A horrible hack

Stalwart Sons

Stay Cold

Year Released: 2012
Format: LP
Label: Revolution Winter
Reviewed by Sean Haughton on Dec 4, 2012
Okay, so this is exceptional. Canada's punk and hardcore output in recent months has been pretty absurd and there seems to be way too much good stuff to keep up with. Calgary's Stalwart Sons were brought to my attention by this very website's distro stocking their first LP 'Burn Daylights Like Torches' which was released sometime 2 or 3 years back. That LP was solid and showed real promise, and their two splits from last year had songs that were as good as any emo coming out at the time. This LP appears to take that to the next level and sees them really fine tuning their songwriting.

In terms of sound, the band are going down roads that aren't travelled too much at the moment, touching on the likes of Twelve Hour Turn, later I Hate Myself, the slower moments of Tubers, and Constantines. I would argue flashes of the now-deceased steamroller spirit of Shoppers rears its head occasionally in songs like 'A Lonely War', too. The band is no basic tribute act though, really melding their influences into something that stands out. The rhythm section especially shines for me on this record, with the bass playing having the same balance of inventiveness and simplicity that is so present in THT's classic moments, while the drummer is regularly unafraid to be restrained and uncomplicated where necessary. The song 'True North' is the record's best example of the trio complementing each other perfectly to the point where I am confident of claiming this as a standout song of the year, and I'm going to be ballsy enough to put it up there on the same level as anything from the last Tubers record.

Lyrically, the album avoids tired cliches entirely and carries a strong theme of Canadianism (to add to this, the aesthetically-pleasing cover is a shot of Moraine Lake in Alberta). The band really expand upon this in interesting ways, touching on distancing themselves from nationalist pride in 'Wave More Flags' and also overdoing the theme as a lyrical idea in 'Horse Blanket Rash' (the "full circle" nature of this is something of a small detail but I find it really nicely done). The writing style is in a larger sense political but abstract, refreshing and the subject matter is often unique and explained in a succinct manner by the band that adds to overall feeling of the album.

While I had previously really enjoyed Stalwart Sons, this is honestly a piece of work that has unexpectedly floored me and, while I try to avoid rushing into judgements I could see potential for this to be a release I hold in a higher regard than any other punk record I've heard this year. Recommended for both the older crowd and someone unfamiliar to this style alike. Really, really fucking good.

Recommended record by Collective Zine!

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