Pissed off and still full of things to say, Long Island’s Stray From the Path gave themselves a huge act to follow when they penned Rising Sun, the followup to their stellar full-length Make Your Own History. While some hardcore bands either refuse to grow or go a completely different direction entirely, Stray From the Path found a way to stay fresh without completely abandoning all of the things we’ve come to love about their sound. Much more personal yet still just as venomous, Rising Sun is an adrenaline-fueled, lyrically-biting album backed by slicing guitars, blistering drumming and Drew York’s signature vocal delivery, taking few sidesteps to make it a near-perfect progression from their previous work.
Though many were drawn to the huge breakdowns and fiery nature of Make Your Own History, Rising Sun hones in on solid songwriting tinged with breakdowns – making the personal nature of this record hit even harder. From the calls of ‘We are the light that guides you home!’ to a catchy, yet slimy riff, the opening titular track sets the stage for a ton of ripping riffage and impressive drumming. The back-to-back combination of “Death Beds” and “Mad Girl” make for the best one-two punch on the record, bringing a ton of ferocious vocals and a palate of gritty guitar work. Between solidly structured riffs (“Death Beds”) and the injection of phaser-like bursts (“Mad Girl”), these two tracks show the strength of the band’s songwriting when they are at the top of their game. Both also feature some of the better lyricism on the record, just in how it fits so well with the writing musically.
Stray From the Path keeps the energy up with the sure-to-cause-a-stir lyricism of “iMember”, a direct shot at bands overusing technology in today’s scene, and “Prey”, which slams those who use religion as a means of financial gain. Both bite hard while backing the vocal venom with plenty of musical mayhem. The former broods its way into your head as York screams ‘And when you’re gone, we’ll hang a black flag, with a lighthouse shining!’, making way for a two-step session backed by buzzing guitars and thunderous drums. “Prey” takes a slight influence from Norma Jean, as NJ vocalist Corey Brandan provides his voice to the thought-provoking yet heavy track. Sounding in ways a bit like Norma Jean, Stray pairs blistering verses with huge choruses, leading up to York’s proclamation of ‘Just sign your name on the cross, and turn it upside down!’ and a pummeling breakdown.
The last section of the album is arguably its weakest, as the trio of “Center of Attention”, “The Laughing Man” and “The Escape Artist” run together in terms of sound and songwriting. While still full of everything we have come to expect from this band, these tracks do little to stand out, save for “The Escape Artist” with its grungy verses and old-school hardcore-sounding guitars. “The Laughing Man” teeters on a handful of time-signature fudging songwriting that is just not quite on point, while “Center of Attention” falls into a trap of just never really setting itself apart from anything else we’ve heard to this point, making it the weakest of the bunch despite some worthwhile lyricism. The album ending “Crashing Down” brings it all full circle though, as the ‘finding your way home’ lyrical nature of the track collides with huge, brooding guitar parts and hammering drums up until the apexing breakdown that brings this track and album to a close.
While not as strong as a whole as Make Your Own History, Rising Sun finds Stray From the Path writing some of the best cuts they’ve ever penned. Anyone currently on the Stray train will find plenty to love about this record, while those not on the train might end up further divided about the sonic approach this band takes to their brand of hardcore. If you’re into being pissed off, Rising Sun is your new call to arms.
2. Death Beds
3. Mad Girl
4. Take It Back to the Streets
6. Dead Rabbits
8. Center of Attention
9. The Laughing Man
10. The Escape Artist
11. Crashing Down
Stray From the Path is an American Hardcore punk/Metalcore band that formed in 2001 in Long Island, New York. They have released four full-length albums; 'Audio Prozac' in 2003, 'Our Oceania' in 2004, 'Villains' in 2008, and 'Make Your Own History' in 2009. They are currently signed to Sumerian Records.... read more