Friday, March 2, 2012

Striborg - Embittered Darkness/Isle de Morts

I was on the Southern Lord Records website buying the new Sunn O))) album on vinyl (you can read my review on it) and decided to see if Southern Lord had any good deals in their store. Turns out they had a bunch of old CDs that they were selling for $1 each. So I ended up buying Genevieve by Velvet Cacoon and two Striborg albums. I’ve known about Striborg for about a year now but I’ve never really been interested in listening to his music, particularly because of so many negative or mediocre ratings on his albums that I keep seeing. Although fortunately, one of his higher-rated albums was one of the ones I got. And not only that, it’s a 16-track combination of two albums! Now I’ve become more aware of how much of a figure Striborg is in the depressive black metal scene and that the people I know that listen to that kind of music really like him. Although I’m not totally impressed with Striborg, it’s not horrible and certainly not a waste of two bucks.

Striborg is from Australia that (for some really odd reason that I can’t figure out) seems to be a place where a lot of underground black metal artists are coming from. I’m not kidding; it seems that the more I look, the more Aussie black metal artists I find. I’ve come across many (and some amazing) artists and bands like Woods of Desolation, Drowning the Light, Austere, and Abyssic Hate (which is quite a few in my mind considering how small the Australian black metal scene is). The unfortunate thing about black metal is that even though the great ones blow me away, there is a large amount of TERRIBLE black metal artists and bands out there (and that’s the same with grindcore and brutal/slam death), some being among the worst in history (whose names I didn’t even bother to remember because they drove me away so quickly). Striborg is pretty average to me, but he has his special moments (shut up, perv) and even has quite a bit of experimentation going on in some of his songs.

Probably the thing that bothers me the most about this album is the vocals. I don’t mind that really deep and gritty vocal style, but when it’s a lot louder than everything else, it’s really distracting from the rest of the music. The guitars also have so much distortion that all I can hear is high-pitched fuzz; not really my cup of tea when it comes to this kind of depressive black metal. Another thing that kind of bothers me in this album is that the drums sound really separated from the rest of the music. I like it when all of the instruments are blended together and are weaved into a big cloth, not when it sounds like each individual instrument was recorded in a completely different place, era, and mixed so differently. I LOVE it when a band’s music flows all together as one, not in separate little streams.

My favorite thing about the album is the experimentation that’s done with the keyboards. If you want to get a full example of what I mean, listen to the fourth track. Even though there’s not much variation or interesting stuff in it, it still has a really atmospheric and mysterious sound to it that gives the album a completely different feel. I noticed that the second album on this CD was recorded ten years before the first one that I was just talking about. There isn’t really that much difference between the two albums (which is probably why they’re on the same CD). If you want a really basic description of the second part, it’s not really that different except that the sound quality (everything I described in the third paragraph) is even worse and harder to enjoy. This isn’t really something that I would recommend checking out unless you’re really curious or if you’re a HUGE black metal fan. I would give this album 8/20.