posted on 11/2007 By:
Here we are, not quite half a year since his last full-length effort, Nefaria, and already Sin Nanna has released the first of two new Striborg albums due out in 2007. Honestly, I could probably stop the review there and most of you reading this would have a solid idea about the sound and quality of this release. It's Striborg. It's morose, hypnotic black metal. Lots of keyboards, mediocre musicianship, all-ambient tracks, stupid vocals; if you have even a vague idea of what this band has sounded like in the past, you know exactly what to expect here. So what does Ghostwoodlands do to progress or distinguish itself from the outfit’s back catalogue? Not surprisingly, the answer is very little.
If I had to think of one word to describe bands like Striborg, it would be “unmemorable.” Nothing about this album is flat out terrible (well, maybe the vocals), and yet I can’t really think of any reason why you would go out of your way to pay money for this album and spend serious time listening it. I tried like hell to really immerse myself in Striborg’s atmospherics, which I admit can be compelling, and yet I always found myself back at square one when the album ended, feeling exactly the same as I did before, only slightly bored. The beauty of good black metal lies in its ability to capture the attention of the listener and gradually alter their mindset as the music moves and evolves; this trait is almost jarringly absent on most of Ghostwoodlands, and the songs tend to just kind of drone on until completion instead of creating any kind of enchanting and engaging atmosphere. Let it be known that layering tons of different guitar and keyboard tracks, adding an echo effect to the vocals, and extending the track lengths does NOT equate to depth in songwriting. Album centerpiece “Wandering the Wilderness of Eternal Misery,” at nearly twenty minutes in length, is simply a chore to get through and remains largely uneventful for its duration, and the shorter ambient songs serve more to fill in the gaps between the black metal tracks rather than add to the album as a whole. The dreamy title track is the best song on here but still doesn‘t do much to really make an impact, while “With Animosity I Bequeath Thee” has some pretty evil riffs but ultimately suffers from the same lack of depth and tension as the rest of the material. The only area that has really changed for the better (or at all) since the last album is the musicianship; while still primitive and occasionally awkward, marked improvement can be heard in the drumming this time around. It's still not great by any means, but the competent drum work does help to add some desperately needed intensity to the songs. Production sounds decent but is marred by some poor choices, namely the overdone effects on the vocals and the strange move to put the snare drum and cymbals in the right channel and the kick drum in the left.
I’m not really sure what more I need to tell you at this point; like pretty much everything this guy releases, this album has some redeeming qualities that are simply too overshadowed by the dull nature of the music overall. If you like Striborg, this is a safe bet, as I can assure you it at least meets the standards set by previous releases by the band. If you are like myself and have never really been interested in this project, there's nothing here that's going to sway you. Its just another average release by another average black metal band, so do with that what you will.
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Embittered Darkness / Isles de Morts