Stray From The Path - Subliminal Criminals - (8/10)
Published on August 20, 2015
2015 has been a huge year for 90s’ revival, with new releases from such classic, reformed acts as Faith No More, Refused, and now Rage Against The Ma— Sorry. …everybody’s favorite, severely Rage Against The Machine-influenced, modern hardcore act, The Warri— Stray From The Path. Alright, but seriously; these dudes love Rage Against The Machine. Like, a lot. But you know what, if you’re going to rip off a band you may as well rip off a great one, and Stray From The Path do a damn good job of updating the rap-metal godfathers’ sound for the modern era, and Subliminal Criminals is, without doubt, their best record yet.
Even if Stray From The Path’s last album, 2013’s Anonymous, was a huge leap forward for the band—both in terms of quality and direction—Subliminal Criminals is a further quantum leap beyond that. There will be those immediately turned off by Stray From The Path’s use of rap, and a set of juvenile lyrics that essentially boil down to a bunch of first-draft sound bites. Although the album’s called Subliminal Criminals, it couldn’t be more blatant. However, sometimes there’s a need to be blunt, and Stray From The Path’s sound is, after-all, based around a band whose poetic appropriation of “Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me!” remains pertinent to this day.
“First World Problem Child” serves as the centerpiece of Subliminal Criminals, with its pigheaded chorus, “every rich white kid’s got something to say; SHUT THE FUCK UP!!!” The song’s infectious bounce keeps it on-point and when Sam Carter of Architects takes over the reigns it launches into a whole ‘nother level, before dropping into a huge, bouncing, Deftones-soaked groove, whose lasting effect is reminiscent of Architects’ own “These Colours Don’t Run.” The track’s elements add up to something more than they by-all-right should, and it’s much the same for Subliminal Criminals as a whole.
Elsewhere, the compositions are less effective but persistently enjoyable, with any detriment caused by Subliminal Criminals’ “intellectual content” made up for by the palpable energy Stray From The Path manage to bring to fold this time around. This band just sound a whole lot more “alive” and interested in the music they’re playing than a lot of their peers. While the Dillinger Escape Plan-isms that crept into their sound on Anonymous have been scaled back, in favour of a more basic and bouncy approach. Neverthelss, Thomas Williams’ guitar playing manages to be more interesting and engaging than the usual nu-drenched affair, although its Dan Bourke’s drums which are kept out in front the whole time—driving Stray From the Path’s sound in a more rhythmically-driven direction that really works with their hip-hop-influenced style. The band also try their hand at pure hip hop—fairly successfully—with “Future Of Sound,” featuring “black metal hip hop savior” Cody B. Ware.
Subliminal Criminals bristles with the sort of energy and rage missing from many modern nu-hardcore acts, who choose to distance themselves from their passion with repugnant irony. It might not be to everyone’s taste and those willing to take the plunge will be pleasantly surprised.