Welcome To The West Coast IIIArising Empire
01. The Trilogy Intro
02. Death Comes In 3's (feat. Jamey Jasta)
03. Hell On Earth
04. Live By The Gun (feat. Ice-T)
05. Cold Water Farewell
06. Stories From The Gutter Pt.II (feat. Antmoney)
07. New Money/Old Pain
08. Deathbed Confession (feat. Jamey Jasta)
09. At War With The Gods (feat. Los)
10. Bonnie And Clyde '05
11. Exit Wounds (feat. Alex Taylor)
It is the perfect antidote to festive lethargy. One dose of "Welcome To The West Coast III" should have most members of the family jumping off the furniture and shot gunning beer through a glowing plastic reindeer head. Along with beatdown hardcore's thematic core of righteous fury and communal rejuvenation, the genre has always been about buoying listeners aloft on waves of energy, intensity and optimism: LIONHEART are absolute masters of the form. Their seventh full-length, "Welcome To The West Coast III" makes no haughty attempts to take the Californians' music anywhere particularly new, but just like every new HATEBREED or MADBALL album feels somehow necessary and restorative, so this fresh blast of riffs, breakdowns, slogans and sweat exerts a power that very few like-minded bands have achieved. And my god, it's fantastic fun, too.
The first news that hits is that vocalist Rob Watson is still a badass: clear, precise, temple veins a-popping and bloody fist raised, he matches old comrade Jamey Jasta word for word on brutal opener "Death Comes In 3's". The riffs rain down, noticeably a touch heavier than ever before, and within three-and-a-half minutes it becomes hard to imagine beatdown hardcore being expressed with more passion or fervor. "Hell On Earth" is even better: a mid-paced stomper with maximum bounce, it nails the LIONHEART formula to the foreheads of anyone in earshot.
This is a purely thrilling, 32-minute slab of hardcore excellence, but guest spots remain a strong selling point too. The mighty Ice-T arrives to start some shit on the lurching grooves of "Live By The Gun" and he sounds every bit as engaged here as he did on that glorious cameo on the new MEGADETH album. The song has a powerful metal edge too, with shades of MAIDEN in the melodies, but the final beatdown is thuggery incarnate. Ice-T, as you can probably imagine, is having an absolutely fabulous time. Elsewhere, Jasta reappears on "Deathbed Confession"'s deep NYHC vibes, while MALEVOLENCE frontman Alex Taylor coughs up some malice on the closing "Exit Wounds", which ends with the kind of swivel-eyed yob chorus that makes venue security nervous.
There is no ignoring the sound of the real. LIONHEART do this better than almost anyone, and "Welcome To The West Coast III" has hardcore purity and star quality in plentiful supply.