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

For Oakland Californian’s Lionheart, their return a year after calling time on their career in 2016 has seen them go from strength to strength with three studio records and a live album as well as numerous tours in the five years since under their collective belts. Sometimes you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone, now they love every minute and it shows. On paper before a note is even heard album number seven has all the ingredients of another Lionheart classic. Produced by Hatebreed vocalist Jamey Jasta, “Welcome To The West Coast III” has also been mixed and mastered by Will Putney (Knocked Loose, Fit For An Autopsy) as well as being adorned by artwork photography by Angel Macias. But that’s not all as there are a myriad of mouth-watering guest appearances…

…with a band like Lionheart there is a certain amount of knowing what to expect; a consistently high standard of Hardcore with beatdown and two step elements with crossover into Hardcore Punk, Rap and Metal genres to add some spice. Deviation from the formula at this point in their career would be almost unfathomable and given the billing of this album as the third part of the trilogy… unlikely.

Opening the record with a song that lyrically touches on moments from the previous chapters, “The Trilogy Intro” is a clever recap that takes the concept of what you might get at the start of a new season of a TV series and puts a hardcore spin on it. It’s really well thought out and may not get the credit it’s due. Gritty from the start a classic Lionheart bassline from Richard Mathews gives “Death Comes In 3’s” a decent amount of bounce before some classic 80’s Crossover Thrash isms creep into the Hardcore as Jasta spins a few verse lines. They intertwine with Rob Watson’s parts nicely and the gang vocal of “Life is a death sentence” has the instant impact of a wrecking ball. Watson remains a great storyteller, delivering tales of life on the streets in the hoods the band came up in with the captivating style of an action movie like the original Die Hard and long may that continue. One such tale is “Hell On Earth“, loaded with gang chant moments and classic Hardcore riffs, it’s an instantly gratifying affair that has everything you could want from the band and could slot into their live set as easily as a hot knife slides through butter. “Live By The Gun” then dials things up a notch with a classic Crossover Hardcore solo and more guest vocals from Body Count main main Ice-T, who gets not only his own verse but to trade off lines with Watson in similar fashion to the way he did with Jasta. It feels like an old school throwback classic with all of those hallmark moments that add to the feel of the record as a whole.

Sounding like a cut left over from their last album “Valley Of Death” and bringing the heavier vibes “Cold Water Farewell” is a tale of self immolation in escape from a life of struggle that has simply gotten too much to stomach. It hits hard but there is little time to ponder the musings before “Stories From The Gutter Pt. II” finds Antmoney of E-Town Concrete fame on the microphone. Another hard slapping gritty affair, it feels like a low budget American Cop Thriller with the trade offs between the vocalists fitting perfectly. Like a bare knuckle boxing match between prize fighters, the hits just keep coming with “New Money | Old Pain” another that could easily slot into the bands live set. An unexpected ripper of a solo and a huge kit performance from Jay Scott accompanied by a familiar sounding lyrical narrative. It just oozes the quality you have come to expect. Jamey Jasta them puts on his Kingdom Of Sorrow vocal style for some chorus lines on  “Deathbed Confession“, a bad luck tale of injury being added to insult that gets heavier as it plays out.

The chamber spins to “At War With the Gods” which finds Los of Desmadre on the cut and it has to be said that where some bands write songs to suit the guest, here Lionheart have written their own shit on which the guests spit and it’s refreshing. Here the guest appearance may be more sparse than it could have been but it’s in keeping with the track itself as Watson spots venom throughout. If this was a Terror cut, no one would blink. Pile driving the rhythms home, “Bonnie & Clyde ’05” is your classic us against the World number that pulls no punches before finale “Exit Wounds“. Not a reference to the Steven Seagal and DMX film it finds the Californian’s joined by Alex Taylor of Malevolence and he certainly makes his presence felt. The riffs are reminiscent of the Sheffield Shredders style, the clenched fist groove of this one dancing around the brain like with some pre-Deathcore moments on the heavy register. Lionheart? They’re not only alive and well but they’ve cooked up another solid statement piece of instantly gratifying Hardcore for our listening pleasure [8/10]

Track Listing

  1. The Trilogy Intro
  2. Death Comes In 3’s (ft. Jamey Jasta of Hatebreed)
  3. Hell On Earth
  4. Live By The Gun (ft. Ice-T of Body Count)
  5. Cold Water Farewell
  6. Stories From The Gutter Pt. II (ft. Antmoney of E-Town Concrete)
  7. New Money | Old Pain
  8. Deathbed Confession (ft. Jamey Jasta of Hatebreed)
  9. At War With the Gods (ft. Los of Desmadre)
  10. Bonnie & Clyde ’05
  11. Exit Wounds (ft. Alex Taylor of Malevolence)

Welcome To The West Coast III” by Lionheart is out now via Arising Empire

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