So, I want to apologize to you readers as I wanted to have this review up last week. However, considering last Wednesday was my birthday AND there is a lot being arranged for this music section, I kinda let this one slide by a wee bit. However, here it is and expect to have another review later on today.
‘The Hope Division’ is Stick To Your Guns’ third full-length release. This album also features completely new members, except for vocalist Jesse Barnett, from the last album, ‘Comes From The Heart’. Stick To Your Guns is a melodic hardcore band that has influences of punk and metalcore, all blended with positive lyrics and energy. But just because they are positive doesn’t mean they don’t know how to kick ass. ‘The Hope Division’ is a very good example of how music can be aggressive, in your face and heavy without the need to be evil or pissed off. Check after the jump for more details.
The album starts off with ‘Where The Sun Never Sleeps’, a track that sets the bar for what is to come. Incredibly tight production meets solid songwriting to produce a song that gets the blood boiling and heads nodding in rhythm. Jesse Barnett’s vocal styles shine forth, ranging from thick growls to clean, soaring singing. The influences of metalcore and punk can be heard in a lot of little subtleties of the music: The way the drums are played in the beginning, the call and response vocal style, the guitars harmonizing and more. Listening to this track, you know what you’re in store for.
The production of this album is stellar. The drums are not only mixed fantastically, they are panned to create a sense of space that is rarely felt. The cymbals have a pleasant sizzle in the top end while the toms not only have a solid thump, they have a resonance that rings forth in tune with the song. The bass is more often felt than heard but when it is soloed, each note is articulate while sounding thick and meaty. The guitars are panned and different enough in tone and EQ to create a ‘wall of sound’. The vocals are also mixed in just right with clever use of panning during many of the call and response sections.
Some faults I had with this album was that the transitions between songs relied to heavily on samples from inspirational speeches. I understand that the band wishes to be seen as positive, but I don’t necessarily need it rubbed in my face. Also, while structurally solid, the songs are not exactly the most original. However, a cool little way for the band to show that it wants to connect with it’s fans is a hidden track at the end of the album. The band recruited Hannah, who did a cover of an earlier Stick To Your Guns track, ‘This Is More’, on ukulele, to come into the studio to rerecord her version.
One track that really stood out to me just because it was something that I was completely not expecting was ‘Erida’, a gorgeous acoustic piece that is heavily influenced by classical and European folk. While many bands that try to record an acoustic track overplay and over produce, this track was kept wonderfully minimal with simple, yet beautiful melodies.
Overall, ‘The Hope Division’ is an album that I do recommend highly. With the longest song (apart from the last track) clocking in just around 4:15, each song doesn’t waste time getting to the point and, as a result, the album flows neatly and is very fun to listen to in it’s entirety.
4 out of 5 skulls