Stray From The Path

A curious development here, these long islanders have decided to abandon their former guise of bombastic, technical metalcore (with gargantuan breakdowns and odd experimental ambient forays) in favour of this much more stripped, direct approach.

The feeling that manifests with Villains, is that is very much a classic love/hate scenario. Either you will feverishly gorge on it constantly (easily done due to its slim run time of 20 minutes) or choke on it and spit it out repulsively. This is all the more likely due to their influencing forces being bands akin of that kind of reaction. These being (the later 2 being noted on their myspace) later day Every Time I Die (gulp), Refused (dig the revolutionary artwork) and Botch ( vocalist Drew York screams fiercely throughout ala Dave Verellen’s cathartic howls on ‘We Are The Romans,’ coupled with some grinding, Botchy angular riffing).

Each piece is short and potently snappy, every single dripping in venom and overt rage with the odd threat of them unleashing the neck snapping fury of their former self, but it must be stressed that this is a threat, it’s never fully realised. Examples being the closing moments of ‘Ataxia,’ which piles discordant blast beats onto a gloriously snaking riff, see also ‘To Vanish,’ which again threatens to unleash an earth quaking surge before its reeled back under control. It makes you appreciate the fact that the band could so easily drop back in some skull fragmenting passages but simultaneously it renders a feeling of abject frustration that they don’t do so.

Rather, they focus on strengthening this new found rocking energy, which becomes Villains, biggest asset. The potency that lies in each piece is such a burning, vibrant energy that spills forth that it often sounds as though they are about to physically tumble through your speakers headfirst into a large, large pool of their most wretched bodily fluids.

If anything goes against them it’s the fact that this frantic energy burns so quickly that each track ends barely before you have been able to duly latch onto it, therefore at times it threaten to congeal into a flabby, homogenous mass of squealing noise. Take opener ‘Callous,’ it rushes so frantically into the title track that you are completely oblivious of the transition and for more a casual listener they will be deterred at returning and searching for the album’s more intricate detail.

Later on they are more mindful of this, and the transition from ‘The Art of Reprisal,’ (one of the strongest tracks, a cannoning, squalling train wreck that utilises deftly those Botch influences) into ‘The Spectre and his Mantra,’ is far smoother.

This was a brave move by Stray from the Path, to pretty much severe all ties with your former self has seen many, many disastrous results in the heavy music arena of late, the big challenge though will be how they approach and put together the follow up.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Benjamin DeBlasi
August 5th, 2008


  1. Commented by: swampthang

    sweet review but shitty band. dudes screaming makes me want to rip off my ears.

  2. Commented by: ABC

    I saw them live a while back. Really entertaining, I haven’t listened to the CD that much, but I think it is pretty good.

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