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Conscious Rage: STRAY FROM THE PATH - Internal Atomics Review

The New York unit deliver reality checks through a punishing take on hardcore.

From the ongoing protests in Barcelona and Bolivia to the current state of affairs in the United States, the world's political realm is a shit show and such a shit show that RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE have decided to reunite for a set of forthcoming shows. With that said, it's common for bands to take political jabs via lyrics in the current state of affairs, however, few manage to do so while pairing said political lyrics with a quality musical delivery. STRAY FROM THE PATH do just that on their new outing Internal Atomics and further cement themselves among the hardcore elite.

Closing out their 18th year in existence, STRAY FROM THE PATH unload a truly crushing composition that jumps at the neck from track 1 through track 10. Having lived through multiple presidential administrations, lineup shifts, and technological changes, the band's musicianship is clearly reflective of the years of socio-political turmoil and rage that becomes embodied within the long unheard community. Longtime frontman Drew Dijorio and founding guitarist Tom Williams demonstrate longevity in sound, evolving with the times and rolling with the punches despite said lineup shifts.

Though hardcore in nature, Internal Atomics is heavily charged by external musical influences, such as hip-hop vocal flows and groove-laden riffs, offering somewhat of a palette cleanse to the usual offerings of hardcore music. Each musician shines and demonstrates a career best performance through crisp and clear production work by the mighty Will Putney. Altamura's bass lines are simply filthy and are able to resonate throughout the catastrophic drum work of Reynolds, who doesn't shy away from destroying the skins. Dijorio's vocal performance is of magnificent nature, soaring with rage and integrity while Williams riffs like never before, completing the cohesive sound of one of the band's best albums to date. Again, Putney ensures that the aggression is audible and completely felt.

From struggles with mental health and corporate greed to mass shootings and immigration crisis, STRAY FROM THE PATH touches on the world's, and more specifically America's, most severe conflicts. Without one track falling short, Ring Leader leads the charge with a heavy hitting 3-minutes of unfiltered aggression. Second Death is Reynolds at his best, destroying the crash symbals as Altamura trembles eardrums with a nice slab of bass. Holding Cells For The Living Hell is unforgiving, bulging with Dijorio's menacing screams and a Reynolds drum display unlike no other. Some neat triplets by way of Williams also make an appearance here, offering added elements to an already massive track. As they say, all killer, no filler.

A true album highlight would be closing track Actions Not Words, which provides an exclamation point to an already pummeling outing. Inspired by the band's collaborative efforts with Hardcore Help Foundation (HHF) and Actions Not Words (ANW) in Africa, Actions Not Words explodes from the get go, offering little to no breathing room (as it should). The lyrics present throughout this final offering further emphasize the album's purpose, closing the record on a strong note. As the song comes to a close Dijorio screams out a long and punishing "change the world", leaving goosebumps to all who engage. It's time to finally breathe.

STRAY FROM THE PATH isn't a band relying on their "veteran" status to sell, nor do they phone it in and release lackluster material for the sake of putting stuff out. This is a band putting their heart on the line for the people they love with a pairing of earth shattering sonics. Internal Atomics is demonstrative of a band at their peak, doing what they do best almost two decades into their career. The world's political sanity may be in turmoil, but STRAY FROM THE PATH are here to achieve musical explosiveness through accessible and conscious means. Let us receive the message...

Internal Atomics is available now via UNFD. Pickup your copy HERE.


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