Christ, this is one tough ass hardcore CD! With all the teeth spittin' and rib-crackin' hardcore going on here, how appropriate that this Los Angeles band is named DONNYBROOK and the Michael Bukowski cover art depicts an all-out hockey brawl. The skull and bloody hockey sticks that serve as cross bones on the actual disc are a nice touch as well. The point is that the street fighting hardcore of "Lions in this Game" is in league with bands like TERROR and MADBALL. Seemingly overused, the comparison is accurate.
The secret to any good hardcore album lies in the band's ability to retain the spirit of the genre's no-nonsense compositional approach, while keeping each song from sounding like every other (listen to A18's "Dear Furious" for a perfect example). Cruising through standouts like "Get Real", "Purify", "Word is Bond", and hardcore-lifestyle anthem (of course), "Down for the Core", you'd not mistake one song for the next, the common denominator being repeated sonic kicks to the face. The cover of DISTRICT 9's "Victim" is a perfect choice, given the DONNYBROOK treatment and fitting right in with the other 11 tracks.
I like the dry/organic guitar, bass, and drum sound on this one as well. Dre Stewart's vocals are of the mid-range, vein-popping/red-faced variety, and the venomous lyrics are somewhere around the polar opposite of pacifism. Far from overused, the gang shouts are placed for maximum impact. Another of several album highlights, "Techno-Logic Kill" angrily damns anything and everything dealing with the Internet message board culture. TERROR's Scott provides vocal assistance as Stewart barks out lyrics that the Blabbermouth posters should find…um…interesting: "The keyboard's your weapon, the screen's your defense, safe at home, now let the bullshit commence. It's time to grow up or get the fuck out! Don't put up, just shut up, stop running your mouth. Techno-logic kill, you anonymous punk, you will get no respect." Have fun with all that. Anyway, guest vocals are also heard on "House of Rage", this time courtesy of Corey K. Williams (INTERNAL AFFAIRS) and Nick Jett (TERROR, PIECE BY PIECE).
"Lions in this Game" is a damn solid hardcore release and certainly one of the better ones I've heard so far in 2005. If you're a fan of real hardcore, it's hard to go wrong with this one.