Long Island metalcore quartet Stray From The Path have returned with their sixth studio album Only Death is Real — and they’ve taken some inspiration from the humble game of chess. The record was released through Sumerain on September 8.
It’s the most politically fuelled narrative we’ve seen from the band so far. You could even say it’s the first time the band have managed to shape an album so cohesively around a harsh concept. Thomas Williams, guitarist and vocalist for the band, seems to agree. “The king equals the elite, the queen equals the government, the bishop equals the church, the knight equals the military, the rook equals the police, and the pawn equals the people,” he explains. “This was the first time the vision and the theme of the album came before the music. We had artwork first — we wrote this during a pretty dark and reflective time in our lives.”
And this idea that politics is a game shines through and through. In the records first single and the album’s third track ‘Goodnight Alt-Right’, the chaos of the music tells a story in itself. But then you add the snappy, masterfully composed, and just down-right ANGRY lyrics, and you have yourself a musical jackhammer — really sticking it to the man.
The rest of the album follows suit. Opening track ‘The Opening Move’ repeats its mantra — “Don’t hate the player, hate the game” — over frantic, anxiety-inducing instrumentation. ‘Loudest In The Room’ is more of the same — screaming its political message over busy guitars. This time, “the loudest in the room leads us to our doom.”
The most separate tracks are, predictably, their collaborations. ‘Strange Fiction’, featuring Every Time I Die’s Keith Buckley, has the hint of a melody, their guest’s vocals a welcome change from that of Drew York.
Stray From The Path have done exactly what they set out to do. It’s brave, politically aware, and — as is typical of the band — it goes straight for the jugular. Sure, maybe it’s not for everyone, but you could say the same of anything.