Lionheart

Undisputed

 

01. Undisputed
02. Lifer
03. From Nothing
04. By Any Means
05. From The End Of My Rope
06. That’s Real
07. At Your Door
08. Can’t Hold Us Down
09. Better Days
10. Concrete
11. How I Was Raised
12. Never Break
13. Letting Go

[05/08/12]
[Mediaskare Records]

With metal and hardcore so incestuous and diluted these days, it’s more the exception than the rule to ever find a band who solely represents one of those scenes. And with things like the trad-metal revival going on, it’s absurd but true that these once traditionalist bands have become exotic and interesting endangered species more than anything else. Lionheart, for example, are hardcore through and through — albeit in a post-Hatebreed world of hardcore, so we would probably have to define the difference between ‘metallic hardcore’ and ‘metalcore’ just to keep the purists happy. There are some clear moments that sound distinctly metal, but they’re outweighed ten to one by the moments that bring to mind Terror, Madball, Death Before Dishonour and any number of distinctly hardcore acts.

Undisputed simply reeks of that classic anthemic and bouncy hardcore style, that for some reason has fallen out of favour in the wake of deathcore and it’s ilk, with lyrics dealing pretty much exclusively with the most holy trifecta of hardcore ideals: pride, self-belief and perseverance. Tracks like ‘That’s Real‘ and ‘Can’t Hold Us Down‘ set the tone in the exact way you would expect with song titles like that, it’s blunt, heavy, straight-forward and contains all the subtlety that can be garnered from a band who released a branded baseball bat alongside the album. There’s breakdowns, gang shouts and indisposable chunky riffs that help tie it all together, and the references to Hatebreed, while not perfect, describe the ‘one man army’ mentality throughout pretty well.

Lifer‘ peaks the album early on and is by far the most refined and streamlined track on offer, one’s that’s sure to raise a few fists at any live show with it’s tale of struggle, both internal and external. ‘From Nothing‘ and ‘End Of My Rope‘ come close with their infectious bouncing chorus’ and tactical breakdowns but still never quite reach that level of ‘big dumb hardcore’ that made ‘Lifer‘ such an instantly likable  piece. Also worth mentioning is the title track that acts as the opener, while it barely breaks a minute and consists of just vocals for the most part, it’s a potent mission statement that unfortunately ends just as the momentum is being set, as is the case with a couple of other tracks later on.

Undisputed gets incredibly cheesy in places and the ‘tough guy’ attitude becomes so convincing that it sometimes borders on parody, but it would be a crime to ignore tracks that are this good just based on that. This outlook and ‘image’ may now have been co-opted by some dire offenders like Emmure, but there was a time when bands played on that mentality to provide positive messages about dedication and perseverance, not to provide a backdrop for their shallow, voyeuristic dick sucking fantasies.

As a whole, Lionheart aren’t breaking genre boundaries and they sure aren’t doing anything that hasn’t already been done before, but it’s good to see bands still working with a classic sound that has been way too overlooked lately and Undisputed is, by far, one of the most fun records I’ve heard all year. Fans of this style will find this record directly catered for them and newcomers will find a great, if a little rough around the edges, record that will act as a good gateway to the style.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZoXAkEbFJQ]

Lionheart’s Undisputed gets…

3.5/5

– DL

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