Review Summary: It’s hard to let go when you’re still holding on.
Stick to Your Guns started out heavy influence from the deathcore trend, the long living hardcore and the melodic metalcore scene in the same town. Such a strange combination in this town led to them releasing “For What It's Worth” with critical acclaim going towards the above mentioned unique sound, and led them to release their major record label debut “Comes from the Heart”....to major disappointment with it's awkward focus on metalcore. Many people turned their heads in shame, and didn't care when the band's newest album “The Hope Division” was announced. And after the major improvement I heard almost instantly it made me question why had we given up. (see what I did there?)
The group's sound here is a harken back to “For What It's Worth” in some cases as most of the riffs and vocals will remind you of old school hardcore, however the band kept the melody in the best way possible by taking the focus away from metalcore and throwing it towards post-hardcore. The lyrics are still meant to inspire hope, but in a less cheesy way this time and also embraces hardships and burdens. In fact from the first single “Amber” Jesse screams about a girl who has the weight of the world falling down on her (should also be noted that the accompanying video was made for suicide prevention).
From the get go the album opener seems to trump all doubts with “Where the Sun Never Sleeps” the band seems to successfully combine these two styles with Jesse's voice shifts well from a hardcore yell to a post-hardcore clean vocal style. Songs like “What Goes Around” and “Wolves at the Door” seem to embrace the band's love for old school hardcore while other songs like the aforementioned “Amber” and “Scarecrow” seem to favor the melodic hardcore/post-hardcore blend. However despite how the band does well with these styles there are some worries “Life Through Western Eyes” has to be the oddest choice for an acoustic song done by a heavy band, and then there's “La Podersa” which seems to be a Never Shout Never-esque song.
Overall the band has found their niche, after much soul searching the group has found the best way to encourage hope by turning their seeming downhill careers around greatly. While sometimes there are moments the band just seems to try too hard, the group has shown they are listening and hopefully plan to improve like they have done with this. Overall a surprising melodic hardcore effort from a band that only seemed to cop out half-done metalcore.