Here’s a question—what is Stray From The Path’s cap? Every band has one, some more obviously than others, but for a band whose material has comprised so staunchly of a crop of just a few ideas, you’d think that’d be more clear. At the same time, it’s not like they’ve had much reason to pump the brakes, not when socio-political injustices they rally against so fervently haven’t stopped heating up. Some of their work has felt more vital than others, naturally, but at no point have Stray From The Path legitimately been spinning their wheels, and it’s a credit to a band who’ve been consistently releasing albums from 20 years that that can even be said.
That is to say, Euthanasia falls pretty much exactly where anyone with even the remotest familiarity would expect it to. It’s a new Stray From The Path album, once again slamming through metallic hardcore coloured by rap-metal and nu-metal, and undercutting a willful lack of innovation with blunt fury. It’s worked well enough in the past and, sure enough, it does again, albeit perhaps with a diminished element of surprise that, eleven albums in, isn’t all that worth expecting anyway.
It’s not really needed in the first place though, not when Stray From The Path are so ruthlessly efficient in their chosen style now, to where Euthanasia goes by remarkably quickly when it feels like any fat has been surgically removed. Needful Things is a strong indicator of what to expect, the album opener that re-establishes all of Stray From The Path’s usual qualities, fine-tuned—the seismic guitars that seethe and roar like chainsaws; Craig Reynolds’ astounding drumming that’s detailled enough to feed into the blitz on its own, particularly on Guillotine and Chest Candy; and the acidic yelp from Drew Dijorio, wrenched up straight from the bile duct to scorch even deeper.
So far, so Stray From The Path then, but it shouldn’t be dismissed that that’s where its strength lies. The streetwise gait that compounds the ferocity hasn’t been minimised whatsoever, in the turbo-charged nu-metal crunch of III, or Law-Abiding Citizen’s stop-start groove where you can practically hear the concrete cracking under its weight. This deep into their career, Stray From The Path really have nailed the sweet spot between nu-metal and hardcore, particularly when it’s not at the expense of the latter’s heft. They’re among the most consistent bands around at making their work feel physically heavy, and Euthanasia is no exception, particularly when they up the density even further on Ladder Work or a Deftones-esque turn from Stick To Your Guns’ Jesse Barnett on Bread & Roses.
It all comes with the consistency that Stray From The Path have embodied pretty much since the beginning, mostly a case of their feet being so firmly planted in the cause they’re striking back with. As usual, Euthanasia is an album where its bullets tend to spray than zero in, but that doesn’t sacrifice too much power for the wider breadth. There’s the shots at corrupt, murderous cops on III; the fetishisation of the US military complex on Chest Candy; Waspy racist communities on Neighborhood Watch; and on Law-Abiding Citizen, a concise dive into the world’s ills and transgressions that might as well read as a rap-metal We Didn’t Start The Fire. All of it comes launched by Dijorio as a vocalist who’s always been phenomenal at capturing a raw, bloody-faced anger, of which none of this is any different. Nor does this seem like simply going through the motions either; even with some lacking specificity that doesn’t necessarily place these songs to specific happenings or timeframes (Law-Abiding Citizen on its own encompasses about a decade), the compound making up this particular venom is no less diluted.
As such, it comes together as a strike from Stray From The Path that’s as swift and purposeful as ever. At this point, it’s getting hard to determine where new releases fall in an overall ranking when they’re so much of a muchness, though that’s not a bad problem to have. If anything, it’s a testament to how righteously dedicated Stray From The Path are, where any new album can be dubbed ‘more of the same’, yet still carry out its goals with brutal efficiency and power. It’s just as out-and-out solid as every standard that this band have established for themselves for over two decades, an achievement in consistency that few will enjoy, and even fewer will see to this extent.
For fans of: The Ghost Inside, Stick To Your Guns, Rage Against The Machine
‘Euthanasia’ by Stray From The Path is released on 9th September on UNFD.
Words by Luke Nuttall