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Venezuela is not only an oil exporter country with beautiful people, landscapes, and tasty food, but also, it’s the land of interesting rock and metal bands. STRATUZ is living proof that we should look at South American metal music more often. “Osculum Pacis” is a heck of a fantastic album, as I stated in one of my questions. I was really impressed by both the sound production and musicianship, and the overall feeling of this album. It brought me back to the essence of Death and Doom metal, there’s an old-school vibe that you can smell in every song. I also was attracted by their fierce criticism of the Catholic Church's aberrations. They are very brave enough to speak about it. Franklin Berroteran, vocalist and keyboardist, was the designated driver to take us into what has been the band’s ride throughout these years.

1984 is a great book and it’s the year in which you guys formed STRATUZ, but I guess it was not Death Doom at that time, or was it? “… STRATUZ was founded in 1984 and our first performance was in 1987. At that time, there were not as many genres or sub-genres as today, but it was not easy to pigeonhole the band. Some people defined STRATUZ as Thrash Death, Black, but the truth is that our music ranged from elements of Doom to Death, with that raw sound at that time, and lyrically, it was defined as Black because of the lyrical content.

 

How’s the band doing these days? After 29 years of existence (although you were split for 13 years), can you say that you are living your best moment? “… We enjoy what we do, but I don't consider it to be our best moment yet. We still have a long way to go to reach that top and that's what we're working for…”

 

Latin American countries are deeply religious, and the band's lyrics talk about Catholic priests, inner demons, exorcism, and other uncomfortable topics for the Church, devout relatives, friends, or fans. What would be your answer if somebody’s grandma asked you about it? “… It wouldn't necessarily have to be someone's grandmother. At the beginning of our musical trajectory, we had a lot of harsh criticism and rejection from religious fanatics. But over the years and with so much tangible evidence from many religious cult’s excesses, no one is surprised, and they understood our position…”

From left to right:

Diego Cabrujas (drums), Franklin Berroteran, (vocal and keyboard), Geronimo Egea (guitar) and Leonardo Rangel (bass).

“Osculum Pacis” is a heck of a fantastic album. Congrats on its release and my recommendation for all Death Doom followers. How have the Venezuelans embraced this hellish album? “… The reception has been excellent. We feel that we have achieved our goal of returning to the scene with good material that would justify our absence for so many years…”

 

The album has a great sound and production for a band coming from a Latin American country. It impresses me every time I listen to it. Did you record it in Caracas or somewhere else? Is it easy or hard to have access to recording studios in your country? “…The album was recorded in our guitarist's studio and mixed and mastered in Chicago by Arturo Banús. Regarding the studios, I think it is much easier now than many years ago. Some musicians have decided to master a career like sound engineering and develop it.  Our scene lacked sound engineers who understood the genre…”

Even though we are in contact with Venezuelan acts and promoters, still your scene can be very exotic or unknown to many rock and metal listeners. What’d you criticize or highlight the most? “…Unfortunately, Venezuela has always experienced a seasonal phenomenon. The country has had wonderful times, but the scene has not been able to keep up for many reasons. However, we can highlight the Venezuelan musicians’ values. They are at a remarkably high level in any genre…”

 

We flew away from the Cuban dictatorship but one thing I can tell you, metal bands found their way to make music and release albums despite scarcity. How’s metal making its way into Maduro’s totalitarian regime? “…Venezuelan bands have had to work under many regimes. So, this is nothing new, however, the economic part affects bands the most.  They can’t produce their material and it is not easy to keep a band active since you must be solvent with the expenses that a band generates…”

 

Tell me about the show you are preparing in a theater somewhere in Caracas. Will this event be like an official album release? “…We have scheduled the “Osculum Pacis” showcase for March 10th this year, so we will officially start our live performances to promote the album as far as possible…”

Click on cover to listen to the music

Besides this show, is there anything else the band is preparing for the coming months? Are you guys planning to tour this album? “…Yes, we are in talks with other cities to be able to perform “Osculum Pacis” live. We are also evaluating an international tour, so there is still a lot of work to be done…”

 

Thanks for your time, Franklin, state some words for the Venezuelan metalheads, for the band’s followers, and for our readers. “… Many thanks to you for the opportunity to be in your magazine. We are incredibly grateful to every single one of you, for the support we have been receiving. We thank the old guard who never lost faith in the band’s return, and to those of you who are reading us for the first time, we invite you to get to know our material and to continue supporting underground bands and Scriptorium Magazine…”

STRATUZ "Morning Star" Lyrics Video

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