American Hardcore is the fifth album by L.A. Guns. It is their only album to feature singer Chris Van Dahl and the first to feature bass guitarist Johnny Crypt. This album continues the increase in heaviness by the band started on their previous album Vicious Circle. The band re-branded themselves "The L.A. Guns," at the time of the release of American Hardcore, adding 'the' before its name. According to Steve Riley, this was done to note the change in direction from the band's classic Phil Lewis Personnel. Also according to Riley, the band was a 5-piece and bassist Kelly Nickels was still very much part of the band during the recording of American Hardcore. Nickels even received co-writing credit on eight of the 12 tracks; but quit the band once they were dropped from PolyGram. Second guitarist Johnny Crypt then switched over to bass following Nickels' departure, and the band remained a 4-piece. The opening track F.N.A. was intended to sound like a disc skipping, and is rumored to be a portion of their cover song "Black Sabbath" - available on the Japanese import version of the album - simply played backwards. A hidden track can be found following an extended break at the 17 minute mark of the final track "I am Alive." The track features an exchange between a couple of prison guards discussing the pending execution of an inmate. According to Van Dahl, he did all the voices in one straight take. Atomic Punks singer Ralph Saenz was recruited to replace Van Dahl after he was fired in 1997 to finish out the last couple months of the tour. The band, with Saenz, would still perform several of the songs from American Hardcore, including "Give." Saenz would subsequently stay with the band to record the Wasted EP in 1998.