Sound — 9
Take your mood of the day you found out your girlfriend cheated on you, the state of mind of a starving lion and the relentlessness of a sledge hammer, put it into a blender, mix it and you've got an equivalent of Bay Area hardcore band Lionheart's sound on their sophomore release. This album is exactly what I would recommend to anyone looking for aggressive, merciless New-School-Hardcore, a legs-apart, ripped and p-ssed off thrasher. Vocalist Rob Watson does his best in branding his anger-filled lyrics in the listener's brain, while guitarists Earl Pitts and Rob McCarthy deliver one riff grenade after another. Drummer Jay Scott's work spans from shattering blast beats over technically adept drum fills and solos to grooving midtempo passages, accompanied by bassist Evan Krejci. The album contains circle pit-fit uptempo passages, grooving mosh-parts and neckbreaking beatdowns and is rounded by the appearance of guest artists such as Karl Buechner (Earth Crisis) and Lord Ezec (Icepick). The only negative aspect of "Built On Struggle" is the fact that there are songs that sound quite similar to the inexpert ear and the band could have done a better job in distinguishing the songs from each other. Lyrically, the album is not quite revolutionary, which I will talk about in the next paragraph.
Lyrics — 8
First of all, the lyrics match the musical style, which means that you can expect a filled-with-hate tough-guy attitude. While that may be suitable for this genre, it gets a little bit old at times. The main subjects dealt with are anger, hatred, hated persons and supremacy over those. Example? "Pure anger, true pain, dead inside I was born that way, f--k it all, never look back" However, the slight monotony in lyrical themes is only a minor flaw and more than made up for by the brutality and live-capability of the album.
Overall Impression — 10
"Built On Struggle" easily outshines Lionheart's first album, which was already great. Highlights are in my opinion "Relentless" with its massive beatdown at the end, "Pure Anger" and "Brothers Keeper". It's the exact right music to get into the mood for playing a football game and it lets the urgent desire for a moshpit arise. While it is assuredly not the kind of record the masses want to listen to, it's a straight recommendation to anyone that likes guitar music of the harsher pace and should be checked out by everyone that likes solid and honest hardcore with metallic influences being miles away from all that modern metalcore music with clean singing and pop-like melodies.