10 West Coast hardcore bands everybody needs to hear

Suicidal Tendencies
(Image credit: Stacia Timonere/Getty Images)

New York might have been a major hub for all things punk rock in the early-to-mid 70s, but it was the West Coast that proved instrumental to the burgeoning hardcore scene in the late 70s and early 80s. From Dead Kennedys to Black Flag, Suicidal Tendencies to Bad Religion, these bands became a defining force in hardcore as we know it today. 

Hardcore heroes Lionheart are experts when it comes to championing the West Coast, having released three albums to date in a Welcome To The West Coast series that has seen them produce beefy, old school riffs and beatdowns that dial the clocks back over four decades. That in mind, we asked frontman Rob Watson to pick out ten bands that he feels define West Coast hardcore. 

"Each of these is a classic band," he says. So with that in mind, here are ten bands that helped define West Coast hardcore in recent years.

Metal Hammer line break

Suicidal Tendencies

"No doubt someone will cry that ST is on this list and claim them to another genre but ST are all genres from punk and HC to thrash and straight-up metal. Not only did they invent a sound but they built a culture that is still thriving today."


"The hardest band to ever come out of Northern CA and definitely my favorite west coast band of all time. Heavy, pissed, real, Hoods set the tone and were the originators of the Northern California heavy shit."

Resist Control

SF shit! I think they only put out one demo in '04 or '05 but it was unreal and the CD (remember those?) was all I listened to for at least a year in my car. They brought that Blood For Blood energy but with a west coast vibe to it. 

The Warriors

"This band was way, way, way ahead of their time. War Is Hell pushed so many boundaries when it came out and it still does. This band doesn't get enough credit." 


"How could this list not have Terror on it? The kings of this shit – from Lowest Of The Low through Keepers Of The Faith to the new shit, it all bangs and they don't stop. A huge influence on us and forever grateful for the tours we've been able to do with them and all we've learned."


"OG Bay Area shit. Still one of the hardest and they just put out a new record." 


"Haymaker is a masterclass in mosh. Period."

First Blood

"Killafornia was such an important record and I doubt Lionheart would be here if it wasn't for that shit. Another huge influence on the band. Carl Schwartz is an incredible song writer and First Blood still hits after all these years."


"Another band that doesn't get enough credit! Lions In This Game was a banger front to back. So much vibe and groove laced throughout that entire album."

Killing The Dream

"Writers Block from the In Place Apart album is still one of my go-to's. This band helped spearhead a genre and really pushed the boundaries of what hardcore could be during their time. 

Rich Hobson

Staff writer for Metal Hammer, Rich has never met a feature he didn't fancy, which is just as well when it comes to covering everything rock, punk and metal for both print and online, be it legendary events like Rock In Rio or Clash Of The Titans or seeking out exciting new bands like Nine Treasures, Jinjer and Sleep Token.