Review by Shannon Shumaker
Stick To Your Guns have always been very tuned into current events - just take their last full-length, Disobedient or even 2012’s Diamond for example - and they address just that in the title track of their new EP, Better Ash Than Dust, which poses the question, “How can you be an artist and not reflect the times?” For this five song EP, Stick To Your Guns do that and then some, addressing police brutality in “Universal Language,” and creating a safe space in music with “No Tolerance” all while driving home a theme of being the best version of yourself.
Although there is plenty of Stick To Your Guns’ signature rage and fire in these songs, there are also quite a few stunning melodic moments in there as well. The opening track, “Better Ash Than Dust” is the perfect taste test of the EP, with a high energy and aggressive intro but a slow, clean chorus that somehow meshes with it perfectly. After over ten years together, Stick To Your Guns know just how to make a song like “Better Ash Than Dust” work, and they do it well. From the strong bass tone to the aggressive guitar and quite possibly some of the best drumming on the EP, all the way to the contrasting vocal parts, “Better Ash Than Dust” serves as the perfect opener to the EP.
Following “Better Ash Than Dust” is “Universal Language,” which really shines vocally and lyrically. Driving the message home is the line, “War is all I fucking see,” which will easily stick with listeners long after the song comes to an end. Where “Universal Language” and “Better Ash Than Dust” can be more melodic, the third song, “No Tolerance,” is high energy, aggressive and raw. This is the Stick To Your Guns that many fans know and love, and it comes with ease. Every single element to “No Tolerance” works perfectly together, and it’s with this song that it becomes clear that Stick To Your Guns can honestly do no wrong. From this point, the rest of the EP feels very natural and easy. “The NeverEnding Story,” for instance follows this same sound and energy, vocalist Jesse Barnett urging listeners to “Just give a fuck about something.” Then, closing out the fleeting five song EP is “The Suspend,” which drives the message home with the line, “I’ll give till I’ve got nothing left.”
Not only is Better Ash Than Dust Stick To Your Guns at their best, but the EP just feels completely natural. There isn’t one rough transition or a single moment in these five songs that sounds out of place. The band is completely in their element in songs like these, which almost makes you wish that it was a full-length and not just an EP, but thankfully, they also get their point across. Listeners will finish this EP feeling fulfilled. Better Ash Than Dust signifies a fight to better and to be stronger rather than just fading away, and these five aggressive, emotional songs reflect just that.
Listen to "Better Ash Than Dust"
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