Striborg - Autumnal Melancholy
Displeased Records
Depressive Black Metal
8 songs (63:20)
Release year: 2008
Displeased Records
Reviewed by James

Perhaps it's just sole member Sin Nanna's remote location (he hails from Tasmania) but Striborg are a fairly odd proposition, even within the weird and wonderful world of black metal. Sin Nanna has a slew of releases to his name since his beginnings as Kathaaria (the demos of which have now been released under the Striborg name). Indeed, many of these demos have found their way on to countless comps under the Striborg banner, and coupled with Sin Nanna being a fairly productive little beaver to this day (he's released eight new studio releases in the past four years, not counting various splits and yet more demo compilations) the Striborg discography can be fairly terrifying to navigate for a newcomer. Autumnal Melancholy is his most recent release, and his first of 2008, and as fitting a place as any to start with one of black metal's most unusual acts.

At first glance, Autumnal Melancholy feels like yet more depressive black metal from the Xasthur school of Mutiilation worship. However, Striborg's music is lent a certain, shall we say, unease to it. Perhaps it's the hellishly raw production, which rivals the Les Legions Noires in the lo-fi stakes (though I hear this is one of Striborg's more accessible releases!) . Perhaps it's those, odd, wobbly, seasick keyboards that sound like nothing else on this earth. Perhaps it's the vocals of Sin Nanna himself. They have a weird distant sound to them, as if they come from some bizarre creature deep in the heart of the rainforest. Yes folks, make no mistake, Striborg is as challenging as it gets. The music ranges from minimalistic to almost non-existent, especially on the second half, where things get really out there.

Autumnal Melancholy has clearly been designed for vinyl listening, with the division between sides made very clear. Each “side” consists of two black metal tracks, with two shorter, dark ambient pieces bookending them. And indeed, the two halves have a slightly different flavour to them. The first is more conventional (though, of course conventional is not a word in Sin Nanna's vocabulary!) being fairly straight-up depressive black metal, albeit with Striborg's distinctive bizarre atmospherics. The second half, though, is a different beast entirely. It's slower, doomier, barely there at times. The two black metal tracks push the 15-minute mark, and perhaps come closer to the realm of drone. Fitting from a man most famous for being paid tribute by no less than Sunn O))) on their Black One opus, and indeed is collaborating with them in the near future. It's a trip through audial hell at times, and would it be a cliché to use the phrase “a work of black art”? Yes, I believe it would be, but I'm using it anyway. The second side of Autumnal Melancholy is a work of black art, and more than justifies the asking price alone.

Fair-to-quite-good depressive black metal this record's first half may be, but it's in the tar-black soundscapes of side 2 that Autumnal Melancholy earns it's stripes. Difficult and lengthy it may be, but this album sets out with a distinctive aim and fulfils it effortlessly, something which so many bands, for all their corpsepainted posturing, cannot come close to.

Killing Songs :
Autumnal Melancholy, Meandering In Sorrow
James quoted 86 / 100
Other albums by Striborg that we have reviewed:
Striborg - Foreboding Silence reviewed by James and quoted 72 / 100
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