ALBUM: Stray From The Path – Only Death Is Real

Release Date: September 8th 2017
Label: Sumerian Records


The world is a bit fucked up at the moment, ain’t it? Well, it’s difficult to remember there ever being a time when it wasn’t even a little bit fucked up, but it definitely is at the moment. While many are voicing their hate, oppression, and campaigning on social media – some even taking to the streets – New York’s Stray From The Path are keeping their message strong through their music like they have been since 2001, and now they’re here with album number eight.

‘Only Death Is Real’ is a seething commentary on several aspects of the world as we know it today, predominantly that of the American political and social climate, and, frankly, if you’re already a fan or familiar with the band, there are no surprises here from their established, tried and tested blueprint.

There are breakdowns and fun mosh moments left, right, and centre, and the album as a whole is a quick and furious affair, clocking in at just under half an hour. Frontman’s Drew York’s lyrical messages are at times beyond agitated and vexed, but at other times, he keeps it a little simplistic and sloganeering. Spitting bars like “Don’t hate the player, hate the game”, “If you preach hate, then expect hate”, and “You just got knocked the fuck out” are very simplistic, blunt, direct, and to the point. But, in saying that, that’s probably the aim, right? Why lace an angry message provoking a call-to-action and change with metaphors and imagery?

Indeed, ‘Let’s Make A Deal’ tackles the topic that government, business, and people in power and wealth are driven by a greed for more money and profit over working to a moral compass, the controversial ‘Goodnight Alt-Right’, as the title strongly implies, is a right hook into the increasing alt-right movement of late, and ‘The House Always Wins’ is an attack on the political system from the top to bottom.

There are also a few vocal features littered into this short record, but none shines brighter than that of Keith Buckley from Every Time I Die, who steps up to the plate in the closing moments of ‘Strange Fiction’. His screams are high-pitched, shrill, and somewhat jarring as he rings out “You wanna live with the wolves? / You’d better learn how to train them on your own / I see you clutching your clothes / Get back inside, this is not your hunt.”

The record’s title-track is the final act of this full-length, and refreshingly a choir section enters int the frame, intermittently singing “Death is after your soul” throughout the length of the song. It’s a refreshing inclusion on the closer, yet it also reminds us of what is Stray From The Path‘s strength, but also what is undoubtedly their biggest weakness.

Though venomous in their messages, their consistency in their Rage Against The Machine-meets-Counterparts style leaves them seeming a bit stagnant and overly comfortable in what they know. Maybe a few risks sonically is needed for album number nine. After all, we all know lyrically they’re not ones to veer away from shaking things up.

Written by Zach Redrup (@zachredrup)