Striborg - _Ghostwoodlands_
(Displeased Records, 2007)
by: Alexandra Erickson (7 out of 10)
The one-man black metal titan that is Striborg consistently maintains a stark level of mystery around himself. Releasing material exceptionally often, sticking close to a menacing atmosphere, and always veiled behind images of nature, he manages to keep the aura of mysticism and oppression at the forefront, no matter how many ambient interludes and noisy cacophonous rampages he can throw out. _Ghostwoodlands_ is, in my opinion, his first strong and well produced effort, managing to get one foot out of the shadows of acrid, static laden black metal standards and into slightly brighter production and a cleaner sound. Now don't take a few steps back; it's still primal and raw, and yes it has its ambient symphonies that Striborg is infamous for.

Clever as always, every even numbered track on _Ghostwoodlands_ is a staunch black metal anthem, contrasting with every odd numbered track that are ambient soundscapes. The black metal tracks are icy and morose, akin to Xasthur. "With Animosity I Bequeath Thee" stands out as an exceptional specimen of Striborg's maturing as an artist. His previous releases keep close to the tastes of hard-nosed purists. But with _Ghostwoodlands_ he stepped out and cleaned up the guitars, maintaining an overall more melodic, but still very smoky, tone. The drums on the album are more distinguishable, and display more variety than was shown previously, maintaining a very cymbal-laden sound. "Sinister Scraping of the Spectres" is a terribly menacing ambient track, with high pitched whistling and a deep, shadowy bass reverberation. The title track, "Ghostwoodlands" is the vanguard track of the album. Showcasing the move to cleaner ambient black metal territories, echoing, throaty vocals are tossed in with slow atmospheric melodies, even encasing a placid acoustic interlude. "Wandering the Wilderness of Eternal Misery" is a nearly twenty-minute exercise in finding the balance between dark and light. Ambling for minutes on end through static and drone, then falling into deep black metal oblivions, the track title is exceptionally fitting. His vocals remain shadowy and tinny throughout, keeping tight with his roots.

This has been Striborg's sound for the entirety of his career, but this is the first album that he cleaned up his instrumentals and arranged it in such a manner to showcase his unique abilities. His ambient respites show more thought into the emotional response desired from the listener, while the black metal strains are obviously more calculated and better produced. His later albums are a step farther into the cleaner direction, but _Ghostwoodlands_ is the benchmark of Striborg's career and is a must-listen for fans of his biggest influence, Von.

Contact: http://www.myspace.com/striborg2

(article published 22/8/2008)


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