Whether it looks awful or it looks amazing, the first impression many people get from a band is based on their cover art. Certain bands and labels can be associated with certain styles, like Jacob Bannon's artwork is associated with Deathwish, or like pictures of girls can be associated with Victory. Now, I already have Stand & Fight's first release for Bridge 9, so I already had a good idea of what I was in for, but still, the first thing I thought of when I saw the covert art was Time Flies' "On Our Way."
As I said before, I've heard this band's past material, and I expected more of the same from this release, but to my surprise, Together We Win shows this band evolving a bit, and showcasing more melody than I would've expected. It's obviously not a crazy shift that's going to set the world of hardcore on its ear, but I certainly didn't expect it. This band does the melodic style well, as showcased by the album's final track, which even features some "whoas" in the background. While the background vocals might be awkward, the song itself is strong, as is this entire release. Wrench's vocals are as strong as they've ever been, and they're also mixed a bit better than on the band's self-titled effort. This release is a step up from that release, and the bit of added melody is nice change of pace.
The lyrics still focus on straight edge more than anything else, but I don't think that is going to surprise anyone. However, they do cover some other topics, like in the song "Fight Back:"
"I'm so sick of intimidation, that kid didn't do a thing to you, he's just new and didn't follow your rules, but I'm sure your crew will teach him a thing or two. Policing the scene, why don't you say what you mean, you're getting off on picking on kids that are weaker than you, because you think they won't fight back."
I had Stand & Fight pegged as another hardcore band that was fun to listen to, but that wouldn't be much more, but this release shows promise. This is catchy hardcore, and I'm pretty sure you don't need one of those watches with an x on the face to enjoy it.