“The Hope Division brought them out of the shadows. “Diamond” gave them a breakthrough. “Disobedient” confirmed their place among the greats. Where would “True View” take them? That was the question we had been asking ourselves for the past two years. Ever since they got used to filling venues with over 1000 people all over Europe, including Belgium. Since they got used to touring as special guest of the biggest bands beyond hardcore (Parkway Drive and Architects in particular). Since they changed labels and released a new EP in 2016. Since Jesse (vocals) decided that Trade Wind would be more than just a side-project and went through some major upheaval in his personal life. Since Josh (guitar) decided to start a new band as well. From 10 February 2015 to 13 October 2017, a lot happened. Was “Disobedient” the climax of their career or were they going to go even further? Answers below.
The teasing of their sixth album started on July 14th with the daily disclosure of a new song title accompanied by its own artwork and most importantly, lyrics, until July 26th: 13 songs in total then. Before revealing the title and complete information about the album the following day. A communication that is somewhat out of the ordinary, even more so for a typical hardcore band, and that managed to hit the nail on the head by intriguing the followers of their various accounts on social networks. Before hearing this record or even a few extracts in the following days, fans could already imagine on the basis of the visuals and especially the lyrics what this record would sound like. And again, it intrigues. What is this real vision of the world that the band is trying to present here? Are the lyrics trying to answer that question? Yes and no. The trick is to understand all the symbolism. The lyrics here seem more personal than usual: Jesse (vocals) has left his girlfriend of 7 years, moved from Montreal to Los Angeles. These are important changes in a life that can influence his writing, especially with The Sun The Moon The Truth. Other lyrics such as Married To The Noise or You Are Free are in a more positive vein, while remaining in a very dark context. Cave Canem, which literally translates as “Beware of the dog”, clearly refers to the self-destruction of the current human race, one of the band’s recurring themes, as does The Inner Authority. Another first is Jesse’s reference to his father in the short Through The Chain Link.
Behind the mystical side of these artworks, these lyrics had already given us some information about what was in store for “True View”. In addition to the band’s recurrent topics, notably politics and the unhappiness of the human race, we are also entitled to themes that are little or never tackled, such as Jesse’s more personal stories and more positive messages: in addition to noting the problem and defining it, elements of solutions are also given. All the texts that we were eager to see were set to music!
This Friday, October 13th 2017, this long wait has come to an end with 3 singles released to whet our appetites with mostly very good results. The first two, The Sun The Moon The Truth and Married To The Noise, are unsurprisingly placed at the beginning of the album after the introductory track 3 Feet From Piece launched by a vocal message from Jesse’s mother reminding him of the right path to follow in his life. These tracks are in keeping with the “Better Ash Than Dust” EP released in the fall of 2016 when they signed to Pure Noise Records. The only big surprise on this record’s debut, and one that will be a common thread throughout the 13 tracks, is Jesse’s voice: his clear and slightly husky voice discovered on “Disobedient” is pushed even further here. You’d almost have to pinch yourself when you first listen to Married To The Noise to be sure that it’s the same singer. But yes, it is.
Many of the choruses of other songs are sung, not shouted: Delinelle, Cave Canem, Owned Nothing… etc. But this does not diminish the power and energy of the band. On the contrary. It simply shows them in a different light. The best example is Doomed By You – the best track on “True View” by the way – which, in only 135 seconds, shows all the facets of the band at their best. From the sung verse to the beatdown-tinged finale, through varied rhythms, a big bass line, backings from Josh and Chris, a fairly steady tempo: it’s all there! You don’t have much time and want to present Stick To Your Guns to your friends in just over two minutes: let them listen to Doomed By You, it’s the ideal calling card! If they liked the aggressive side, you can play Cave Canem, which best presents the steamroller that the Californian quintet can be: 2’55 of pure violence. We advise you not to listen to it in your shower or while you’re cleaning. You’ll do worse than good! And if they prefer the softer side, you can make them listen to the intriguing 56 which reminds us of the more rock-like Nothing You Can Do To Me and The Crown from “Disobedient”.
Behind these novelties, there are obviously some tracks that are entirely recognisable from the band: Delinelle with its atmosphere that takes us back quite far in the discography of the Yanks (The Hope Division era), You Are Free (Diamond era) or The Better Days Before Me, which is quite classic compared to the standards of the band (Disobedient era). This last song is not exceptional but it’s not bad either: Stick To Your Guns just did Stick To Your Guns. This may seem trivial for them because they’ve released a lot of songs like this and a lot of hits. But taken alone and out of context, it’s a very good song: it proves the strength and the level reached by the band, able to make a more than correct song seem almost banal!
And like “Disobedient”, “True View” ends gently but without going as far as a ballad. Through The Chain Link and its very emotional hardcore in the second part reminds us of bands like Being As An Ocean: just goes to show that you can still find little novelties even at the end of a record. But it’s especially The Reach For Me: Forgiveness Of Self that surprises. It’s a very soft track and there’s not a single scream on the horizon: it’s almost like a Stick To Your Guns track with a Trade Wind featuring. Quite pleasant to listen to, one could get a bit tired of it in the long run. This song closes the album: is it the beginning of the band’s future career or just a sweet ending like Left You Behind on the previous album? Only time will tell, but the fact that it was presented as a single before the official release of the album proves that this track is important!
When you’re very attached to a band and what they do, it’s not always easy to accept and appreciate their change. Many fans had criticized “Disobedient” in particular because of the appearance of Jesse’s semi-clear vocals: fans who certainly weren’t listening to Stick To Your Guns in 2008 when Jesse was actually singing clear-voiced choruses when he was barely of age (Enough Is Enough is a good example). The strength of Stick To Your Guns was precisely that it was constantly evolving. The album “Disobedient” was simply proof that the band had come of age and “True View” continues in this vein like the last two Architects albums. Ever richer, ever deeper and ever more energetic: just as Parkway Drive pushed the boundaries of metalcore, Stick To Your Guns have pushed the boundaries of modern hardcore.
This review has been written in 2017 when the album was released.