Eyre Transmissions XI – Interview With Medieval Dungeon Synth Artist, Pale Castle

If there is ever a musical venture that represents the desolation of solitude while remaining steadfast to the culture of true Medieval Dungeon Synth music, Pale Castle would fit the bill perfectly. Creating a sound that mirrors emptiness and isolation, Pale Castle excels at composing bleak arrangements that casts the listener back to an ancient time of fierce commonwealth rivalries, mystical imagery and mythical adventures, while presenting a soothing atmosphere to get lost in. I recently had the pleasure of communicating with the mastermind behind Pale Castle to gain more in-site to this amazing project and what adventures are to come.

1. First of all, welcome to the Dungeon and thank you for this interview opportunity. The name ‘Pale Castle’ is so intriguing to me because there could be so many meanings for its being. How did you come up with the name and what does it mean to you?

You are very welcome. This is first time I have spoken to the outside world and I thank you for the opportunity. The timing was providence as I have now finished a journey from a dark place of inspiration. 

The name is a place, the place is where I once dwelt. The castle was not always pale but now it fades. Some say it’s no longer there….I have not seen it in ages. 

The Pale Castle is where memories once grew but now fade away. Another musician I admire once said that he could “build a castle with memories just to have somewhere to go”. That is how the listener could interpret ‘Pale Castle’…as a fortress of memories.

2. The music of Pale Castle is – at times – very bleak and dismal, presenting a true Medieval perception. Was that the vision for this project?

Thank you, for that is what I sought to convey.

The vision is that of solitude and adventure. 

A personal journey that I would like to share with my listeners. It’s my path in life to seek mystery and find a higher purpose though music and the realms it brings me to. 

My photography on the Pale Castle Instagram heightens and documents this passage.

Simply put though, the vision is a tale as old as time itself. Loss, gain, death and rebirth. The songs are fragments and imprints of my torment and occasionally my joy. That is my vision, a projection of my emotions both jovial and melancholic.  

3. I really enjoy the minimalistic aspect of the compositions, especially on the S/T album. What’s your typical routine for creating and tracking a typical Pale Castle song?

Sometimes I wander the hills and valleys and there I find inspiration in the wind and the night’s sky. There, when I’m Fortunate enough, I am hit with a burst of creative energy and begin to whistle or hum a few chords and melodies. I take that energy and store it in my mind. Then, when I return to my quarters I center myself and begin to preserve it. The process varies depending on the ambiance or sound I ultimately desire to achieve. I use a few different instrument and I enjoy sketching out a kind of story with a single motif and then expanding from that as my mood commands the direction of the track. A lot of the sorcery happens in the mixing and mastering phase of an album. 

I prefer minimal arrangements as it allows for the listener to focus on the emotion of the piece. Powerful chords and melodies and can be repeated with benefit, similarly as a steady fire can warm one’s bones.

4. My favorite track from the S/T is “Wall Of Blood Crosses”. How did you amass such an ethereal sound for that track and what was the inspiration behind it?

Plenty of analog reverb and tape delay was used to get that tone. It was layered several times as well. The inspiration came from the story that the album tells. As you can see, the album has a linear narrative that is told through the song titles. “Wall Of Blood Crosses” is the part in the story when I am wandering the castle and reflecting on my history and admiring the silver crosses filled with my family’s blood going back centuries. Imagine a huge hallway lined with such talismans all sealed with lead to keep them protected. 

That is the wall of blood crosses. Thousands of talismans filled with blood in a room that is most likely no more. “What happened to the crosses?” one might ask. 

I no longer care anymore. 

5. It’s impressive how your songs can transition from ominous to harmonious on a whim. Is there a particular concept in mind for these types of arrangements?

The concept is that those are reflections of life and how things change quickly, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. Especially when traveling. Dungeon Synth to me was always about the idea of traveling and adventure even if only in one’s mind. 

And even in the mind the mood of one’s thoughts can change without warning. This can be an emotional spark in music when done with feeling. I like to catch my listeners off guard and so that maybe they are slightly startled and taken back if for only a split second. That is not unlike when an animal or a force of nature enters your path while wunderlusting on an otherwise clear road. 

6. Moving on to ‘Sorrowful Memories’, it still contains the dreary aspects of the S/T, but this time around there seems to be more cinematic elements. Was it a conscious decision to branch out with a grander sound the second time around?

The initial offering captured in the self titled release is all about the castle and the stories within it’s boundaries. ‘Sorrowful Mysteries’ is the adventurous spirit the was freed once I was able to separate my soul from my body. On the first tape I created a cold and confined sound to illustrate the oubliette like atmosphere, in ‘Sorrowful Mysteries’ I wanted to convey the feeling of traveling and discovery. So yes, it was a very conscious decision to create a more cinematic sound. The listener should feel outdoors and upon a means travel. 

7. Your songs carry a lot of background ambience that is not only soothing, but an important part of your sound. Have you ever considered doing a Dark Ambient project as well?

I have done several Dark Ambient projects over the years. My very first recordings in the late 1990s could be considered Dark Ambient. 

I was only a teenager when I started recording music, nonetheless I believe that Dark Ambient was my first inspiration for recording my own compositions. There are artifacts of these recordings and others that were produced throughout the 2000s and as recently as last year. I will not name them here but there are ways to find these projects. 

That was another life. Still, fragments remain.

8. “The Gathering Of Spirits” is one of my favorite tracks from ‘Sorrowful Memories’ as it seems to have that gothic, romanticism influence. What were some of your influences during the recording of this album and this track in particular.

When my father died in 2011 it was in our family home and many souls gathered there, myself included to witness his death. Convergences such as these are a sort of phenomenon that occur with little or no flow of information, as if to say that the spirits inform those who need to know. The spirits also gather with each other for the preparation to carry one’s essence to the land of deeper shade.

A family friend one night once witnessed an eerie green ball of energy hover over my family’s land, he and I both believe this to have been my father’s power manifested as it was right before he fell ill. After my father’s body grew cold and rigid other visitors arrived.

They brought flowers to adorn his corpse and helped wrap him in sheepskin pelts. 

Some told us that they knew not of his demise and were only guided to the estate by an urge. Others came wholeheartedly to pay their final respects. He was the sorcerer and the final track is about his death as well. As far as musical inspiration for that track I’d say that perhaps it was inspired by my memories of that fateful night.

9. Speaking of influences, let’s talk about your Dungeon Synth beginnings if we can. When did you first start listening to the genre and who were some of your favorite artists?

My first encounter with Dungeon Synth is difficult to pinpoint as I have been listening to unusual music for quite awhile and definitely heard “dungeon” like music on the odd college radio stations at night in the 1990s. 

With that said though I would say that my first introduction to traditional Dungeon Synth was though listening to Black Metal interludes from bands such as Dimmu Borgir, Burzum, Noktunal Mortum, Summoning and also more avant-garde dark synth, especially Sopor Aeternus & The Ensemble of Shadows. That project definitely had a very significant impact on my musical path. I would actually recommend that your readers listen to ‘Songs From The Inverted Womb’.

I would also like to take this opportunity to share an experience I had upon listening to my favorite Dungeon Synth album for the first time which is ‘Fjelltronen‘ by Wongraven. As I recall I was laying in a pitch dark room and within the first few measures of the opening track I began to feel weightless and I drifted into a simi -conscious state of being. Throughout the rest of the album I experienced what could only be described as an “out of body experience”

After that I began to see Dungeon Synth as something very special. That was 2004. By 2005 I had began recording Dungeon Synth experimentations. Pale Castle is my first complete Dungeon Synth endeavor. 

There is a “je ne sais quoi“ about the genre that definitely matches my personality. 

Not in a dark and brooding gothic fantasy way, more akin though to my fascination with the past and of realms unfound or forgotten.

Loss, isolation, suffering, love and remembrance…those are the aspects of life that stoke the fires of the castle.

10. When did you realize that you wanted to record a Dungeon Synth album and at that time were you involved with any other non-synth based music projects?

I have been recording synthesized music since the 1990s and have been involved with a handful of black metal, ambient, experimental groups and solo projects over the last two decades, although as of 2010 I have been producing and recording only synth based ambient and Dungeon Synth. 

The idea for Pale Castle came to me in late 2019 as I began to see the future of “dark music” and it’s esthetics. The romanticism of old-school black metal, the re-discovery of what brought me solace and to be in a mental place where I felt I could give it a valiant effort. 

That is when the transformation occurred. 

I found the castle in the dark recesses of my mind. It’s with me now forever. 

And with that said, I will choose to remain quiet about those earlier recordings as I see them as part of an old life. Not that I am ashamed or not proud of my past but rather to exemplify my commitment to the future and to Pale Castle. 

11. Earlier this year you released the ‘Remember Together, Remember Forever’ cassette, which features both Pale Castle recordings. How is the cassette release doing so far and what do you think about the recent surge in cassette sales as a form of music release?

At time of this interview it is almost gone far as it’s availability on my Bandcamp merch page. 

So that is good, most importantly because that means it is being heard and shared with others and hopefully will bring some to tears, whether they be tears of joy or sadness, so long as they are not tears like those of a crocodile.

That is the goal of my music, to get a genuine emotional response, especially stimuli connected to memories and personal turmoils. 

Yes, the appreciation of the cassette tape as a collectible form of musical preservation is something that makes me smile. When the compact tape cassette was introduced in 1963 it was not yet a major competition to the vinyl LP, by the late 1970s though it was becoming a standard for music collections across the world. It remained very popular until the early 1990s when CDs, although introduced in 1982 we’re finally more affordable and the players portable enough to start the inevitable death of the cassette tape from a popular consumer prospective. That is what is endearing about cassette culture, that people choose to support artists who make tapes and collect their releases despite it being cumbersome and less convenient. I think the resurgence is also due in part by the current generation hearing about the old times of tape trading and the satisfaction of making something by hand. That is the thing about cassettes, they require just the right amount of patience to make at home but are not too expensive such as the case with vinyl and when compared to CDs, tapes are much more resilient. I have seen an uptick in compact discs as well though,albeit in other genres such as noise and ambient. To finish the subject, I will say that I think the resurgence of tape is an art in and of itself and that alone is a testament to the importance of the cassette’s existence.

12. What else is in store for Pale Castle for the remainder of 2021?

Currently I am recording new tracks for a 60 minute album titled “When Everyone Else Dies, We Won’t” Hopefully I will find the time to also design and make a few clothing items. 

Not only t-shirts, I’d like to offer some one of a kind garments and special items for my supporters. That is the beautiful part of this new golden age of independent artists, no longer do musicians and artists need the approval and favors of the gatekeepers to share their creative passions.

I plan to share many of my creations in 2021.

13. Have you ever thought about performing in a live setting or is Pale Castle strictly a studio project?

The idea of preforming Pale Castle live is something that intrigues me, it would most certainly have to be the appropriate location and setting though. An old church, a stone cellar or an actual dungeon. Short of a venue along those lines I don’t see it happening. If I were possessed to somehow play a bar or club I would probably loose my temper at the crowd and go from “dungeon synth” to “prison synth” 

No, If I were to perform it would have to be around a respectful audience in a somber atmosphere.

14. I really appreciate your time for this interview. Do you have any final thoughts or words for those that will be reading this?

Thank you for the invitation and for providing me an audience so that I could share my thoughts regarding not only my music but that of the genre itself and with that I would like to say that Dungeon Synth is not a novelty genre to me and that it’s existence is very much rooted in history though various periods in human history. Growing up I often heard sounds that are not “synth” but most definitely of the “dungeon” I would like to say that Dungeon Synth and Dark Ambient as musical genres are two of the most important aspects of my artistic pursuit in life and that anyone considering releasing their recordings should definitely go forth and be proud of your creations. To all artists, take personal time to be alone with your thoughts preferably in the outdoors or more importantly where you as an individual feels the most tranquil. It is within that tranquility that you will find your most genuine ideas. I could ramble for an eon but I shall save that for hopefully a later time with you as I would be interested in a video interview in the future. In closing I would like to say thanks to you again and all hailz be to TYRANNUS! thank you for your music and inspiration! You are noticed and appreciated. 

– Bless all those who keep the candles burning and the fires lit. I feel your pain and I hear your voices in the night.

-Pale Castle

Links:

https://palecastle.bandcamp.com

https://www.facebook.com/𝔭𝔞𝔩𝔢-𝔠𝔞𝔰𝔱𝔩𝔢-111304390635373

https://www.instagram.com/pale_castle/

Ambitious And Hypnotizing, Dagmar Gertot Conjures An Enrapturing Improvisational Chronicle Called ‘Os Lacrimale’

I remember my first time experiencing Scott Walker’s ‘The Drift’ album back in 2006. For those that are not familiar, Scott Walker is a singer-songwriter that had a string of avant-garde albums late in his career, which were a heretical change of pace from his pop beginnings. At any rate, ‘The Drift’ (at the time) was one of the most mesmerizing recordings I’ve ever heard, and at times, it was downright terrifying as well. Fast forward to present times, and once again I am feeling the exact emotional state with Dagmar Gertot’s debut album on Cyclic Law, ‘Os Lacrimale’. Eight tracks of vocal and instrumental improvisations that invoke a sentiment of aimless wander and endless nightmares.

The merriment begins with the portentous “Iron Cradle”. Commencing with a single, unbridled note – that seems to be a fusion of a horned and stringed instrument – the vocals suddenly belt out with an inaudible presence, but present heavy Middle Eastern influences with regards to vocal control and technique. This is improvisation at its best, as there is a particular chemistry between the instrumentation and vocalist that will certainly resonate with the audience. Next up is “Non Healing Wound” and although it slowly crescendos out of darkness, a maniacal presence will soon unfold by way of chilling stringed instruments and mesmerizing vocal effects. This one is a slow builder and finds every aspect of the arrangement coming together in a deranged harmonic variance, while the vocal performance creates a segregated instrument that stands out all on its own. “Snake Dance” starts with an operatic-like vocal performance that assembles with layers of odd harmonies. Although just over a minute long, this track packs a powerful punch and truly showcases the talent of Dagmar Gertot. “Delirious” is one of my favorite songs on the album as it is as entertaining as it is mysterious. Vocals are, once again, perfectly layered and in the background, ritualistic instrumentation sets a bleak scene that is soon filled with Oriental influences and haunting soundscapes. “Two-Headed Roe Deer” begins with crackles and hisses of vintage tape loops, while random stringed-instrument screeches and off-key piano notes create a dismal soundtrack for the vocal performance that – at times – wanders off in the distance. “Pyromaniac” emerges as an a cappella track with soft, layered vocals and an underlying track of deep grunts and growls. Without notice, various instruments play in alliance, but with different types arrangements, as if they are out of synchronization and trying to find their way to a unified sound. Toward the end, the vocal patterns become more eccentric, as if anxiously finding a rhythm to latch on to for a continued aural assault. “Nude Metemorph” begins with choir like vocal harmonies being played in a dream state. As the vocals become more eclectic, the dream turns into a nightmare, intensifying the listening experience. The music for this track is down right dreary and the vocals are some of the most chilling to be heard yet. The final track on the album is “Anathema”. Starting with a refreshing vocal harmony of inaudible cadence, random piano keys create an abhorrent atmosphere that is sure to induce a trance-like state (if allowed). At times, it seems as if the vocals and piano are trading off, telling two versions of an intense story that has no words, but one that can be felt through the power of music and emotions.

Dagmar Gertot’s bold statement of vocal and instrumental improvisations on her first album, ‘Os Lacrimale’ is a magnificent listen and widely open for interpretation. Although I mentioned a comparison to the great Avant-garde artist, Scott Walker, in my opening remarks, Dagmar Gertot transcends any single genre or classification and doesn’t deserve to be held back by any barriers. Whether you’re into ambient, experimental, ritualistic sounds Or avant-garde, ‘Os Lacrimale’ will definitely appeal to your musical taste. I highly recommend this unique artist, so please head over to the Cyclic Law Bandcamp page, or click on the link below to download this amazing album.

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Links:

https://cycliclaw.bandcamp.com/album/os-lacrimale

Hasufel Spreads Anguish Into The Halls Of Madness With Synth-Spectacular, ‘Exaltation’

‘Exaltation’ has been a highly anticipated release ever since the advertisements and promo packages have been putting out exciting information on the music contained within for the past few months. For me, it provoked a sense of enthusiasm for really wanting to dive in and examine the power of each track. With just four songs and about twenty minutes of playing time, I expected this one to hit hard right from the opening note until the final one. So after have experiencing this album at least five or six times now, do I think it lives up to the hype? Absolutely…and then some! ‘Exaltation’ is a seamless blend of Dungeon Synth, Winter Synth and Dark Ambient with superb vocal narrations and effects, as well as ominous soundscapes and field recordings. This is quite the unique listening experience and definitely a rewarding one.

“School Of The Prophets” begins with eerie drones and sinister, lo-fi soundscapes, depicting a true scenery of dungeon vibes and heinous Medieval existence. Winter synth tones come into the equation and are quite melodic, but as an addition to the darkened tones, it’s presents a grim listening experience. Pastoral narrations add a maniacal and dreadful emotion that may seem overwhelming, but fits in perfectly to maintain the gloomy ambiance. The song closes out with a single – high-pitched – tones that leads right in to, “White Mildew”, another bleak affair that showcases what it would have been like to be committed to a lifetime of Dungeon-dwelling existence. The slight echo on the voice narrations is reminiscent of early 90’s Black Metal ambient sections – desolate and ominous at best. Although keyboards are used in a minimalistic setting, they fuse perfectly with the atmosphere of this track. “Salvación” is a slow builder, almost tribal-like, with more outstanding narrative parts. This time there is a vocal variant that is added, expanding the density of the soundscapes and field recordings. This track is almost in the realm of ritualistic black ambient, and is one of my favorite recordings on the album. However, amongst the chaos, it ends on an austere, but peaceful note. The final song on the album is the title track, “Exaltation”. From the very beginning, it emits very creepy vibes with heavily reverberated piano tracks and almost circus-like anthems, as if a great show was coming to a close. This is a grand meshing of the senses, as it is part whimsical and part malevolent. It’s like chaos with paralysis and a perfect way to end this short but amazing album.

Hasufel fuses the best of both worlds – speaking specifically of Dungeon Synth and Dark Ambient. Although ‘Exaltation’ doesn’t fit firmly in either of these genres, the prodigious tracks contained within takes the best of both genres and expands them to a realm of unimaginable terror and viscous imagery. I’m completely fascinated by this recording and it reminds me of 90’s Black Metal as well, especially with the dissonant ambient interludes that create the horrific scenes between the tracks of hateful riffing. I highly recommend checking out ‘Exaltation’ if any of the above-mentioned descriptives appeal to you. I guarantee that you won’t be disappointed, so click on the link below and download this spectacular album.

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Links:

https://pacificthrenodies.bandcamp.com/album/exaltation

Celestial Ephemerides: A Collection Of Dark Ambient Summary Reviews, Part II

The Dark Ambient community is such a prodigious one, consumed with brilliant artists that release some of the most diverse albums in – what is widely considered – one of the most minimalistic spectrums in music. That being said, I’m proud to present round two of my Dark Ambient summary reviews, that finds many of these artists broadening that spectrum with some of the most divergent tunes I’ve heard in a long time. I hope you enjoy reading these and please support these amazing artists as the continue to progress their musical achievements.

1. Aldebaran’s Nebulah – Deep Form Of Cosmic Signals

Cosmic, Lo-Fi dark ambience that depicts a cold and callous realm beyond the reach of any civilization. Soothing and minimalistic, each track portrays the bleakest depths of space with hints extraterrestrial effects and soundscapes. Although just two tracks, this is a very enjoyable outing and I’m looking forward to more by this artist.

https://aldebaransnebulah.bandcamp.com/album/deep-form-of-cosmic-signals

2. Veinte 33 Records Compilation – From Perihelion To Aphelion

Veinte 33 Records has quite the impressive lineup of artists and releases, producing stellar ambient and obscure efforts on a consistent basis. For those that are not familiar, can start with this amazing compilation album that showcases some of their most incredible talents. From nominal soundscapes to bizarre discordance, these fourteen tracks provide a massive eighty minutes of impressive music. Some of my favorite artists on here include Colonial Skyway, Trucking To Tokyo, ExistenZ & WhaltHisney. I highly recommend this collection!

https://veinte33records.bandcamp.com/album/from-perihelion-to-aphelion-a-veinte-33-records-compilation

3. Sabled Sun – 2149

When it comes to Sabled Sun, I honestly prefer the ‘Signals’ space ambient series over the ‘21xx’ post-apocalyptic ambient series. However, I still love the ‘21xx’ series and ‘2149’ is the perfect addition to the dystopian storyline. Everything about this album is just perfect – the field recordings, desolate piano chops, soundscapes, and even the tape hisses & vinyl scratches gives it a wonderful nostalgic feeling. One of my favorite Dark Ambient albums of 2021 so far!

https://cryochamber.bandcamp.com/album/2149

4. Taphephobia – Blue Hour

Cyclic Law continues their unfathomable streak of enthralling releases with the captivating sounds of Taphephobia. ‘Blue Hour’ provides a slow-motion listening experience of ethereal proportions and the magnitude of the soundscapes expand beyond the grand sphere of audial bliss. If you close your eyes and really absorb this album, you’ll find yourself having a euphoric out-of-body experience.

https://cycliclaw.bandcamp.com/album/blue-hour

5. Anastasia Vronski – In The Dark

If atmospheric chaos and turmoil is your thing, look no further than ‘In The Dark’ by Anastasia Vronski. With two tracks of industrialized black ambience decimating the inner ear cavity for over thirty one minutes, there is no room for recovery and little chance of survival – if your mind is not prepared for this raw and austere journey. This is a very impressive release and hopefully this sonic creation is just the beginning of a string of amazing albums.

https://kalaminerecords.bandcamp.com/album/in-the-dark

6. MNZKRT – MNZKRT

What’s better than thirty five minutes of heavily distorted drone tunes suffused with deep modulations, glitches and eerie soundscapes? Not much, if this sort of audio terror is your thing. ‘MNZKRT’ is an unusual recording but surprisingly captivating with spacious atmospherics of the highest order. I highly recommend checking this out.

https://mnzkrt.bandcamp.com/album/mnzkrt

7. Material Loss – EP

This is an amazing recording that borders the dimensions of harsh black ambient and minimalistic soundscapes with hints of industrialized madness. These four tracks take the listen to an alternate reality, where escape from apocalyptic terror is imminent but highly unlikely. At times bleak and consoling but the remainder of the aural duration is spent with glitches and disturbing sound resilience. This one is best played with the lights down low and a few lit candles to set the mood.

https://materialloss.bandcamp.com/album/ep

8. BECKAHESTEN – Vattenhålens Dräpare

This album is the result of the fortunate collision of nature and a dystopian future of another dimension. These soundscapes are purely cinematic and chronicle an intriguing story of world hereafter. Chanting vocals, haunting narrations and tribal drumming add to the mystique of this adventure and it is sure to garner many repeat plays.

https://cycliclaw.bandcamp.com/album/vattenh-lens-dr-pare

9. Shedir – Finite Infinity

‘Finite Infinity’ is the perfect blend of dreamy space ambience and cinematic soundscapes, fused with elements of both light and dark ambience. Shedir capitalizes on these strengths and creates a bold style of synth-based music that is inductive of trance-like repercussions as well as a sense of ambiguous emotions. Although I wasn’t previously familiar with this artist, it’s safe to say that these songs will continue to be in heavy playlist rotation.

https://cycliclaw.bandcamp.com/album/finite-infinity

10. Aegri Somnia – Nusquam

If I had to pick at least one artist on the Cryo Chamber Label that consistently gave me a sense of strained settlement with each release, it would be Aegri Somnia. These are some of the most well-crafted dark ambient songs that have been released by the artist and there is a steady flow of cinematic quality that can’t be overlooked. One thing that particularly stands out is the excellent use of field recordings and how they extend the listening experience through various cosmic realms.

https://cryochamber.bandcamp.com/album/nusquam

Please Like/Follow my blog so that you’ll get first hand updates every time I post a review. Thanks for visiting the Dungeon!!

Celestial Ephemerides: A Collection Of Dungeon Synth Summary Reviews, Part II

I’m back with another round of Dungeon Synth summary reviews. As I continue to catch up on my review queue, I find it refreshing (and engaging) to release these more concise write-ups, as it enables me to dive deeper into these albums at a quicker pace without distraction. I hope you enjoy reading about these incredible albums and it’s my intent that you find them intriguing enough to download them and support these wonderful artists.

1. Unterland – Heimweg

Heimweg is a surprisingly good album and it differs from most other Dungeon Synth recordings, as it is primarily guitar based. This unique recording is heavily based in Medieval compositions but a wide array of instrumentation – including metal guitar riffs – adds an unforeseen twist that works out really well. If your ready for something a bit unorthodox but with impeccable songwriting, look no further than this gem.

https://unterland.bandcamp.com/album/heimweg

2. Vacarch – A Dance Around Ourselves

Vacarch, another genre-bending act, pulls no punches on the immaculate, ‘A Dance Around Ourselves’. Although planted in Various sub-genre’s of Dungeon Synth, there is no limit to the musical variety that is packed into this fifty two minutes album. From synthwave to metal, no genre is safe from being besieged by this incredible artist. The compositions are astonishing and the production is gloomy like on mid-90’s gothic metal album releases. Highly recommended for those that aren’t afraid to venture beyond the ordinary!

https://vacarch.bandcamp.com/album/a-dance-around-ourselves

3. Alkilith – Tales Of The Wandering Mage

Minimalistic Medieval Dungeon Synth with a significant mix of gloomy soundscapes and field recordings that easily succeeded in summoning the listener back to the Middle Ages. Don’t expect fancy compositions or pristine productions, as this was meant to be an unsettling adventure back in the times of dark unrest. This is masterful Dungeon Synth at its best and shouldn’t be overlooked by anyone.

https://alkilithmage.bandcamp.com/album/tales-of-the-wandering-mage

4. Erang – Imagination Never Fails

‘Imagination Never Fails’ was in my “Top 10” list for Dungeon Synth releases of 2020. Not only is Erang a legend in the Dungeon Synth community, he creates a fantasy world like no other and by the end of the album, you’ll have visited a fanatical realm beyond verbal description. A master at song composition and instrumental arrangements, this album is one of his best and it continues to expand beyond Dungeon Synth and explore other synth-based genres. Highly recommended for fans of synth music in general!

https://erang.bandcamp.com/album/imagination-never-fails

5. WizzardStorm – WizzardStorm Presents: ‘Excerpts From Beowulf’

This Medieval Folk-based album may be one of the most bizarre albums in this list. However, this guitar-heavy recording is an entertaining endeavor with a high production value and quality songwriting. The vocals are deep in the mix, adding a depth of character that is dark and brooding, while the music is bright, yet at times discordant. This reminds me of a mix between modern Xasthur and Devin Townsend’s Casualties Of Cool recording – very interesting and worth the listen.

https://wizzardstorm.bandcamp.com/album/wizzardstorm-presents-excerpts-from-beowulf

6. Spawn Of Incantation – Ancient Hordes Of Bochi

Not all sides of Medieval imagery has to be dark and majestic. Spawn Of Incantation play an alluring brand of Dungeon Synth that soothes the soul and meets the criteria for Middle Ages themed synth music. This music is a soundtrack for somber times amongst the darkest of days. It’s quite the change of pace from the typical Dungeon Synth music that is released, but it’s calming demeanor is great for me.

https://spawnofincantation.bandcamp.com/album/ancient-hordes-of-bochi

7. Leaves Of Lorien – Golden Wood

‘Golden Wood’ is forty six minutes of whimsical & cinematic synth injected with well-placed field recordings topped off with crystal clear production. This is a high-quality effort that musically expands the Medieval and Renaissance periods and the huge efforts of this artist shows, as this is a gripping album with definite replay value.

https://leavesoflorien.bandcamp.com/album/golden-wood

8. Wooded Memory – My Secret Horror

‘My Secret Horror’ is another album that made it to my “Top 10” Dungeon Synth albums of 2020 but definitely worth mentioning again in this publishing. More like music from the Renaissance era due to its condensed song structure and lightened sense of arrangement, the songs sway from alluring piano arrangements to gothic-infused synth piece with retrospective soundscapes and layering. This is just an excellent album to get lost in.

https://woodedmemory.bandcamp.com/album/my-secret-horror

9. Spectral Spire – Ruination Of Tehten-Hurz

Consisting of just two lengthy dirges of lo-fi Dungeon Synth music, this album will take the listener back to a Medieval landscape of desolation and melancholy. With an excellent blend of droning keys, bleak field recordings and haunting atmospherics, it’s hard not to be emotionally transported back to that daunting time when all things led to darkness. Fortunately, there are layers of beautiful melody throughout these two tracks that make this listening experience a completely enthralling one.

https://spectralspire.bandcamp.com/album/ruination-of-tehten-hurz

10. The Backwards Funeral – The Last Day: Part I

‘The Last Day: Part I’ is the complete package in terms of truly embracing the many sub-genres of Dungeon Synth. This release has tracks that range from Medieval intonations to Crypt Hop and Chiptune. Even if you’re not a fan of all of these sub-genres, this album is laid out so well that it’s bound to draw you in at some point, as this is a highly enjoyable release. I would recommend this album to anyone that is open to a variety of music and tones on a single album.

https://thebackwardsfuneral.bandcamp.com/album/the-last-day-part-i

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Askiburgion Mists Invades Dead Air Space With Lo-Fi Dark Ambient Monument, ‘Rübezahl’s Kingdom’

Sometimes DIY musical projects create the biggest impact due to the personal nature of the compositions and how they captivate their audience. Sure, we love over-the-top production quality – especially when it comes to Dark Ambient music – but the rawness of self-production seems to hit home when the music is on point. Askiburgion Mists is a prime example of this scenario and with ‘Rübezahl’s Kingdom’, gritty, minimalistic dark ambience paints a bleak picture of nature’s malevolent ways. Although consisting of only three short tracks (in terms of Dark Ambient songs), they could have easily come from a past dimension, where early-90’s Black Metal albums relied on haunting ambience to manifest terroristic visions.

“Morning” slowly fades in, just as a gloomy sunrise would try to appear through a thick fog at daybreak. Production hisses add a grim fidelity that’s not normally prevalent on Dark Ambient recordings. As this minimalistic rush rises and falls with ambiguity, a sense of esoteric desires complicates the mood but doesn’t distract from the trance-like patterns that remain intact. Before the track ends, there is actually a nice melodic arrangement that fits in rather well before it abruptly comes to a halt. Next up is the field recording heavy, “Kingdom”. Commencing with a dense rain sound, hypnotizing drones begin to materialize, creating a baseline for desolate refrain. Scarce embellishments of soundscapes are used throughout, creating a callous atmosphere of darkly arranged instrumentation that are thought provoking. The final track, “Dream Of Giants”, is the most exploratory composition on the album and it (hopefully) sets the stage for more exciting adventures from Askiburgion Mists. Utilizing an array of field recordings and soundscapes, they are masterfully fused with dismal drones setting an enchanting environment of dark times, where hopes of a peaceful future has fallen victim to dystopian accord. This is my favorite track on the album and I’m hoping that more music of this nature is released soon.

Askiburgion Mists is an astonishing up-and-coming Dark Ambient artist that demands to be heard. Although only an EP and a single has been released on the artists’ Bandcamp page, they are both excellent musical endeavors and would be a great addition to anyones Dark Ambient collection. The grungy, lo-fi production is a standout quality for this album and it also provides a unique spin on the typical Dark Ambient sound. Please click on the link below and support this amazing album and artist.

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Links:

https://askiburgionmists.bandcamp.com/album/r-bezahls-kingdom-demo

Taurwen Finds Solace In Haunting Romantic-Era Anthems On ‘A Wind Blows From The Mountain Of Death’

When it comes to themes and subject matter for Dungeon Synth releases, it’s obvious that historical references play a large influential role. Although mostly tied to Medieval and Renaissance periods, some artist choose a more gothic approach that is more aligned with romantic era topics. ‘A Wind Blows From The Mountain Of Death’ by Taurwen definitely fits into the latter, with elegant synth compositions that beam with both classical and haunting elements. Although not dark and foreboding like Medieval period music, these songs are still somber but in a more peaceful way.

The lead off song, simply titled “Intro”, is a wonderful preface to this album as it quickly establishes its foundation with romanticism and gothic undertones through symmetrical compositions. “Rites Of Spring” is a domineering performance as it showcases cinematic quality orchestrations with rhythmic drum beats. Although this is a sonically dismal piece, it has an alluring nature to it that captures the best of both worlds. “Waterspirit” begins with a soothing field recording of brisk waters hitting a shoreline. As that fades, a deep melodic tone gives way to layers of beautiful synth effects. The underlying drum beat adds a wonderful charm, as flowing synth leads create a massive sound that carries throughout the track. “The Last Farewell” is a memorable dirge-like track that boasts a captivating piano lead in addition to delicate stringed-instrument effect that compliments a melancholic arrangement. “Misty Path” is one of my favorite tracks on the album, as the unforgettable melody is one of the most serene arrangements I’ve heard in quite sometime. This song definitely belongs on a movie soundtrack and epitomizes how great this album really is. “In The Arms Of The Night” is another somber affair that shines with tranquility and emotions. The clarity of the stringed instrument effects are deeply engaging and as this track sways between layers of blissful harmonies and single toned interludes, it never looses focus on the romanticism era for which it magnificently represents. “Resurrection” sounds more like a Medieval piece but played in the Renaissance period, as it’s more uplifting and grandiose. The addition of bombastic beats makes for a more theatrical sound and the excitement of this track continues to grow until the very last note. “Pale Sun” presents a slight change of pace, as the synth effects are more whimsical than other tracks. However, the songwriting is on point and as the additional layers are introduced, scenes of lavish lands and peaceful times come to mind. “Dark Hills” has a very ominous sound and is wonderfully composed. Again, the classical elements continue to assemble into an enchanting barrage of melody. The calmness of the distant rainstorm at the end enhances the moment and slowly creates a sense of reality. “Hum Of The Forest (feat. Tir)” is one of the most ambitious tracks on the album and fuses magical synth arrangements and massive soundscapes, presenting an adventurous composition full of gothic mystery. The final track on this amazing journey is “The Calm Of The Mountains”. At just under two minutes, it wastes no time putting the listener in a placid state, as chirping birds give way to alluring keys and a regal backing synth that exudes an euphoric state of mind.

‘A Wind Blows From The Mountain Of Death’ is much more than a Dungeon Synth album. It’s a classical musical endeavor that uses gothic nuances to pay homage to the romantic period. Although there are a few Medieval elements, tranquil compositions are prevalent throughout and Taurwen excels at creating a musical adventure that sticks out amongst his peers. If you’ve not heard this amazing album yet, I highly recommend checking it out by clicking on the link below.

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Links:

https://taurwenofficial.bandcamp.com/album/a-wind-blows-from-the-mountain-of-death

Infinexhuma Amasses A Large-Scale Aural Attack With Intense Soundscapes On ‘Frontier’

When it comes to ominous soundscapes and adventurous Dark Ambient compositions that are filled with terror-induced tones and agonizing drones, Infinexhuma has to be one of the front runners that consistently supplies this huge undertaking. One thing you can always count on with an Infinexhuma album is a grim experience that clinches like a slowly tightening vice grip. On the latest deafening effort, ‘Frontier’, the tones are colder, soundscapes more chilling, and an overall dominating audial ordeal that is more dismal than ever. Also, enlisting the help of other Dark Ambient elite artists such as Blood Box, Neraterræ, and Common Eider, King Eider, together they catapult this deviant journey into multiple realms of chaos. At almost one hour and forty minutes long, this bleak expedition has enough creepy twists and turns to create and angst-filled environment.

The intoxicating album opener, “Converter”, is an all-out onslaught of malevolent sounds, designed to overwhelm the senses and bring forth nightmarish reactions. The haunting drones are propelled to a grueling depth with the help of industrialized soundscapes and a flock of crows, circling in agitation. This ten minutes endeavor does not let up and thoroughly prepares the listener for the next hour and a half. “Orbital (feat. Blood Box)” creeps along at a gradual pace, refining the audial invasion of the first track, and subduing the listener into a catatonic state. Terror-filled screeches and modulations grow louder as the weight of this track becomes even heavier. The next track, “Sword” summons ancient, dark vibes as the mildly distorted drone appends itself to the listeners subconscious. More like a malicious space ambient outing, there are intense ritualistic moments throughout that is reminiscent of a doomed celestial society. Fabricated screams elicit moments of terror as this haunting track beckons the darkest of times. “Sweeper” keeps the nightmare sequence alive with alluring drones and field recordings. As if surviving another dimension, grim manifestations are on full display in eerie fashion. “Heaven March (feat. Neraterræ)” displays signs of solitude and emptiness, as these superior drones have an echo effect, creating a wall of sound that embodies desolation. Sonic soundscapes present a trance-like significance that is addictive to listen too. This is probably one of my favorite tracks on the album. “Position In Flames” is a slow builder but well worth the wait. Light drones and incredulous synths seem far off and blurry at first, but slowly form into a dynamic track full of distorted frequencies and angst. As they start to fade into a warm drone sound, breathing becomes normal and an escape back to reality is in close focus. “Catharsis Of Goodbye is nearly thirteen minutes long and runs the gamut of emotional brain patterns. Beginning with a short, foreign narrative, it fuses into an assembly of sound that takes its time to decimate those that listen. From hollow drones and mechanized soundscapes to retro synthwave distortions, this track contains the elements and checks the blocks for a true dark ambient excursion. Next up is “Deep Runnel (feat. Common Eider, King Eider)” and it’s fascinating resistance of grueling, harsh moments make this one of the most effective tracks on the album. Maintaining a low compulsion for gradual effects, this one builds in anticipation without breaking its lethargic flow. “In The End” is a supernatural spectacle of sound and voice, as they fuse together in a dreamlike state. An interesting addition of EDM synths and monstrous backing tones are a welcomed surprise and I’m sure many listeners will appreciate this branching out to additional genres and will succumb to multiple listenings in one sitting. “Forged” begins as a minimalistic piece but grows into a fierce synthwave crossover song that features beautiful synth leads and darkened drones. There are other obscure sequences that add to this amazing sound, creating a monumental track that easily stands out amongst the others. “Every Door” is discordant offering that is full of twists and turns, including heavily distorted & sequenced vocalizations. Although it starts off semi-peaceful, it morphs into a noise-filled composition that becomes one of the harshest tracks on the album. The final track on the album is “Stormless”. Another stellar feat in space ambience, this enticing arrangement will have the listener drifting off to the far reaches of the bleak, uncharted universe. Although all is safe, you never know what’s lurking around every corner, as this song will have the listener calmly anticipating what the future holds. Such a captivating way to end this preeminent Dark Ambient experience.

I can always count on Infinexhuma to provide the ultimate Dark Ambient experience. Whether it’s cinematic soundscapes, ritualistic tones, harsh noise or space ambience, each album provides a unique platform for transparency with all of these musical forms. ‘Frontier’ is no different, as it challenges the listener to open the mind to fully embrace all of these magnificent compositions. If you’ve not heard this colossal recording yet, please visit the link below and experience one of the best Dark Ambient recordings out right now.

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Links:

https://infinexhuma.bandcamp.com/album/frontier

The Menagerie Of Madness Continues To Evolve On Guild Of Lore’s ‘Portals Volume II’

Just in case ‘Portals Volume I’ wasn’t enough to tide you over, the simultaneous release of ‘Portals Volume II’ will surely continue to overload the auditory senses with massive Dungeon Synth and Crypt Hop sounds. As with Volume I, this album sustains the mission of Guild Of Lore reworks in hypnotic fashion, and every track explores territories that are unique to the artists themselves, while maintaining the granite-like foundation set forth by Guild Of Lore. This review will concentrate on the wonderful sounds of ‘Portals Volume II’ and how it perfectly complements the first volume without seeming repetitious.

As with ‘Portals Volume I’, Guild Of Lore provides the lead off track with “Storm Haven (Rainy Night Jazz Mix)”. As the title suggests, it sounds like something you would hear in a late-night dark noir jazz club, many years into the apocalypse. The stand-up bass sound provides a very comforting tone as this decorous composition sets a very soothing yet grim mood. “The Sunless Sea” by Encloaked begins with an excellent piano composition while a storm-like field recording brews in the background. That soon fuses into an elegant guitar riff that is beautiful produced. Although a short track, this one has an addictive sound and will leave you wanting more when it’s over. “The Tipsy Waltz Inn” by FVRFVR is a whimsical piece with carnival-like theatrics and obscurely arranged instrumentation. The production value is effortless and the soundscapes & field recordings make this quite the entertaining track. “Snow Shielded Giants (Blackened Snow Swell Mix)” by Whispering Mirrors is another short track but probably one of my favorites as it contains a very melodic percussive element and and insurmountable mix of industrialized distortion in the middle section, before settling back into the opening melody for its closing. “Somewhere Beneath The Stars” by Orb Of The Moons is a spectacular display of soundscapes and modular frequency manipulation. Containing more of a Dark Ambient or Black Ambient vibe, this is a very welcomed edition to this collection and goes to show how versatile Guild Of Lore’s music can be when given to the right artist to exploit. Next up is “Night Of Harvest (Swirling Fog In The Walnut Grove Mix)” by Guild Of Lore. Putting another mellow, albeit jazzy spin on this amazing track from the ‘Autumn Macabre’ album, there is also a distinct Crypt Hop tone to it as well that will keep the listeners head nodding throughout. “Hills Of Hoarfrost” by Fogweaver is a lush, somber affair that is full of simplicity and emotion and arranged only in a way that Fogweaver can do. It effectively strikes a heartwarming chord and maintains that stance, especially with the consistency of the rainy field recordings. “Sojourn & Return I & II” by Shrouded Gate showcases an amazing arrangement with downtempo beats, a variety of soundscapes and beautiful, elongated keys that are cinematic in nature. Keeping a steady pace throughout, this is a mesmerizing piece that is easy to get lost in. “Winterstead” by Vaelastrasz is another one of my favorite tracks on Volume II. Keeping more in line with traditional Dungeon Synth, this is a doomy track that crescendo’s and build into a wall of distorted sound consisting of dark colors and bleak occurances. At almost seven minutes long, it’s also the longest track on the album as well. The final track on the album is “A Fireside Contemplation” by Garadrak. Featuring minimalistic Crypt Hop beats and 8-bit synth leads, this is a unique song for the album and a very organic way to close out this two volume compilation. The grooves are exhilarating and harmonious fusion of various keys and effects make this an inspiring piece as well.

What more is there to say about ‘Portals Volume II’ that hasn’t already been translated by the ten vibrant tracks presented within? Although there is a variance of influences between Volume I and II, they are both beautiful recordings and effective in their own rights. Even though ‘Portals Volume II’ has a more intimate approach than Volume I, I recommend this one equally and enjoy these tracks so much. Show your support for Guild Of Lore and all of these amazing contributing artist and download both of these albums for an amazing listening experience.

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Links:

https://guildoflore.bandcamp.com/album/portals-volume-ii

Guild Of Lore Summons Select Mercenaries Of Music To Remix Select Intonations For ‘Portals Volume I’

One of Dungeon Synth’s premiere acts, Guild Of Lore, has culminated quite the following of the past few years. Captivating listeners with tales that span the cold corners of Winterstead to the cultivated lands of Bohollow, Guild Of Lore has amassed an impressive catalog of memorable tunes that inspire, thrill and amaze audiences of multiple genres. Those intonations have now been taken to a new level as the galvanizing releases, ‘Portals Volume I’ and ‘Portals Volume II’, pull together a group of astounding artists to breath new life into some of these Guild Of Lore relics. In this review, I will take a closer look at the ‘Portals Volume I’ album and examine the works that were compiled for this musical adventure.

What better way to start off this journey than with Guild Of Lore, providing an astounding alternate take on “Covenant And Conquest (Paarthurnax Wisdom Mix)”. Impeccable drum beats, soothing ambience and endless melodies assimilate in excessive sound quality and quantity and the end results are tranquil to say the least. “Winter Riders” by Phranick develops into an alternative folk experience with haunting vocal melodies with a retrospective production quality. Never loosing sight of the Dungeon Synth origins of this track, they capture the essence of other genres with supreme transparency. “Pumpkin Pickers Festival” by Fen Walker is a groovy piece that gathers hints of Crypt Hop, whimsical instrumentation and alluring orchestrations. Setting a spectacular mid-paced vibe throughout this track, you’ll be nodding your head in amazement and fascination as multiple music styles continue to mesh together. “A Wondering Path” by Malfet commences with an intrusive drone and inaudible narrations, while a variety of soundscapes paint a vivid, winter scene. This track morphs from ghostly drones to somber melodies and continues to maintain a consoling balance for the duration. “Mouth Of The Murky Abyss” by Lurk is my favorite track of Volume I and embodies every single quality of an unparalleled Crypt Hop song. From catchy melodies, groovy synth patterns and insane drum beats, this one demands multiple replays and epitomizes the goal of this remix album in the first place. Next up is another Guild Of Lore outing in the way of “Peace Be With You (Mighty 8-Bit Hero Mix)”. Addictive, mellow and serene, this track has a calming effect but also has a few surprises to keep it especially interesting. The echoes of the guitar track works well with the 8-bit effects and together, provide a gentle atmosphere of Crossover Dungeon Synth. Next is multi-genre/instrumentalist Francis Roberts with the atmospheric rendition of “Descending Drifter Valley”. Showcasing an astounding ethereal feel, Francis makes this track his own with masterful production, stellar percussion integration and a knack for bringing every instrument and soundscapes to the forefront in a cinematic fashion. “The Long Lodge” by Gondar is a grim, theatrical affair with a soundtrack-like quality. A fascinating blend of ambient tones and Dungeon Synth arrangements, this track is laid back and meant for relaxation more than battle-ready warriors. “Voice Of The Mountain” by Cascadian Lightfall is an elegant composition that combines those wonderoud Guild Of Lore styled field recordings with upbeat percussion and synth leads, essentially turning this delicate track into a buoyant recording. The final track on this album is “Isle Of Mer” by Vandalorum. This track is simply amazing as it favorably modifies the astounding original into a Crypt Hop beast. With gracious synths and atmospherics, the perplexing drum beats play a pivotal role in spicing this one up. A perfect way to end this first volume of prodigious remix tracks.

For ‘Portals Volume I’, Guild Of Lore has done an an unbelievable job at choosing top-rate Dungeon Synth and Crypt Hop artists to participate in this project. The song arrangements and layout are perfect as the listener is made familiar with a wide array of genres and sounds. From upbeat to mellow and jazzy to cinematic, these tracks contain it all and there isn’t a single weakness contained within. If you’re a fan of Guild Of Lore, Dungeon Synth, Crypt Hop and anything in between, don’t miss out on this breathtaking album.

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Links:

https://guildoflore.bandcamp.com/album/portals-volume-i