Stick To Your Guns is a California based hardcore band that seems to be embracing a more east coast NY hardcore style. This transition has been happening since their inception. They have moved closer to it on each release, moreso on The Hope Division and it seems to be solidified on their new album, Diamond. This album is filled with breakdowns and really catchy soaring choruses.
This album is heavy and melodic. It is the perfect marriage of that. Their sound is more refined than previous releases but vocally it still is filled with unbridled passion and aggression. It reminds me a lot of their colleagues, Hatebreed and Terror. Vocalist and lyricist, Jesse Barnett sat down with Alternative Press to do a weekly video series leading up to the album. I included some of his thoughts about the songs and their meanings below but it is definitely worth your time to watch the videos and hear all that he has to say. Check it out here.
The first song and title track, “Diamond” has a spoken word intro. They employ snippets throughout the album which gives it a nice flow. The first track kicks into high gear at an energetic pace that sets the album off. This song gives the theme of this album clearly, fighting and striving to make ourselves into the best possible version of ourselves that we can be. ”Forever surviving. This is my life and this is my diamond.” “Against Them All” is the standout track of this album. The song is a love letter to his band about how they are doing what they do regardless of others. “A fire burns inside you, fueled by everything that you’ve ever been through. Every battle you fight goes uphill, but nothing can ever break your iron will.” The chorus and woahs really make this song a great one to sing-along to but it also is heavy and aggressive. Great song.
“Such Pain” is a cool track. It is about realizing the power that we have as people when we overcome self doubt. It is about realizing as Barnett says in the song, sometimes, “My only enemy is me.” “The Bond” is the bands chance to give love and shoutouts to the people that have supported them and other bands in the hardcore scene that have embraced them. “We Still Believe” is the perfect example of what the album is about. It is heavy but melodic which makes for a great mix. The song is a new inspirational anthem for the generation. The screamed gang vocals of “We Still Believe” is so uplifting. It is also the name of a non-profit that one of Barnett’s friends owns. He talks about how doing positive things is a part of what he thinks hardcore is and what hardcore kids should be doing. I love the positive message of this song. The next track on the album is “Ring Loud (Last Hope)”, this song is about all of the arguments about what life is. This song is also about accepting our humanity. The choir-like chorus sings “We may fall but we will carry on.” It talks about understanding how difficult but also how wonderful life can be.
On “Empty Heads” Barnett states that he feels like the hardcore scene is less concerned with its activism and more about complaining about who has had things the hardest. He screams “You better give back or get out.” The scene needs to get back to its roots of contributing positive things to society. “Beyond the Sun” is about domestic violence and how terrible and destructive it is. Because of circumstances in his life this song is near and dear to Barnett’s heart.
“Life in a Box” is a furious song about homophobia, hatred and mistreatment of homosexuals and how wrong this is. Barnett has a clear message to intolerant Christians, ”…And every time you lift your hand to cast your stone, I’ll find you and shove it back down your throat.” “Bringing You Down” is an ode to the Occupy Wall Street movement and was released far in advance of the album as an anthem for the movement. “D(I AM)OND” was actually the first song written for a new album. On this track, Barnett describes what he is and not what he is not, “(I am) Most importantly never concerned with what I am not.” Barnett definitely knows who he is. The album closer, “Built Upon the Sand” was inspired by the Columbine shooting. The question raised is what it takes to get to the place that you could do something like this? It is a commentary on our current world and a reminder to find common ground and have a common respect for each other.
I love this album. I feel that this is a true diamond in Stick to Your Guns’ discography. It feels that they are on or near the peak of their careers. The passion and social consciousness of this album is one of its strongest features. I have always believed in the power of music and I think it is great that a band is using this power to try to improve their world. Diamond is an album that is not to be missed!