For Fans Of
Stick To Your Guns are a bit of a weird case as they have a duality that seems at odds with one another.
On one side, the band is all about in-your-face hardcore aggression in the vein of acts like Terror and Comeback Kid and a hailing to the old guard like Madball, H2O and Ignite. On the other side however, the band loves to inject these giant, clean choruses into the mix and what was once raw, dirty and aggressive is now suddenly, clean, full of singing, catchy melodies and relatively friendly sounds for any non-heavy music listener who happens to ignorantly stumbles across them. Yet, this undermines the hardcore element of the band and the album. This happens throughout the record, but like foreplay, lets get these out of the way first.
The worst offender (excluding the rather uninspired album opener, ‘It Starts With Me‘)and probably the best example is ‘What Choice Did You Give Us?’ – heavy at the start, and just as the song begins to run away with its momentum and take home the gold , it all falls right before the finish line with a shitty catchy chorus that reeks of auto-tune. Catchy doesn’t equal quality and it never will, boys. In second place for the worst ‘The Crown’, another decent track, is also a weird one. It starts out poppy, clean and melodic, but even when it tries to transition back into the hardcore realm it doesn’t quite reach the mark, yet if you give it time it will grow on you, well, slightly. Lead single, ‘Nobody‘ borders these two songs in terms of presentation and structure, but it has the energy and consistency that sounds like good ol’ STYG, even if the song and its music video is basically a cut and paste from ‘Against Them All‘.
There are a metric fuck ton of bands out there doing a very similar sound, but it is nice to see Stick To Your Guns trying to step out of their comfort zone and it’s not like these guys do it bad, quite the opposite really, it’s just that this duality is rather irritating at times. This sound makes more sense when you consider that Goldfinger’s John Feldman produced the record. That’s the very same John Feldman who has produced and engineered records for All Time Low, We Came As Romans, The Used, and Five Seconds Of Summer. So it explains why ‘Disobedient’ tries to sound so clean and well produced, because well, it was. Having such a high profile producer on board is great for the band’s exposure, as they are definitely deserving of mainstream attention.
Despite the more digestible moments, the group can still smack you around with their punchy songs, and it’s the tracks with some of their peers that provide this. ‘RMA (Revolutionary Mental Attitude)‘ is a short, fast, punchy track with no cleans and to bring it all home – it has Toby Morse of H2O shouting along with singer Jesse Bennett for one real standout moment. Interestingly, on ‘I Choose Nothing’ the band uses a portion of the famous speech from the Charlie Chaplin movie, The Great Dictator, yet it kinda undermines the original idea of the speech as they’ve cut away the Bible verse mentioned in it for a song that deals with not following religion…Look, we’re really happy for you and we’ll let you finish, but The Chariot had the best speech sample in a song of all time. In all honestly, it does work well with the stop-start motion of the intro and the burly Scott Vogel (of macho hardcore kings, Terror) provides some really solid vocals on what is arguably the heaviest moment of the record and on a song that sticks right to the hardcore roots like moss to a rock. Finally, Walter Delgado from Rotting Out gets up in your face with the awesome ‘Nothing You Can Do’ and he really outshines Bennett, who mainly just sticks to singing on the track.
Two songs that fit right in the middle of the band’s opposing sounds is ‘To Whom It May Concern’ (sadly not an Underoath cover) and the final track, ‘Left You Behind’. These two slices of epic-ness are where the group really shines. The former is a hard-hitting, emotional song about putting things into perspective and about never quitting in the face of uncertainty. That’s basically the bands overall message in a nutshell. But, just when it seems like just another hardcore song, a surprise bursts through; a powerful atmospheric outro lead by clean guitars and Bennett hauntingly singing along.The latter utilises delicate vocals, an acoustic and clean guitar combo to show a far more intimate side of the band. While, it is very predictable that the boys would soon launch into an epic sing-along section designed for live shows like its a bloody 30 Seconds To Mars track, it’s surprising in just how good its delivery is. What adds to the song even more is that it has a beautifully haunting, melodic outro that again, actually works with their sound unlike some of the previous songs, plus, Bennett sings on it like he’s Dallas-fucking- Green. If only this care had been applied to the other songs instead of the Rise/Victory Records friendly choruses.
Now despite the occasional sonic and musical inconsistencies, Stick To Your Guns still bring some strong positivity and genuine hope to the listeners ears, something that is pretty commendable considering the rather bleak and dark picture that the album and the band often paint of our world. It’s a strong juxtaposition for sure, but a welcome one nonetheless. And hey, that’s what hardcore is about – positivity and being yourself. That’s something the band embody completely.
Breakdowns, giant choruses, typical pit-calls, predictable but solid chord progressions, plenty of moshable moments, big sing-alongs, and inspirational samples from historical figures and civil rights activists rule the day. It’s an album that is – wait just a fucking second, that’s the same description for their last album and hardcore opus, ‘Diamond’. Well, at this point in, for Stick To Your Guns career, maybe its wishing a little too much for them to jump off the fence and finally pick a side. With ‘Disobedient’ the band had a lot to live up to, and while they well and truly deliver the goods, there are just a few dents and tears on the received package.
1. It Starts With Me
2. What Choice Did You Give Us?
4. RMA (Revolutionary Mental Attitude) Feat. Toby Morse
5. Nothing You Can Do To Me (Feat. Walter Delgado
6. To Whom It May Concern
7. The Crown
8. I Choose Nothing (Feat. Scott Vogel)
10. The War Inside
11. Left You Behind