook, that sing-a-long element. “Cursed” could be called “Can You Picture Me Rollin’?” Or even “Weathered”. It’s another song about the bands journey through life and it’s a headbanger. “Trial By Fire” is about the bands life, about saying thank you to the fans for having the bands backs, coming out to shows, about traveling across the country on tour in a van. It could be called “Wherever I May Roam” but Metallica got to that one first. Musically it covers all the hardcore standards, breakdowns, and a bit of lead but it hits the mark and does simplicity to perfection. There is no place to hide without further complexity and the band aren’t shy.

“Vultures” is about the hangers on in the music scene, the record executives and those who would do anything to get a deal. Most of those then come to realise the deal is bull. Again more on the metallic hardcore side but with a passion, bounce, verve and energy that is seriously infectious. “Unhinged” is a series of answer phone messages left for Drummer Rob McCarthy from a friend looking to make contact. The track acts as an interesting palette cleansing before “Thirty Years” kicks in. Featuring a gunfire sample and some swift hardcore riffage from Evan Krejci. Drugs ruined a brothers life and he’ll be getting out in 3 years after a 30 year stretch. That’s part of the life in the area that Lionheart grew up. “Treading Water” brings us to the stress and strain, anxiety and pain of needing to find a way out. We all go through times in our lives where we feel like we’re treading water and th track is easily relatable. There are some nuances with pick slides and small tempo changes, breaks in the music while the vocals continue that come out with repeated listens. Closer “LHHC ’17” is the successor to 2014’s “LHHC” and sees the band joined by Deez Nuts frontman JJ Peters while both frontman talk about coming up in their respective hardcore scenes and their love for the music. Both vocalists talk about how their bands made their own way and it’s perfectly fitting for the returning Lionheart.

Lionheart aren’t going to break any moulds with their sound. That’s not what they’re about. They’re a band that make music for the love of it and get people headbanging, signing along or in the pit. The band are about energy and enthusiasm above all else and with breakdowns, hooks and big sing-a-long choruses they have a tried and tested formula that works. Simplicity done to perfection. [8/10]

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