Towering Guitar Riffs Prevail As Poppet Engage In Eccentric Intonations On ‘Ascending The Stairs Towards My Nightmares Supreme’

In 2001, one of the most brilliant films of our times was released. The film, “A Knights Tale”, was a black-comedy set in medieval times but had modern age references, as well as classic rock soundtrack. I know that it sounds strange, but somehow the styles just meshed together perfectly and the results were simply incandescent. Almost twenty years later, I’ve come across an album that has that same vibrant connection. The album, ‘Ascending The Stairs Toward My Nightmares Supreme’ by Poppet, is a fantasy-styled dungeon synth album with bellowing, harsh guitar tones that take center stage the majority of the time. Imagine if Sunn O))) were to add bits of dungeon synth keyboard to their droning tracks, and you’ll get a better understanding of the vibe that Poppet displays on this outing.

The album opener, “I Escape From The Forest”, begins with a soothing keyboard arrangement that sounds as if it could be taken from a Harry Potter soundtrack. However, within the first minute, loud and blaring guitar droning pierces the track and provides the first sounds of the unique texture of this album – and Poppet in general. Although the distorted guitar riffs drown out the keyboards in some sections, wondrous fantasy dungeon synth melodies continue to creep along throughout the track, making its ominous presence felt. The next track, “Finding Solace In A Temple, I Am Surrounded By Stairs And Artefacts To Forbidden Gods” finds a happy fantasy synth intro before bludgeoning, sludgy doom riffs infiltrate the scene. As the guitar riffs drone on at a slow pace, the keyboards tell a compelling story of curiosity of well being in a sacred place, where you find yourself enclosed by objects of dark desires. Unable to escape the present situation, the music seems to provide an alternate reality. The third track, “I Climb The Temple Stairs, Frightened By The Sights I Shall See”, continues down the same path as it’s predecessors and instills a certain darkness while the guitars and keyboards alternate in providing a chaotic scene. Although it seems a bit tumultuous in spots, this song has quite a bit of melody and synchronizes well even when it seems like it doesn’t. The final track, “Oh! What I Beheld!” Is a short track consisting of a layered & discordant keyboard arrangements and is a nice closing statement for the album as it’s grandiose vibe winds down the tone and complexity of everything that has happened previously.

Poppet is a very unique artist that contributes an incomparable approach to dungeon synth. I always like when artist try something different and hone their craft in an unconventional way. Poppet epitomizes that approach and excels in doing so. If you’re into dungeon synth with no limitations, I highly recommend checking out Poppet and the latest album, ‘Ascending The Stairs Towards My Nightmares Supreme.

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Links:

https://poppetblackmetal.bandcamp.com/album/ascending-the-stairs-towards-my-nightmares-supreme

Tasos Fotiou & Dimitris Korontzis Embark On An Improvised, Free-form Jazz Induced Journey With The Aberrant ‘Time Lapse’ Session.

For me, improvised music is some of the most entertaining music that I’ve ever heard. Despite the genre, when an artist has the ability to play, perform and record impressive music on a whim, it tends to catch (and hold) my attention more than written and rehearsed music. I first fell in love with improvisations back in the early 90’s with the works of the multi-talented musician, John Zorn. A saxophonist by trade, John Zorn crossed the boundaries of many genres such as metal, punk, hardcore, grindcore, fusion jazz and avant-garde. Of his hundreds of albums, many of them were improvisational collaborations with the likes of talented artists such as Bill Frisell, Bill Laswell, Yamataka Eye & Mike Patton. I credit this scene for opening my eyes (and ears) to a wide variety of genres of music and appreciate for the artistic value of their craft. Fast forward to now, there are new artists on the scene that continue to carry that improvisation torch and do it well. Enter Dimitris Korontzis (guitar) and Tasos Fotiou (saxophone), a pair of musicians from Greece that are masters of their instruments and impressively construct improvisations with ease. Their monumental album, ‘Time Lapse’, is a thirty one minute improv session that tests each musicians skill and determination to create a compelling story of transitioning through time and space.

Consisting of six tracks, all which are named “Time Lapse Pt. 1 – Pt. 6”, this is hardly a single track just broken down into smaller sections. These tracks are individualistic in idea and expression but wondrously flow together in a seamless manner. The album opens with a beautiful ambient guitar tone that provides a calming drone. As discordant picking starts to take place, long-winded saxophone notes arrive and displace the arrangement, showing the first sign of many excellent improvised moments on this recording. Pt. 2 begins with a classic jazz moment and then a groovy guitar riff joins in. At this moment, I hear influences of the great Miles Davis, during his fusion jazz movement of the early 70’s. Pt. 3 has some bizarre arrangements that features excellent guitar work and greatly distorted saxophone notes that are especially creepy. By the time we make it to Pt. 4, a heavy ambient influence can be heard and the sound of deranged instruments playing in multiple tracks sound especially eerie. This continues into Pt. 5 as it seem there is no end in sight for the conglomerate of sound effects that have taken over the recording. However, the basic guitar and saxophone tracks are predominant and finally make their way back to the forefront toward the end of the track. When Pt. 6 starts playing, the craziness fades away and a nice saxophone solo part dominates the majority of the track. By the time the guitar joins in, its more of an ambient arrangement, providing a refreshing sound for closing out this thoroughly impressive album.

‘Time Lapse’ is a very enjoyable album that reminds me a lot of my favorite artists from many years ago that influenced me to listen to a wide variety of music. It’s improvisations like this that show the heart and skill of a musician and it happens to be right up my alley. Tasos Fotiou and Dimitris Korontzis pull out all the stops on this one and their skills and patience are put to the test as they deliver an album that is definitely worth checking out. When it comes to music and if you’re as open minded as I am, I highly recommend downloading ‘Time Lapse’ from the link below.

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Links:

https://dimitriskorontzis.bandcamp.com/album/time-lapse

Edging Both Dungeon Synth & Dark Ambient, Morgoth’s Ring Deliver Two Sinister Hymns On ‘Where Stars Are As Feral As The Prowling Wolf Upon The Hyperboreal Heath Of The Cosmos’

If I were to take a guess, I’d say that if you’re reading this, you’re probably also a fan of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord Of The Rings” books (and/or movies) and everything else that falls within that universe. You’re probably also familiar with Morgoth – the black enemy of the world and the one who thwarted his power unto Arda, making middle-earth (as a whole) become known as Morgoth’s Ring. That malicious intent has crossed over to another Morgoth’s Ring, this time in the form of an ambient driven dungeon synth project. With two ominous tracks totaling over thirty four minutes of playing time, there is captivating songwriting on display here that is equal parts malevolence and cinematic glory. The album, ‘Where Stars Are As Feral As The Prowling Wolf Upon The Hyperboreal Heath Of The Cosmos’, is a daring fantasy adventure in which there is peace & bloodshed, as well as good and evil.

The first track is a sixteen minute, three-sectional opus called “Mystic Flamberge | Tempestuous Witching Inferno | Shadow Garland”. Beginning with a beautiful orchestrations, as if the opening credits of a fantasy movie explores the vast snow-capped mountains and deep wintry valleys of a mystical kingdom as it’s people enjoy peace and tranquility on any given day. However, a great storm rages on in the distance – unheard of by many – but will cause great devastation for those that are unprepared for battle. As the second part of the song enters, field recordings of remote storms signal the beginning of danger, and the kingdom prepares to launch an offensive while the commoners seek shelter. Long, droning (but symphonic) keys play melodic tones while eerie sound effects are sequenced in the mix to change the vibe to a more gloomy impression. Deep, meditative, spoken words begin to infiltrate the speakers, although they are barely audible. The adventure is at its maximum frightful level right now. However, the last three minutes of the track morph into a wonderful fantasy synth orchestration with a cinematic-worthy arrangement. The second and final track on the album is the eighteen plus minute long thriller, “Master Of Countless Terrible Legions | -.. .. . .- .-.. —- -. .”. Starting with a harrowing adventure-like tune that would sound right at home on a fantasy/adventure movie soundtrack, the grim, somber sounds work impartially to calm the savage reign of terror that may be imminent as well as provide a sense of agitated aggression due to its deep, droning echoing frequencies from the abyss. At around the six minute mark, the song proceeds down a malevolent path as supernatural sounds protrude as if you’re making your way through a haunted realm filled with evil, enchanted spirits. The last seven minutes of this song change direction once again into a more fantasy/forest synth arrangement. Although peaceful in tone, it has a bleak and dark sound too it. Even though this portion of the song title is written in Morse Code, it stands for Die Alone, and the emotion I get from the music is very reminiscent of loneliness and despair. What a beautiful way to end such a caliginous album.

Morgoth’s Ring is an exceptional up-and-coming dungeon synth artist that takes the cinematic structure to a new level. Mixing a variety of genres to create a legendary adventure – not only musically but for the imagination – this is one album that I plan to have on repeat for a long time. It meets my personal criteria for a great recording and the entertainment value is through the roof. I cannot wait to hear more from Morgoth’s Ring, but in the meantime, I highly recommend adding this one to your collection by downloading it from the link below. You will not be disappointed!

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Links:

https://morgothsring.bandcamp.com/releases

Sumatran Black Takes Us On A Doomed, Deep Space Quest With ‘Elegy For A Lost Cosmonaut’ EP

It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed a great space ambient recording so saying that Sumatran Black’s latest EP, ‘Elegy For A Lost Cosmonaut’ is out of this world (no pun intended) is a huge understatement. Consisting of three cosmic tales that takes us on an ill-fated mission through the voids of deep space, this is one trip that is filled with atmospheric drones, planetary keys & synths, and an unavoidable race through the universe that warrants no return. The grim album cover resembles an old Soviet Union astronaut that may be in a distressed situation, in which the music from this EP provides the perfect soundtrack to his grisly fate.

The opening track, “The Mission”, is a soft, textured drone that really tells a compelling story of the cosmonaut that is bound for the outer realm of the universe, but unbeknownst to him, will never reach his destiny. As various keys and pads sway in and out of the mix, subtle details of random noises can be heard as if some sort of mechanical failure has weakened his spacecraft, causing him to abort his mission. Unfortunately, it’s too late as his spacecraft is mechanically unstable and unable to return to Earth. Toward the end of the track, the bleak tones of the synths and pads become less stable and present an agonizing sound, signaling that the end of the cosmonaut may be near. “Is This Heaven” is the shortest track of the three but wastes no time in offering a multitude of discordant vibes that fade in and out like a broken spacecraft passing through nebulas – and various other space anomalies – at a breakneck pace, even though everything appears to be in slow motion for the cosmonaut that is still in shock from the events that have unfolded before him. “Elegy For A Lost Cosmonaut” is the final song on this EP and it represents the cosmonauts acceptance of being eternally vanished from Earth. These long, drawn out spacey drones are unique in that the tones suddenly elevate and then dissolves out every so often. This must be the cosmonaut getting down to the final levels of oxygen as he fades in and out of consciousness. In the end, deep space wins and the cosmonaut takes his last breath as the song abates out for good.

Even though this is a relatively short EP with just three tracks, Sumatran Black have created a very unique experience that is memorable, unique, and with a great theme. As I sit back, close my eyes, and listen to this album, I envision the events unfolding just as I have described them above. That’s the power and beauty of dark ambient music – to tell a story without words and vocals and allow the listener to imagine the scenario taking place. Please support this exceptional artist and download this spectacular cosmic adventure from the link below.

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Links:

https://sumatranblack.bandcamp.com/album/elegy-for-a-lost-cosmonaut-e-p

The Last Weapon Compose Tranquil Dirges on ‘Seasons’, That Can Be Therapeutic For Lost Souls

Music is one of the most curative forms of medicines we have that is always readily available. Although it may not have any internal healing power, the mental relief that it gives us, helps us maintain a stable composure through the highs and lows while also giving us a coping mechanism for other obstacles that tend to get in our way. No matter what genre you’re into, there is always an artist, an album, or a song, that takes you out of the ordinary and into the realm of the extraordinary. Dungeon Synth is one of the most powerful genres that provides that type of outlet as it opens up the imagination to limitless possibilities. The Last Weapon have recently released their debut Dungeon Synth album called ‘Seasons’ and it is the perfect album for those that have had a time or two with dealing with depression or a negative impact in their life. Although blooming with impactful Dungeon Synth sounds, the overall aesthetics of the album is harmonious but with minimal synth lines, creating quite an impactful recording.

The opening track, “Desert: Ascension”, starts just like the daily occurrence of a morning sunrise. As darkness slowly descends into light, the dawn of a new presence fills the air and breathes new life in all living things as if starting anew all over again. This is exactly what I imagine as the slow, droning keyboards build into something out of nothing, creating a melancholic atmosphere that will put the spirit at ease. Every so often, a simple drum pattern makes its way into the mix, as the tune continues to embark on an endless journey. “Path: Open Eyes” establishes a simple Dungeon Synth rhythm then minimalist keyboards sludge forth in various sounds, while maintaining a beautiful melody. This track speaks volumes of a time when life was simple and there were no concerns of an expeditious world getting in the way. “Forest: Journey Of Restoration” has a quaint into that is reminiscent of 80’s synth wave, but that dissolves into a winter synth tune that is both somber and emotional. The lackadaisical vibe of this track is perfect for providing a sense of recollection on ones life and a possible sense of direction with moving forward in a positive light. “Endless Night” is probably the grimmest sounding tracks on the album and is like being left alone, deep in a desolate dungeon without knowing what’s going to happen. As the dark and layered keyboards drone on, the empty space is augmented by the addition of a drum sequence that provides sense of enthrallment. The final track on the album, “Deep Though” starts with an eerie keyboard sound effect, as if you are in a mesmerizing nightmare without a means to awaken. Although a chaotic scene is happening around you, everything is happening in slow motion as you try to adapt to this harrowing environment. The effect soon fades into a crescendoing keyboard ambience that is quite gloomy. After a while, the sound slowly descends into silence, ending the album.

The Last Weapon have debuted a very impressive Dungeon Synth album with ‘Seasons’. Although not your typical DS style album, which normally diving into medieval and mythical times, it caters more to those that have dealt with traumatic times in their lives. That’s the great thing about this (mostly) lyric less genre; we can create our own atmosphere based on what is generated by the music, and The Last Weapon has excelled in delivering music that will communicate with the mind. That being said, please show your support for this exceptional artist and download ‘Seasons’ from the link below.

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Links:

https://tlwmetal.bandcamp.com/album/seasons

Black Box Memories Explore Celestial Requiems That Permeate With Casual Spoken Word Banter On ‘Missing Heart Pieces’

Probably my favorite element of ambient music in general is the creative vision put forth by the artists to conceive something that is not only unique, but also personable that represents their state of mind at a particular given time. A good example of that would be the ever evolving music adventure of Black Box Memories. Although the debut album’s music more bordered dark ambient with elements of space ambient, sophomore effort ‘Missing Heart Pieces’ has a more down-to-earth nostalgic feeling with a huge focus on interwoven spoken word recordings. The result is a high-resolution ambient album that is full of empathy and dedicated to personal alienation.

Consisting of fourteen tracks that extend over eighty minutes of playing time, there is a lot of music to get aquatinted to on this recording. The album opener, “Details” begins with a mesmerizing keyboard loop and an immediate introduction to the first bit of spoken word dialog. The discussion consists of a one-sided conversation about someone’s travel plans, as if they are unsure about their final destination. As the keyboard loop continues to play, various drone melodies create a welcoming sound but at the same time institute a desolate feeling. Skipping a few tracks, we find the grandiose “First Experiences”. It slowly fades in to a cinematic style keyboard arrangement with hardly audible spoken word samples. The trance-like quality of this song assures its gloominess and the inclusion of soft piano adds a particularly eerie feeling as well. Another stunning track is “Dreaming Of Suburbia”. The dark ambient loops provide a calming attribute, while the random conversation that is included repeats over and over again, as if there is a deep meaning in the message that the narrator is trying to convey to her listener. Harrowing synthesized pads also give an overwhelming sensation of a wide-open space that has limitless boundaries for endless exploration. My favorite song on the album and one of the darker ones is called “The Eye”. The spoken word dialog seems to be that of a professor giving a valuable lesson on the inner workings of the eye, but vaguely explaining it in metaphors. However, the standout element of this track is the music itself. With a mix of ambient and 80’s style synth wave, this song has a very exclusive quality as compare to the dynamics of the rest of the album. Skipping a few more tracks, we have “The Death Of Newt”. Although this is one of the shorter tracks on the album, it takes on another uncommon approach as there is no dialog, and features a magnetic tape-like sound quality. Just another fine example of the high recording standard that Black Box Memories has set for this album. As we cut down to the last song on the album, “Dust”, the first thing that you’ll notice is the epic twelve plus minute time length. Starting with a peaceful acoustic guitar riff, it soon shifts to synth wave arrangement that is full of spirit and anticipation, as if you’re listing to a piece from the ‘Stranger Things Soundtrack’. Large-scale keys randomly fade in and out as if providing both melody and drama. This keeps up at a feverish pace for the majority of the song and the fades into a discordant piano arrangement that is extremely creepy.

I absolutely love these kind of recordings, as they provide enough diversity to occupy your audial senses as well as keep your imagination sharp and focused so that you can dwell on the despondent album theme. The looping, spoken word element is a feature that works really well with this genre and I wish more artist would use them. So, if you’re looking to diversify your ambient catalog, as well as wanting to reward yourself with some excellent music, look no further than ‘Missing Heat Pieces’ by Black Box Memories. Please support this incredibly talented artist by downloading this album from the link below.

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Links:

https://sumatranblack.bandcamp.com/album/missing-heart-pieces

Five Of The Noblest Dungeon Synth Artists Collaborate On Monumental Disciples Of Sunlight Debut Album Entitled ‘Radiance’

Let’s face it, the Dungeon Synth Community seems a little cutthroat these days. If you follow any of the social media groups, there are quite a few topics that spark debate in a negative way that tends to divide the populace rather than promote unity. That being said, it’s rather refreshing to see artists come together to solicit their craft on a consolidated project so that us – the fans – can come to appreciate a variety of sounds on a single album. We can all thank Disciples Of Sunlight, the collaborative efforts of Vandalorum, Nameless King, Rêvoeil, Amethyst Dagger & Count Shirintsu, for converging to deliver a phenomenal debut album called, ‘Radiance’. These six tracks flow amazingly well together and show the power and resilience of a unified bond between motivated artists.

The first track is “Scent Of Evil” by Vandalorum and it begins with the soft, effervescent movement of layered keyboard tracks that contain a large dose of medieval melody. As more delicate instrumentation is added, I’m reminded of a brisk, wintry dawn as the sunlight breaks over the horizon and overtakes the night sky. As daylight comes to full motion, a synthesized drum beat is added to give the track a more massive sound. The next song is “A Cave Of Crystal” by Nameless King. As one of my favorite dungeon synth artists, Nameless King shines bright on this track with an excellent forest synth vibe that has a multitude of sounds and a superb arrangement. The main keyboard sound is crystal clear and the flute-like harmony is like a mid-day ray of sunshine in a peaceful kingdoms village where everyone seems to prosper. Next up is “So I Stood Below The Stars And Wept” by Rêvoeil. At first the simple arrangement will have you wondering the direction it will take, but soon, a full orchestration of sound kicks in and overwhelms the senses. Although this is the shortest song on the album, it perfectly fits in with the arrangement of the other tracks. Providing a second song on the album, Nameless King is up next with “The Embraced Knight’s Plot”. This is a wonderful, melancholic arrangement that has that signature Nameless King keyboard tone, with – once again – excellent songwriting. There is a trance-like quality about this track, especially as the illustrious melody plays over and over again. Amethyst Dagger provides the first of two long songs with the epic “The Judgement Of The Moon”. At just over eleven and a half minutes, this exquisite piece is mostly an ambient & winter synth track, but does contain a few spots where it breaks off into a dungeon synth tune. However, this is unlike any track I’ve heard in quite some time and it’s quite impressive and possibly my favorite song on the album. The second long song – and final track on the album – is “To Water We’ll Return” by Count Shirintsu. As it begins with a field recording of waves hitting the sands of a beach, a single keyboard track provides a desolate tune that sounds cold and isolated, as if and endless winter is drawing near. This winter synth dirge is the perfect way to end this album as it seems have completed the cycle of radiance, through various seasons.

Disciples Of Sunlight is an alliance that I hope will stick around for a while. If ‘Radiance’ is any indication of the affect of their collaborative efforts, then I’m sure future albums by this group of artist will continue to improve and impress. If you’ve not heard this album already, you’re missing out on something very special. I highly recommend this, so click on the link below and download it right away!

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Links:

https://disciplesofsunlight.bandcamp.com/releases