Set It Straight - Live Your Heart and Never Follow (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Set It Straight

Live Your Heart and Never Follow (2006)

Twelve Gauge

Set It Straight has dropped quite a number of releases since their inception, which couldn't have been much more than a few years ago. With already two splits and a previous full-length under their potentially vegan leather belts, hopefully the band isn't spreading themselves too thin, because while Live Your Heart and Never Follow is definitely solid, it feels a few qualities short of greatness.

Live Your Heart and Never Follow is melody-tinged straight-edge hardcore heavily in the vein of bands like Staygold, with the occasional mini-breakdown rather cleanly integrated á la Casey Jones. This makes for a compelling, enjoyable 34 minutes, chock full of creative guitar work, stop/starts and tempo changes, but still with spotty problems here and there.

Vocalist Harry Petty is hardly terrible, but he suffers a bit from a lack of variety and his sometimes atonal delivery, aside from more adventurous spots like in "Hourglass" and "Young Vices." Aside from him, it seems the band doesn't fully tread the ups and downs available in the time given per song (which tends to be around two-and-a-half minutes here); they're well-thought out but seemingly stop short of the adventurous quality they strive for.

The band is well-put with their beliefs, however. "Oblivious" is a confrontational piece challenging thoughtless, dancing audience members and, while a little cheesy, pleasingly declares "I am straight-edge / for my own fucking self / and no one else." On Live Your Heart Set It Straight simply asks for open minds but manage to simultaneously stray from overbearing on the topic and attempting to convert listeners.

While several friends make cameos here, none is more unexpected and dynamic-providing than Killing the Dream's Eli Horner; he serves up a refreshing, roughly screamed vocal counterpart in "Hourglass," and I can't think of many other active hardcore frontmen to properly relay that type of heightened intensity through voice alone.

For all the criticisms I have I should still make the point of how solid and non-alienating Live Your Heart and Never Follow is. Set It Straight may not be as accomplished as a fair number of their peers, but with an aggressive pacing, strong convictions and an ambitious sense of melody and songcraft they're well on their way.

Strikes and Gutters II