All photos by Taylor Markarian
Stray From the Path are anything but subtle. Outspoken, straight up and furious, their newest album, Only Death is Real, says a lot of the things we’ve been trying to say for the past year. This record is pure venom.
Photo Credit: Kristina McComas
It’s rare to come across such a tough, charismatic woman fronting an incredibly heavy hardcore band. While Baltimore band Sharptooth and their vocalist Lauren Kashan are a wonderfully unique find, we have to stop and consider why that is. Sharptooth are almost entirely melody-free, bearing similarities to bands like Every Time I Die and Stray From The Path, and for some reason that comes as a surprise. When people hear “female-fronted band,” they often immediately think of Paramore or even one of the many metal bands out there that are led by chicks. But in hardcore, there is a strange absence of fem that Kashan wants filled.
The Rock’n Derby was a weird little festival very much off the beaten path. In Schaghticoke, NY, bands from Stray From The Path, to Halestorm, to A Day To Remember gave performances on Saturday, May 21st–just one of the three days of the event. Nestled in rural New York, the festival featured not only bands, however, but wrestling and demolition derby. It also featured some not so cool things, like a surprising number of Confederate flags, only further proving my personal theory that if you drive far enough north (or in any direction, really) you eventually hit The South.
Check out some shots we got from this one-of-a-kind festival. Banged-up cars, face-painted wrestlers, and Levi Benton? Yup. All here.
Saturday the 24th, on a most pleasant October evening at the Gramercy Theatre, Stray From The Path unleashed their frenzied, opinionated brand of hardcore. Opening acts Deez Nuts, Major League, Being As An Ocean, and Comeback Kid had the crowd riled up and on their feet first.
As soon as “Outbreak,” Stray From The Path’s set opener, came on, fists and kicks started flying. The energy in the pit was nothing other than rabid and the atmosphere was violently endearing. There was a cozy, familiar vibe. The audience was having fun, and so was SFTP.
A little less than half of SFTP’s stage time was devoted to tracks from Subliminal Criminals, while the remainder was reserved for old hits. “Badge and A Bullet” and its sequel made the cut. So did “Bring it Back to the Streets,” as performed by Comeback Kid’s Andrew Neufeld and Stray From the Path’s Drew York. “Outbreak” and “Damien” were also in the mix. York was passionately moving and jumping around the stage, but his voice wasn’t projecting much. Every now and then he’d burst out of an almost mumble with furious and loud lyrics that reminded me of why I like the band in the first place. It was disappointing to not have him be as clear and enunciate as well as he does on record, but you don’t necessarily go to a hardcore show for the singing. The music is important and so is feeling comfortable letting out pent up anger. Stray From The Path deliver accordingly.
“First World Problem Child” was a crowd pleaser, eliciting shouts of “shut the fuck up” to assist York with the chorus. At every opportunity to get in on the action, the crowd was jumping over itself to reach an outstretched hand to the mic and add their voices to York’s. The evening ended with one more song, but it was Stray From the Path who offered to perform an extra one instead of the crowd demanding it. All in all, the performance suggests this is a band you want to see if you’re a fan of punishing pits along with loud and fast hardcore beats. It’s not a band you want to see if you are expecting them to sound like their recorded works, lyrically or even musically. The sound is much, much rawer live.
by David Marulanda
Stray From The Path are back with more politically charged social commentary calling out systemic injustices and corruption. Subliminal Criminals hits you with melodic guitars and a deep seething anger beyond outrage on almost every track. The album is catchy but the fury against government crimes and societal ills will leave you simmering with rage. The entire record is a call to arms to save our future from an Orwellian dystopia and to protect ourselves in the present.
“These Things Have To Fall Apart” is the final song on the album and an ominous declaration of what must happen to fix the system. “It’s only a lie if you believe,” whispers vocalist Drew York as the song concludes. It is an eerie way to end a record so hateful, vengeful, and ferocious. It’s as if Stray From The Path have worn themselves out trying to motivate us to speak up.
The band delve into corporate greed putting profit over life and humanity. “Cancer causing capital/The people turned to animals/The poison is the antidote,” yells York on “Outbreak,” a judgment on Big Pharma and the blood on its hands. However, the strongest emotion comes through in “D.I.E.P.I.G.” Nothing makes Stray From The Path angrier than preying on the weak or defenseless. The track is as close to a death threat as you can legally get. It’s about a specific case, but it applies to all child abusers. “Take him out to the slaughter house, it’s time for you to D.I.E.”
The majority of the anger is directed at the government and its inability to act in our interest and keep us safe, all the while supporting its own agenda and greed. “Badge & A Bullet Part II,” “Shots Fired,” and “Eavesdropper,” each rip at a different injustice left unresolved: police brutality, dishonest wars, cover ups, and invasion of privacy–all of which are supposedly for our own safety.
Subliminal Criminals can be overbearing at times, but the unabridged wrath is aimed toward positive results. Stray From The Path, although retaliatory, fierce, and violent, are hopeful for solutions to the systemic problems they touch on. It is still definitely a fight record. It has much to say, and one listen isn’t enough, but it’s hard to play on repeat unless you’re trying to anger yourself. If Big Brother doesn’t get them first, it’s safe to expect more social commentary hardcore music from them. Stray From The Path won’t go down without a fight. York promises, “Let my last words be: ‘Free speech is dead.’”
By David Marulanda
Stray From The Path are back again with a lyric video for “Badge & A Bullet Part II,” a track off their upcoming album Subliminal Criminals. The song is an unadulterated, angry sequel to “Badge & A Bullet,” from the band’s 2013 record, Anonymous. Denouncing police brutality and corruption, Part II screams “Which side are you walking on?” as the video overlays text with scenes of violence at the hands of officers of the law. The lack of justice and accountability for police earns a comparison to “Germany in ‘42,” which may be a little heavy-handed, but the red-tinted footage of law enforcement gang-beating unarmed people argues otherwise. The song claims it’s the boys in blue versus the rest of us, and with vocals overpowering the rhythmic guitars, it’s one of the catchiest hateful songs I’ve heard this year.
by David Marulanda
“The poison is the antidote.”
From Long Island hardcore band Stray From The Path comes “Outbreak,” a catchy hardcore call to arms against the corruption and avarice of Big Pharma. It’s melodic, angry, loud, and clear. You get sick, you’re prescribed pills, and the pills lead to more pills to combat the effects of the first prescription all the while Big Pharma is cashing in: “Lab coat killer, hundred dollar biller, Automatically ill, bank roll filler.”
Stray From the Path have so far recorded seven albums and their eighth, Subliminal Criminals, is coming in August. The video for “Outbreak,” a single off that album, was released earlier last week. It’s a lo-fi, 90’s-esque, fast-paced video showcasing a family having pills for dinner until the son has unquestionably had enough.
Check the video below and pre-order Subliminal Criminals here.
by David Marulanda