It’s fair to say that Stray From The Path are connoisseurs of causing controversy. With a discography as politically fuelled as theirs, it’s easy to assume that proceeding material will follow a similar theme. However, new record Internal Atomics quite literally strays from their usual political path, proving that they’re certainly no one trick pony.
Sure, you can find all of their usual musical characteristics throughout the release; their fiery and hard-hitting candour is stronger than ever before, in the form of ferocious down-beat riffs and punchy lyricism. This structure has forever been in Stray’s favour, and shows no sign of evolving. Internal Atomics though sees vocalist Drew Dijorio propose a slightly different message than what was relayed on previous release Only Death Is Real. Dijorio spouts an unapologetically brutal message throughout (of course); his lyricism is heavily concerned on those who conform to norms, whether it be political or societal. This is an album that's not so much a politically charged rage, but an overwhelming sense of intense fury at the world as a whole.
'Kickback' is the epitome of Stray’s usual structure, with a merciless tone and choppy, vicious vocals to highlight their fully-fledged rage. Guest spot from Counterparts vocalist Brendan Murphy adds fuel to the flame, running tensions high. This level of aggression permeates Internal Atomics as a whole, and hits especially hard in 'Second Death'. The violence reaches peak fury here: Dijorio chants ‘there’s a special place in hell for bastards like you’, while guitarist Tom Williams’ riffs pummel through, striking hard and fast.
Despite all of this ferocity, the real hardcore edge to this release truly stands up to be counted in 'Holding Cells For The Living Hell'. This punchy, fast-paced single unleashes eye watering destruction, with Dijorio’s venomous snarl effortlessly intertwining with Williams’ irregular rhythms. The same goes for 'Double Down' – a punishingly heavy and undeniably raw outpour from start to finish.
The added exploration of multiple issues is enough to keep listeners invested in Internal Atomics tale from top to bottom. Opener 'Ring Leader' exposes those who do nothing to help change, whereas 'Beneath The Surface' toys with the idea of not knowing what goes on in an individual’s private life. It seems that these hard-hitting issues resonate from an intense passion for justice, something that Stray have made obvious from day one.
Musically, Internal Atomics doesn’t necessarily offer anything new. However, the consistency in Stray From The Path's structure is consistently astonishing. The quality of this release is irrefutably down to the underlying passion that bulldozes through each single. Dijorio emits a desire for equality like no other front man in this scene, which pushes the boundaries that their discography had yet to do. Stray From The Path have yet again proven that hardcore is still alive and kicking, and as solid as ever.