Singer Rob Watson is one of the most adept frontmen in hardcore when it comes to being able to both hype up a crowd and tell grim, streetwise lyrical tales over bouncy grooves. Nothing has changed with their latest release, Welcome To The West Coast III (Arising Empire). While the series of ‘Welcome…’ releases started with an EP, it is now halfway to keeping pace with Lil Wayne‘s Tha Carter albums. “Welcome” implies an introduction, but ironically the band no longer need one. Think of the title as more akin to an ongoing episodic documentary at this point.
We all are rejoicing about the reunion news of East Coast legends Biohazard, but it has been nice to have some younger blood holding down the hard side in the interim. I literally just moved to California from the East Coast, so it is kind of fun that this is the first record I have reviewed since.
‘Death Comes In Threes’ is an obvious highlight and features wildman beard-era Jasta tearing it up alongside the band over no-nonsense hardcore, as you’d expect. It really seems like the death in threes rule is accurate, what with the recent passing of rebel alliance warriors Gallagher, Nik Turner of Hawkwind and animated Batman Kevin Conroy. I will be blasting this one for you guys!
Lionheart always manages to make the aura of danger around the band feel convincing, whereas some tough guy bands just seem goofy and like they can’t think of anything else to do but posture between sets at the gym. This authenticity is especially potent on the track ‘Live By The Gun’ featuring the legend Ice-T. It really feels like a collaborative handshake between patented Lionheart and Body Count energy and is sure to be a fan-favorite. There are even some “OG” era callbacks.
While much of the record is not revolutionary it is certainly loaded up with adrenaline pumping grooves. ‘Deathbed Confession’ is one of the most essential. The song hits hard like Pro-Pain with bleak messaging about looking for an answer and even God didn’t have it. Another standout is ‘Bonny and Clyde ’05’, unfortunately not a hardcore-punk make up sex/ride or die sequel to Ruben Studdard‘s smooth anthem ‘Sorry 2004’. The Lionheart song is one of the most over-the-top with life lived raw energy, a tale of survival and loyalty. The lyric ,”It was always me and you from the start through the light and the dark” is delivered with utmost conviction. Drummer Jay Scott truly helps propel this one forward.
All-in-all, this album is another respectable edition to the band’s growing array of releases and evidence that it is a good thing they didn’t call it quits for good. You can celebrate these new songs soon at a circle pit near you.
Buy the album here:
7 / 10
MORGAN Y. EVANS