REVIEW: “Only Death Is Real” by Stray From The Path

The follow up to 2015’s “Subliminal Criminals” finally arrived in September, some 9 months after single “The House Always Wins” appeared on the scene to tease us. So what do we have from the new Stray From The Path album “Only Death Is Real”? “Subliminal Criminals” is seen by many, including myself as a classic, stand out album, rich in influence from Rage Against The Machine and fusing it with the bands own Hardcore roots to great effect. Classics are always difficult to follow up as bands often feel under extra pressure to pull something out of the bag. With “Only Death Is Real”, Stray From The Path don’t have any problems delivering however, quite the opposite, the album delivers in spades. The Rage Against The Machine influence is still there but dialled back to allow other influences to shine through. “The House Always Wins” has been re-recorded so you get an extra 12 seconds of song plus a guest spot from rapper Vinnie Paz (Army of the Pharaohs/Jedi Mind Tricks) to close it out. There are also guest spots from Knocked Loose‘s Bryan Garris on “All Day & A Night” and Every Time I Die‘s Keith Buckley on “Strange Fiction” so three guest vocalists in ten tracks. The guests however don’t dominate the songs they appear on however, these are definitely Stray From The Path songs with a verse from a guest rather than the band trying to record a song that sounds like it belongs elsewhere. The album is still very political, which is what fans have come to expect and there is fantastic flow to the album as a whole. Indeed no song sounds out of place and there is no filler track or anything to bloat the album out, they even avoid tacking their brilliant cover of Deftones “Back To School” on the end of the record. The album opens in style with “The Opening Move” an introduction that sets the tone for the record and shows off the bands first album outing with new drummer Craig Reynolds (ex-Architects drum tech) skills. Indeed, his influence on the closing title track is something to behold, both a stand out song and different for the band. “Goodnight Alt-Right” speaks for itself while “Plead The Fifth” adds an extra layer of groove. Lyrically, the album is tied to the last two years in some ways with its politics. For those that don’t know, the band write their lyrics as a group, throwing lines around and making things that best fit the songs. This means that the band as a whole have more buy-in to the songs, while also putting no pressure on a band member to write everything and avoiding despite. It serves the band well throughout the album and what we are left with is both modern and timely. [5/5]

Stray From The Path are on tour in the UK with Obey The Brave, Capsize and Renounced in October.

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