Audioalias Fuse Elements Of Downtempo and Drum & Bass To Form Mystifying Electronic Ambience On The Intelligent Offering, ‘Birds Of Prey’ EP

The atmospheric sounds of ambient music is a transcendent phenomenon. Although it doesn’t (normally) contain a rhythmic beat or percussive pattern, this mainly texturally layered music is mixed with soundscapes and the occasional field recording to produced an empowered and emotional music brand that is very addictive. However, due to the open-ended realm of the song compositions, it leaves a lot of room for experimentation and genre mixing. That being said, what do you get when you take the rooted consistency of ambient and combine it with the smooth vibes of downtempo and drum & bass music? You get the supreme recordings of Audioalias, the experimental electronic project from Melbourne, Australia, and on ‘Birds Of Prey’, you get four songs of magnificent electronic culture that combines the dreamy elements of ambient & soundscapes with the upbeat and rhythmic pulses of downtempo music.

To get things started on this EP, “Awkward Serenity” fades in with a looped drum beat and low end bass lines. Simple but effective digital piano arrangements can be heard providing a melodic balance. Additional sounds and keyboard effects augments random spots throughout, creating a spacious groove. The title track, “Birds Of Prey” begins with a haunting keyboard segment that loops, providing a cadence for the harrowing bass and beat to catch up with. Once all in sync, this fluid jam lay ground to additional sounds, tones and catchy vocal lines. Just as your mind and soul start to sink into the music hysteria, it fades out to the end of the track. “Port Park” has moments of darkwave and synthwave, showing versatility and the willingness to cross additional musical paths. Aside from a couple of spots of spoken word samples, there is a lot of looping elements to this track with some beautiful mixing moments. This one is probably my favorite song on the album. The final track, “Waiting For You” contains the most ambience as well as some killer vocal effects. This track is a slow builder, as it layers instrumentations and sounds practically one at a time until there is a conglomerate of musical ideas going on that form a chilling and climactic ending. This really gives me something to look forward to with future releases from Audioalias.

I really like the direction that Audioalias is going with electronic experimentation. Having the ability to combine elements from multiple genres of music takes talent and skill and there is no doubt that Audioalias has both. Audioalias also recently conducted an interview with Emanate Community, where he discussed his inspirations, collaborations and recording gear. I’ve included that interview link below so please check it out as it’s a wonderful read! In the meantime, you can check out ‘Birds Of Prey’ by clicking on the Bandcamp link below.

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Links:

https://audioalias1.bandcamp.com/album/birds-of-prey

Audioalias Interview With Emanate:

View at Medium.com

Gladden Fields Deliver The Sounds Of Forlorn With ‘Menace Of Despair’

I’m sure that if you’re reading this review – and being a fan of Dungeon Synth – you must be familiar with the Battle Of The Gladden Fields in the third age of the Lord Of The Rings universe. This was a very prominent battle, as Isildur and his escorts were ambushed by a group of Orcs and the Ring of Power was subsequently lost in the river Anduin. Gladden Fields is also the name of a UK-based Dungeon Synth artists that paints a harrowing picture of this great battle with his eerily composed music. The five tracks offered up on his latest effort, ‘Menace Of Despair’ uncannily resembles what the scene must have been like just minutes before that viscous attack by the Orcs, as the calm and soothing arrangements are topped with apprehensive orchestrations and somber melodies. Like the silent attack of the Orcs, these tunes are a mere decoy of an evil presence lurking behind the unknown.

Right from the opening looming soundscapes, the lead off the track, “Menace Of Despair” sets the stage for enemies lurking in vast terrain, as the tranquilizing synths crescendo ever so slightly while crossing into enemy territory is eminent. The slight use of percussion adds a frightening aspect as well. “Winter Sun” has a melancholic tone played throughout, with spots of despondent yet harmonic keys to add the slightest twist of darkness to the mix. “Through Poisoned Waters” has a deep, manic sound and shows restraint in its delivery. As the superbly timed percussive elements play in the background, I imagine an aphotic scene, just before the chaos occurs. The orchestrations in this track are simple, yet written amazingly well. “Helcaraxë” has a very old school, organic dungeon synth feel to it. The key arrangements are layered well and continue to build as the song progresses to the end. The albums final track, “Wall Of Night” begins with a very impending, dark ambient vibe and adds malevolent soundscapes throughout as this is the finale leading to up to the attack of the Orcs. This track represents full-on chaotic darkness with no chance of turning back.

Gladden Field is an extremely impressive Dungeon Synth artist that meticulously tells a story with his music. Although named after one of the great battles in one of the best and most famous stories ever written, Gladden Fields does the name justice by creating a soundtrack-like atmosphere with ‘Menace Of Despair’. If this album doesn’t put you in the mood for a great middle earth adventure, then I don’t know what will. Please support this fascinating artist and downing ‘Menace Of Despair’ from the link below.

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Links:

https://gladdenfields.bandcamp.com/album/menace-of-despair

Eyre Transmissions IV: Interview with Visionary Dark Ambient Artist, Ruptured World

My love for the dark ambient genre goes back several decades. Although admittedly I started off as just a casual listener, I soon found a love for the eerie soundscapes & deep, ritualistic drones and the emotional state they put me in. Through the years, there have been many artists that have captivated me with their musical ventures, but one that stands out amongst my favorites is Ruptured World. Seamlessly combining dark ambient, piano sounds, and scripted narrations, Ruptured World emerges as a unique entity in a genre known mainly for its minimalism. Additionally, Ruptured World was one of the artists that inspired me to begin writing this blog and ‘Archeoplanetary’ became my very first review. I recently had an opportunity to interview Alistair Rennie – the artist behind Ruptured World – to find out the methods and inspirations behind his visionary craft.

1. First of all, thanks for the opportunity to conduct this interview. In 2019, you continued with the “Planetary” series and released the extremely impressive ‘Archeoplanetary’. Not only was it one of the first reviews for my site, it was also listed in my Dark Ambient Top 10 albums of last year. What what’s the writing/recording process like for this album? Do you have any plans to continue on with this series?

The process is one that starts off with a few nebulous ideas that begin to assume a more direct focus once the music and narrative elements start to form, and then it just starts to fall together and gather a momentum almost of its own.

Once the ideas begin to crystalize and take shape, I think that’s when I start to organise the music and spoken word narrative in more direct correlation with each other.

I never start with fully formulated ideas or a written narrative for the music to be written to. I find that too much planning in advance takes some of the excitement out of it. It’s a bit like getting spoilers before watching a film. So I try and leave room to allow for a certain degree of spontaneity. In saying that, once the first version of an album is done, I’ll go back over it making significant revisions and changes from start to finish. The idea or vision of the work gets clearer and more refined that way, until you have the completed work.

2. One thing that stands out for Ruptured World is the heavy use of commentary and spoken word. What influenced you to incorporate this into your brand of dark ambient?

It really comes from my activities as a writer. I write genre fiction (science fiction, horror and fantasy) and have a novel published and some short stories out there, mainly with US-based publishers and magazines. So it was very natural for me to create narratives that I could adapt to music through spoken word. Dark Ambient tends to be cinematic in terms of its characteristics, so it seemed a very obvious and quite normal thing to do.

3. Dr. Archibald Macrae is such a dignified and compelling character. What kind of research (if any) went into honing this character and his vast knowledge of archeology?

I have a good knowledge of ancient culture in Scotland, and, especially, the North of Scotland where I grew up. So I was able to feed a lot of that into the story through the character of Macrae. All of the places and some of the artefacts referred to in the album actually exist and serve as a basis for the fictional elements to be built on. These are places that I know intimately, some of them featuring also in my family history. So the knowledge mostly comes from lived experience and absorbing and learning over time rather than research. In saying that, I have studied aspects of the Picts at university, so there’s also some formal research that’s gone into it.

4. So, when you’ve created the albums of the “Planetary” series, do you write the music or narrations first?

I’ll start with the music but the narration starts to form alongside the music quite rapidly. It seems to happen as part of the same eruption of materials, overall, driven by the same impulse, both emerging simultaneously. I think there will be some music that has been created first, perhaps something that emerges from new material I’m working on, or something that rises out of periods of experimentation, that stands out and starts to go in a particular direction. And then the words and music will occur simultaneously. At a later point, I’ll start to do the vocal recordings and work on integrating those into the music using the appropriate sound design techniques.

5. I think I follow you on just about all of the major social media platforms and you seem to do a lot of field recordings. How important is this to your music?

This actually follows on nicely from the previous question. I’m now finding that field recordings have a much greater influence on how the music starts off and takes shape. It’s become one of the crucial elements of the music and is increasingly central to much of what I aim to do. In more recent stuff I’ve produced, I’ve aimed to capture the atmospheric detail of specific locations and to use this as the core sound around which to develop the music. I’ve also started making short video productions in which this music is featured, bringing everything together in one setting of audio-visual representation.

Field Recording Mission in New Aberdour, Scotland

6. Where are some of your favorite places to record sounds?

There are certain locations around the coastline of the Northeast of Scotland where there are all sorts of rock features, including wave cut platforms, sea stacks and sea caves, where I’ve started collecting some fantastic ocean sounds from fascinating acoustic settings. It’s a common subject matter in field recording but for a good reason. We never tire of hearing water and the sounds of the sea. The specific kinds of rock formations will present unique sounds and amplifications. The sea caves are my favourite, though. As you can imagine, the way the sounds of the sea resonate within these enclosed geological spaces is fascinating. And I’ll often create additional sounds and percussive sounds using whatever stones and aquatic vegetation presents itself within the caves.

I also like to go inland towards the mountainous areas, particularly in and around the Cairngorm mountains. The glens and hillsides present all sorts of interesting sounds to capture. There’s a lot of wildlife making some great noise. There are rivers and streams constantly flowing. The plant life makes an abundance of sounds you’d never imagine until you actually start listening through field recording.

It’s also a good idea to take things with you to record in the outdoor spaces. Instruments will always sound incredible when you play them outside. And so will playing a digital synth through a portable amp or speakers.

7. You also seem to have a high regard for the visual aspect to your work. Does this also influence the mood of your music?

I’d say it was the other way round, certainly where video is concerned. It’s more the case that the music influences and often shapes the editorial choices and stylistic tenor of the video-making.

8. Speaking of visual art, you have a keen eye for photography and videography. Do you do this as a hobby, or incorporate it into your business ventures?

With video, it’s more like an extension of the music, really, with a definite aim of making it part of the whole aesthetic. It’s something I’m working on more, now, and something I’ve had some formal training in, which always helps.

That’s not the case with photography, which is more of a supplementary activity, always good for putting online. In saying that, I have a friend (one of a few mysterious accomplices of Ruptured World!) who is a very fine photographer with a great knowledge and approach in what he does. Those really great photos you can see on my Instagram page, for example, are his. He did the photo for the cover of “Frontiers of Disorder” on the Ruptured World Bandcamp page.

The not so good photos, the ones taken on a cell phone and put through a filter, those are ones that I’ve taken. I try to take photographs of some of the places I go to for field recording or video footage trips, just to share for interest and fun. Fans of Dark Ambient are almost always people who have an interest in the natural world. So anything I can capture of any atmospheric or dramatic scenes, I’ll put it online in the hope it’s of interest.

9. Getting back to your music; What is your recording setup like? Do you use mainly VST’s, analog/digital equipment, analog instruments, or a combination of them all.

It’s a combination of different things—digital synths, a lot of sampling of sounds, voices and acoustic instruments, as well as objects. A lot of the piano sounds I’ll use are recorded live on a really nice Roland digital piano I’ve got. It can bring some really good room ambience, and sometimes the noise of the keys, that I really like, giving it a sort of haunted feel. Samples and sounds derived from field recordings, as well as voice samples, are things I use more and more. I have some percussion instruments, too. I’ll have some core sounds or samples that I tend to use regularly, but with lots of room for experimentation and trying out new things.

10. Other than your Ruptured World project, do you have any other main musical ventures?

Just Ruptured World! I did dabble with some horrorsynth stuff a while back, and it’s a type of music I enjoy. But it’s not where my interests lie, really.

11. I know that you recently contributed to the ‘Hastur’ Cryo Chamber collaboration album – which was phenomenal by the way. Have you been featured on any other collaboration projects?

Glad you enjoyed it! I haven’t yet featured on any other collaborations, but there may be a couple of things in the pipeline to look out for!

12. Do you have any recording plans for 2020?

Yes, I’ve actually got another “Planetary” album currently under production, so look out for that one. And I’m also working on music for video productions like the ones I’ve already produced and put on YouTube, with an aim to putting together an album at some time in the future. And there’s one or two top secret collaborations that may soon be underway. So a few things going on.

13. I really appreciate you taking the time to answer these questions. Do you have any final thought for anyone that may be reading this?

My pleasure. Thank you! I would just encourage people to keep listening, keep supporting the artists, and keep searching the skies for the gods of Dark Ambient, who must surely be out there, watching over us as we speak.

Links:

https://rupturedworld.bandcamp.com

http://alistairrennie.com

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

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

Harrogat Takes A Bold And Restrained Approach With Supremely Minimalistic Drones On ‘Pandemonium’

The term Pandemonium has several distinct meanings. The first definition that may come to mind is sheer and utter chaos, to the point where anarchy and uncivilized disorder can no longer be maintained or controlled. However, there is another meaning that is equally, if not more horrifying than the aforementioned. It is the habitat of a gathering of demons, simply known as hell. The characteristic for this definition is that the word Pandemonium is typically spelled out in all caps, is in the latest offering by Harrogat. ‘Pandemonium’ is a deep space, minimalistic narrative that will haunt you with its extended drones and creepy vibes. With a playing time of an hour and forty six minutes, this journey to hell will be a slow, agonizing descent, as Harrogat is determined to test sanity of all who are doomed

“Morning Star” is like the calm before the storm as the warm drones take you from a serene and peaceful existence into a realm of uncertainty. Like the dawn of a hazy sun on the distant horizon, this song gets brighter and continues to add more texture as it ebb and flows with soft velocity. The warmth ends there, however, as “Caronte” starts down the dark and grim path toward the evil destination. With field recordings that resemble the swaying and rocking of an old, wooden vessel, the drones in this track continue to build in layers, as if it is crossing the river Styx to deliver lost souls to the gate to the underworld. “Dite” continues to play on the psyche with eccentric pad effects on top of buried, rhythmic drones. During this twelve and a half minute bludgeoning affair, the tone stays constant for the most part but every so often, a frequency shift in the back end drones – which are barely audible at times – breath both life and death into this morbid manifestation. “Your Shadow, Your Name” features some towering soundscapes that provide an eerie depth to the overall theme for this album. Just like the deliverance of souls to the gates of Hades, this track signifies that there is no turning back and that the entrapped souls now belong to eternal abyss. “God’s Hypocrisy” uses broad soundscapes to set a true feeling of emptiness. It’s like a bleak space ambient tune set in a blackened void, where there is no sense of time or speed. “Evocation Of Lucifer” begins quiet and reserved but soon crescendos into an accelerated drone as if there is no inevitable way of escaping an anxiety-filled battle with faith. Random soundscapes in the background bridge the monotonous apex reached by the massively layered low-end noises. “The Death Of God” is a near twelve minute track of harrowing polar ambient sounds, set out to soothe the subconscious as the darkness prevails all around. There are several spots of inaudible spoken word recordings that are a cause for concern and angst. “The Shape” is a soundtrack-worthy ambient tune that provides a dark and emotional prelude to the massive ending for which is about to happen. The final track on the album, “Pandemonium” isn’t just the final stretch of the journey to hell, it is a colossal forty four and a half minute epidemic of dark ambient wizardry that sets the bar for long-play ambient tracks. Combining elements of dark, space and polar ambient, “Pandemonium” is a high-caliber dirge that is relentless from start to finish. The massive drone sounds escalate in volume, only to decrease – at times – to make way for other insanely penetrable commotions. At around the eight minute mark, the cacophonous space drones give way to a singular, grim polar ambient tone, deviating from an interstellar theme and bringing it back to and icy cold vibe. Incidental soundscapes push the boundaries of this section and give it a rather frightening foundation. At around the eighteen and a half minute mark, a barely audible deep frequency plagues the airwaves in a sense that it gives off an almost warping effect. It’s soon followed by added synthesizers, making it an absolutely gloomy section to fathom. At around the twenty nine minute mark, the reluctant droning tone is not as dark as usual but is in a subdued state, as if preparing the listener for a climactic ending. That’s exactly what the final four minutes of this track are, as luminous synths provide a final touch of melody and volume, like the souls finally reaching their gruesome destination of ‘Pandemonium’.

Harrogat has conceived quite an impressive album with ‘Pandemonium’. Not only does it take you on a spiritual, ritualistic and emotional journey, but there is enough depth to each track to provide a sense of realistic vision for the quest that is intended for the album. With each new album that is released, Harrogat’s exposure to the dark ambient elements become more impressive. This album is mind-blowing in the sense that it is nearly two hours long and the detail throughout doesn’t seem to repeat itself. Show your support for this exemplary artist and download ‘Pandemonium’ from the link below.

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Links:

https://lakelabel.bandcamp.com/album/pandemonium

The Gloomy Intonations On ‘Archana’s Tales’ By Archana, Forges An Ominous Feudal Presence

Imagine an endless journey where the spectacles of nature inhabit the majority of your adrenaline-filled stimulation. As you cross boundless and threatening topography, your preparedness for battle is like no other, but fortunately the paths of the unknown have brought little to no campaign, limiting the possibility for senseless bloodshed. However, along the way, the dim and gloomy passage has brought on a variety of other undiscovered aspects. Welcome to ‘Archana’s Tales’, the somber yet soothing soundtrack for an unknown expedition filled with the unexpected and unexplained.

Like a pack of travelers hiking gallantly through a field of dreams, “Archana’s Tales” bold keyboard arrangements are the perfect opening sounds to this album. As if the morning dawn has signaled for the time to press forward with this harrowing journey, the lush key tones play a Medieval pattern that remain promising and victorious. Although the overall vibe is calming, there are a lot of layers and elements to give it a broad, ethereal sound. “Decorated Blade” is a great forest synth track that is very dreamy and distant. However, don’t let that fool you from the plethora of synth activity that is happening, as there is a lot of melodies combining to make this a great track. “Wayward In The Brume” is a mournful piece, as the main keyboard arrangement sounds like a dirge played at an ancient funeral. “Fray” begins like an anthem played at a kingdoms’ gate upon the arrival of the king after being away for battle. Not straying from the main cords, it’s meant to signal the return of the ruler, and this short piece succeeds in fulfilling that objective. “Mother Moon” is full of harmony and melody right from the start and provides a sense of warmth while envisioning a journey that crosses over into darkness, slowly fading from dusk as the sun sets off in the distance. “Boreal Kingdom” is one of my favorite tracks on the album due to the discordant key arrangement and the droning synth tones in the background. The final track on the album, is the near fourteen minute long “The Hyetal Shore”. Starting with some simple keyboard tones and rain field recordings, this is just a simple precursor to this well-rounded and excellent track. At around the six minute mark, the pace picks up a bit and more key arrangements are added to give a symphonic sound. There is still that Medieval element to the overall feel to this recording but this track is wonderfully composed in several sections to give it that grandiose appeal. The final few minutes of the song closes out with the continuance of the rain and occasional thunder sound, with a nice keyboard texture that signifies that the end is near.

Archana has composed and produced a rather unique dungeon synth offering with ‘Archana’s Tales’. This is somber forest synth at its best. There is nothing fancy or extravagant on this release, as it’s not needed. Simple keyboard arrangements and minimal use of field recordings are all it takes to draw the listener in and keep them captivated for the duration of the recording. When the songwriting is that powerful, that is all that is needed. Show your support for this amazing artist and download ‘Archana’s Tales’ from the link below.

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Links:

https://archana.bandcamp.com/album/archanas-tales-3

Sun Addicted Family Ascend The Elements Of Atmosphere And Experimentation On Powerhouse Avant-garde Debut, ‘Solar Dreams’

I love the element of surprise, especially when it comes to music. However, due to the fact that I’m such a big fan of so many styles, I’m rarely caught off guard when multi-genre’s clash to form an experimental project that’s worth listening to. On occasion though, there have been encounters that weren’t meant to be and are better left alone and unheard of. However, there are times when everything just clicks and the songwriting is beyond captivating and the emotional charge cannot be matched. A project like this that has recently caught my attention is Sun Addicted Family. Auspiciously blending genres such as black metal, shoe-gaze, ambient, post-metal, and space rock, Sun Addicted Family seamlessly ties all of these together with masterful songwriting and with such strong emotion, you’ll find yourself listening to their debut album, ‘Solar Dreams’ over and over again.

The audacious album opener, “Solar”, fuses in haunting ambient keys, drum pads and strumming guitars right from the start. Distant clean vocals can be heard for a few bars before a powerful guitar riff forces its way in the mix. The synth arrangements have a strong shoe-gaze feel in this track, as it blissfully adds a nice layer of ambience throughout the whole song. At around the four and a half minute mark, the speed picks back up, with some black metal screams and wonderful melodic riffs. “Signals” is a slower, looming track with exquisitely layered keys that match the melody of the distorted guitar riffs rather well. The inaudible, harsh vocals are like an additional instrument in this track, and sound great in the spots they are added. The main riff is mesmerizing and you will find yourself drifting off into otherworldly places. The last minute of this song is one of my favorite moments on the album. “Orbit” is a ten minute instrumental track that showcases the atmospheric side of Sun Addicted Family. Leaning heavily on ambient tones and elongated drones, it is full of melodic and impassioned moments that will draw you in from the opening sound and will fill you with copious amounts of emotional feelings. At around the seven minute mark, when the clean keyboard notes begin to play, you will again be whisked away, as this section is so beautiful to listen to. “Levitate” begins with a soft, clean guitar riff, complimented with a drum pad sound. Soon, a grandiose keyboard arrangement fills the atmosphere, providing a majority of the melody. We are also graced with more clean vocals that have a distant & dreamy sound. At about the halfway mark, the atmospheric keyboards fade away, leaving a basic guitar and keyboard sound. However, this is just a preamble to more black metal style vocals and post-metal rhythms as they pummel their way into the song. The final song on the album, “Luna” begins with great atmospheric keyboard tones and then a full on post-metal onslaught begins. The harsh vocals have a very eerie & distant feeling to them, especially when combined with the melodic styling of the music. At about the four minute mark, the music temporarily calms to a relaxing guitar riff and a memorable drum beat before picking up for one final sonic assault.

‘Solar Dreams’ is a fantastic debut album by Sun Addicted Family and it’s apparent right from the beginning, they aren’t afraid to take chances, nor are they holding anything back. No genre seems to be off limits and no form of music is safe, as it all can be manipulated and fused into an experimental and super emotional track that only Sun Addicted Family can produce. This has turned out to be one of my favorite albums to listen to so far this year and I highly recommend this for anyone that loves ambient music and metal and who also has an open mind. Please show your support for this exceptional artist and download ‘Solar Dreams’ from the link below.

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Links:

https://sunaddictedfamily.bandcamp.com

Obsidian Towers Takes Us Back To Dark, Medieval Times On ‘The Call Of Black Majesty’

Although the gallant ways of Medieval times are behind us, we can thank the profusion of dungeon synth artists – that keep that spirit alive – by serenading us with the symphonic tones that are reminiscent of those valiant days. Even though there are many artists that step out and add modern innovations and twists to their craft, some tend to keep the vibe old school and that’s ok by me. One of those artists is Obsidian Towers. Gracing us with their debut EP of dark dungeon music, ‘The Call Of Black Majesty’ is an enigmatic offering of raw dungeon synth that is a compelling listen.

“The Call Of Black Majesty (Part I)” begins with a grand keyboard intro that sees heavy use of multiple notes played with a distorted element to give it that retro feel. This twelve plus minute track add layers of solo style keys that illuminate a glorious harmony that can be heard throughout. Irresistible as it is relentless, this track doesn’t let up from start to finish and would serve as a proper welcome home anthem for wounded warriors and knights returning to their kingdom after honoring their king in battle. The second and final track on this EP, “The Call Of Black Majesty (Part II)”, is an almost nine minute magnum opus that has the sound of victory. With much of the same premise of the first track – heavy lower keys combined with higher pitched keys playing a solo like canticle – the overall tone for this one is not as dark and doesn’t represent demise. Instead, it’s a call to order after a victory for the kingdom.

If ‘The Call Of Black Majesty’ is a proper introduction of the direction of Obsidian Towers, then they will be a force to be reckoned with in the dungeon synth community. Although, I fully support and love the innovation of expanding the dungeon synth sound, there is nothing better than that good ole Medieval vibe when listening to dungeon synth in the raw. Sometimes stepping out means stepping back and that’s exactly what Obsidian Towers has done on this EP. I highly recommend checking out this album and supporting this superb artist.

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Links:

https://obsidiantowers.bandcamp.com/releases