Dungeon Synth has once again escaped the clutches of medieval times and have thwarted to a more modern era, where non-traditional themes become the predominate factor for setting the tone of the music. Solus Woods have succeeded in conceptualizing two extended play albums that tell haunting stories of a sailor lost at sea and of the obscure entities that prowl deep in the forest, while musically pushing the boundaries of post-Dungeon Synth. Whereas traditional Dungeon Synth is heavily influenced by Medieval Times, fantasy-based beings, and Dungeons & Dragons type role-based games, post-Dungeon Synth maintains the aesthetics of the music, but the themes can revolve around a myriad of events that are not that far fetched from our current every day lives.
The first of these two albums, ‘The Sea’ tells the tale of a sailor lost at sea and his self-reflection on life as his fate draws near. The opening track, “The Sea”, sets a minimalistic and eerie tone, as we can only expect that our protagonist awaits his trails at sea. “Celestial Star Map” is an eccentric number that can be easily used as a haunting backdrop in a movie soundtrack. Instead, it has a creepy reverse effect as the sailor is probably adrift at sea due to misguided navigation and he soon realizes that he may be in trouble. “The Calm Before…” doesn’t necessarily refer to the current of the sea, but the state of mind of the sailor as the imminent danger he will soon be in has him in a state of shock. The music in this track combines both a smooth, acoustic passage, with a harsh undertone, rendering a perfect environment for what is about to take place. “…The Storm” is a short track that represents the initial destruction of the devastation that will put the sailor in the predicament that he is slated to be in. Dark, bellowing tones that present a bleak and abrupt ending couldn’t have been played out any better. “Below The Surface” is a chilling track with bloodcurdling soundscapes that finally find the sailor in that moment where he is scared for his life and with nowhere to run and hide. At the climax of the story, “The Kraken” comes face-to-face with the sailor and reeks havoc on his beloved vessel. The music weaves in and out like a radiant light, but provides a depressive backdrop for this gruesome and lonely story. “Taking On Water. The Sinking Ship” contains sparse instrumentation and lush soundscapes that unfortunately, find our sailor defeated, stranded at sea and barely hanging on for dear life. “Adrift, Alone” uses horrifying sounds and frightening synthesized tones to describe the sailor as he is hanging on to a piece of driftwood, barely above the surface of the water. His life flashes before his eyes as he contemplates his demise. “The Shore” uses long, drawn out notes, to resemble the great distance that the sailor must travel in order to finally find safety. As darkness bridges to daybreak, there is no shore in site and the sailor must continue to travel, and survive another day. “The Sea (Reprise)” ends just as the story begins, with uncertainty. Although the melody is the same as the opening track, the dynamics of music has changed to represent another day. Although this is a short album, it tells a massive tale that leaves a huge opening to the imagination. Only with the backing of post-Dungeon Synth does this creative combination work out so well. ‘The Sea’ is a culmination of creative art and imaginative story telling at its best.
The second album in this review is ‘Ritualistic Swamp Magick’, a near thirteen minute revelation into the trepidation of isolated cults & religions and terrifying beasts that skulk deep in the woods. Sounding as if it could have been lifted from an 80’s horror movie soundtrack, “Rustic Swamp Magick” contains a ghostly backdrop, with memorable soundscapes that are distinctively eerie and discordant. I can imagine being deep in the woods and coming across a small church, where everyone is dressed the same and worshipping a deity that cannot be found in any book. As you stumble in the church by accident, everyone turns to look at you as if you’re the next offering – a sacrifice – to their supreme idol. As you rush out and escape in an unorthodox pattern through the forest, you get the sense you’re being hunted by a pack of unexplainable creatures. Although containing just a singular track, ‘Ritualistic Swamp Magick’ is another valiant effort by Solus Woods.
Despite being fairly new to the Dungeon Synth genre, Solus Woods is already excelling as a formidable artist, especially in the post-Dungeon Synth sub-genre. From the mature tone of the music to the gritty production, Solus Woods is already ahead of the game in several aspects. If this pace can be maintained, I’m sure many more surprises will be released in the very near future. Show your support for this excellent up and coming artist and click on the link below to check out his material. You won’t be disappointed.
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