Stick to Your Guns

1. Diamond
2. Against Them All
3. Such Pain
4. The Bond
5. We Still Believe
6. Ring Loud (Last Hope)
7. Empty Heads
8. Beyond the Sun
9. Life in a Box
10. Bringing You Down
11. D(I Am)ond
12. Built Upon the Sand
13. Just Like Me (bonus track)
14. We Still Believe (Acoustic Version) [bonus track]

Jesse Barnett (Lead vocals & acoustic guitar on 14)
Josh James (Guitars & b vocals)
Chris Rawson (Guitars & b vocals)
Andrew Rose (Bass & b vocals)
George Schmitz (Drums & percussion)

For What It's Worth (2005)
Comes From the Heart (2008)
The Hope Division (2010)

Karl Schwartz (Vocals on 10)


Released 27/3-2012
Reviewed 2/5-2012

sumerian records

I've never really understood why punk rock mixed with death metal go under the name of hardcore… why is it called that? To me, this word feels more related to a kind of film that children aren't suppose to watch rather than music but perhaps I'm the only one thinking like that? Either way, here we have another so called hardcore album but this is not your everyday hardcore album that comes with plenty of short songs with high tempo and simple music on it and the only aim being to spread the songs for their live performances without a single thought of making a good album. The Californian act Stick To Your Guns do, however, take another path and makes something very different from the every day hardcore.

The opening track of 'Diamonds' is the title track, which begins with some asian-sounding man talking about missing leaders, teachers and guiding in todays society. I would have guessed it came from some movie but it turned out it's the word from philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti and it introduce one of the slowest songs on the album and it feels more like an intro or build up for what is coming. These kind of spoken parts are returning throughout the entire album with varied length but all very nicely integrated in to the music. the only exception is the clip with David Letterman in the end of Beyond The Sun where he talks about how homosexual people are harassed in the US. There's nothing wrong with the message or what he's saying but it's less impressing how it's been put on the album.

Some of the tracks, though, come completely without these spoken words. Some of them have sound effects instead and this works pretty well for most of the time, but in the end of Such Pain they fade the song to a form of static while doing a couple of pauses to complete silence. This is, however, the only exception because mostly it's well integrated with the music and I feel the album gives a distinctive impression of quality all over. The second song is called Against Them All and I think this is an absolutely great song! Another is the single We Still Believe and a third Bringing You Down. Besides the exceptions mentioned, all talking parts and sound effects are integrated very good in to the music and adds to the good impression. So does the lyrics that are political and well written. For a hardcore album, this is almost too well done and that's not something I say because I don't like hardcore - because I do like hardcore - but because of the poor quality that hardcore album often have.

The sound quality on 'Diamond' are perhaps not as staggering as a diamond, but still very good and the production has left the album with a heavy and striking sound that comes through the speakers very powerful. The songs are in most cases between 2-3 minutes with a few songs even longer than three minutes and all in all the twelve songs ends at 34 1/2 minutes, which is a good length for this kind of music. Normally bands in this genre puts 20-30 songs between 1-2 minutes on an album but I have to say I like this better because this length on the songs gives a better rhythm in the music. The only thing that I think is something of a bother is the vocals, which are made according to the genre rule books and it sounds like the vocalist has put a frog in his mouth before he started to sing. But, in many of the choruses they add or sing completely in clean vocals, so there is variation in the vocals.

Turning to the music it's mostly played fast and with simple melodies and without any daring musicianship. Still, I can't help but feeling that the band has succeeded in making something that feels like it's going further than just the border of hardcore. It is simple, but at the same time beyond the simpleness of punk rock which is how hardcore always has been played and then added some heaviness. Sure, it is simple and heavy but also with a feeling of something else, and I really like that!

I think this is the best hardcore album I've encountered for many, many years and I can't help feeling it's a diamond within it's genre. If you like hardcore, this is an album you should check out and if you don't like hardcore, this is one of the few albums you can check out! It reaches beyond the border of hardcore country, this is an album that emigrates and settle down all around the continent surrounding the hardcore country. I think it's one of the best albums of 2012 and I'd recommend it any day of the week! A real diamond, in further means than just the title.



Label: Sumerian/Gordeon
Three similar bands: Evergreen Terrace/Sick Of It All/Comeback Kid
Rating: HHHHHHH (6/7)
Reviewer: Caj Källmalm

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