Stray from the Path – Euthanasia


Stray from the Path are a band with much crossover appeal. They started as a mathcore-influenced hardcore unit, worked with Misha Mansoor of Periphery for 2009’s Make Your Own History, and enlisted Will Putney to produce the next few records. In that time, they adapted their sound closer to Rage Against the Machine with 2013’s Anonymous LP and even flirted with nu metal. As antagonists in the frontline of the culture wars since their controversial ‘Goodbye Alt-Right’ fight song in 2017, the Long Island quartet are not about to abandon their convictions. Euthanasia is another political gut punch that has no time for mercy. Indeed, it steamrolls through the crowd like a hungry tank.

It’s impossible to write a review of Stray from the Path without mentioning Rage Against the Machine, so let’s dispense with it now. The quartet are far too heavy and aggressive to rip off the Los Angeles legends, but they share some of the pentatonic guitar techniques and venerate the same spirit of anti-establishment youth. “We want tomorrow, so fuck your yesterday,” might be as subtle as a Brian Singer pool party (research his name in Google if you want to learn more), but the music is merciless on opener, ‘Needful Things’. Listen to the velocity of the down-picking chugs and the growl of the bass guitar underneath Andrew Dijorio’s vitriolic high-pitched belting. He might use the onomatopoeia of rap, but his voice is too vicious to qualify for this vocal style. You want to ask at what age Stray from the Path consider acceptable to be the self-appointed voice of youth, but they know that album number ten disqualifies them. “The kids are coming for you – are you in or in the way?” is the message here.

It’s easy to pick out the populist rhetoric in every song on this album, and some of it is predictable. But the metallic crunch on Euthanasia is its deadliest weapon. See if you can survive the cry of “No peace for my enemy,” before the breakdown riff in ‘May You Live Forever’. Christ, this is like Code Orange embarking on a sleep-deprivation experiment to make them even more pissed off for their next record. Of course, the police are in the political firing line for at least one song – in this case, the bicep-flexing rap metal-meets-Meshuggah punch of ‘III’, with its immortal chorus line of “Servants of the 187/ Send another victim to heaven.” Those of us this side of the Atlantic in the old world can look upon English drummer, Craig Reynolds, with pride. He treats the first forty-two seconds of ‘Guillotine’ like a private drum clinic before the guitarist introduces the heaviest down-picking riff since the release of Great American Ghost’s EP in January this year. “Death I can guarantee/ As quick as a cut can bleed/ When it drops, it can’t be stopped/ No plan B, just the guillotine.” There’s no doubt what Andrew Dijorio would like to do to the puppet masters who shape America’s capitalist system after one listen to this populist anthem.

The main enemy on this record is bourgeois morality. Why else would they write a song attacking the concerned property-owning citizens on ‘Neighbourhood Watch’ with the thuggish line of “This is not a safe space/And we don’t forget a face, motherfucker – ugh!”? Sarcasm is another tool in the band’s armoury, although they go straight for the vein on ‘The Salt in Your Spit’, taking aim at the person who allows the rat race to grind them down and rob them of their political convictions. Francis Fukuyama would agree that the person who opts for the quiet life can be considered a coward from a Hegelian perspective, but Stray from the Path are wrong to see the man who has a mortgage to pay and kids to feed as a spineless citizen. It might just be that he’s less likely to share their left-wing view of society and sees no merit in the left’s obsession with identity politics.

Stray from the Path thrive on division despite adhering to the hardcore ethos of eliminating boundaries between people, yet their music is a strong panacea for the adrenaline junkie in you. Whatever your politics, this is art that gets the pulses racing and the eyes bulging, and for that we should be thankful.

JVB


Verdict


Release Date: 09/09/2022

Record Label: UNFD

Standout tracks: III, Guillotine, The Salt in Your Spit

Suggested Further Listening: Great American Ghost – Torture World (2022), Stuck Mojo – Declaration of A Headhunter (2022), Outright – Keep You Warm (2022)