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The Mosh Pit: Datura by Stratford

Brian Clancy, Print Opinions Editor

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In the last edition of the Mosh Pit, I wrote about a lesser-known but exceedingly talented band from our very own city of Chicago. In the same vein, I wanted to write on another one of the local acts that I believe deserves a lot of well-earned attention.

Chicagoland punk outfit Stratford bend genre and deliver a ferocious yet emotional five-song EP with Datura, their latest effort. The album combines soaring and bittersweet melodies with crushingly heavy guitar riffs and breakdowns. The choruses are extremely catchy, the songs fraught with emotion without being too trite or derivative. In fact, Stratford manages to stay original and innovative while still harkening back to the classic staples of their genre. Post-hardcore, metalcore and even some pop-punk influences are very prevalent throughout the EP.

The opening song, Fallen Love, sets a fantastic precedent for the rest of the EP. The tune feels huge and sweeping and poses a stark juxtaposition between the sparkly melodies of the lead guitar and the pummeling heaviness of the rhythm section. The chorus is catchy and melodic and helps carry along the song.

Immediately after is the tune …And the Antagonist Wins Again, easily one of the highlights of the EP for me. The hardcore influences shine through with razor-sharp guitar riffs and machine-gun drum patterns. The song relentlessly weaves melody and innovative song structure together perfectly, helping to display Stratford’s full potential.

Up next is the much darker 11:11. This is the most emotional piece thus far, maintaining the signature aggressive edge and balancing it with heart-wrenching melodies, the soaring choruses the definition of an earworm.

Devil in the Details explodes into life next and brings the EP back to its more ferocious post-hardcore elements again. The song is searing with rough vocals and heavy instrumentation, and the ending guitar riff screams of 80’s groove metal in the best way possible.

And finally, the EP comes to a close with Wasting Time in Wonderland. Once again, Stratford maintains their harsh edge while delivering an emotional and sonically complex performance, bending genre and introducing interesting musical elements throughout the tune. This is by far the softest song of the EP, but that does not mean it doesn’t bite in its own way. It’s a great tune to bring the EP to an eerie close.

Datura is a fantastic effort from Stratford and is worth the listen for music lovers of many different genres. If the pummeling rhythms don’t strike your fancy, the beautiful melodies and atmospheric vocals surely will. This EP plays out very much like the flower it is named after; elegant and colorful, but filled with danger.

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The Mosh Pit: Datura by Stratford