Finally, in April 2022 Venezuelan doom metal heavyweights Stratuz dropped their long-waited record Osculum Pacis. With themes discussing the manipulation of the masses, injustice, and crimes committed in the name of religion, Stratuz are reborn with one of the best and most authentic records I’ve listened to this year, let me tell you more about it.
Opening with a big theatrical intro that instantly gets you in the mood, Stratuz gives the listener a hint of what to expect on Osculum Pacis as they prepare us for the battle to come. Morning Star picks that epic sound up and even magnifies it, it’s dark, raw, and extremely heavy with cleverly written and arranged melodies and clean vocals that balanced its heaviness, while the orchestrations pushed those relentless riffs forward in a highly balanced dynamic structure, plus an EPIC solo included. Still pushing their sound further, Father Amorth (E) comes next with fast riffing, pounding drums, preaching vocals, and threatening orchestrations. Around the 1:20 minute mark, they steer the song’s dynamics into a slower pace, introducing a beautiful melodic acoustic section that shows another side of Stratuz before they smoothly shift into more dense sound without losing their momentum or compromising their sound. Stratuz explores new territory on Holy Grail, it has a more atmospheric sound with carefully written guitar melodies, heavy melodic piano, and subtle Lovecraft-ish vibes that perfectly fit their direction. Using such an approach helped spice the record’s dynamics, and showed their diverse writing and knowledge of their direction. Moving towards the middle of the record we reach Caelibatus, a massive sound journey that sums up everything that happened in previous songs and adds to it. The orchestrations powerfully uplift the song’s dynamics, while the guitars and machinegun drumming managed to sustain its edgy rough sound. The structure has an amazing progression, it keeps on relentlessly building up and engaging the listener more and more into a larger sound leading to the perfect ending, totally my favorite so far. Diving into the depths of doom comes In the Name of God, its dark evil sound and slow thick riffs are simply mesmerizing! It keeps on digging deeper into a more brutal and extreme sound as it carries on. Back to the Sun cools down the album’s extremity with its more melodic and neat approach, it has a unique sound with atmospheric clean guitars, hypnotizing riffs, and overwhelming vocals that speak directly to your soul. Stratuz are back to the doomy vibes but with a more melodic approach on Sodomized. A powerful hard-hitting one with a big wall of sound and a captivating groove. Dawn cements Stratuz’s melodic twist, with more orchestrations and melodic guitars leading the song’s dynamics even on the extreme parts, it feels like these guys are flexing their writing abilities, pushing their boundaries further. And the female vocal part was surprising and added a deeper layer to their mix. With a leading keys melody and groovy slow guitars comes Left, a melancholic piece towards the end of the record, offering a more open sound that smoothly progresses into a brutal fest, creating dynamic shifts that keep things interesting. Condemned epically ends Osculum Pacis with amazing songwriting, layering, and arrangement. It has a mature sound with a well-structured and well-engineered progression, and fluid dynamics that organically shift from highly energetic banger riffs into atmospheric and emotional soundscapes using everything they have, with each and every instrument playing its role in the perfect time and place.
Osculum Pacis is a brutally artistic journey with Stratuz, it loudly demonstrates their abilities and vision, which they stayed true to throughout all the changes and dynamic shifts that we’ve been through on this sonic trip. I loved how packed is it with pure emotions of anger, melancholy, and growing brutality. Osculum Pacis is definitely going into my AOTY list, totally recommended to all extreme music lovers, I’m looking forward to more guys, keep on rocking!