Review Summary: Melodic hardcore refreshs itself with pummelling riffs but needs a lesson in clean singingI
pride myself on the combination of the metal core genre but what happens when you take out one of the two variables in the simple formula? Stick to Your Guns is a five-piece hardcore band from Orange County, CA. STYG is not your typical hardcore equation for the better and worse of the listener. They blend melody, passion, and sincerity into one solid sound that caters to the modern era of melodic hardcore bands. One might argue that they can’t stand the surplus of melodic hardcore bands that are blending singing into the genre but I believe as long as it comes off as sincere and genuine that there’s no problem with that. Stick to Your Guns is no strangers to singing choruses that will either agonize or catch the listener off guard with its catchiness. With that being said no one is going to confuse this with a pop-punk album with its pummeling riffs and fast tempo drumming that seem straight from the Terror/Sick of it all camp. “Comes From The Heart” is an extremely appropriate album title that basically explains the long lasting appeal of this band itself.
If this band existed for no other reason it would seem that it is through its positive and inspirational messages that are crystal clear in a 10-track package. If for some reason your thing is being as hopeless as possible and being a hermit crab I feel like even you could crack to the messages that rock the listener full of its sincerity.
Comes From The Heart
We’re What Separates The Heart From The Heartless
is the first track off of this album and explodes like a grenade right in front of the listener. Fast drum roll offs and pummeling riffs are displayed against Jesse Barnett’s pissed-off rants. For previous fans of STYG you will notice the clarity and change of tone in his voice versus the previous album “For What It’s Worth”- and if anything it packs more of a punch (and less constipation). The song spirals into a climax that sets off guitar feedback and the chants of “We’re what separates the heart from the heartless” on repeats. The intimacy in his voice during this part really makes the song and is one of the best songs for a new listener testing this band to listen too as it blends everything that makes this band-it. Impact
is the first song that steps in with a significant amount of singing in it. The message is frustrated, strained, and expressive in the lyrics. So many kids will love to mosh to the riffs that are displayed in this album and this song continues that trend. It runs with slower paced but hard hitting verses into a full spin cycle during the chorus. At first listen I totally wasn’t feeling the singing portions of this song basically because it feels so forced and poppy. What I did enjoy was the guitar solo work and the effects thrown in on the vocal fade ins after the chorus. A lot of the effects provided are extremely tasteful throughout the album and add much needed flavor to what could’ve been otherwise uninspiring sounding and plain. Part Of Me
builds up slowly with double bass and that leads throughout the introduction of this song. Another great thing hardcore bands can do to keep things fresh is to introduce guest vocalists. Scott Vogel is displayed on this track during the 2nd round of the verses and his voice is exactly what any Terror fan has come to expect. In contrast of Jesse Barnett’s voice he sounds even raspier and pissed off. At times it’s almost like he’s barking out the words like a German shepherd. I like the change of pace in the song with the two vocalists and have to admit that the song is fast, short, and relentless and that the contrasting attributes of the vocalists make it seem better then what it probably would’ve been with just Jesse Barnett’s voice.
Enough is Enough
is one of the singles off of this album and there’s no doubt that it is. For one, it seems overly produced, has a lot of singing on it, and just has a more polished sound then a lot of the other songs. Those all seem like negatives but some of them aren’t as negative as it seems or aren’t even negative at all. This is one of the first tracks off of this album where I felt the singing was justified in the sense of the song and fit well in it. The polished sound might turn off people but the song construction seems more solidified than ever with a wide array of sounds and builds up to the climax. As simple as the lyrics might come off I can’t imagine anyone who listens to this album a lot couldn’t find themselves singing or humming along with it. Accessory Children
throws away much of that polish and trades it for what seems like a merciless breakdown throughout the whole song. It stray’s away during the chorus into a more refined route with singing but the verses of the song chugs throughout and hard. I like the feeling that it creates in contrast to what makes the chorus’s seem right around the corner from the guitar chugging and drums blasting but the singing again seems disappointing and could’ve been better in my opinion. It has that same whiney appeal that was displayed in “Impact”
. Still whether your thing is about hearing guitars chug open palm muted chords or not is going to be the deciding factor of whether you love or hate this song. The song transitions right into Sasquatch
which feels like a filler track the way it’s presented. The drums have heavy amount of reverb and the guitar goes off on a little improvising lick. The instruments jam out together for about a minute and half and cuts to a recorded interview saying essentially how you can’t make a song that everyone agrees with and how if you do that you make songs that don’t say anything. Feels cunningly appropriate and transitions into Tonight’s Entertainment
. The intro riff is extremely catchy with its harmonics and pummeling chords and instantly captivates the listener. The song then unleashes in its verse a barrage of typical hardcore banter in speed and dexterity. “I’m about to lose control” one of the bands most memorable lines is then enforced at the end of the chaos and re-quickens things up. This song is for the guy who loves the traditional hardcore stance since it’s all over the place and still exhibits modern prowess.
We Must Look Like Ants From Up There
continues that trend and will appeal to the traditional hardcore listener. The song is fast and the lyrics are at the tempo where they almost feel rapped. I did enjoy the bass line in this song which felt above the mix of instruments most of the time with its bounciness and the guitar solo is a nice change of pace towards the end of the song. As I don’t feel much for the traditional hardcore structure of the song the song also has this underlining groove to it that I do dig. Driving Force
builds up and then drives itself through chants and singing. This song is tasteful where singing isn’t used excessively but appropriately. I loved in the 2nd verse how the band would pause and let the bass play a hook. I felt like this style of song is more suitable for the uplifting and inspirational lyrics since it puts the listener in a whirlwind of fast and slow parts and knows more speeds then just one. Searching For The Surface
feels like a conclusion to this album and makes its worth as memorable as possible. The song starts off with a group chant and slowly transitions into a building up struggle from the guitar slowing down the pace. Octave chords find their way up and down the neck of the guitar at a frantic pace. The repeating chants of what seems to create an echo effect are more than appropriate to being the final song off the album.
Searching For The Surface
Stick To Your Guns could be responsible for pushing what makes hardcore great or for adding something that many listeners believe shouldn’t belong. There’s an undeniable poppy aspect to this band and for me it’s what makes them so memorable. I can completely understand how the singing and pop elements can turn off a listener but I truly believe that they will gain listeners by adding this. It’s a nice change of pace at times no matter how forced it comes off and it doesn’t distract from the overall message in sincerity. Jesse Barnett’s attack to the hopeless and depressed is an uplifting and chaotic journey through his lyrics. Most of the lyrics here are simple yet memorable and pack a punch to the heart. In my eyes this band has found its niche with Comes From The Heart
and it feels exactly that way.
Original Release Date:
May 13, 2008