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Lack of a definite explanation, this is what surrounds the opening as well as the end of this release. There is a shroud of mystery, a certain impenetrable fogginess that clouds the perception throughout the two tracks on Strid's 1994 output. It all comes down to the samples. They exist, have an impact and they help to set the stage – set a certain kind of mood, yet they do not reveal themselves. What are those sound fragments at the beginning of “Det hviskes blant sorte vinder” and at the end of “Nattevandring”? How do they fit, if they do that is, into the broader framework of this album? Had they been a starting point in the process of getting the release done or have they merely been glued to something that might have been completed already. The latter of these two has an intriguing touch to it, doesn't it?
First the howling of wind. Someone is chased. Could it be a woman or a young man? Horses are involved. The sounds are vague. It is difficult to make out something definite. One more horse and the trampling is now more accentuated, louder, harder. Is this now a hunter or a huntress? Then a sudden short gasp and then the rattling of a chain, as if a bridge from an ancient castle is being lowered. An escalation or an escape? This is the setting. Interestingly, the music starts just as the bridge is fully open – slightly cheesy – and someone would be able to walk through or maybe even walk out. Should one step in and seek some kind of shelter? Is a place with such an entrance an omen for good or ill? Is the timing an expression of destiny? What to make of all of this?
Of course the music has a strange touch and atmosphere as it is remains on a low profile and as it avoids stark contrasts or intense moments. This is especially true once the vocals are brought into the game. Their style is more like a narrative expressed in a strange tongue; something one might expect in a cheesy black and white B-movie in which such things might appear and overdone in one way or another. The croaking fills the room and generates presence, but it never appears as if it would have something to tell. Somehow the forced way in which the lyrics are thrown towards the listener, reminds on someone expressing something that comes with a yoke, a burden that proves to be a challenge day in and out. Compared with other black metal bands, aggressiveness is quite absent – a difference to band's first demo – to a considerable degree and all that is left is an overbearing melancholy – depression might be too extreme in this regard. A contemplation, a nonsensical loud monologue set in bleak scenario. Is there a distant listener? Is there someone out hiding, unable to move a muscle over the horrors that might be expressed in those words – doomed to linger in the dark, in the mist, in the nothingness and forced to endure the endless schizophrenic ramblings? How far is the Lovecraftian universe from this?
Therefore it is the music's part to have a soothing effect. It is their part to work as a support for the (rare) vocals as well as lead the listener along the way. A dominant bass guitar and a dense texture created by rhythm guitars in the background are the basic setting, while the drums set the pace and accentuated points. Everything is in a flow so to speak and moves along gently. Primitive in terms of the complexity and an overall reduction to a small set of elements. Even though the emphasis differs between the compositions the overall direction and settings is the same. Thanks to a proper production the outcome of these elements is quite palpable as well as enjoyable. It is this that has added a certain warmth to the music, which can especially be attributed to the bass guitar line. It is reassuring to have this one clear focal element, while the rest meanders in small circles; in “Nattevandring” though the setting is a bit more complex. Keyboards? At least on the aforementioned track some kind of background ambient appears to exist. With less emphasis on the bass guitars, it is possible for them to add some nuances to the music. Generally, they are doomed to linger in the background and unable to have a lasting impact.
It may be worth mentioning that the bass guitar wakes memories on Forgotten Woods – “As the Wolves Gather” for instance and to point to a release of the same year –, but somewhat calmer and rather dreamy. This due to the way the melodies progress, which shows hints towards the ambient genre. Riffs and sounds are able to fill the room, but they are never engaging or give any idea as if they would like to go somewhere, reach a certain spot or create some kind of dynamic. Most of the time, there is a definite and unmistakable exception from this – see the next paragraph –, all is well balanced, quite gloomy and not too depressing. The distance is always there and listener has to fill the role of a lone spectator, someone allowed to watch, but never to touch or to fully embrace it. Most of the time the tunes evolve steadily, take the listener along and guide this person through bleak landscaped and barren fields. Pleasantries might be far off and all that has remained is some kind of contemplation. A contemplation that is expressed through the sadness in the voice as well as the steadiness in the musical arrangements. It feels like a depression/melancholy made flesh. You cannot escape it, you cannot outmanoeuvre it, you cannot make it disappear all of a sudden.
Or can you?
There is something strange happening at some point of the release and it starts roughly at the minute 6:05 in the second track “Nattevandring”. This break in the progression, the mood, the sound and the atmosphere takes the listener into a different realm. Even though the term cheering my be too far-fetched, there is nevertheless a certain type of positive vibe in the air. It feels as if the band had attempted to break with the earlier concepts and would now try to find a way out of this. Maybe a gloom of light appears at the horizons and sets an abrupt end to the night time wanderings. Would this also be the reason for the closing of the gate? Would this be a place that is only allowed to be opened during the time of the night, but remains sealed shut during at any other moment? Is this sound of the latching of the gate that appears at the end of the release? Make sure no one enters at bright day light?
Towards the end the listener is left with a mild confusion. How all plays out together is not resolved. You are barred from it; literally. It would be nice to have some lyrics, but they are kept away. Strid, Norwegian for battle, has some ties to the German word Streit, English for argument, conflict or even fight. In Low German or Frisian the word Striet can be found; it is beneficial to look at translations from a broader perspective. Therefore, the limitation on the term battle appears to be questionable and puts too much emphasis on a clash of armies or an armed conflict. By falling back to a less extreme translation, one recognizes the aspect of contrasts and of duality. Also, this helps to bring the samples and their role in the music into perspective, even though their actual depth as well as impact remain somewhat wanting. There is no fight, just an escape, a chase and a conflict. It may be doubted if an actual meeting of these two parties would lead to an battle at all; yet, judging from the sounds and the setting, at least some form of violence might be impossible to overcome. Anyway, the track titles give hints towards the night and towards darkness. As such it is of no surprise to experience music that in style and sounds is comparably calm and laid back. All appears sedated and the words are expressed with a vibe of introspection. It is music as a spot and with hardly a direction. It is a recognition of impotence and futility. At the end the gates are closed again, sealed and shut. All is barred out and kept away from the world. It feels like a recognition of one's limitations.
Somehow it is sad to see that the band had been doomed to leave the world with this release. It would have been interesting to see and experience how they interpret their distinct style and sound even further. They left too soon and the first step with this new band had been destined to be their last. At least they did not leave unnoticed and their small sparks of music continue to have an impact; be it through their own outputs or through some other band that has followed in their paths.
Yet the questions, the conflicts remain.
The beginnings of depressive black metal, which may surprise many, did not begin in the bedrooms of teenagers across the globe. It did not begin on the popular website MySpace, nor is it a creation of Burzum’s. In my opinion, whilst Burzum had a major affect upon the sub-genre in years to come, bands like Forgotten Woods and Strid were the co-creators of this sound which is extremely popular today. There are those who hate this sub-genre with a passion and there are those that love it. I love it, personally. Of course, there are going to be bands within the genre that I don’t like, but isn’t that the same for every aspect of metal, if not music in general?
Whilst the majority of people seem to harp on about bands like Strid because, apparently, they embody an experience like no other due to their amazing sounds. I personally don’t see what all the fuss is about. Whilst bands like Strid should be appreciated because they had a major influence on a number of bands I like today, I don’t necessarily accept the apparent fact that they are the best thing since sliced bread. Fans today complain that the sub-genre of depressive black metal isn’t as accessible or as strong due to the high influx of so-called ‘bedroom bands’. The main complaint seems to be that bands of today have taken the sound of bands like Strid, especially in terms of guitar structures and atmospherically driven ambience, and changed minor aspects of their music in order for it to be seen as their own individualistic effort. I think it is nonsensical to suggest such a fact as black metal is a repetitive genre by nature. You’re bound to find music that is similar to that of the olden days because the vast majority of black metal bands use a limited amount of techniques in order to portray their lyrical and musical themes.
In actual fact, whilst I can understand the appeal, Strid seem mediocre by comparison to the more modern day bands like Nyktalgia and Wigrid, both of which are often called Burzum clones. Another aspect of today’s fans I find mildly amusing is that they claim that the majority of bands who play within the sub-genre of depressive black metal are indeed clones of Burzum. I, personally, think Burzum are overrated. You may be asking yourself why I’m making this comparison but isn’t it all relative? The early and mid-1990’s has such a huge reputation for producing the golden era of black metal bands but, in my opinion, when you compare it to the modern scene, it’s no longer as proud as it once was. As I previously stated, there are a number of fans that consider the modern day scene to be a replica of the old days. This is something I disagree with. Whilst I can understand the fact that there may be some similarities, I wouldn’t completely write off the more modern day acts because they appear similar on the surface. There is something inside me that feels as if the music present on this demo wears slightly thin, especially considering both songs are fairly long in length. The repetitive sound needs more than just that to withstand a longer set to play on and whilst Strid do offer some tasty soundscapes, it's not the best I've heard, simply put. There isn’t much point in making comparisons to other Strid releases because there aren’t many to choose from. In actual fact, there is only one other demo to choose from which makes me wonder how on earth the reputation for this band is so big due to a very short career. Thing is, I can imagine it is simply because during the early 90’s, black metal wasn’t as accessible as is nowadays. Bands who played within the scene were few and far between, so fans couldn’t pick and choose who were legends in their own right as much as they can now. Black metal has expanded further into the realms of avant-gardé and the more that happens, the more acts like Strid get left behind.
That is the problem here. In comparison, Strid’s music hasn’t exactly stood the test of time. The guitars sound just as thin as the production and gradually, though we’re only offered a single song, it does grate on the nerves. Whilst, yes the demos are accessible to fans of this type of music because the repetitious nature of the music is seen as enjoyable by a lot of people, the music never really excels itself or anything released in the past decade. Allow me to use Nyktalgia’s self-titled debut as an example. Whilst there may be repetition used on the record, it is fairly innovative for it’s genre. On this demo, which happens to be self-titled, repetition is the main course of the day. Strid do set the standard for use of creative bass lines though for black metal bands. The bass often takes lead of the band, creating some fine droning ambience that ebbs and flows constantly throughout the two songs. However, it all seems a little outdated. Whilst there is a fair amount of emotive atmospheres used on this demo, they don’t carry the music over as well as I had hoped. The vocals are especially important in doing this, but they aren’t up to the standard that modern day bands apply to their work.
The vocals are typically rasping and do depict the negativity of black metal and life well, but don’t stand out as much as they could have either. At times they seem to hold back, perhaps in order to allow the true essence of Strid to shine through instrumentally, but it never quite does. In comparison to the other demo, this is very similar. The sound, the pace, the entire contents of this demo are very similar to the other and it’s disappointing. There seems to be a lack of direction. The guitars are quite disappointing, as are the drums. Both are repetitive, playing in a similar droning fashion to the bass, but with less impact. The production suits the demo, that’s for sure. A thin production for thin sounding instruments seems apt. It is bleak, cold and melancholic but the atmospheric nature of the demo isn‘t diverse enough to withstand time. It‘s ageing façade is growing weary and by the mid-point of the song, so am I. I can appreciate this demo, I just don’t think it is as good as people suggest it is. It is also far too short to make any sort of judgements on how amazing Strid would have become if they had stuck at it. Overrated, in my opinion.
Norway proves once again that they are the masters of creating melancholic black metal. This EP is mind blowing as far atmosphere goes – and black metal doesn’t get any better than this…
As short as this EP might seem, I guarantee you that when you’re done listening to these two long tracks that “Strid” consists of, you will behold an incredible and timeless EP. The music itself is very timeless, consisting of perfect atmospheric black metal production like I never heard before. Maybe I could compare this short EP to Darkthrone to just give you an idea, but Strid seems to have even more atmosphere than Darkthrone itself. And I tell you what: as corny as this may sound, Strid is one of the “few” black metal projects that actually makes ME feel like I’m in a cold vast forest.
For the first time, I will admit that the feel for the music found on this EP is very supernatural. This is music that touches your soul; very spiritual, touching, melancholic, and at the same time, powerful; a fusion that really defines the greatness of black metal.
What a shame that a band as incredible as this had to split-up. Even though the band didn’t make it very far… this EP is so goddamn timeless that I really urge you to check it out if you love black metal at its purest form. Strid is a name that I will remember for the rest of my life.
This is one good EP. There are many reasons making these 2 songs very valuable. The first of the reasons is that this album is a milestone, a beginning for the suicidal black metal subgenre. This was released many years before those Shining, Abyssic Hate, Xasthur etc. albums. And I noticed that Shining has 2 songs which are exactly like "Nattevandring", a very inspiring song which is one of the 2 songs.
Distorted "trance-mood" guitars and a bass guitar leading the song with simple but effective notes. And the sound of drums which makes the trance-like state of this EP stronger. The drums are not minimalistic or simple, there are strong attacks and different patterns and all are enjoyable and makes the atmosphere of the EP more effective. And the vocals... They explain it all. Hate and pain slipping from every part of Storm's vocals.
Both songs take you away from the real world and show you all the pain in this world. This release is very important in my opinion, very important for me at least. The rarity makes this release even more valuable. If you want to see what Shining (In an interview Kvarforth said he listens to 2-3 black metal bands and Strid was one of them.) and other suicidal black metal bands were inspired from, listen to this release.
I was highly skeptical upon receiving this EP from a friend, as I’ve become accustomed to the majority of suicidal black-metal bands being an absolute load of dissonant wankery. While I won’t deny I’ve enjoyed a bit of dissonant wankery in my time, I certainly don’t need yet another “kvlt” demo from some teenagers in Scandinavia full of it. So imagine my surprise when I had a listen to the first track from this EP. The thing that struck me first was the production, which was far above average. While the guitar tone and drum sound were something in the vein of Filosofem era Burzum, the quality of production and the way the over distorted and fuzzed riffs came across reminded me mostly of Abyssic Hate. What separates this band from Abyssic Hate is the crafty use of Bass guitar. In fact I’d claim the bass is actually the lead instrument on the first song, as it seems to play the actual slow paced riff, while the guitars drone fuzzily in the back ground. The song writing here stands out, it’s hard to place, but one really does get the feeling a lot of arrangement was put into these songs, and not the hastily construction crap we’ve come to expect from Scott Connor. The vocals are nothing special, but get the job done, in fact they are buried beneath the thick sheet of distorted guitar, and the almost melodic bass lines which dominate this EP.
However, all of this seems kind of familiar doesn't it? Let's see, base high in the mix, slow paced suicidal black-metal, tortured vocals. Yes, it sounds just like Shining …But a look at the release date will show you that this was released years before the first shining album, which should the give you insight into what an original album it was for its time, pre-dating the entire suicide-black-metal trend. Which probably explains why the band was unheard of during it's lifespan, as had this band existed at the high of Xasthur worship they would have no doubt become far more popular than they are now. Overall, anyone reading this review will know largely what to expect if they’ve ever heard anything in the suicidal black-metal sub-genre, only this is done with far more forethought and skill, a milestone in the beginning of the genre, and a shame it never became a full album.
Strid is a band which not very much is known about. Buried among the hundreds of black metal bands coming out of Scandinavia in the early 90’s was Strid’s brilliant sound of absolute despair and darkness. The ep was released in 1995.
On this 2-song ep we are presented with a totally different take on black metal. Gone are the furious blasts beats and guitar riffs a la Mayhem, Strid prefers a slower, much more macabre sounding combination of melodies and drum patterns. The opening track is called “Det Hviskes Blant Sorte Vinder”. Sounds of a horse galloping through a storm can be heard, the wind howling furiously really creates an eerie atmosphere.
The little intro leads to a fuzzy combination of a sorrowful bass-line, guitars droning in the distance and a slow drumbeat make up the background for the voice of misery itself. A high pitched scream that echoes and makes the music sound even gloomier. The song also has a certain “folk” feeling to it, Flutes can be heard in the distance at times.
The second track is “Nattevandring”. It starts similar to the other song, a slow drumbeat and guitars, the song clocks in at 7:57, and midway through the song changes into an ambient like track, with a constant fuzzy guitar sound in the back, the evil vocals occasionally interrupting the trance like rhythms. The song ends with the sound of a gate closing, like a drawbridge of a castle.
Even though this only has 2 songs it is really worth getting, this sounds much more original and interesting than 99% of the black metal bands out today. It is also extremely hard to find.