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Originators. - 70%

Perplexed_Sjel, June 2nd, 2008

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.