Sep 11, 2011

Stray From The Path - Rising Sun [REVIEW]

Stray From The Path - Rising Sun
1. Rising Sun
2. Death Beds
3. Mad Girl
4. Bring It Back To The Streets
5. iMember
6. Dead Rabbits
7. Prey
8. Center Of Attention
9. The Laughing Man
10. The Escape Artist

Before setting out to do this review, I had never really listened to much Stray From The Path. I had heard of the band before, but hadn't taken a serious listen. Going back and researching the band, reading comments, and reading their bio made me incredibly curious to hear their music.

Not just because everything I read led me to believe that I'd be listening to one of the most pissed off hardcore bands out there, but because of their extensive history and background. Stray From The Path has been kicking hardcore ass since 2001 and have managed to pump out at least 6 solid releases in that time. (People Over Profit (full-length, 2002) Audio Prozac (full-length, 2003, Pride Recordz) Our Oceania (full-length, 2005, Five Point Records) Villains (full-length, 2008, Sumerian Records) Make Your Own History (full-length, 2009, Sumerian Records) Rising Sun (full length, 2011, Sumerian Records).

The band has been fighting their way to the top for quite some time and they don't appear to be taking it easy anytime soon. With a rigorous touring history, a few lineup shifts, and record label changes the band eventually made their way onto the coveted Sumerian Records roster where they have remained since 2008.

Their latest release entitled "Rising Sun" is my first Stray From The Path listening experience and I was thoroughly impressed! The band definitely lives up to their reputation as being extremely pissed off and for having a tough as nails sound.
One thing that really caught my ear though, was the band's ability to carve out an interesting and original approach to the hardcore sound. The band offers a unique mathy and alternative take on the traditional hardcore sound and really stand on the cutting edge of the genre.
The guitar and bass guitar work is inventive and creative and the compositions are anything but straight forward. The drumming is fierce and compliments the music extremely well. Lastly, the vocals are penetrating and razor sharp.

With these elements working together, this album definitely doesn't disappoint. After hearing Rising Sun, I am compelled to go back and listen to prior releases and explore this bands musical history in full.

Rising Sun - The album kicks off with ambient/twangy guitars that sound muffled and in the distance - accompanied by vocalist Drew York screaming a message to the listeners...then as the song kicks in the band let's you know what their all about. Power and Presence! The highlight of the song is a big vocal call followed by a nasty "blegh!" into a sick and creative breakdown...It's during the first song that you notice the amazing production and truly hard sound the band creates. Rising is a fun, bouncy song that will get the listener pumped for more! The drummer, Dan Bourke really kills it on drums and adds a great feel to the tunes so far.

Death Beds - The second track takes a more serious tone and darker approach..."Your American Nightmare!" the vocalist screams!...This song contains a little more of the traditional hardcore riffage and
there are some great breakdowns near the end of the song - Guitarist Tom Williams, and bassist Anthony Altamura really mesh well together to create memorable passages...the rapping beat of the vocals during the last breakdown is awesome. The sheer anger and heaviness of this band is seriously impressive.

Mad Girl - As the name of the song would imply this song has some seriously crazy and inventive effects and riffs throughout...there are some amazing sound effects that enter the mix early on that sound like lazers or alien spaceships or something! This song is definitely spacey and chaotic. Complex compositions and truly inventive guitar work is present. Very creative work here for a band labeled as "hardcore", which can be a sterile and repetitive genre as of late.

Bring It Back To The Streets - Song kicks off with some interesting drum work and builds into a main riff that is very ominous...bass guitar is chunky and present during the bridge, and gets a moment to shine..."blegh!" then breakdown seems to be a staple and a trademark for this band and it never gets old!
"This world is all about digital lives..." the singer states. End of this song is amazingly dark and epic, very forboding tone until we get to the final blow/finishing move/dissonant breakdown. Brutal.

iMember - By this point I'm realizing how truly great the guitar work is in this album...this song definitely highlights the bands ability to craft truly creative and imaginative compositions. Hardcore can be really straightforward at times, and this band seems to add their own signature mathy/progressive spice into the mix, which keeps it entertaining.

Dead Rabbits - "sit around and see the rich get richer...the sick get sicker" This song is very political, very empowering, very strong message. Very much a hardcore song...great drum break, snare work thrown in the middle. Overall great tune.

Prey - (starts off with sample about religion)..."get off your knees" the singer screams!...This song contains some really strange vocal patterns and melodies at certain points and some cool vocal layering. Great song for vocals! Great lyrics.

Center of Attention - This is by far my favorite song on the album. Very heavy. Very brutal. The guitars are relentless and unforgiving in this song. I was sure this would be the heaviest song on the album...but I was wrong. It would turn out that somehow the heaviest, most brutal songs; the most "metal" songs on the album are all here at the end! It makes me wonder if this was done on purpose. Just when I thought I had heard what I needed to hear from this album, I was treated with 3 incredibly heavy tracks! It continues...

The Laughing Man - Super evil sounding! the fading guitar slides in this song are sick! sick!...the drum parts in this song compliment the song so well, and really find their own voice in this song...tom fills are interesting and creative. "fuck you!" the singer screams!

The Escape Artist - continues this trend of heavier songs being at the end of the record! Blast beats! followed then by epic/nasty scream. This song is a lot different from the rest of the songs and really stands out in my mind. It's a viscious song and one of my favorites I've heard so far.

Crashing Down - tribal feel...drums are very present in this song...snare build sounds great in this song!Mathy, interesting structure...tribal beats near the end...ends on a really heavy note. Awesome.

Overall, this album is worthy. Brutal, Angry, Punishing...yet Thoughtful, Creative, and Inventive. Definitely worth checking out. Stray From The Path has produced a truly entertaining album with "Rising Sun". Hardcore lives!

Album rating: 4.5/5

You can order the album on iTunes.