Stick to Your Guns – Diamond
Record Label: Sumerian Records
Release Date: March 27th, 2012
CA melodic hardcore band Stick to Your Guns is a band I’ve been a fan of for two years now, since The Hope Division was released in 2010. I was only about 17 when this album was released, and this was the first melodic hardcore band I had ever listened to, but let’s just say, I was absolutely in love with that record. It was fantastic in every single way and even two years later, it still holds up. I loved it because of its message, mainly. It was all about hope as the title suggested, but it was amazing. Fast forward two years, and the band put out Diamond earlier this year. I had listened to the record a few times and really dug it, but it fell to the wayside for me because a lot of other records came out at the same time. I finally have bought a copy and I definitely am sad that I didn’t listen to this record enough. While it’s a bit different from The Hope Division, that’s a good thing, because it expands upon the sound that they had on that record. The thing that’s different about Diamond is that there doesn’t seem to a theme weaving through it; there are a lot of themes, but The Hope Division’s main theme was hope, while Diamond doesn’t seem to have one. There’s a bit more to take from this record, even if I have a few problems with it, which I’ll bring up in a moment. This record also has a bit more experimentation on it as well, but not a whole lot. There are a couple of standout tracks on here, but it does do some interesting things. This leads me to the problems I have with this record, though, and one of them might contradict what I just said about it having variety. It does have variety, but the record seems lacking of something. I don’t quite know what it is, but The Hope Division was absolutely amazing to me, because it was so sincere and moving. Diamond just comes off as very “tough guy hardcore” to me, and that goes along with the next problem I have with it – the lyrics. That’s what I mean. The lyrics seem way too “tough” at times, and I’ll get to what I mean by that soon. For now, let’s just delve into this record, shall we?
The record opens with the title track “Diamond,” and it’s a very short track, but it definitely hits, nonetheless. Every song has its own unique theme, and the title track is about being true to yourself, which is a great thing to teach young people today. The song is only about two and a half minutes, but it works, nonetheless. Second track “Against Them All” is about not giving up even when you want to. This is the first single from the record and I remember hearing it when it came out; it was a bit different from anything I heard on The Hope Division, but I enjoyed it. Third track “Such Pain” is an enjoyable track, but this leads me to another problem I had with this record – how short it is. It’s only 34 minutes, and the thing with this record is that it seems it goes in one ear and out the other, for the most part. There are a lot of great tracks on here, but it seems to fall to the wayside after the 34 minutes are over. But regardless, it’s a very enjoyable 34 minutes. Sadly, a few tracks, like “Such Pain” are a bit forgettable. It’s a two and a half minute breakdown, basically. That’s how fourth track “The Bond” is, too. Now don’t get me wrong, these tracks are not awful, but they don’t do anything for me. Fifth track “We Still Believe” is where things start to change a bit. It features lead vocalist Jesse Barnett’s clean vocals at the forefront, and even a gang chant in the chorus. This is something I haven’t heard from the band and I like it a lot. It’s a very nice anthem about believing in your dreams, essentially. While some tracks don’t do anything for me, it’s usually not because of the lyrics, despite some of them having that “tough guy” image, which does rather bother me, but they’re still meaningful. They’re meaningful, but angry. “We Still Believe” does have a nice breakdown in the middle of the song, but it’s still one of the few standout tracks on the record.
As the record goes on, the problems that plague this record are still apparent, save for a few tracks. The lyrics are just as meaningful, for the most part. Sixth track “Ring Loud (Last Hope)” is really interesting, because it starts off as a breakdown, but then once it goes into the chorus, there’s a choir or something to that effect singing part of it, and it really cool. Immediately afterwards, “Empty Heads” is a barrage of a track, but this is where the tough guy lyrics start to show, especially this: “Will one of you idiots please just say something new? / Yeah, well, you say "f**k the world" we say "f**k you." There is a really awesome guitar solo in the middle of the track, and while the meaning does hold up, these lyrics just seem so angry to me. The same can be said for next track “Beyond the Sun.” The lyrics in this track are just way too angry, which isn’t a terrible thing, but it’s a slight departure from the lyrics on The Hope Division. In fact, the epitome of these tough guy lyrics come with eighth track “Life In a Box,” where Barnett screams, “So save your breath, you homophobic sh*thead.” In the words of Ron Burgandy, “Well, that escalated quickly.” This whole song seems to be about Barnett’s disdain for Christianity and how a lot of Christians live their lives in a box, and won’t listen to anyone but themselves. Aside from that, eleventh track “D(I Am)ond” is quite interesting because it seems to go back to the theme of the first track, which is the title track. Last track “Built Upon the Sand” thankfully is another one of those more calm tracks, which brings The Hope Division to mind. It ends the album nicely, even if it was rather short.
While the album is short, and at times, a bit forgettable, as a whole, it’s enjoyable. I highly doubt any of the songs on there will be considered “classics” to the band, but nonetheless, this is an album worth checking out. It’s got that meaning, but it’s also rather ferocious, which is what The Hope Division really lacked. Not that that’s a bad thing, because I did like how “calm” it was, for the most part, but even so, this album is much more angry and ferocious.