Stretch  Arm Strong - The Revealing (Cover Artwork)

Stretch Arm Strong

The Revealing (2024)

Iodine Records

March 2024 brought a most welcome surprise as South Carolina hardcore heroes Stretch Arm Strong finally issued their first new music since 2005’s Free at Last. After reactivating the unit for Furnace Fest 2021 and an explosive hometown show in Columbia, SC in April of 2022, the band signed to Iodine Records for a reissue campaign. Helmed by Jack Shirley (Joyce Manor, Deafheaven, Jeff Rosenstock), genre classics Rituals of Life and A Revolution Transmission were remastered and repressed to vinyl, serving as a reminder of the band’s essential sonic contributions and cementing their legacy in our home state and the hardcore community.

I will begin my admitting this review is strongly biased. I love this band and spent many a high school weeknight traveling from my small town in upstate SC to catch these guys whenever I could at New Brookland Tavern in Columbia, SC. Their music inspired me and brought me through those tumultuous years from adolescence and my early 20’s.

Which brings us to the incendiary The Revealing EP, a six-song neutron bomb releasing 19 years of pressurized anticipation. Forgoing the melodic deviations of Free at Last, The Revealing bristles with hardcore fury and proves age has only sharpened the band’s attack. The EP was produced by the inimitable Steve Evetts, renowned for his work with Lifetime, Kid Dynamite, Snapacase, The Dillinger Escape Plan, and several others.

“The Mirror” ignites the proceedings with a ferocious screed about acknowledging your life’s current status shaped by your actions, experiences, and mistakes and using that realization to shape what you are still capable of becoming. Chris McLane and David Sease's scorching vocal interplay appears to have exponentially compounded during the band's extended hiatus. 

“Illuminating” features a monster chorus and some lacerating guitar work from Sease and Scott Dempsey. The track serves as a dual metaphor for the mutual beneficence of parent and child and passing the torch to the next generation of hardcore fans and bands. 

The rhythm section of Jeremy Jeffers and John Barry light the fuse of “Aspirations” with tense bass and cymbal interplay that blasts into another aggressive sprint, ending with a great shout along finale. Lou Koller from New York’s legendary Sick of It All shows up for the fiery “Take A Stand.”

The centerpiece of the album is “Still Believe, Part III,” a manifesto on the future of the band and hardcore itself. The years of weary “changing seasons” and crumbling integrity have lead to cracks in the foundation of the band’s internal relationships and the scene itself. However, now is the time to “find reconciliation” and reform those brotherly bonds. Despite life’s constant onslaught, McLane testifies “the only way out is through” with a promise that this group is back to “walk with you.” “Still Believe” reinforces a belief in the bonds of long-forged friendships, the community of hardcore, and the future of the genre as a vehicle to uplift and foster perseverance against all of life’s varied adversity.

“A Revealing” is the denouement declaration that no one will be left behind. Stretch Arm Strong are back to continue their mission of hardcore positivity with The Revealing and will endure.