Stray from the Path - Only Death is Real (Cover Artwork)

Stray from the Path

Only Death is Real (2017)

sumerian records

There was a degree of furore surrounding SFTP’s recent album drop - not, as you might expect from a band who carry the heavy burden of Rage Against the Machine comparisons; because people were simply excited about it, but because of their politics. Notably delivered with a delightful lack of subtlety in lead single from the new record “Goodnight Alt-Right”.

the band are inevitably compared to RATM due to their bombastic, mosh-ready, riffs; provided by founding member Tom Williams, twinned with the rap-punk vocal delivery of Drew York. Given these stylistic similarities, it seems odd that the band came under fire (admittedly only from a subset of their fans & right-wing trolls) for allowing their political leaning to fuel this latest record.

But when you consider the state of American politics at this point, it’s hardly surprising that an aggressive, punk-tinged band like SFTP (who come from New York state, the same as Donald Trump, of course) want to take the opportunity to air their grievances. The directness in which they approach it though, is something that maybe some fans are simply not used to. References to “A racist president that’s making everything great again” & opposing what has become an American mantra in the lyric “Greatest country in the world, what the f**k do you mean?” might be a bridge too far for some listeners, but it is hard to contest, that with the fist-raised, fire-in-the-belly backing of SFTP at their most focused in many years, it is incredibly infectious.

There isn’t really any letup in the themes or lyrical focus of the record, either. This is an unbridled attack on the state of American politics/social structure, but it’s authenticity is what makes it feel truly powerful. Cameos from Keith Buckley of Every Time I Die, Knocked Loose’s Bryan Garris & rapper Vinnie Paz just add to what feels like a real modern protest album. The now-notorious comments Donald Trump made about Mexicans (guns, crime, rapists, etc) are even directly sampled on ‘The House Always Wins’. All this being said, as the album clocks in at less than 30 mins total - it makes its point vehemently, but doesn’t drag it out.

SFTP aren’t necessarily looking to make any new friends on this album, but they are doing something that is surely admirable: using their art to rail against social injustice and a system that is not working for the majority. Let’s be frank, when you have mosh calls like “Welcome to the melting pot motherf***er! If you don’t like it, then get the f**k out!” (Plead the Fifth), then not everyone is going to agree or come along for the ride. But for those who do? This level of righteous indignation is thrilling.