Review Summary: Stray from the Path might just make metalcore history.
It’s pretty standard these days, especially in the multitude of core subgenres to have a band name that doesn’t really have anything to do with the music you play or how you play it. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing: half of the bands I listen to on a daily basis I probably wouldn’t have checked out in the first place were it not for their zany names or out-of-place album titles. Stray from the Path, on the other hand, make good on what their name implies: straying from the “path” that so many metalcore bands commit themselves to these days.
Right off the bat, Make Your Own History
seems deceptively standard. “Lucid Dreaming,” the album’s opener is a fairly standard mellow-turned-heavy intro track which, while sounding good, really only incurs the “oh, it’s one of these
bands again. That feeling doesn’t last long, as you’re swung into the maelstrom that really
opens the album--“Manipulator.” With the winding and nearly math-y opening guitar sequence and outrageously catchy hook. These, combined with some of the album’s best lyrics (“If misery loves company, maybe I’ll just sleep alone/If misery loves company, you can find me in a crowded room) make “Manipulator” the proper kick-start the album deserves.
Next up is “Negative and Violent,” which proves to be the album’s strongest track. Filled with angular, spastic guitar lines which feed off eachother and transition smoothly from part to part seamlessly. Laid over energetic and punchy drums and iced with a vocal style that some may find annoying, but I find to be a perfect balance between a high scream and schrill, visceral yell, "Negative and Violent" stands tall above the rest. While almost half of the song proves to be little more than a breakdown, it succeeds immensely in tying the raw emotion and power of the vocals into the rest of the music. Another super-star of the album, “Damien,” works in a similar way--using a stuttering start-and-stop chug sequence to connect with the vocals and make the two feel more “united” as opposed to just happening to be in the same song.
Make Your Own History
keeps rip-roaring track after track without really ever slowing down--whether that’s a positive or not is really up to you. On one hand, it really keeps the album from getting monotonous—something that would easily happen if each track were three and a half minutes long. The band’s proneness to relapsing into heavy chugging segments and the "taboo" that is the breakdown is really only saved by short track lengths and incredibly strong and accessible lyrics overlaying them. On the other hand, such short track lengths really seem to keep the band from progressing into a fully developed song structure, and really never give you any time to stop and rest--if you stop paying attention for a second, you get left behind. None of this, however, seems to hurt Stray from the Path, as Make Your Own History
isn't really weakened by the short an chaotic tracks.
None of this is to say that Stray from the Path’s Make Your Own History
is without flaw. The short track length, while not necessarily a negative, may not be up your alley. Additionally, while the vocals are good, they rarely change pitch, and can make the lengthier songs feel a little cumbersome. All in all though, the quick, smooth yet needle-sharp guitar lines and loud, boisterous drums keep the vocals in check and stop them from taking over, despite the strong lyrics they contain. So if you’re feeling the need for either a quick track to pump you up enough to take on 15,000 5th graders, or an album to jam to on your way home, Make Your Own History
delivers either way.