“3 Feet from Peace” starts with single spoken-word voice that fades into the introductory instrumental music. After this transition, it leads to a split in vocals: half sang, half in a screaming voice. Towards the end of the song, the band introduces their first breakdown of the album. With this breakdown, you can tell that the band isn’t messing around with this album, for they are already giving the audience a solid metal breakdown.
“The Sun, the Moon, the Truth:’ Penance of Self’” is led in by the ending of the first song. The beginning back-beat to this song provides a very symmetrical rhythmical element to their music that pushes the melody forward in an aggressive type of way. This being the first of three “concept” based songs from the album (based around one’s self), they needed to inform the audience of their intent with these selections, and they did just that. In this song, the lyrics focus on “this is what I deserve” and “now I must live with the hurt” (symbolizing penance), which is only enhanced by their aggressive instrumental section.
“Married to the Noise” jumps right into the grove of the song, coming right off the bat with aggressive vocals with the first phrase ending with the song title “I’m married to the noise”. After such an aggressive session, the band provided a melodic melody that provided a balanced contrast to the overall song. As this melodic line returns, it gives the audience something catchy that will resonate in their minds before it leads to the middle section that juxtaposes lyrics and rhythmic features in the drums and guitar parts.
“Delinelle” starts with a steady drum figure that stays consistent throughout the song and pushes the melodic content forward. Even though the primary source of vocals in this song are screamed, the general feel of their song is well received, for their vocals are still very clear and understandable. As the grove that was established in the beginning remains, it grows and is developed towards the middle of the song where it leads to a brief moment of a capella singing, which gives the audience a sudden relief of silence to make the sound more pleasing when it returns.
“Cave Canem” starts with a guitar figure that is more prominent than the percussive aspect, which adds more color to their album through versatility. Similar to “Married to the Noise”, the band provides a chorus that is sang to contrast with their harder verses. The band concludes this song with a “last and final warning”, which seamlessly leads into another strong breakdown to close out the song.
“56” starts with a melody that’s basis is clean vocals. This principal remains constant throughout the majority of the song. The inclusion of this song is excellent, for it gives the audience a slight break from the heavier style that the band has provided with the previous tracks; also, it shows their audience that Stick to Your Guns isn’t just a band who primarily screams, they have other strengthens as well. Additionally, the placement of this song on the album is very smart, for the band has given their audience a lot of hardcore material, and with seven more tracks left, it was wise to give the audience a lighter option.
“The Inner Authority: ’Realization of Self’” starts off with a solemn introduction that leads to a progressive back-beat that eventually builds until the vocals enter. This is the second of three “concept” songs, and the band shows that through lyrics such as “this is not what was meant for me” and “control my existence”. These lyrics are powerful on their own, yet the band provides tension throughout their instrumental section during the moments with those lyrics, that it makes the lyrics fully speak their intent.
“You Are Free” starts with a quick snippet of spoken-word that says “right here, right now, you are free”, and that small phrase drives the lyrical concept throughout the entire selection. After that, the instrumental section as well as the vocals turn instantly assertive with forward moving (background) music with vocals that correlate perfectly. Within the song, the band toys with the concept of adding and subtracting instrumental timbres that allow the vocal part to stick out during the more hard-hitting lyrics.
“Doomed by You” (similar to the first two songs) is led in by the ending of “You Are Free”. From the beginning, the song brings its contrast between aggressive and clean vocals. In this song, the band seems to rearticulate certain phrases with more than one vocalist. This is a strategy that they use in other songs on the album, but it is heavily see on this song, and it is very effective because it foreshadows how the breakdown in the middle of the song will begin, for several members scream “You don’t have what it takes”, and then the breakdown commences.
“The Better Days Before Me” starts with instrumental music that appears to have an influence from the punk genre, and that feel remains rather constant throughout the song; however, it is paired with the band’s signature hardcore vocals. In the middle of the song, the band branches away from this style change briefly to present a new melodic idea vocally which plays with the thinness of instrumentation to let the vocals shine. This song shows the different styles of music that Stick to Your Guns has in their arsenal, and it shows how diverse they are by being able to morph it to still fit their normal sound.
“Owed Nothing” starts with harder vocals from the first second, which is pair with a simple kick drum beat until the that phrase reaches its end and leads to the next portion of the song. In this song, the band provides some vocals that are in between their clean and screamed vocals: they sound as if there is a “growl” in the back of their throat as they sing. This song is stereotypical of a metal band, for it is rather intense throughout, and it has a breakdown towards the middle that starts with the word “move”.
“Through the Chain Link” starts with a heartfelt spoken-word that utilizes a “pleading” tone of voice that has a simple guitar riff underneath it. After this, the song moves to a general groove that is consistent in metal music, which makes it very easy to follow the vocals. There are moments in the song where most of the instruments will drop off except a single guitar line to accompany the screamed vocals. This helps to enforce the general theme of this song, the most repeated lyric being “this is the world we live in”.
“The Reach for Me: ‘Forgiveness of Self’” starts out with a progressive guitar part with simple clean vocals overtop it. As this motive grows, the band adds more layers to their instrumentation; however, the band keeps the clean vocals throughout the song. This being the last song on the album, it was a smart choice that this song was song three of three for the “concept” songs. The band is able to convey the raw theme of this song through the lyrics: “and if I can’t forgive myself for the pain I’ve caused, it will always haunt me. Oh, I’m so sorry”. This song provides a powerful message, which makes it an even stronger closing song for the album.
Final Thoughts: Overall, I give this album a 4.5 out of 5 stars. If I am completely honest, I think this album is absolutely amazing. Stick to Your Guns provides their audience with their characteristic metal sound with dashes of other genre influences thrown in. They provide a solid balance of clean and screamed vocals throughout the entirety of the album. Most importantly, they were able to affectively convey a message through their “concept” based songs with tracks that tied them together while surrounding them through the different inflections of their hardcore sound.
* “True View” was released on October 13, 2017 through Pure Noise Records.