Friday, May 6, 2011

Stick To Your Guns - The Hope Division

Stick To Your Guns
The Hope Division
Sumerian Records/Shock Entertainment

Having visited our shores in December 2010 for the first time, Orange County (California, U.S.) based hardcore outfit Stick To Your Guns have finally managed to get their third full-length album ‘The Hope Division’ a long overdue local release after being available overseas for the better part of the last year.
Although I was impressed with their debut effort ‘For What It’s Worth’ (Released in 2005 through This City Is Burning Records), I was quite disappointed with their follow up effort ‘Comes From The Heart’ (Released in 2008 through Century Media Records), primarily because the band’s sound had shifted from something quite potent and powerful to downright predictable and tired. So based on their track record, I wasn’t expecting much from Stick To Your Guns’ latest effort, and the fact that apart from vocalist Jesse Barnett, the rest of the band (Comprising of guitarists/backing vocalists Chris Rawson and Reid Haymond, bassist/backing vocalist Andrew Rose and drummer George Schmitz) are all newcomers to the group.
But despite my low expectations, ‘The Hope Division’ marks a return to form for Stick To Your Guns, and proves beyond any doubt that the sound and direction of their last album was nothing more than an experiment that didn’t quite work for either the band or their loyal fan base.
‘Where The Sun Never Sleeps’ (The band’s tribute to their city Orange Country) provides a strong start to the album with its heavy riffs, infectious chorus and huge gang vocals, while the frantic ‘What Goes Around’, the relentless chug of ‘Wolves At The Door’ and ‘Faith In The Untamed’ proves the band’s old-school hardcore roots are still intact and bruising when in full-on attack mode.
‘Amber’, the album’s first single and promotional video clip, boasts a good balance of aggression and melody, while tracks such as the slower paced/post-hardcore effort ‘Some Kind Of Hope’, the moody ‘Scarecrow’ and its acoustic sequel ‘Erida’ showcase the band’s broadening sound beyond anything heard on their last release.
Towards the tail end of the album, ‘Life Through Western Eyes’ and ‘3/60’ are definite stand out cuts, before the band finish things up in punishing fashion with ‘No Cover’ and the towering ‘Sufferer/La Poderosa’.
Also worthy of a special mention is the uncredited ukulele rendition of ‘This Is More’ (Which appeared on ‘For What It’s Worth’) by Hannah Sciurba of She’s In The Band.
Overall, my faith in Stick To Your Guns has been fully restored. ‘The Hope Division’ is the sound of a band reinvigorated and inspired once again, and nothing like the generic mess that was ‘Comes From The Heart’ some three years ago.

For more information on Stick To Your Guns, check out - https://www.facebook.com/STYGoc

© Justin Donnelly