Politics and music have always gone hand in hand and the current state of unrest in America is hard to ignore, no matter which side of the coin you choose. No band in metal are therefore more prepared to highlight and the ongoing issues than Long Island New York’s Stray From The Path (SFTP) whose new album Only Death Is Real (Sumerian) is a statement of intent from band that have never and will never pull any punches.
Those looking for a more deeper and thoughtful dissection of current issues may be left disappointed as STFP are fantastically blunt and to the point on every track. Their message is very clear and will leave you in doubt of where they stand.
So let’s cut to the chase here no one would have been able to miss the controversy surrounding the lead off track ‘Goodnight Alt-Right’. A ferocious no-holds barred neck snapping anthem where SFTP were berated in sections of the media for the song, some even waging a hate campaign on the YouTube video for the song and its liberal leanings, with vocalist and guitarist Thomas Williams setting the bands stall out with the opening lyrics of “You just got knocked the fuck out/The punishment fits the crime”.
Musically, there is a real variety of styles and influences that SFTP haven’t hit upon before, amongst the familiar groove and hardcore tinged songs which will be familiar to most. Along with that, on tracks like ‘Let’s Make A Deal’ there’s a real nu metal feel akin to a band like Limp Bizkit – the crunch of the guitars really brings this to mind. The main riff is so glorious in its simplicity and catchiness and it’s a real testament to the dynamics of the band.
The recent change in drummer appears to have served the band with a new lease of life and where other albums tended to drift and blur into one, new sticksman Craig Reynolds is on an absolute tear here seamlessly switching from Nu-Metal groove to fast paced all out hardcore.
‘Plead the Fifth’ is the centre point of the whole record, what a truly great song this is, the intro riff being one of the best things Tom Morello never wrote. It leads to a goosebump inducing main riff which is total Rage Against The Machine worship. However, they don’t settle on this and push the track further with some straight up pure SFTP hardcore.
The political leanings of the band may make this a very divisive record but I suppose that’s the point; if you come to this from either standpoint you go away with an even harder clenched fist of defiance or indeed hating it. One thing is for sure, though, we need bands like SFTP now more than ever and, eight albums deep in their career, ‘Only Death Is Real’ is their finest album to date.