This very prolific Tasmanian devil (hurr) known as Sin Nanna has been releasing album upon album of strange atmospheres and grim visions of dark forests since his first demo in 1997. His second full-length, "Mysterious Semblance", was originally unleashed in 2004, but has recently been given the old "re-release with bonus tracks" treatment.
It's not an easy task to accurately describe the sound of STRIBORG, but try to imagine a cross of BURZUM's "Filosofem" and ILDJARN, if they were recorded in a damp swampland somewhere in Australia. "Mysterious Semblance" opens with a eerie ambient track, leading into "Mysterious Semblance Of Spectral Trees", which begins vaguely reminiscent of the BURZUM classic "Dunkelheit". Clocking in at almost 20 minutes, it changes in shape several times, the only constant being some very raw production value and vocals that sound both haunting and feral at the same time. It quickly becomes clear that STRIBORG is not concerned with sounding clean or beautiful, shrouding the spectator in a gritty black audial fog.
Another ambient interlude follows, introducing the ILDJARN-like "Looming Black Apparition", as the shadows of Sin Nanna's woodlands swallow you and covers you in darkness. If you like "Forest Poetry", then you'll definitely not be disappointed by this unrefined piece of pure Black Metal. However, unlike the infamous son of the north star, STRIBORG still relies heavily on his creepy bleak ambience instead of the classic full-on guitar-crunch. This definitely sets Sin Nanna ahead of the pack, and not many frostbitten Scandinavians can measure up to the sorrowful and evil sounds he creates.
Because of the weird apparitional nature of this music and the lingering tracks (5/9 are 9+ minutes long), it can be very difficult to digest, at least requiring several runthroughs before it all seems to connect. The ghostly vocals and sub-par production provide another challenge, but if you're not too spoiled in this department it will make everything feel like a complete entity. STRIBORG plays Black Metal for the seasoned listener, and probably won't be a good introduction for newcomers to the genre. However, if you like raw atmospheres and unearthly soundscapes, "Mysterious Semblance" should not be overlooked.
(Online December 16, 2007)