Stick To Your Guns
The Hope Division
01 June 2010
by Tomas Doyle
Anybody, and I mean ANYBODY who starts a breakdown with a shout of “MOVE!” is a pretty silly boy as far as I’m concerned, but if I’m completely honest, it’s that moment during ‘This is More’ on Stick To Your Guns‘ first album that had stuck in my mind regarding his band before I slapped The Hope Division on for the first time.
In that vein then, the first thing to note about The Hope Division is just how much Jesse Barnett’s vocals have improved this time around. Formerly sludgey, un-emotive and frankly, a bit of a dealbreaker, there is now a venom and purpose to them, at times reminiscent of Wes Eisold, which affords a gifted group of musicians and worthy focal point. Yes, there is some singing, and whilst it does drag the band dangerously close to metalcore territory there is a pervading pace and urgency to this record which keeps it’s just about on the hardcore side of things. There are also notable showings from guitarists Chris Rawson and Reid Haymond whose work is chunky when needed but also employs some interesting dynamic variation.
The opening four tracks are arguably the strongest here, ‘Where the Sun Never Sleeps’ a tribute to the bands native Orange County slams in with a satisfyingly crunching break (though the shout of “ORANGE COUNTY, THIS ONES FOR YOU” is a tad cringeworthy). Lead single, ‘Amber’, is as mellifluous an effort as the band have ever produced and demonstrates as clearly as anything that they are making an effort to move away from their original (rather restrictive) template. The record does lull into a slight Throwdown-ish plod around the mid point (via the lamentable ‘Life Through Western Eyes’) but is redeemed by a strong close, including the ripping ‘No Cover’ which sees the band pick the pace back up to impressive effect.
If I was to make a comparison with another band, it would be with Unearth, not because they are sonically similar, but because as seems traditional with Unearth all the songs on this record appear to build to a single moment, that break, that riff,that crew shout. As a result, the album feels somewhat linear and a touch predictable, albeit enjoyable, well performed, structured and written.
Watch the video to ‘Amber’ by Stick To Your Guns:
The Hope Division is riddled with tough guy hardcore clichés and is certainly not the sort of album you continue to discover things about over repeat listens, but for an impassioned bout of mosh friendly noise to wear your New Era cap to, this really is a sack full of fun.
Sounds Like: Throwdown, Comback Kid
Top Tracks: Amber, Where The Sun Never Sleeps
Stick To Your Guns – The Hope Division tracklisting:
Where The Sun Never Sleeps
What Goes Around
Faith In The Untamed
Wolves At The Door
Some Kind of Hope
Life Through Western Eyes