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End of Life (1993)

Strid began under the name Malfeitor, and released a couple of demos that managed to get the attention of Euronymous, of Mayhem. Some time later, the band changed their name and shifted the focus of their sound toward the miserable and hopeless end of the spectrum. In 1993, the End of Life demo was released, which has been ripped off countless times since then. If you are a fan of any of the so-called depressive black metal bands of the past decade or so, you have probably heard riffs or other ideas that originated with Strid. Sadly, beyond the crime of plagiarizing material, none of these bands have been able to even come close to what the originators were capable of.

End of Life consists of only one song, which clocks in at eleven minutes in length. However, the song never gets boring and maintains a coherent atmosphere all the way through. It never drags or gets too repetitive. Some have compared this with Burzum, and while it certainly does share some similarities with the early Burzum material, it still possesses a unique enough vibe to stand alone. The production is surprisingly clear, though still raw enough to suit the material and as a result every note can be heard. This does well to allow the epic nature of the composition to be felt. There exists a decent variation in riffs and tempos, throughout the song, which keeps it from stagnating.

It begins with a down-tempo, mid-paced riff that starts the process of washing any and all hope from your mind. After a minute or so, as Jardar blasts away on the drums and Ravn Harjar's tremolo riffs sweep over the desolate landscape. Storm's vocals are mildly reminiscent of Varg's tortured shrieks, but not to such an extreme. They fit the atmosphere of total despair that the music creates, echoing the miserable cries that emanate from within us all. This song bears a message that goes beyond that which mere words are capable of conveying. The sorrowful melodies and tortured howls cut right through you, like a freshly-sharpened knife. As the blood spills forth and begins to pool, the sombre guitar riffs weave through your mind and eradicate any and all remnants of hope or positivity. All vision is clouded with utter blackness and you feel as if you re suffocating from the overwhelming misery that you feel. Death is no longer something to fear or avoid. It is the one thing which will set you free from this horrible realm. This is the one thing that we can all look forward to: the end of life.

This demo is essential for those that may have overlooked some of the lesser-known Norwegian bands of the early 90s, as well as anyone that wants to hear depressive black metal done right. Often imitated, none have come anywhere close to the level of Strid. Seek this out and kill yourself.
(9 Sept. 2011)

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