Some say "if it's late, don't bother doing it." I think that it's better late than never, and said statement is true in tonight's review's situation. This band is no stranger to the spotlight, and while having received both positive and negative reviews about the newest release, tonight's is not quite either of those.
Stray from the Path, a four-piece alternative hardcore band from New York, has now dropped seven individual releases including the highly acclaimed Anonymous, which was released in stores on September 17. The band has relentlessly been touring before and after the official release date to promote the album, and having got the chance to see them perform tracks from this album twice during their short stint with Stick to Your Guns and Hundredth in southern Ontario last month, it gave me a little bit of insight into what the album was going to sound like (after only previously hearing the singles before going to the shows).
The 37-minute album is definitely one of those bittersweet misleading releases, meaning that Anonymous begins with a bang, but the sizzle starts to fade halfway through. Singles "Badge & A Bullet" and "Landmines" were misleading to the listeners because they're two of the strongest tracks on the album, but they're on opposite ends. Starting off Anonymous is "False Flag," followed by "Badge & A Bullet" and "Radio" – all of which are incredibly strong, catchy and interactive songs. By interactive, I mean that during the live performances, almost the entire crowd was active during these three songs and definitely seemed the most energetic. The strength of these three songs is possibly what makes the three following tracks ("Scissor Hands," "Black Friday" and "Counting Sheep") sounds so much weaker. I'm not saying that they're overall weak songs, but in comparison to the opening three, there's far less of a catchy factor and the strength diminishes greatly.
"Slice of Home" and "Tell Them I'm Not Home" are almost completely irrelevant to the album and contain barely any value and are more fillers than anything. I've listened to the album numerous times and I honestly forgot those songs even existed until I opened my iTunes library. Here's where the misleading factor clues in. The previously released "Landmines" (coming in as the ninth track) and the final track, aptly titled "Anonymous," are both bangers and are exactly what I wanted the entire album to be like. The song structure, the vocal strength and the intensity entirely return out of nowhere. Their departure during the middle of the album can be immensely blamed for the lower score Anonymous is receiving from not only me, but also from plenty of other reviews that I've come across.
Lacking has never been one of Stray from the Path's common denominators, especially in previous albums like Rising Sun and Make Your Own History. Considering, Rising Sun, being one of my favourite albums of 2011, maybe I was expecting too much from this band with this most recent release. The energy is definitely there and has never faded, but the inability to claim my attention during almost half of the album was a huge letdown for such a marvelous band. Stray from the Path is one of the hardest working, most vigorously touring band I've ever come across and, for that, I have immense respect for them. This album just wasn't what it could've been, though, and Stray from the Path isn't one of the bands that closed 2013 off on a high note.