What’s On Tap: Miserably grim, buzzing, subnormal, unhealthy, lo-fi, simplistic, wacky black metal from a guy who lives in fucking Tasmania.
Deep in the heart of ‘Frisco, there’s a fantastic little store called Aquarius Records that caters mostly to folks with eclectic taste in music. The two owners of said store have a serious soft spot in their hearts for the wonderful, kooky world of black metal, especially that of the deranged variety. Because of AQ’s penchant for all that’s tr00, they always seem to have their collective ears to the ground for those artists creating the latest, greatest, weirdest, most insane black metal currently slinking through the underground.
In any event, many moons ago, based on an Aquarius recommendation, I picked up an album from demented soul extraordinaire, Sin Nanna’s Striborg. Many people that normally visit this site would probably find themselves put off by what this record delivers on the surface: the production is warped and decidedly lo-fi, the songwriting is at times repetitive and quite simplistic, and the musicianship is nowhere near perfect – all elements that would seem to demand a scathing review. Alas, for as simple and deranged as Striborg’s music is, I find it extremely genuine, heartfelt, strangely warm, and interesting, which is enough to pique this black metaller’s interest and keep me coming back for more. Plus, the guy’s from Tasmania for fuck’s sake, an island the size of West Virginia (with a quarter of that state’s population) that devotes well over a third of its land to 18 national parks. It’s no wonder Sin Nanna sites nature as his key influence.
Embittered Darkness / Isles de Morts represents two of Sin Nanna’s projects pooled together and released as one. The first six tracks, Embittered Darkness, showcase Striborg’s latest recordings, and while they’re unquestionably Striborg-ian, we see the material going even further in the direction of a more creeping, plodding black metal. The guitars are still fuzzed and trebled to the point of sounding like a horde of angry bees, but the pace of the songs (two of which clock in at ten minutes, one nine) is kept seriously at bay by the slow-rolling, less-than-perfect drumming.
Skating turbulently above everything in the mix is Sin Nanna’s seriously fucked vocals. If I had to try and think what sort of creature could possibly vomit such a voice, I’d suggest picturing the floating, maggot-bloated corpse of Tattoo from Fantasy Island caterwauling his endless rotting misery until you’re forced to cram his falling maggots into your ears to save what’s left of your sanity.
Nestled comfortably between the three longer songs are three shorter instrumental tracks that incorporate atmospheric keyboard backdrops, tubular bell inspired tones, and discordant, catchy acoustic strumming.
The last ten songs on this release, Isles de Morts, are actually re-released 1997 material from Sin Nanna’s early days under the moniker, Kathaaria. This side of the coin is much more visceral, faster, and directly to the point. The guitars swirl and attack like buzz saws on the back of your neck, and the drums are much faster and cleaner compared to the Striborg material. Basically Isles de Morts would be a fitting soundtrack for being pelted to death in a hailstorm while trapped on a frost-blasted mountainside.
MetalReview’s scoring system doesn’t really work very well with a release such as this – it’s totally fucking bizarre, completely loathsome, dementedly delivered, and yet, strangely enjoyable and completely engrossing.