Opening track Better Ash Than Dust gets the EP off to a burning start for Stick To Your Guns, with a catchy riff and screams right from the off which build and build going forth through the verse. It eventually becomes one of their signature pre-verse breakdowns with a good old “bleugh”. This is followed by a punchy second verse that is far more the STYG styling-of-old which leads into a melodic chorus and descending back into chaos for the third verse. At the end though, they bring the track to a close with an interview with Nina Simone titled On The Role of an Artist, where she talks about the youth of the day being involved in everything political and that art is reflective of the time (read that interview here). It’s pretty clear to see this lot are putting a statement out already…
Second track Universal Language is another hardcore gem here as it opens with a quick, brutal-sounding riffs and a breakdown that shows Stick To Your Guns have stayed at the top of the game for all these years. The bassline throughout just radiates hardcore vibes even from the tone employed and when coupled with the chugging guitars and pounding drumbeat it leads to a polished-yet-rough hardcore with a sky-rocketing chorus that will stick in listeners’ heads for a long time following the listen. Many more breakdowns follow and it follows abruptly to keep the effect resonating for a long time to come. Third track No Tolerance has a lot of potential and goes in very strong to begin with but finishes far too quickly at just 2:24. It opens as you’d expect with a huge riff and screams and continues throughout, with a fade-out on the guitar playing the song to its end almost as soon as it had begun.
Fourth track The NeverEnding Story is the highlight of Better Ash Than Dust. It has a bass-led riff to open and ripping through another verse of pure anger as Jesse Barnet bellows about “grabbing at anything to stay on your feet” and bringing it home with the soaring chorus of “all of this means nothing to me, I’m tired of suffering through all of everything”. The control of the pre-chorus is admirable and the chorus is refined and melodic as with the previous ones and the style of the heaviness re-emerging is here as well. Closing track The Suspend shows that if “progressive hardcore” was a thing Stick To Your Guns would be pretty good at that too. The introduction leads well into the verse as the band build up further to a pause and re-intro and it proceeds “I won’t live forever but I will die taller” and further develops to become a a slow-paced hardcore anthem that is the perfect ending to a great release.
Sadly the EP is far too short at only 16 minutes, but what there is displayed in that short period is that this band don’t give up. Through over a decade, it appears the constant refreshing of members has kept the sound clean and ever-evolving and Better Ash Than Dust is proof Stick To Your Guns are going just as strong now as ever.