The Orange County hardcore-punk band, Stick to Your Guns have released their seventh album, Spectre. After a 5 year wait since the last LP, the band have created a well rounded and meaningful record that provides a social commentary, as any good punk record does, writes Kerenza Hudson.
The album begins with an acoustic thirty-eight second intro (My heart is A…), inviting and preparing
the listener for the fury filled 12 track record. (My heart is A…) roughens up at the end leading into
the militant vocals by Jesse Barnett in Weapon, a melodic hardcore track that’s reminiscent of
Code Orange, which properly kicks off the LP in a unique energetic style. I first heard Weapon at 2000Trees festival in July 2022, where I was introduced to the band. The gritty vocals that got me hooked to STYG translate well from live performance to the LP, bringing the edge I so hoped for.
The band has never kept their beliefs quiet, particularly shown on tracks on Spectre such as Who
Dares, with an opening joke about the capitalist system, quoted from American folk-singer Utah Phillips. This track in particular is pro-unionization and worker solidarity as well as the track A world
to Win which is heavily inspired by the Communist Manifesto. The lyrics across the album are full of
intent and shock value, something STYG has kept consistent throughout their career.
Hush and The Shine bring up the pulse of the record, with a fury you can’t help but scream along
and headbang to. Hush opens with isolated aggressive vocals, screaming out 'You’ll answer for what
you’ve done with your last breath', which are swept away with the following guitar riff. Hush is blatantly, as Barnett says, about telling Nazis to ‘shut up’, with inspiration from a young Serbian girl who was hung for killing Nazis in WWII. The inspiration is only subtle and not the forefront of the lyricism, rather a background knowledge. The only overt mention of this brave young woman is the final lyric 'To the last man': a part of her final quote, where she refused to have her life spared in return
for turning in her allies.
The vocals of The Shine are slightly more tender than ‘Hush’. For me, it's a standout track of the record, bringing the true essence of metalcore whilst showcasing the diversity of STYG. The
diversity of the record doesn’t stop at The Shine, as Open my Head introduces a grunge, alt-rock
style to the STYG's discography, with dynamic shifts throughout and a chorus that will be stuck in my head for weeks.
Spectre brings several emotive tracks alongside the hardcore sounds of Liberate and Hush,
notably More of Us Than Them and Father. Father is a track dedicated to the guitarist,
Christopher Rawson’s, father and his death in 2019. With lyrics focusing on themes of freedom
and death, 'The true freedom of death. True freedom of death. True freedom is dead. Freedom is
dead', and how the two intertwine.
"Stick To Your Guns have shown that they know who they are as a band, their sound, and do not shy away from it."
The final song on the record, No way to Live brings the fiery angst of the rest of the record to a
close with a gentle acoustic guitar, in the same style of Neckdeep’s December. Paving out a new
style for STYG, with a softer more heartfelt track about familial differences on politics, patriotism and
religion. It's a poetic and reflective stance, that is unusual for STYG in comparison to their previous
discography, but still very well executed by the band.
In Spectre, STYG bring a number of styles to the table, making it an LP perfect for those who
enjoy a wide range of heavy music styles. To some this has come across as inconsistent and choppy,
with no true single style, save their own, being drawn out across the album. However, it’s clear
that STYG is spreading their wings with their maturity and learnt career experiences bringing a product that is precise and confident in its anti-capitalist beliefs, that are solidified with intent. It’s refreshing to have a record with lyrics that are embedded so deeply within the band ideals that there is no need to read any extra anecdotal interviews to truly understand the meaning behind each track. This record has drawn me into the group, and especially with their strong stance on politics, Stick To Your Guns have shown that they know who they are as a band, their sound, and do not shy away from it.
Edited by: Caradoc Gayer
In article and cover images courtesy of Stick to Your Guns via Facebook.