REVIEW: Lionheart – Love Don’t Live Here [2016]


Artist: Lionheart 

Album: Love Don’t Live Here


Sometimes, succeeding in life means a cold demeanor and a steel resolve. Kindness and caring can get you far in the right circles, but in other circles, they’re weaknesses that paint a target on your back that can be seen for miles. It can be a daunting and seemingly impossible decision to make, sacrificing the loved and familiar for a realistic chance at making a name for yourself. For those who are willing to sacrifice warmth to make it ahead in life—to truly make a difference or even just to escape from their current surroundings—there is Lionheart, a Northern Californian hardcore band that take the genre back to it’s hard-hitting, high-energy roots while maintaining a modern sheen to keep it relevant. Love Don’t Live Here is exactly what it sounds like—a collection of songs that serve as stories of sacrifice and determination; a motivating series of anthems that are bound to send the listener’s heart rate through the roof and give them motivation during times where it seems like all might be lost.

Lionheart aren’t your little brother’s polished “HxC,” studded belt, swooped hair hardcore band. They’re the sound of an iron will powered by a five-hundred horsepower engine, spitting stories of pushing through heartache, anxiety, poverty and depression with nothing more than the band’s attitude and some elbow grease. In keeping with their gritty dynamic, their instrumentation is frill-free and furious. Drummer Jay Scott kickstarts “Pain” and doesn’t slow down throughout the entirety of the album, using everything from sturdy blast beats to bouncy two steps and bone-busting breakdowns to keep Lionheart’s intensity at top notch. Whether it’s the fill-packed first half of “Keep Talkin’” or the fun and bouncy patterns that make the album’s title track so absurdly catchy, Scott’s drumming might not win awards for creativity or technicality, but it does everything a hardcore-loving pit-fiend could want. Scott’s drumming is a thick foundation forBrandon Wells to paint hefty, groovy bass lines over, adding punch to the breakdowns in “Witness,” while making the build-up portions of of “Bury Me” and “Pain” even more exciting. All the while, Wells’ bass guitar rumbles beneath the frantic, frenzied guitar work from Cameron Grabowski and Nick Warner. The duo blend raw hardcore with beatdown and metal with all the prowess and passion one would expect from a band with Lionheart’s experience. With stellar (albeit somewhat predictable) fretwork on “Love Don’t Live Here” and “Back to the Bay,” while laying down mammoth, monstrous breakdowns during “Bury Me” and “Lock Jaw,” the duo work excellently with Scott to keep Love Don’t Live Here roaring along on all cylinders without skipping a beat.

When it comes to Lionheart’sscorching, intense style of hardcore, their dynamic would be incomplete without the lyrical and vocal prowess of frontman Rob Watson. Watson’s voice is raw, gritty and intelligible, such that every listener can understand just about every syllable he spits—which is important given his lyrics. While he may not be a Pulitzer-prize winning poet, he drops lines that anyone who has ever struggled will be able to relate to instantaneously. Take “Pain” for example—or “Rewind”—with stories of working three shit-tier, dead-end jobs just to scrape by. Or maybe “Keep Talkin’” will hit a nerve—because if the clever and catchy wordplay at the end doesn’t get stuck in your head and put a smile on your face, nothing will. Watson gives the perfect voice to Lionheart’s latest album—one that is the weathered, driven and dynamic voice of experience, even where it may not be the most diverse or gifted range set of all of hardcore’s frontmen, I dare the listener to find a person who would be a better fit.

By now you’re starting to figure out what Lionheart are all about. Riffs and shred? Nope. Over-the-top brutality? Nope. Fun, furious and ferocious hardcore? Now you’re talkin’. Love Don’t Live Here is emotion, energy, passion and power rolled into one raunchy hardcore album. Front-to-back two-steps, beatdowns and breakdowns make it a short but savage experience whether it’s live or in your mom’s living room. Whether it’s the solo to “Lock Jaw” that has you breaking your neck or the breakdown to “New Enemies” that has you breaking someone else’s neck, Lionheart sacrifice empty technicality, glitzy production (although Cody Fuentes of Rapture Recordings DID make this album sound incredible) and cheesy clean vocals for a hardcore album hotter than hellfire—and twice as likely to burn down your local venue when they roll through.



For Fans Of: Trapped Under Ice, Drowning, Havenside, Backtrack

By: Connor Welsh