Artist: Stick To Your Guns
Album: True View
All too often we find ourselves losing sight of the things most important. We lose our way—misplacing our morals amid complacent distractions ushered forth by technology, financial gain, careers, transient objects. We trade friends and family for cash and goods that mean little to us in the present and even less to us in the future. If our hearts are compasses, they’ve been pulled as far from true north as one could possibly imagine, detracted and deranged by our minds and our wallets in near equal amounts.
Stick To Your Guns, once more, emerge from Orange County to change that—roaring into our minds and eradicating greed and negativity with what might be their most earnest and heartfelt display of passion and powerful, punchy hardcore since Diamond. Combining soaring, catchy vocal hooks with pummeling breakdowns, driving riffs and anthemic choruses all within the framework of the band’s tried-and-true style of melody-infused hardcore, True View is a harrowing example of a band tirelessly working to better themselves and the world they live in with little more than relentless, pure passion. Stick To Your Guns do—well, they do just that—they stick to the energetic and immense style that makes them authentically them, while still adapting to the times and growing with their collective experience as a band as humans to create something honest, pure and poignant—without sacrificing sinister aggression and awe-inspiring heaviness.
Stick To Your Guns have always been a band adept at combining emotion and aggression to create a cathartic experience for listeners around the world. While it might be the band’s lyrics and vocal element that stands out the most in the listener’s mind for bringing this dynamic to the forefront of their attention, it wouldn’t be possible without the energetic-but-moody and dark instrumentation the quintet so expertly craft. This was a highlight of the band’s entire discography—even the heavily hardcore influenced earlier days—and it’s especially true on True View. Percussionist George Schmitz is scalding with speed and power behind the kit on tracks like “The Sun, the Moon, the Truth: Penance of Self,” and on the crushing track “Doomed by You.” Meanwhile, songs like “The Better Days Before Me” and “Through the Chain Link” are more melancholy, with Schmitz walking a fine line between sullen, somber patterns and enough punch to keep songs moving forward, working excellently with the low-slung, bouncy and thick grooves from bassist Andrew Rose. While Rose doesn’t steal the show, he adds punch and heft to the more quick-paced songs like “Married to the Noise,” rumbling beneath the quickly plucked portions and strong, booming riffwork from guitarists Chris Rawson and Josh James. Rawson and James don’t shred throughout the entire album—nor do they fill True View with truly boring breakdowns—they infuse metallic riffs and hardcore with, for lack of a better term, posi and upbeat styles that are nothing short of excellent. Songs like “Married to the Noise” see Rawson and James at their catchy, punchy and energetic standards—with extremes like “Cave Canem” bringing out raw, driving hardcore and punk influence and the album closer, “The Reach for Me: Forgiveness of Self” bringing the album to a sullen and dreary instrumental close laden with undertones of redemption and perseverance. In this way, the band’s musicianship matches the abundant lyrical themes and powerhouse vocal work, giving True View a lot of things to keep the listener coming back for more.
In spite of the energy and abundant enthusiasm found pouring out of the heavier portions of True View, and the somber, mellow moments of atmospheric melancholy that fill the spaces in between, Stick To Your Guns, for many, will be a vector by which the words and voice of frontman Jesse Barnett reaches their ears—and, as it was with the albums before True View, that’s perfect. Barnett’s incredible lyricism continues throughout songs like “The Sun, The Moon, The Truth: Penance of Self,” and the amped up, rambunctious “Doomed By You” strides the line between narrative and ultra-personal with confidence. Songs like “Through the Chain Link,” however, are immensely different, seeing a more somber side of Barnett than the listener has before—predominantly sung with a clear and pure candor that will have listeners hooked, even if their heart breaks a little with each time they listen. True View‘s vocal aspect isn’t great for Barnett’s efforts on any one song, but rather for his dynamism throughout the release, and how brilliantly he works (or, in reference to the band’s discography, continues to work) with the instrumentation and excellent songwriting. Barnett brings hope, honesty, despair and desperation to True View in several parts, completing the human spectrum of emotion in a complete and comprehensive fashion.
True View is truly one of Stick To Your Guns’ finest releases yet—which is a staggering statement in the context of an immense and lengthy series of releases. While it might not have the same constant, ferocious candor that their earlier albums boasted, it draws from Diamond and Disobedient as much as it draws from songs like “Amber,” which were catchy, quick, heavy and narrative all at once. It sees the band using their experience and their various—albeit slight—differences between several albums to create a foundation for True View, building from it with who they are now, not who they’ve been before. In short, True View is an excellent album, emotional, energetic and vivid, pure in all that it strives for, bound to become a hallmark in their impressive curriculum vitae.
For Fans Of: Counterparts, Hundredth, Gideon, A Day to Remember
By: Connor Welsh