Strata Presents The End Of The World

Written by: PP on 11/09/2007 03:39:13

I remember giving Strata's self-titled album a few brief spins without being too impressed over it. It had the potential to be something really good, but each time the record was approaching that potential, it made silly errors that in my opinion caused the record to be bland and pretty boring overall. Needless to say, I didn't listen to the record since. It's now been three years since that album, and something has clicked within the band. Somewhere along the line, Strata learnt how to polish those errors and write songs deep enough to have my jaw drop down over the progress the band has made in just three short years. "Strata Presents The End Of The World" may well be the culmination of this band's career, and it deserves an equivalent review as well.

For those who aren't familiar with Strata beforehand, much of their music sounds something like Circa Survive could make if its members were replaced with half of Damiera and Kaddisfly. Songs like "Night Falls (The Weight Of It)" are purposefully written to sound dreamy and delicate to create an effect of 'floating' to the sound. This means that the guitars are soft, but yet dominate the faded back atmosphere utterly and completely. Add in vocalist Eric Victornino's high pitch vocals that contest the soft parts of Anthony Green in Circa Survive's masterpiece "On Letting Go", and you're really onto something here. Listening through the record really makes you feel like you're flying through your life without having to worry about anything. It is emotionally engaging and sincere in sound, it sounds like something a band full of passion for their music should and would sound like.

But perhaps the best part about the record is its versatility. You'll listen to "Hot/Cold (Darlin, Don't)" and be awe-inspired over just how highly-tuned their guitars can be without sounding screechy or Eric's soothing vocal work, that is nothing short of stunning. The next moment the album jumps onto the heavy acoustic riff of "The Dotted Line..." and the fragile, dreamy atmosphere is momentarily broken - the song even incorporates clapping which seldom works on songs of this type, but here it feels like the song would be nothing without the rhythmic pulsations emitted by them. Three songs down, and three completely different approaches to the same style. Impressive to say the least. Then we get "Cocaine (We're All Going To Hell)" which sounds a bit like The Mars Volta gone mental in a less ridiculously complex manner. The chorus has a time signature change so radical that there's no way it wouldn't catch you off guard upon the first listens. But it works brilliantly. Even the balladic "Coma Therapy" is great - its metaphorical lyrics about Eric's mother's cancer diagnosis are touching enough to bring a tear to the eyes of the toughest lumberjack in Siberia.

That's a whole lot of praise for a single review. Now imagine that I'm not even half way describing the album. It really is that good. It is also definitely a grower, as on the first listen the songs may sound intriguing to an extent, but you'll have to wait until the tenth listen before they sound nothing short of amazing. This is an album that started as an underdog for me, but has slowly made its way up into being one of my favorite releases of the summer. At times semi-aggressive, at times soft as silk, Strata brings everything onto the table here, succeeding in pretty much every conceivable aspect of their album. If semi-cloudy blue skies could have a sound to them, "Strata Presents The End Of The World" would be it.

Download: Night Falls (The Weight Of It), Coma Therapy, Cocaine (We're All Going To Hell)
For the fans of: Circa Survive, Damiera, Kaddisfly
Listen: Myspace

Release date 17.07.2007
Wind-Up Records

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