It’s been a pretty strange journey for fans of Stray From The Path. Their transformation from mathcore upstarts into political rap metal miscreants has been one steeped in extensive touring, solid releases and countless claims that they stole Tom Morello. Not his guitar tone or his set up, but the man himself. Now five albums deep into their relationship with Sumerian Records, Stray From The Path have potentially reached that point where their sound is completely their own. That statement could and probably will make some laugh but there’s nothing funny at all about the material that makes up Subliminal Criminals.
Let it never be said that this band don’t cram a veritable butt ton of energy into their music. From opening seconds to final feedback, Subliminal Criminals is unrelenting and in yo’ face. Every track has a whip and bite to it, even if some do rely on a formula that gets pretty easy to predict. With all the energy of a pit bull chasing it’s own tail, the band don’t like to linger on their laurels. Break out single “First World Problem Child” is an actively aggressive romp from start to finish, with the added bonus of having one of the best gang vocals of the year; it’s crass and basic as all hell, but it works. Neat drum work and guitar riffs that are simple enough to push verse into chorus with ease make “D.I.E.P.I.G” another fine slab of extremely zealous songwriting. It’s an energy that can’t quite be bottled and Stray From The Path do let loose on the reg, letting it all fly and standing proud. With anthems that look to incite uprising however, the music does tend to be more straight forward and this is where some tedium does set in.
Filler track “Future Of Sound” is amazing. The band do indeed stray from their own path on this one and it really jams. Unfortunately, this is just a filler track and the hip-hop spitting over jarring riffs takes a backseat to several tracks that do not deviate from said path whatsoever. Groove verse into beatdown chorus works on so many levels, but only for the first few times it rears it’s head. There are throwaway tracks that are very close to being solid jams but the all too familiar nature of where they start and finish grounds them before take off. This would be easily forgivable where it present on a debut or sophomore record. Nuh uh. These guys should know better by now. After one or two runs of this record, it’s all to clear which tracks deserve the skip button. It’s a shame, really, because the album really hits a good flow only to be interrupted by dead weight.
The passion and fervor that comes across on Subliminal Criminals is a real joy to hear. Hard hitting tracks bring the subject matter to life with aplomb but with some duds in the mix, Stray From The Path aren’t quite there yet. They have fine tuned their skills into writing really powerful tracks and, helped by some great cameos, there are more than a few proper bangers on this record. Make sure and keep an ear out for this band because it’s quite apparent they have no intention of letting up any time soon. It really should only be a matter of time before the final piece is in place and this band nail down where they’re coming from and where they’re going.
Stray From The Path’s Subliminal Criminals gets