Stray From The Path – ‘Internal Atomics’

By Dave Stewart

If you’re into gigantic riffs, gurn-worthy bass, pounding drums, and intense, venomous vocal delivery, then you’ve come to the right place – Stray From The Path put a huge tick through all of those boxes. Hailing from New York and Derbyshire (I know, right?), the politically outraged quartet have been blowing speakers and tearing venues apart with their signature brand of rage for over a decade now, and brand new record ‘Internal Atomics’ sees their sonic wrecking ball at its most destructive yet.

Right from the get go, it’s clear that they aren’t messing around. ‘Ring Leader’ not only throws you headfirst into their intentions for the record, and does so in the most punishing and destructive way possible. The sludgy bass tones of Anthony Altamura, the dirty riffs of Tom Williams, the phenomenal drumming of everyone’s favourite weightlifting cowboy Craig Reynolds, and the furious vocals of Drew York hurtle towards you at full speed, all coming together to create a tour de force of aggression. ‘Kickback’ keeps the adrenaline levels high, boasting distorted noises so low and slow that it’s impossible not to be unsettled by them. Marry that with a venomous guest vocal spot from Counterparts vocalist Brendan Murphy, and you’re two tracks into a recipe for success.

The rest of the ingredients for that recipe are simple – heavy hitters, heavy hitters, and some more heavy hitters, all delivering an endless number of blows to all of your most tender areas. The unrelenting grooves of ‘Something In The Water’ mould and shift through a variety of shapes, from the addictive bounce of the opening riff, the laid back rhythm of the bridge, and back to the pit-hungry power of the closing breakdown. Speaking of power, it oozes out of ‘Second Death’. When Drew spits the words “You can hide in the house of God, but what happens when the fucking cross falls” right before a breakdown, if you don’t launch whatever you’re holding into space and destroy everything around you, there’s something wrong with you. There’s the white knuckle thrill ride of ’Holding Cells For The Living Hell’, the mind-melting riff-fest that is ’The First Will Be Last’, the vicious and rabid ‘Fortune Teller’ – it just doesn’t let up. The entire record is wall to wall carnage.

It’s hard to pick out a highlight when every single track feels like one, but there is a track that deserves to have a little more light shed on it. That track is album closer ‘Actions Not Words’ – a track written about the people and communities the band met on their trip to Africa. “It was such a sharp contrast to people living in suburbia, who have so much but refuse to give anything,” Tom Williams explains. “It’s not about wanting more, it’s about wanting people to have enough.” The song is musically brutal but lyrically poignant, with Drew’s final line “change the world” burrowing its way directly into the back of your mind as the closing moments fade away. A thought provoking end to a full throttle, punishing, and infectious album.

This is the same Stray From The Path that you already know, but there’s something ever so slightly different. They have always been pissed off, completely unafraid to wear their disgust on their sleeves, but this feels like more than that. Their anger has hit a new high, and it gushes out of every note. They put their foot on the gas and don’t take it off until the record comes to an end, taking you along for the ride and encouraging you to gaze out of the rear view at all the chaos that they’re dragging behind them. There’s no time to relax, no opportunity to gather any composure, no window for recovery. This is the embodiment of aggressive music – it’s being shoved down your throat, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

The footprints they’ve made with ‘Internal Atomics’ run deeper into the ground than everything preceding it. There’s so much angst, so much deep-rooted rage, and so many powerful messages littered through it that it’s impossible to not feel a little taken aback when it reaches the end. If you’re after an album that’ll get you pumped up and ready to take on the world, this is it. When you’re figuring out exactly how it is that you want to take it on though, remember – thinking like everyone else, is not really thinking.

DAVE STEWART

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