Posted on August 17th, 2015 (3:00 pm) by Magdalene Taylor

Stray From The Path is repeatedly and most aptly described as a heavily Rage Against The Machine hardcore band. As far as I can tell, they move closer and closer to the Rage Against The Machine aspect of this description with each passing album. This is clear in so many layers of their latest album, Subliminal Criminals. Apparently, Stray From The Path doesn’t fully own up to that comparison, stating in a few tweets back in December 2013 that it’s an oversimplification of Stray’s sound. That is of course true: Stray From The Path utilizes a less funk-influenced heaviness both instrumentally and vocally that makes them distinct from the Rage sound that has clearly, unavoidably, been infused into their own sound. If anything, Subliminal Criminals proves Stray From The Path to be the more modern, more metal version of their forefathers. However, while the highly political lyrics give serious value to the album, at times the music itself veers toward an uninspiring staleness.

Musically and lyrically, I hear something reminiscent of the elder band in nearly every song. It’s the Tom Morello-style guitars, the Zack de la Rocha metal-influenced rap verses, the so distinctly Rage Against The Machine brand of anti-establishment vocals, pushed into a hardcore type of re-branding. Lyrically, there’s no beating around the bush with Stray From The Path’s message. “Badge & A Bullet Pt. II” is a clear cry against police brutality and its racial ties, calling upon the listener’s conscience to choose a side in the matter: either acknowledge the deeply ingrained racism of the police and the lack of justice experienced by people of color, or fall to the side of injustice. It’s a bold and charged message, and one that Stray From The Path is brave enough to make. The following track opens with a similarly bold statement: “Every rich white kid’s got something to say - shut the fuck up.”

If you’re a fan of Rage Against The Machine (and let’s be honest - if you’re listening to Stray From The Path, you undoubtedly are), then these kinds of lyrics are what you’re here for. They’re inspiring, aggressive, and brutally honest. They’re the kind of lyrics that could incite a riot. Rage Against The Machine still holds that same kind of value, but with all their radio play and the time that’s passed since their most popular music was released, the impact has surely faded. That’s why somehow people on the far right like Paul Ryan can actively like the band. For this reason, Stray From The Path presents an important revival of this type of music.

However, there are still some issues musically. The hardcore influences drive the sound further from Rage Against The Machine, but not quite enough. This presents a two-sided problem. On one end, the pieces that sound distinctly like Rage, such as the breakdown at the end of “Outbreak”, are excellent. The parts that don’t sound like Rage, however, like the chugging & choppy bass and hardcore-style screams, are primarily dry metalcore tropes.

I suppose this presents somewhat of a puzzle for Stray From The Path, and if I could lend my advice it would be to stop caring about the Rage Against The Machine label and own it. Subliminal Criminals is a powerful & charged album, but is clogged up in the world of metalcore.

Track List

  1. The New Gods
  2. Outbreak
  3. Badge & A Bullet Pt. II
  4. First World Problem Child
  5. Shots Fired
  6. Eavesdropper
  7. D.I.E.P.I.G.
  8. Future Of Sound
  9. Time Bomb
  10. Snap
  11. These Things Have To Fall Apart
Subliminal Criminals
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

68 / 100
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