H.P. Lovecraft – the legendary author that wrote some of the most transcendent stories in the genres of weird fiction, cosmic horror, horror fiction, and science fiction – has inspired generations of entertainers and artists with his Cthulhu mythos (among others), that has allowed his name to live on for quite the foreseeable future. Unfortunately, Lovecraft’s legacy wasn’t cemented until after his death, as his writing craft and vision was virtually unknown and unchallenged and he died in hardship, unable to support himself by his penmanship along. That being said, his writing was well ahead of its time and influenced movies, music, games, fictional characters as well as occultism. Of the Lovecrafian musical output there has been throughout the years, one of the most impressive recordings is the latest album by Varkâna called ‘Cosmic Terror’. An hour long Lovecraft-themed masterpiece, ‘Cosmic Terror’ builds upon the grimness of dungeon synth and appends ritualistic undertones and synth wave elements to produce what may very well be one of the greatest albums of the year.
“From Beyond” wastes no time as the opening sounds are a conglomerate of haunting synth notes straight from the grave. As the eerie melodies prowl the audio waves, incandescent synths radiate a sense of dire oppression. Soon, blazing synth wave tones fill the atmosphere that radiate with pure madness. At around the three and a half minute mark, trance-like droning keyboard sway like the waves of a Dead Sea under a full moon. One final solo synth arrangement plays on to end this stellar track. Next up is “Space Lord”, my absolute favorite song on the album and possibly one of the best despondent sounding synth tracks ever written. Dismal keys play saddened notes while spacious synth leads create a dynamic atmosphere that is more gray than black. Multiple percussion sounds and retro synths begin to crowd the airwaves as the abundance of textures come together to form the perfect mix of dark tones and harmony. A little over halfway through the song, the music fades into a warm ambient composition that drones slowly with the same melody as the beginning of the track. “The Dream-Quest” has the sound of a dark anthem being played in a dimly lit room that is used for seances to conjure unruly spirits. Tribal-like drums set a deathly pace while the long winded keys continue their heinous ways. Toward the end, more traditional drums are introduced, as well as synth wave patterns that add a bit of light to the grimness. “Nyarlathotep” is my second favorite track on the album as it combines memorable synth melodies with extended keyboard notes that establish a baseline for this epic composition. This nine minute requiem is packed with moments of sheer bliss, specifically the final two minutes as the beautifully toned keyboard arrangement plays so well against the rhythm and drums. “Devourer Of Stars” continues the powerful combination of synth rhythms and leads with alluring drums and retro synth wave sounds. “Devourer Of Dreams” is another nine minute anthem that is full of somber annotations and dreamy textures, especially when the percussion kicks in. The standout part in the track starts at around the four minute mark, when an elegant piano arrangement is introduced and layered with the soothing, yet slightly sinister synth melody. “Ex Oblivione” is another elongated track that features baritone-sounding keys and abstract synth effects. Again, simple but elegant drums provide the perfect balance of synth and avant-garde music. The final track on the album is the title track, “Cosmic Terror”. After a short, stark intro, introspective melodies take over and lead right into a progressive drum beat. The part that ensues has a 70’s progressive/fusion sound to it and it fits in perfectly with the rest of the album.
Varkâna is turning out to be one of the most consistent artists in the dungeon synth genre. Last year, the very impressive ‘Ahrimanic Chambers’, made my list for Top 10 dungeon synth albums of 2019. As of this writing, there is a strong possibility that ‘Cosmic Terror’ will be my top pick for dungeon synth album of 2020. The songwriting is spectacular, the arrangements are unbelievable, and each and every track is extremely memorable and soon you’ll find yourself addicted and playing them over and over again. To have music of this high level paying tribute to the great H.P. Lovecraft, I would say that he would be extremely honored. I can not recommend ‘Cosmic Terror’ enough, so please show your support for this exhilarating artist and download this as soon as possible!
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