Every band that’s ever thrown together an album in hopes of making it has faced a common enemy in longevity. If you’re just starting out, you have to worry about touring in a van with a faulty engine, putting up with the know-it-all hecklers and so on, all for the sake of making a name for yourself. And if you somehow do make a name for yourself, you have to worry about creative stagnation along with the stress of keeping your band relevant and marketable. With three albums already under their belt and their new album Engage set to be released, Stretch Arm Strong have succeeded in making a name for themselves in a genre already overpopulated with hardcore doppelgangers. And with each release, they’ve remained creatively progressive and relevant.
Since first coming to Solid State Records with their label debut The Rituals of Life, the band has pioneered an infectious brand of tightly executed posi-core. Rising above the trappings of a genre known for pigeon-holing bands as “one-theme-wonders,” Stretch Arm Strong have expanded their music and lyrics to adopt multiple themes and styles on Engage, once again taking them several steps beyond their peers.
“I think the new record is more to the point and a lot less pretense,” said Chris McLane, the band’s frontman and vocalist. “It's very stripped down and in your face. We took more time crafting and finishing the songs prior to entering the studio and I think it shows.”
The result is a collection of ten blistering tracks featuring several classic Stretch Arm Strong pit-inducing anthems and a few new surprises to their sound. In a bold step, the band has incorporated a more melodic base to the album, resulting in a synthesis of their classically ferocious sound with the artistry of seasoned veterans – both beauty and the beast.
The band’s tour schedule in support of Engage is equally punishing. Having already played several dates with Good Charlotte and New Found Glory in May and a US tour with labelmates Norma Jean that will run through the end of August, their next step will be a European tour with punk legends Rancid. Past tours have included many prominent bands such as Hatebreed, Glasseater, Boy Sets Fire and Sick of It All.
Engage is a devastating album, a testament to the band’s immense talent and skill, which shows no signs of diminishing. If anything, the band has once again earned their rightful place as leaders by consistently bringing an intense passion and honesty to their music.