Review Summary: A motivational message written in catchy and passionate melodic hardcore
Orange County's Stick to Your Guns have come a long way since the youthful snarling of 2007's For What It's Worth, but at heart they remain the same. Some may find their incessant preaching distracting and distasteful, but the band somehow manages to preach in a modest and genuine way that has won them a throng of diehard fans, such as myself. With that being said, there's an undoubted bias from which I listen to this album, as the band has a special place in my heart. Still, the maturity and songwriting is indubitably fantastic this time around, and the message remains just as profound.
Disobedient continues right from where 2012's Diamond left off. More Ghandi quotes referring to soul-searching and finding the inner strength and peace within oneself, and more aggressive, melodic, anthemic passion. It Starts With Me grows from frontman Jesse Barnett's melodic clean vocals (which have much improved, though it remains to be seen whether he can keep up in his live performance) into some gang vocals that lead into the first Ghandi passage, calling on listeners to take responsibility for the suffering in the world. The track pulls you right off your chair and onto your feet.
While the next three tracks, and the three tracks released prior to the album, are good, they are not among the strongest on the album. But one can't help feeling turned on by Barnett screaming "*** the message" at the end of RMA. Just another instance of Stick to Your Guns doing something just a little bit different from everyone else, as its something not usually heard of when it comes to the Civil Rights Movement.
The album hits its most passionate point in its middle section with To Whom It May Concern, The Crown, and I Choose No One. To Whom It May Concern hits hard and emotional, ending with a soft reprise of It Starts With Me, and it is maybe my favorite track on the album. The Crown follows and, in my opinion, should've been the record's single. Its catchy and powerful, and when Barnett screams "I understand the feeling of thinking you've failed me, and I understand the blaming and the pain that it brings" followed by some of the album's most adrenalized though not irregular guitar work. And I Choose No One brings the heaviest the album has to offer, beginning with a sample for the Great Dictator and ending with Terror's Scott Vogel bringing the track to a crushing close.
The album closes in the captivating "Left You Behind" which shows Stick to Your Guns as the softest they've ever been. But the track really, really works, telling the story of a young man leaving home trying to find his way.
Stick to Your Guns may have lost a small amount of the aggression conjured in their prior releases, but really, they've stepped perhaps one step back for several steps forward, particularly as far as melody goes. The album’s low point, Nothing You Can do to me, as well as the far better The War Inside, demonstrate STYG taking a couple steps closer to their generic contemporaries, but they still have something no one else has. And that’s an admirable heartfelt message, on top of engaging melodic hardcore.