Stray From The Path – ‘Euthanasia’

By Dave Stewart

Lots of bands are angry, but no one communicates it quite like Stray From The Path. The New York/UK-based band have been an ever-raging fire for over a decade, stoked by capitalism, racism, fascism, political complacency and so much more, and every passing year (or week as it seems lately) provides more ammunition for their sonic weaponry. Their brand new album ‘Euthanasia’ sees them at their most visceral and ferocious and, after the last couple of years, who can really be surprised? 

The band created this record during the pandemic, and every ounce of frustration and personal pain has filled it to the brim. Internally struggling with their love for performing after having their livelihoods stripped away, battling with their mental health, being kept apart by distance and inability to travel and so much more was suddenly sprung onto them, and the world continued to plummet into dark places amidst the unprecedented global situation. Despite everything, including a literal broken back, Stray From The Path channeled everything into reigniting their fire and the end result is one of the most terrifying blazes of their career.

Some of the work on show here is their heaviest to date. First single ‘Guillotine’ set the tone for the type of record they’d cooked up, putting those that make profit and benefit from corruption right at the centre of their crosshairs. With savage chugging riffs, pulsating drums and and vocalist Drew Dijorio’s frenzied screams of “off with their fucking heads,” it provided a precise targeted barrage that, after hearing the rest of the album, only scratched the surface of their collective wrath.

‘III’ – a bludgeoning groove heavy track that serves as the third instalment of their ‘Badge & A Bullet’ series of tracks – unleashes hell on law enforcement shadiness, showing disgust for the waves of support it receives through blatant wrongdoings. ‘The Salt In Your Spit’ is a moody and urgent dissection of political malfeasance, with disjointed riffs and hateful lyrics all building towards a doomy and deadly breakdown. There are very few points to catch your breath, with tracks like the vicious album opener ‘Needful Things’, the rhythmically towering ‘Law Abiding Citizen’ and the gut-churning urgency of ‘Chest Candy’ providing hit after hit of targeted hostility, the latter unloading on the predatory tactics of military recruitment in the USA.

There is a very brief mid-point haven in the form of ‘Bread & Roses’, a slow-burning belter that features Stick To Your Guns leading man Jesse Barnett, who lends his velvety vocals to the band’s first ever track with clean singing. A lighter moment it may be, but Dijorio’s vocals are just as spiteful as the rest of the record and the breakdown is unrelenting too, showing that you’re never truly safe from their rage. Closing epic ‘Ladder Work’ traverses everything they’ve covered on the record, presenting colossal guitars, crushing drum-work, bleak lyrics and vitriolic delivery providing an apocalyptic end to an undeniably powerful album. If nothing that you’ve heard here has made your blood boil, listen again.

Stray From The Path have become one of alternative music’s loudest voices for the misrepresented, the mistreated, the discriminated and so much more, and this album amplifies that voice to volumes far louder than anything they’ve done before. The production is absolutely sublime – proof yet again that Will Putney is the absolute king of this genre – and it emphasises every single shred of fury. Every sludgy and groovy riff, every earth-shattering snare hit, every venomous vocal shriek; it’s all been fuelled by the same things that piss us off, and you really can feel it bubbling away in every note. Drummer Craig Reynolds recorded this album with a broken back and he still manages to hit his drums like he hates them, and it all adds to the knockout punch that this album provides.

This is impactful, important and utterly destructive music in its finest and purest form. Like all their records, ‘Euthanasia’ points a gigantic finger at all of the corruption, deceit and inequalities in the modern world, but it provides their strongest argument yet that you should join them in fighting back against it all. If you’ve ever wondered what it might feel like to be speechless yet simultaneously feel the urge to start using your own voice more often, then listen to this album. 

DAVE STEWART

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