In a world where hardcore bands have an average shelf life of 5-10 years, very few bands rise to the top and create a legacy worth defending. After more than a decade of grinding away, Stray From The Path has proven they’re not your average band. These Long Island natives have toured their sound all around the world, and though it’s been a long road, their sound has remained the same: no selling out, no slowing down. Stray is back with a new joint and angrier than ever, featuring Counterparts / END vocalist Brendan Murphy and Matt Honeycutt from Kublai Khan on select tracks. Stray From The Path has been building up a temper with Internal Atomics as their commentary on the state of America in 2019, and there’s plenty to be angry about.
Over the years, Stray From The Path have built on their punk/hardcore sound with Rage Against The Machine type vocals and crushing riffs that are heavy but full of groove. In 2019 they’re still holding down a sound that’s all their own. Stylistically this album doesn’t stray far from the path (lol), but if something’s not broken then why fix it? This is a classic Stray sound with a new and improved tracklist. It’s been a while since they captivated hardcore kids with hits like “Negative and Violent,” but they’re still ripping harder than ever. Both old and new fans will find the album heavy in sound and lyrical content, but catchy and familiar. There are tons of great one liners (“thinking like everyone else is not really thinking”) and even a great reference to Twin Peaks (“fire walk with me”) on “Fortune Teller.” Don’t worry, there’s still a few “blegh” screams on the album.
Though this album may initially come off as an opportunity to crowd-kill MAGA supporters and alt-right fanatics into oblivion, there’s actually a much deeper message here. Try thinking of this album as a political potluck, each track a different dish of what’s happening in society right now. To those looking for an easier listen it can feel overbearing at times, but full of valid points and heart that has to be admired. However, this protest song mentality is nothing new. Even “Badge and a Bullet” from Anonymous (2013) handled controversial issues with similar nerve. SFTP has never been one to pull punches, and with this album they’re hitting harder than ever.
Though their anti-religious homophobe stance and hatred for Fox News is hard to argue with, strong opinions can always be polarizing. Some fans that don’t identify with them politically may have a hard time listening to opposing world views. However, their songs handle a lot of human rights issues, important ideals that lie at the heart of politics, not just the politics themselves. Regardless of a listeners’ own bias of religion or political party, there’s a perspective to be gained here and they raise points that are crucial to acknowledge.
This album isn’t about picking a side, it’s about human freedom and picking the system apart by calling it what it is: broken. Songs talk about everything from the militarization of religious and political beliefs, to mental health and the seemingly recent onslaught of hopelessness in the air. Internal Atomics serves as a callout to all political parties, as we are all part of the same system projecting masks of benevolence behind stagnant promises. If you’re looking for someone to beat around the bush, go listen to another band. If you’re looking to get to the heart of it all, here’s your chance. After all, this album does beg the listener to think for themselves.