Jakob's Album Reviews

Words About Music

“Radical” Punk Rock in a Post-Trump World: A Brief Analysis of Stray from the Path’s “Goodnight Alt-right”



Stray from the Path is a New York-based metalcore group signed to Sumerian Records and led by vocalist Thomas Williams. Apparently, this band has been around in one incarnation or another since 2001, and it also has seven(!) albums under its belt, with an eighth set to drop in September. Now, as I am not a huge fan of the Sumerian Records roster nor am I particularly wowed by most metalcore bands, Stray from the Path is a band whose existence has evaded me. Regardless, I was intrigued after seeing folks on various social platforms sharing and talking about SFTP’s controversial new single, aptly titled “Goodnight Alt-right.”

Now, I must begin by saying I do not like this song at all. I don’t like Thomas Williams’ voice, which sounds more like Sebastian Bach than Zach de la Rocha. I don’t like that it sounds like him and his band are emulating Limp Bizkit with the rap verses and Asking Alexandria with the painfully predictable breakdowns and shitty drumming. It’s a grating, annoying song sonically. I don’t think that Stray from the Path is a band I will be listening to anytime soon if this track is anything to go by.

It’s also fairly uncreative with its lyricism, with Williams delivering charged verbiage about threatening to beat up members of the so-called “alt-right” and its explicitly racist, fascistic denizens.

Now, here’s where I differ from the circle-jerk of offended bros and their liberal enablers: I am fully on board with its general message. The literal-Nazis, Pinochet-sympathizers, and fascist wannabes who compose the “alt-right” embody a fully violent, invalid ideology and belief system. Their goal is genocide, whether they are simply opining that there are “only two genders,” praising privatized health care, or offering some other reactionary position. Simply being affiliated with such ideology with unwavering dedication is grounds for consequential action, and any violent act committed against a Nazi is self-defense.

Just look at the comments section on this track’s YouTube music video, which has six times as many “dislikes” as it does “likes.” While I think both the song and video are worthy of disliking purely based on artistic merit, it is clear from the most upvoted comments that this is not entirely the case.

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“Cuck” is a pejorative term used by reactionaries online, and is meant to refer to those nefarious “social justice warriors,” particularly of the male variety, whose politics render them so feminized that their female partners, preferring to engage in intercourse with “real men,” do so, with or without the consent of the male. This type of relationship is the reactionary’s worst nightmare, especially considering the origins of cuckolding, wherein the man whom the woman was sleeping with, i.e., not her romantic partner, was a person of color. To the reactionary, little is more scary than their female partner, whom they consider to be their property, leaving them for a “real man,” especially if that man is black. Thus, whenever I see anyone use this term on the internet, I cease to take that person seriously.

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“Low T” = low testosterone, again propagating the reactionary fantasy which splits society up into the Big Manly Men™ and the “Manlets,” diminutive, weak-willed gents, who are also likely to be “cucks.” Doesn’t basing your entire argument off of physical appearance and your own fragile masculinity get boring, or is that literally your only defense mechanism?

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I’m not entirely sure if this is a satirical comment or not. I’m leaning toward “it is,” but there is nothing even vaguely “terroristic” about beating up some white supremacists. Hell, isn’t killing the shit out of white supremacists something Americans are supposed to celebrate, considering we all learn about the events of the Holocaust in junior high?

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Some good old-fashioned anti-Semitism and possible Holocaust denial for you.

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Don’t you realize that Augusto Pinochet was a puppet dictator installed by the United States government after they overthrew Chile’s democratically elected leader and that his regime resulted in several thousand deaths and disappearances? Oh, wait, that’s right — you’re really, really into that.

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You heard it here first, folks. Anti-white-supremacy = anti-white. At least she’s being honest. Imagine being so racist that you think a song which advocates physical violence against specifically racists is an attack on all white people. Also, isn’t it hilarious that they only care about “free speech” and opposing “political correctness” when it’s the bullshit they care about?

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And, to cap it all off, some sprinklings of homophobia, as well as the advocation of violence against people whose two crimes are, in order from most to least unsavory: (1) writing and recording a pretty bad song and (2) offending white supremacists on the internet.

Look, as I said before, I do not think this is a good song. I think that the whole myth of punk becoming great again with the election Donald Trump and the fascists emboldened by it is just that — a myth. Punk will be punk, and there will be great and bad bands all the time, whether the president is Bernie Sanders or Ben Carson. Stray from the Path is not for me, and I definitely won’t be looking into their music in the future.

With that said, it is vastly unsurprising to see a bunch of angry white people sounding off in the comments section, evoking the same hawkish imagery as always, whether it’s fascists killing innocents in Chile, Germany, or the United States.

My opinion on the matter is this: Nazi punks can and should fuck off, to quote both Dead Kennedys and the song I’m talking about here. Fascism is a ludicrous, twisted, malicious ideology that seeks evil, disgusting ends. It needs to be smashed and destroyed by whatever means necessary, including actual physical violence against its supporters. And while this song (and band) is not my cup of tea, I’d take an explicitly anti-white-supremacy band making shitty post-hardcore music over sexist, racist, right-wing nonsense finding a comfortable space in any genre of music.


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