Thursday, August 25, 2011

French Metal Friday:Strattson

Heavy metal act Strattson was formed in 1982. Hailing from Paris, France they managed only one full-length album and yet they remain an important part of French metal history. Apart from being one of the earlier hard and heavy acts on the scene (in and off itself that should make them early legends) they were one of the earlier bands to feature a black front man. In an age when heavy metal was still considered a white man's genre here you had a killer band that was racially diverse. While it shouldn't matter either way I do find it interesting that it took a French band to make this happen. Although I guess it shouldn't be much of a surprise since Europe has always been ahead of American when it comes to be more tolerating. Now as far as the band goes after releasing a decent enough 1983 demo they would explode on the scene thanks to the excellent Ouf Metal album in 1985. Other than the 1987 "You Are a Man" single that one album is all we have to go by when it comes to Strattson. Fronted by underrated J.C. Stratt (who also handled lead guitar work) this French band sang in their native language and played a hardened brand of heavy metal that bordered on thrash. While they were somewhat similar in nature to fellow French act Sortilege the big difference was that Strattson relied more of actual rock elements giving them an interesting twist. Granted it might not always come off as 100% original or inventive now but for 1985 Ouf Metal is a high energy affair. The album is filled with hard rock and power metal/speed metal twists and turns. It pushes itself right up to the thrash border dancing dangerously close to edge without ever going over. It's also a little twisted and dark which gives the album a powerful stance. Vocalist J.C. has an incredible vocal range and at times the album goes from sounding like NWOBHM influenced rocking heavy metal to sinister Merciful Fate style hardcore doom (effect wise if not so much style wise). Along with Vulcain, High Power, Sortilege, ADX and H-Bomb High this five piece band made the early eighties French heavy metal scene a powerful force. Thankfully the label Brennus re-released Ouf Metal in 2003 with three additional bonus tracks. The sound is excellent on this re-issue and as I listen to the album now I'm captivated by the brute force that Strattson achieved. This is time-less heavy metal full of quality and intensity. The ability that J.C. has as a front man and lead guitarist is evident from the get go. It's a shame this band had such a limited output, but for those looking for a hidden gem Ouf Metal will certainly please. You can find the album on Amazon and Itunes. As a parting note let me quickly mention the bonus material. Along with the one demo cut you two tracks recorded in 2002. Honestly, the demo cut leaves a bit to be desired. Those two cuts from 2002 are more than a little interesting though. With more of a modern flare it showcases how good this band was even after all those years away. It's really a shame they couldn't have managed a comeback like so many other eighties acts. If they had maybe Strattson wouldn't be so unknown outside of their native country.


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