Artist: Stray from the Path
Stray from the Path’s metamorphosis through metalcore has been one of my favorite things to follow throughout my tenure as someone interested in heavy music. From the modest, angsty offerings in Our Oceania and Villains through the game-changing Make Your Own History and into the modern age of Stray from Anonymous onward, this Long Island outfit have always been unapologetically true to themselves and their influences. While there were no shortage of those who claimed the band became “too political” following the release of Anonymous and Subliminal Criminals there was also no question that Stray from the Path were entering a field of their own, combining the attitude and aggression of hip-hop, hardcore and hardcore punk with their backbone of brazen metalcore to excellent effect. This little crash course brings us to Euthanasia, the band’s latest offering—and also their most focused, intense and immolating. Ten tracks of Stray from the Path at their finest, Euthanasia is as catchy and engaging as it is raunchy, uproarious and relentless, following closely in the footsteps of 2019’s Internal Atomics. Heavier than hell with no shortage of ear-catching hooks and sociopolitical commentary, Euthanasia is a record as lethal and precise as the name might imply, serving as a stellar choice for Stray from the Path’s tenth studio record.
In recent years, Stray from the Path have been hailed as a sort of spiritual successor to Rage Against the Machine—and while I’m sure the band might be a little tired of the constant comparison, it isn’t without good reason. Throughout Euthanasia, the listener is tastefully reminded of the immense influence Rage (and the message Rage imparts) has on Stray from the Path, carefully blended and balanced against a hefty infusion of contemporary hardcore, metalcore and post-hardcore. “Needful Things” and “III” see the band at their most balanced, with dizzying drumming running amok with Tom Williams’ razor-sharp fretwork in tow, contributing lacerating leads and bouncy, groovy breakdowns in equal measure. Other songs like the slow-burning, mellow “Law Abiding Citizen” see Craig Reynolds’ otherwise unpredictable and flashy percussion take a relative chill pill, while Williams’ fretwork works intimately with Anthony Altamura’s booming bass to craft a colossal, earth-shaking climax from an otherwise innocuous, subtle song. Where Stray from the Path truly shine on Euthanasia is where elements of the band that brought us Subliminal Criminals and Make Your Own History shine through—most abundantly on the rip-roaring “Neighbourhood Watch” and the relentless record-closer “Ladder Work.” On these two songs, stunning breakdowns are built up from some of William’s finest riffs and Reynold’s most energetic percussion and brought down squarely on the listener’s head. Here, Stray from the Path ascend from excellent to perfect, adding just a subtle splash of nostalgia into their otherwise immaculate dynamic, serving as not only an excellent reminder of what Stray have grown from, but what they have grown into.
While Euthanasia’s instrumentation is not without a bite ferocious enough to draw blood, where Stray from the Path’s fangs are the contributions both lyrical and vocal from frontman Drew York. Whether its the clever turns of phrase belted throughout “Needful Things” or the impressive range demonstrated throughout “Neighbourhood Watch,” Drew’s vocal prowess on Stray’s tenth studio record is a fair head above the work fans of the band have come to expect. What’s more is that with every song there is a hook that stays wedged firmly in the listener’s ear—the chorus to lead single “Guillotine” is proof enough of that, but other songs like “Chest Candy” (send ‘em to the furnace/thank you for your service has lived in my head rent-free since first hearing it) or “Neighbourhood Watch” truly hammer it home. Every track features something—be it a line or an entire stanza—that is bound to find itself engraved in the listener’s subconscious, keeping them coming back for listen after listen; an outstanding testament to the band’s ability to write, and to York’s excellent vocal delivery.
Stray from the Path have been a favorite band of mine since stumbling across them in high school. Throughout their journey, like any band, they’ve had ups and downs—but despite that, they have consistently improved with every project they’ve released. Following up the incredible Internal Atomics had me skeptical whether the trend would continue, but my worry was squelched beneath ten tracks of blistering, fuming aggression laced with gilded passion. While Euthanasia may not have the same strong undercurrent of positivity Internal Atomics boasted, it sees Stray from the Path’s resolve at its most unwavering. It is an outstanding example of poignant, relevant and relentless metalcore with a message actually worth blowing out your car stereo blasting. In short, Euthanasia is defined as an incurable constant state of unbearable suffering. If you believe you qualify, please, press play now.
For Fans Of: Stick to Your Guns, Rage Against the Machine, Dying Wish, Born a New
By: Connor Welsh