Stricta Doctrina is a one-man martial neo-classical project from Quebec. His eponymous first album was released in 2011 by the Argentinian label Twilight Records. I picked up a copy only recently, and was impressed enough by what I heard to write this review.
The album contains martial neo-classical music in a similar vein to artists such as The Protagonist and L’effet c’est moi. The melodies are grand and stately, with just the right edge of melancholy and menace. The sounds are clean, orchestral sounds: Mostly strings, brass and drums, but with a couple of tracks driven more by piano melodies. There are also occasional spoken samples and, in Sur le front, loin de leur patrie, the sounds of war and gunfire.
The tone of the album doesn’t vary much. Sometimes it’s a little faster or a little slower, but mostly it marches along very steadily. This can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on your tastes. Personally, I enjoy that sort of consistency, but I can imagine other people might find it a little monotonous.
The production on the album, which is an important thing to get right for this kind of music, is unfortunately merely ok. The orchestral strings and brass are layered up to make a full, strong sound. On the other hand, the drums remain a little weak. Several of the tracks stop suddenly, without giving any time for the reverb tails to finish, which creates a jarring effect. The few vocal samples that are used don’t blend well with the instruments. They seem to sit in a separate audio world. Ultimately, one is reminded often that one is listening to something produced in a computer. It doesn’t come together as a convincing audio environment in the way that the best work of, for example, Sophia or Triarii does.
Despite that criticism, though, I can’t help but get swept up in the beauty and grandeur of the melodies that Stricta Doctrina creates. I find the album very enjoyable to listen to, and I look forward to hearing more from this artist in the future.