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Stratuz – Osculum Pacis Award winner

Stratuz
Osculum Pacis
by Justin "Witty City" Wittenmeier at 17 May 2022, 1:24 AM

STRATUZ is a doom metal band from Venezuela who formed way back in 1985.  “Osculum Pacis,” is their fourth full length album.  They have also released four demos and a split album.  They were pretty regular with their releases until they went on hiatus around 2006.  Twenty two years (!) later, they return with this latest release. Honestly, I never heard of them before receiving this promo but based on this album, I can’t imagine why anyone would find this to be a disappointing album, if you’re into doom.  As a whole, they definitely have a melodic death/doom feel but they also sound Gothic and even theatrical at times.  I found this album to have enough variety to keep interested during its eleven tracks and forty-four minute run time.   Although I like some more than others, there aren’t any bad songs on the album.

The simple titled “Intro,” brings to the front some of the theatrical elements I was speaking about earlier.  I am very picky with intros, finding most of them to be an utter waste of the world’s time.  However, this one is done right—it is exciting, climatic and bombastic.   Without really giving anything away, it got me pumped for the first full length track, “Morning Star.” The song begins with slabs of concrete heavy riffs laid bare while a choir shouts over the doomy mayhem.  Very strong and loud death growls rip through just before a blues styled guitars lays down the feels.  And all that happens within the first minute!   Then the cleans hit and the track just pulls me in the rest of the way.  Franklin’s vocals are absolutely outstanding!  Whether it is a growl or a deep, Gothic croon, this guy pours his heart and soul into the music.

The rest of the song is simple but it flows so effortlessly.  Geronimo is the only guitarist but he has a massive sound and fills up the space very well. Of course, he is backed by a strong rhythm section consisting of Leonardo on bass and Diego on drums. “Holy Grail,” replaces the death doom with Gothic doom but the band is equally adept and laying this different style down.  Clean keys and tones open up the song, very funeral and cathedral in the approach.  Frankin’s cleans really shine on this song as he rides up top the minimalist music.  The full band comes in soon, adding in a weighty melancholic atmosphere. The song picks up layers and gets darker as it goes on.  Lead guitar is sprinkled in a few places, tying the whole composition together.

In The Name Of God,” shows off yet another side of the band with a shorter but highly effective death metal romp.  It is fast, furious and full of venom but does include room for slow, doom riffs in a couple places, and hearing the growls over them makes it all that much more effective.  Clean chanting in the background gives this song a huge SEPTICFLESH vibe, which is always a good thing. The next song is another track that is just over three minutes in length but this one has a different approach altogether. Leonardo drives the song forward with Diego complimenting in his own style, opening up the song for the riffs and mixed vocal approach which is a sterling mixture of growls and rough cleans.  The middle portion takes me back to MY DYING BRIDE, what with its melodic yet sorrowful guitars and the emotive solo.  A short but very sweet song.

Left,” really exemplifies the overall feel and style of the album, which makes for a very well rounded song.  The subtle layer of keys only adds to the weight of the song, which is basically a doom adventure in under five minutes.  The keys change their style from subtle to more textured while the vocals give a varied appearance as well. The riffs are poured on around the three minute mark then the song busts wide open with drums hammered into the very core of the body. The final track, “Condemned,” is builds up to more theatrical chanting that plays well with the drop of the drums and thick riffs.  The vocals are extra brutal here, with a touch of echo adding to the intensity. The bass is beastly throughout the track, nearly vibrating my speakers into pieces.  The last part of the song is clean vocals, who she is I don’t know but she does a fine job, alongside death growls and raging death metal.  What an ending!

STRATUZ has really impressed me with this album and it is so amazing that bands this good are still out there to be discovered.  They definitely made me a fan and I will do my best to track down their previous releases.  It probably goes without saying but I am definitely looking forward to future albums as well…hopefully I won’t have to wait 22 years this time!  If you’re a fan of doom, you owe it to yourself to check this album out.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Intro
2. Morning Star
3. Father Amorth(e)
4. Holy Grail
5. Caelibatus
6. In The Name Of God
7. Back To The Sun
8. Sodomized
9. Dawn
10. Left
11. Condemned
Lineup:
Leonardo Rangel - Bass
Geronimo Egea - Guitars
Franklin Berroterán - Vocals, Keyboards
Diego Cabrujas - Drums
Record Label: Sliptrick Records
     


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Edited 07 July 2022
 

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