Written By | Jon Freed
Stick to Your Guns has taken huge strides since their 2007 breakout record, For What It’s Worth. Six full-length records and numerous national and international tours later, they are headlining one of the biggest tours of the year, with support from Year of the Knife, Sanction, Counterparts, and Terror—hardcore veterans who took them out as a supporting act for their first full-US tour ever over a decade ago. With their latest release, True View, Stick to Your Guns maintain the genuine ferocity and energy that brought them into the spotlight a decade prior.
Year of the Knife, the first band on the bill, are an absolute force to be reckoned with when it comes to current hardcore bands. With their debut full-length released earlier this year, Ultimate Aggression, the band presented us with an onslaught of 30 minutes of their own unique metallic brand of hardcore. I was beyond excited to catch Year of the Knife on this tour, but Atlanta traffic had a different agenda apparently—two car wrecks and a 45 minute-turned-three-hour commute later, I was checking into the venue as their set ended.
The second band of the night, Sanction, is truly an experience to see live. Bridging the gap between metalcore and hardcore with their own unique brand of “heavy,” the band certainly did not disappoint. Radial Lacerations, their most recent record, is essentially a capitalization and a continuation of last year’s The Infringement of God’s Plan. Filled with dissonant chords and copious amounts of breakdowns, Sanction’s discography is a musical interpretation of the word “catharsis,” and their live performance certainly represented their unique brand of hardcore perfectly. With such energy and commanding stage presence, Sanction is certainly a band you’ll want to keep a look out for in the future.
Playing third on the bill was perhaps my favorite band of the evening, Terror. With their debut EP being released almost two decades ago, Terror have become longtime hardcore veterans and favorites within the genre. Personally, Terror was the band that introduced me to hardcore music when I was an angsty teenager who was angry at the world. With such motivating and powerful lyrics you can’t help sing along to in combination with energetic music that they’ve essentially trademarked over the years, Terror deliver the realest and rawest form of hardcore you could possibly ask for. Their live show is also unmatched—vocalist Scott Vogel is notorious for his commanding stage presence, constantly calling for crowd participation and “more stage dives.” Needless to say, having the opportunity to capture a band who’s played such an integral part in my life was nothing short of surreal.
After Terror left the crowd sore and with raspy voices from yelling along, Counterparts took the stage. Over the past decade, Counterparts have become crowd favorites for their unique yet nostalgic brand of metalcore. Reminiscent of older now-defunct bands like Misery Signals and It Dies Today, Counterparts deliver a scathing catalogue of emotional hardcore anthems that you can’t help but sing along to. Their stage presence left nothing to be desired either, as guitarist Blake Hardman provided more than enough guitar spins to leave the audience satisfied.
Finally, Stick to Your Guns took the stage. With the audience undeniably sore and exhausted, Stick to Your Guns managed to play an engaging and memorable enough set to continue the momentum and keep the crowd going. As person after person ran across and jumped off of the stage, fists in the air and singing along, I remembered why this genre of music was so special to me when I was younger. Stick to Your Guns exceeded my expectations as they flawlessly performed their perfectly crafted setlist spanning seven records and over a decade. Playing crowd favorites and classics in combination with newer material, Stick to Your Guns made it clear that they knew what they were doing and weren’t planning on easing up anytime soon.
When they played the undeniable opening guitar riff for their 2007 classic, “This is More,” I immediately turned my camera off and singing along. There’s a lot to be said about a band who can maintain momentum in the music scene for over a decade and continue to impress people who haven’t listened to them in years—and that is just what Stick to Your Guns is capable of. With a set like that, there’s no doubt in my mind that Stick to Your Guns is going to be an important part of hardcore for a very long time.
Photo Credit: Jon Freed