Label: Independent Artist: Striborg Origin: Australia
Black metal artists have always had a knack for pushing the envelope. Though some stay in their cave and spit out furious raw sounds forever, Sin Nanna has decided to depart and enter the realms of electronics with depressed black metal outfit Striborg. Obviously, this has been to an unkind reception at times, but ‘Blackwave’ is a great, atmospheric record in its own right and worth a try for those who love the vibe of the Tasmanian artists work.
Striborg has released an impressive array of records throughout the years, but the man behind the project seems to believe a new direction is needed. Understandable, as this was not even his only project. At times he even dabbled with other projects, like gritty death metal outlet Cromlech or the one-off Sun O))) participation of Pentemple. Striborg has steadily been his main outfit, after growing out of Kathaaria, which started in 1994. That’s a long line of darkness…
Eerie synthwave with harrowing vocals, urge the listener onwards, through the dense halls of a futuristic construction or spaceship. The music is cold, but oriental influences give it some body and enhance the otherworldly experience of ‘Trapped in a Void of the Nightgrass Repetitive, droning melodies, with odd effects that enhance the futuristic feel of the music. Diving deep into the niche of synthwave, Striborg is going into the unknown here.
It’s during tracks like ‘Making The World Cold’, that the atmospheric black metal influence really shines through again. The guitars are condensed in a singular melody line, compressed and bent into an electronic vibe, but the drums are ase Burzumesque as it gets. That shifts slightly on the track ‘All Alone in A Room Filled With Souls’, which feels… dare I say? Dancy actually, with the electroclash vibe of the early synth music with a steady, thudding drum.
We close of with a harrowing, horror tune, titled ‘Penance Stare’. A creepy outro, that leaves you cold. In other words, great stuff! With ‘Blackwave’, Striborg reaches a new level of depth in the feeling and emotion of the string of great works. Definitely leaving the purists far behind, it challenges genre definitions, but grips listeners.
Russel Menzies, known as Sin Nanna, lives on the fringe of the world in Tasmania, an Australian Island in case you’ve not heard of it. For years, he has created the most haunting, harrowing black metal with Striborg.
Moving into the DSBM genre later after making harrowing black metal for years, Striborg was part of the One Man Metal documentary by Vice, which explores the roots of his music (recommended material). Yet recently, he switched to a new sound he calls blackwave, an exploration that captures the soul of Striborg, cloaking it with new sounds.
As is always, the backlash was severe, yet I believe congratulations are in order for his musical efforts with ‘Instrumental Trans-Communication’ and ‘Blackwave’. In a genre that conflictedly embraces the freedom to explore and brings up rigid confines at the same time, it’s a bold statement that captures something essential of what this music genre could be.
I contacted the artist to ask him about blackwave and he was kind enough to respond.
Heading into the urban darkness
Which were the most ridiculous and best responses you’ve received? You’ve shared quite some online, with a note of self-mockery. Is that the easiest way to deal with this?
I guess the one that stands out the most is receiving 0% on Metal Archives. Thankfully that has now been removed. There has been a few negative responses from people who just aren’t open-minded enough to understand what it is that I am doing nowadays.
However, I have also had mostly positive and encouraging feedback for my new direction in which I truly appreciate no end too.
My self-mockery is merely a reflection of my own depression and disappointment that my blackwave music hasn’t really taken off or been fully accepted.
Striborg hails from a deep, very pure and essentialist black metal past. You’ve released albums that are hailed as absolute life-changing classics by many. In order to really place your latest efforts in perspective, can you take me through your creative past on a level of perhaps creative phases, like do you see a continuation or are there definite ‘periods’ in your work?
I think you can define Striborg into 3 eras, the black metal period, the DSBM stage and blackwave. It is a natural progression / evolution for Striborg.
Blackwave is, as you’ve voiced, an attempt to go somewhere new. At the same time a certain black metal-postrock hybrid (blackgaze) is here to stay. It seems that this journey you took was entirely free of outside influences, as is the music. Where did the transition start? Do you feel any connection on the musical level with any others?
Blackgaze is huge but I just can’t relate to it personally. I wanted to do something in a different direction with synths as opposed to guitars, hence… blackwave.
I had an epiphany to create this music, July 2017. You’ll need to read my interview with Invisible Oranges for further insight. A long story short, I was listening to some darkwave music and imagined what it would be like if you took it to the next level. What it would sound like if I mixed my years of BM experience with a completely different genre, boom! Blackwave. I felt this rush consume me, a revelation like I’ve never felt before. I draw influence/inspiration from darkwave artists amongst other musical styles too and a long love of 80’s synth pop.
I draw absolutely no inspiration from any black metal or black gaze bands for creating BW, this is why there is so much difference and your average metalhead is like… WTF? It must be said that the same feeling and atmosphere of Striborg is STILL present so why do people obsessively need to hear guitars?
‘Instrumental Trans-Communication’ feels like a hybrid album, a musical bridge towards ‘Blackwave’. Was it intended in that way or is it simply the formative process of this sound?
This is where you have a much better perspective of ITC and B over how I perceive them. Nothing was intended with the exception that ITC was just a starting point and Blackwave needed to exist to expand and define this new genre? Additionally, I felt like adding more content and detail to Blackwave using a ‘wall of sound’ production.
How much is nature still a part of your inspiration on ‘Blackwave’, or have we left the forest completely behind on this release? You’ve mentioned that the essence of the sound is to you the same, can you elaborate on that? I feel I do hear something new too, and I wonder if that how that is for you.
I feel this new direction works well either in a rural or urban environment.
To be honest the forests have been done to death. I sing about mental illness and personal struggles more so nowadays and I have an obsession with anything luminous or dark concrete settings like multi-car parks at night and how cold and mysterious they look when lit up with UV lighting, especially when empty. Blackwave music suits forested areas too, wandering in the moonlight.
Over recent days, you’ve been putting some of your older work out on Bandcamp for people to explore anew, like Cromlech, Veil of Darkness, Baalphegor, and Mondas. Having done so much, how do you look at this work now and is there any project we may see you continue in the future?
I’m rather fond of Krucifior / Baalphegor / Azimuth. I have great memories of the time I was in the group. There are other projects I will unleash soon. The only side project I intend to continue with is Veil of Darkness. I have purposely not been prolific with that project. I could actually record an album every week if I wanted to
What is the next step for Striborg and blackwave? You just released ‘Spktr’, which was done with the Australian Art Orchestra. Are you aiming for more projects like this in the future?
The recording of Spktr on Bandcamp doesn’t feature the AAO. I will be collaborating with them again next year for another live performance (not recording). This is for Mona again by their request.
Mona have been good to me and the AAO people are a pleasure to work with. I have briefly returned to BM for an upcoming split (I agreed to it 10 years ago).
My next blackwave album will be entitled ‘Leave the World Behind’. The title is not what you think it means, as in suicide, quite the opposite in fact. Forget your troubles and leave the world behind, overcome your struggles and carpe diem, seize the day! Start living!! Or it can mean the former too, an ambiguous title / double entendre.
For a long time I’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching music documentaries on my free nights. If I’m not hitting the gym, seeing a show or enjoying some other form of entertainment, it’s pretty much what I’m looking for. I was hoping to highlight some cool stuff for you in this blog.
Ok, it’s not just documentaries, also the films they made about stuff. There are some really brilliant ones. So get them in (in any way you want, though I ofcourse have to condemn downloading here ofcourse).
Good Vibrations (2013)
“New York has the hair, London has the pants, but Belfast has the reason!” – Quote from the film.
This film is about Terri Hooley, the godfather of Belfast punkrock. A story of a war-torn country and the spark of hope from a guy who believes in the shared love for music. From opening a record shop on ‘bomb alley’ to signing some shitty punkbands on his own Good Vibrations records label. A great story, made into the funny surreal journey that these events actually were. The film has a lot of humor in it, but also a bit of the darkside that is often found in people that put music first. Enjoy tunes from TheUndertones, The Outcasts, Rudi and ofcourse a bit of Belfasts very own Stiff Little Fingers.
Salad Days (2014)
Hardcore is a global thing these days, but its roots are on a few places in the USA. This documentary focusses on the scene in Washington DC. Going from the Teen Idles and State of Alert days to its glory of Void, Minor Threat and many other cool bands. Also the latter days are treated, with Fugazi and the decline of USA Hardcore. The best part is that they actually got the people interviewed who were at the centre of things, not the ones on the sides, particularly for the first part of the documentary. Henry Rollins and Ian Mackaye give their views and ofcourse the Bad Brains drop in as well.
If you are not familiar with hardcore, this is as good as any documentary to get a feeling of what it is about and why it matters. Enjoy.
One Man Metal (2012)
Noisey is one of my favorite outlets for news on the music scene and they have a habit of exploring the unexplored fringes of music. This leads to amazing and in debt documentaries that are utterly fascinating. This docu about the famous one man metal bands is one of those. It’s often forgotten that this is not the natural shape music is formed in, so Noisey visits three of the more significant musicans to see what drives them.
This means Leviathan, Xasthur and Striborg are part of the series of three. It’s a harsh and confronting journey, showing some of the deep loneliness and darkness some individuals experience and transform into haunting art.