Review Summary: An excellent and diverse mix of ballads and hard-edged rock. Strata creates a unique yet accessible chunk of alternative rock.
Eric Victorino (Vocals)
Ryan Hernandez (Guitar)
Hrag Chanchanian (Bass)
Adrian Robinson (Drums)
Good luck pronouncing Hrag's name if you ever see them him after a concert...anyway,
I have not listened to their debut album, so I will be reviewing this album without comparison to their previous work. Strata apparently used to have nu-metal influences, but they do no longer. This album is highly ambient moderately heavy rock and prominently features Eric's talently vocals. The rest of the instrumentation is highly capable but nothing amazing.
The album starts off with a bit of a dud in Night Falls
. While perfectly fine and well-written, it does nothing to distinguish Strata from the numerous bands that play similar music. It does pack a good deal of energy though, which is always a good way to start the album. Also of note, this was the first Strata track I heard, and I briefly thought the band had a female vocalist...Eric was amazing range. The next track is a ballad, which one usually doesn't find on track two, but it is here because it is amazing track, Hot/Cold
is arguably the best song here. It features very poetic lyrics and is one of the most emotionally moving songs I've ever heard, a standout track for sure. Eric said it was his favorite song on the disc, and it is a close second in my eyes.
Cocaine, We're All Going To Hell
is one of the best songs of 2007, though, and tops everything else on the album. This song was obviously chosen as their first single, because it is everything a single should be. It features familiar structure, but is flawlessly executed. Strata often has good lyrics, excellent ambiance, and great vocals... however they often don't all occur at once...Cocaine is the perfect combination of the best elements of the band's sound.
The album slows down and drops off in quality after Cocaine, always a disappointment, but there are no songs that have to be skipped. Coma Therapy
sets an excellent mood, and is a pleasant listen, though it drains the momentum Cocaine had established. Stay Young
features the best lyrics of the album combined with upbeat music, which is a refreshing diversion from a very somber album.
The second half of the album drags as the quality of ballads decreases...they are all good, but start to sound similar. Plus, the dreary tone of the album starts to make time drag, there is only so much sorrow I can appreciate at one time...a great album, right up there with Blue October
if you ever need an album to commit suicide to. The other notable track is The New National Anthem
which is a wicked rewriting of the lyrics to the American national anthem. Lyrics include, "O' Say, can you see? By the dawn's early light
we get 'em young, give 'em guns and ship 'em off to fight." Very strong and passionate anti-war song, but if you happen to be patriotic, I've warned you....you might be offended.
Strata Presents... is a very solid album, none of the songs have to be skipped, and if the album weren't so monotonously dark and emotional, it'd be a great straight listen. Cocaine and Hot/Cold are two amazing songs, and The New National Anthem and Stay Young are also worth checking out. The whole disc is worthwhile if you enjoy this style of music...a solid 4/5.