Every time Stray From The Path releases an album, it almost always falls during a time where not only am I at a fever pitch politically, but so is the rest of the world. And while other bands either refuse to take a strong political stance, or keep it vague, SFTP puts their beliefs right there on the front lawn for everyone to see. I've always respected this, because whenever I see a group or a band "avoid" politics I always see that as the most cowardly and bitch made action possible. Everything is political, you fucking dolt, just say who you voted for and move on, who gives a shit.
My first experience with SFTP was in 2017, with the album "Only Death Is Real". Y'know...the one that had "Goodnight Alt-Right" on it. That one. At that point in my life I was admittedly a little edgelord dickhead who made crude jokes and probably still used the word gay as a pejorative. Whatever, no one is perfect. However, I wasn't so lost in the sauce that I knew what the "alt-right" was, or what that even meant. But I heard that song and I loved it, despite all the comments calling it cringe. It scratched that part of my brain that needed scratching, and it was honestly through that song that put me on to researching left leaning values. The "Hating nazis to becoming a Leftist" pipeline is quite real, apparently.
But! Enough talking about my growth as a person, lets talk about this new record!
The album opens with the song "Needful Things", which starts with this absolutely crushing riff that leads to some seriously intense drumming that doesn't let up for a single second. Lyrically, vocalist Andrew Dijorio comes off angry, fed up, and has some serious shit to say (You got the grip but they don’t love you/You tangle the truth so they don't trust you/The beast in the mirror, it becomes you/Look 'em square in the eye and say Fuck you). The following song, "May You Live Forever" continues the killer drum work (a recurring theme in the record), and the song constantly builds to this incredible breakdown at the end. This song is definitely a song I want to see a nazi get the shit beat out of them to.
Now...Lets talk about "III"...lets TALK about this song. This song is a beast, this song is a menace. I never use the term love when it comes to music very often, but I fucking love this song. Everything from the riff, which feels very RATM (but still unique to Stray) to me, to the lyrics. This song is a beautifully brutal takedown of the cops, the police state, and the ones who defend them. This song fucks...nuff said. "Guillotine" has some disgusting chuggy guitar work and some very pointed lyrics, this is gonna cause havoc in the circle pit and I feel it has serious setlist staying power.
The song "Chest Candy" has a bass tone that bands only wish they could record. Combined with a classic 2-step cadence, this is another circle pit mainstay. Another thing I dig is that this song doesn't overstay its welcome. Clocked at under 3 minutes, it comes in, spits on you, hits you in the head, and leaves. And it has my favorite lyrics on the record (They said be all that you can be, Just sign your name and die for me/Let's see what colors you can bleed, From the field to the infirmary). However, a personal low for me in the record was the track "Bread & Roses". Not that it was a bad song per se, but I just couldn't get into it. Maybe the guest vocal took me out of it, but I just couldn't get past it. I wasn't really a fan of it as a single, and I still didn't like it in context of the album.
Another song I was mixed on was "Law Abiding Citizen". It's got some fun lyrics, and a lovely little riff change in the chorus, but when I initially heard it all I could hear was a Rage Against The Machine B-side. Again, not a bad thing at all, but I dunno, it just didn't feel very original to me. I felt like I heard this three albums ago, y'know? "The Salt in Your Spit" however was a personal highlight for me! Great rhythm section, the bass and drums combine to form this beautiful passage that made this old punks dead heart beat one single beat. This track also has cleverly placed gang vocals that I hope get recreated live.
Rounding out the back end of the record, the song "Neighbourhood Watch" is a beast! This song had me crowd killing my god damn cat. This song goes absolutely apeshit. The vocals have this great Nu-Metal delivery (complimented with a cheeky lil 'blegh' near the end), with a fitting riff to match. Now the album closer, "Ladder Work", is an interesting song. It starts off as this light, somber affair that works its way into this instrumental that could be on any Rap-Metal bands album from like '05, which is honestly the highest compliment I can ever give a band, and I'm being dead fucking serious. My one gripe is that I just thought it was too long, maybe? There's this sick sample in the middle of the song that calls back to the title of the record, and if it ended there it would've been perfect, to me.
Man, this album came out exactly when it needed to, and exactly when I needed it to. This album let me focus my anger at the world to a fixed location for about 40 minutes, and I think that's just great.