"Embittered Darkness/Isle De Morts"

(Southern Lord)

01. Protagonist of Misanthropic Virtues
02. Wrapped In a Cocoon Out of Harms Way
03. Race of Apathy
04. In the Eerie Pre-Dawn Silence of the Cold
05. Embittered Darkness
06. Digging a Ditch to Die In
07. Intro
08. Through the Veils of Blackness
09. Descending From the Blackened Sky
10. Holding the Throne of Night
11. The Day For My Kingdom To Rule
12. The Cold Slumber That Awaits Me
13. Return Of the Dark Lord
14. Landscapes of Mist Casts Across the Steel of Cold
15. In Darkness…
16. Mist

RATING: 6/10

They don't get much more authentic than this nutter. STRIBORG's sole member, Sin Nanna (wasn't that one of OL' DIRTY BASTARD's aliases when he flipped his lid?), apparently lives in Tasmania, out in the forest, without a computer or telephone, and refuses to do interviews or allow fan contact. How much of this is a self-created legend puffed up for maximum credibility is anyone's guess — after all, the guy has a MySpace page, and obviously has some sort of contact with a lot of labels and distros throughout the world.

As for "Embittered Darkness", it's the sort of basement black metal that'll have most people laughing, and a few heralding STRIBORG as the only music of the last 500 years worth listening to. The truth, as usual, is in the middle — the guitar is practically unlistenable, buzzing and crackling over the cardboard-box drums while Sin Nanna (I can't even type that with a straight face) delivers echo-laden croaks like Popeye fallen down a deep well.

The grim and martial tempo is occasionally broken up with primitive synth ambience (see the two-note piece "In the Eerie Pre-Dawn Silence of the Cold"), while out-of-tune acoustic guitar also makes an appearance in "Race of Apathy". The overall effect is one of eerie weirdness — sure, on a surface level, it's a terrible bunch of racket, but now and then STRIBORG hits upon a certain subterranean frequency that makes the hairs on the back of the listener's neck stand up.

"Embittered Darkness" is perhaps the most visceral track here — the radio-static guitars create an aural fog and Sin Nanna does his most malevolent, indecipherable croak over a droning, inexorable beat, evoking all kinds of disquieting atmosphere amid the shitcanned acoustics. The one-two combo of "Race of Apathy" and "In the Eerie Pre-Dawn", etc, etc, is pretty cool also, evoking more forest-gloom aura than any of the tracks with vocals.

The tracks from "Isle de Morts", recorded in 1997, are actually better, because the guitar sound is nihilistically blasted without that irritating buzz and crackle — it's much more effective. The vocals are hilariously loud in the mix, though, which sorta detracts from the atmosphere. There's lot more blast beats, which combine with the ambient drone of the other instruments to give off a sound not far removed from listening to an unbalanced washing machine in the basement with one's ear pressed to the first floor.

STRIBORG's weirdness is his most notable quality, but it also sabotages the vibe that threatens to crop up occasionally on these recordings. Overall, it's hard not to consider this record a novelty, from an act whose backstory remains the most interesting thing about him. By all means, though, if this is the sort of music that changes your life and renders all other sound obsolete, have at it — there are plenty of STRIBORG t-shirts available to accessorize your grim and cult lifestyle choice.


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