Embittered Darkness/Isle De Morts



by FiniteUniverse USER (5 Reviews)
November 27th, 2012 | 13 replies

Release Date: 2006 | Tracklist

Review Summary: An acquired taste to be sure, and much like black metal as a whole, this alienating release is intoxicating for seemingly all the wrong reasons. A treat for those inclined.

Striborg may be among the most misunderstood of today's underground black metal projects. With a sound that mixes sloppy, off-time drumming, paper thin buzzsaw guitars, and vocals that sound like Satyr doing his best Donald Duck impression, it's not difficult to ascertain why. As an added barrier, sole member Sin Nanna obscures the production in a 'necro' aesthetic that can at times make Transilvanian Hunger sound like a high fidelity recording. Combined, Embittered Darkness and Isle de Morts comprise a range of disparate elements, the former being Striborg's fifth proper LP and the latter a '97 demo serving primarily as an added 'bonus.'

Embittered Darkness

Beginning with "Protagonist of Misanthropic Virtues" (a repetitive acoustic riff that is gradually smothered by stark, simplistic synth keys), Embittered Darkness opens in way reminiscent of a dream as portrayed by a cult horror flick from the 1970's, leading to the album's first formal black metal number, "Wrapped in a Cocoon out of Harms Way." Here, white-noise-injected tremolo riffing gives way almost immediately to Sin Nanna's distinctively off-kilter shriek. The effect is distinctive enough to leave a lasting impression, and gracefully borders on realms both surreal and comical. Meanwhile, the drumming eschews traditional blast-beats in favor of irregular, lumbering strikes with the odd triplet-happy fill thrown in for good measure. Say what you will about Sin Nanna's technical limitations, the man demonstrates a keen aptitude for rhythmic structures that perfectly compliment the endless, droning fields of guitar noise.

The rest of Embittered Darkness follows suit, with two more instrumentals followed by two final 'epic' black metal dirges. The riffs become distinctive after multiple listens, and reveal that not only are the tracks compositionally sound, but most importantly offer a singular atmosphere that is uncommonly ethereal. Whereas most ambient black metal (this style's closest relative) may conjure images of pagan rites or black spruce forests, Embittered Darkness offers an experience usually reserved for the subconscious mind, despite the unassuming cover art. It's black metal meets Eraserhead.

Isle de Morts

After the last hazy notes of Embittered Darkness fizzle from existence, the added demo, Isle de Morts begins with what is simply titled "Intro." Even after the heady production of the previous tracks, the stripped-down, unpolished sound of the remaining tracks may make you appreciate the calculated, intentional distortion from before. Here, the barely audible guitars occasionally produce a memorable riff or two, but they are sadly overshadowed by the vocals which hover over the entire mix, drowning them out mercilessly, and crippling listeners' enjoyment. As this is merely a demo (a Darkthrone-worshipping one at that), it's certainly forgivable, but it does not belong on the same disc as its more mature, aesthetically cogent sibling. Still, it should serve as a curiosity for fans (all two of you!), and is at the very least an ode to Sin Nanna's musical progression.


Jaded black metal fans in search of something decidedly quirky may find a revelatory listening experience in Striborg, and Embittered Darkness is a strong starting point. At just under forty minutes, the LP ends before it can become truly redundant, and offers a dreamlike miasma that is distinctive within the black metal pantheon. It's not for everyone, but Embittered Darkness deserves attention for its unique delivery. In this light, it's really no wonder why fellow experimenters Sunn O))) added Striborg to their label, and dedicated a track to artist Sin Nanna in Black One. That being said, approach with caution, and an open mind.

user ratings (17)

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November 27th 2012


Album Rating: 4.0

My second review, and as the second person to review a Striborg release on this site, it almost feels like a special occasion, as I'm apparently the first to give anything of theirs a positive review. This does not bode well...

November 27th 2012


never given this band a listen really, maybe i should eventually

Digging: Drexciya - Harnessed The Storm

November 27th 2012


Album Rating: 4.0

Be prepared to be weirded out a bit. It's not something even I can listen to everyday, but when I'm tired of more conventional bands, and require something unusual, this is a great listen.

November 27th 2012


i like black metal but i listened to digging a ditch to die in and wtf those vocals are unlistenable and the static is really grating.

November 27th 2012


Album Rating: 4.0

Don't sweat it. It's not for everyone, even if one is a fan of the genre. I tend to favor atypical vocal styles in metal, hence I'm a huge fan of Lord Worm, Attila, Luc Lemay, Antti Boman, Vindsval, Garm, etc.

As for the static sounding guitars, they're really not too far removed from 2nd wave BM...

November 27th 2012


i may check this out, nice review.

November 27th 2012


Lol at this band. Well written review.

Also, have you seen the recent 3 part documentary on one man black metal bands that has a crazy good interview with this guy in it?

JF Williams
November 27th 2012


"It's black metal meets Eraserhead."

Nice. I've tried to get into Striborg, but I could never get through a song or two. He always struck me as a poor man's Xasthur, but maybe I should give Sin Nanna another chance. Good review though, it's nice to see someone offer a more positive opinion of Striborg.

November 27th 2012


Album Rating: 4.0

@Wizard. I have seen that documentary, actually. When Sin Nanna talks with his corpsepaint on and his Australian accent it's both bizarre and awesome.

Also, seeing him awkwardly stroll through the forest with his cape put a huge smile on my face, and reminded me of this hilarious music video.

April 5th 2013


Album Rating: 4.0

Did not like this at first, but like you said, its an acquired taste, now I love it. Pos'd.

April 5th 2013


striborg is sweet

April 5th 2013


this is just LOL

June 5th 2016


Album Rating: 3.5

hey this is kinda cool

Digging: Zao - Where Blood and Fire Bring Rest

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