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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Oestergaards Reveals A Maniacal Take On The End Of A Depressive State Of Mind With ‘Moloken’ EP

Sometimes the battles in our mind are much more difficult to overcome than physical battles. In reality, the emotional scars left behind from the devastating effects of depression and severe anxiety can last a lifetime, whereas most physical scars are only temporary and will fade away over time. Not only do emotional scars have a limitless timeframe, the way everyone deals with their own trauma is a work within itself. Unfortunately, many people unsuccessfully combatant their anguish, but others find solitude in various platforms as a coping mechanism. Oestergaards has found solace with the release of his latest EP, ‘Moloken’, a deep and dark ambient adventures that shows a fortunate escape from the struggles of depression.

On the opening track “Moloken”, industrial-tinged drones pierce through like an endless nightmare. The cavernous tones set forth are equivalent to being strapped to a bed – against your will – in a darkened asylum, where the staff are there to do more harm than good. Barely audible voices can be heard about halfway through, adding a dreadful vibe to this track. “Dihovle (The Whining Of Ordinary People)” has a discordant effect as if it could be an intro to a black metal song. However, that soon changes into a soft drone with light whispers and crystal clear pad sounds as if you’ve been left all alone and are free to leave the toxic environment of the asylum. “Agansam” contains various deep drones and gruesome sounding textures that will leave you with a discomforting feeling as it seems to suddenly end just as it’s getting good. “Assint (In The Name Of Nothing)” is a rather eerie piece as it begins with some distant, heavy breathing followed by a howling wind drone that grows louder and louder while various noises are happening in the background. The final track, “Stavsberget (No Horizon Left)” signals the end of the misery – whether good or bad. Grandiose drones and field recordings dominate throughout and the distorted speech track that can be heard in a few spots is creepy enough to start another anxiety attack. The song ends as if a needle has been stuck at the end of a record that has been playing seamlessly for hours.

Oestergaards has created a very therapeutic recording with ‘Moloken’, but I only wish that the playing time was double in length. This is top quality dark ambient and fans of Neraterræ and Monocube will love this. Although I will definitely be checking out the back catalog from this artist, I can’t wait to see what the future hold as well. Please show your support for this amazing artist and download this album from the link below.

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Beyond The Ghost Invoke The Dark Essence Of Cinematic Elegance With ‘You Disappeared’

Dark Ambient has become one of the most adaptable forms of music around. Although normally known for its minimalistic droning and resourceful use of soundscapes and field recordings, I’ve seen a major shift toward a more cinematic approach to recording. Beyond The Ghost is one of the artists that uses this approach and their Cryo Chamber debut, ‘You Disappeared’ is chock-full of atmospheric & vivid details that could easily find its way on a movie soundtrack. Whereas a lot of dark ambient recordings carry a single theme (or concept) throughout the album, ‘You Disappeared’ has the unique distinction of each track standing on their own and representing a different idea. Each song careens through synchronized sounds led by sonic piano tones, live instruments and chilling ambience that transcends the ordinary bleakness of dark ambience.

“The Day You Lost Your Smile” grimly seeps in as if it’s on a mission to calmly – but abruptly – invade your ear space and fill your headphones with sonic resonance. Like an opening scene of a movie, this track sets out to make an impact statement and it succeeds in getting the mindset in the right direction. “Frozen In Time” radiates with its deep rumbling sounds and orchestrations as if it’s representing a depressing scene of agonizing loss. This track sounds as if it could have been a part of the Full Metal Jacket soundtrack, played in a scene where a horrific battle left many deaths. The albums title track, “You Disappeared” starts with a light drone, complimented with soothing soundscapes, and it slowly builds and shifts tones as if it’s trying to reach a climactic ending but never does. As the listener is left in a state of anxious approach, the song fades out. One of my favorite tracks on the album, “False Idols” starts with a creepy drone that glides from side to side. A soft piano arrangement is introduced and creates a totally bleak atmosphere as if a wintery town is suddenly overtaken by a vast fog and the streets become abandoned as everyone escapes for the warmth and comfort of a close by shelter. “A Bed Of Ashes” is a deep droning track that casually crescendos into an orchestrated score filled with melody and contentment. The deep grumbling of “Smoke And Mirrors” is like a scene from a horror movie. As various soundscapes add additional textures, the feeling of dread and discomfort take over. The addition of alluring live instrumentation creates a limitless boundary of where the imagination continues to flow. “Remembering The World As It Use To Be” is another superb cinematic track that has a ballad quality to it. With a soft Pink Floyd-like piano refrain and light vocal chanting, this is another outstanding musical realm for this album. “Quicksand” is another standout track as it slowly builds from a haunting drone to a captivating canorous anthem. The albums final song, “A Faint Light On The Surface” sounds as if a space ship is in deep space and traveling through a vacuum at speeds so fast, it seems as if they are moving in slow motion. Diverse samples and field recordings flood the song to give it new life and the live instruments stand out as the creative aspects. Although there is a certain beauty to this final track, it is also a rather disturbing piece, fitting in perfectly with the rest of the album.

Not to sound cliche, but Beyond The Ghost just may be part of the new breed of Dark Ambient. Providing much more than deep, epic drones and harsh textures, the songs on ‘You Disappeared’ are full of realistic visuals that span beyond the scope of the imagination. This album is a remarkable addition to the Cryo Chamber family and is a much needed addition to the dark ambient community. Show your support for this first-rate album and download it at the link below.

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There Is No Escaping The Psychotic, Creative Prowess Of Inhum Awz On Stalwart EP, ‘Asylum’

The word Asylum is such a disheartening word. We mostly associate it with the institutionalization of mentally ill patients and the alleged horrors of corruption that come along with it. There have been many stories written, movies released, and documentaries produced that depict the sub-human conditions and atrocities of some of the asylums of the past. However, there is nothing like a good dark ambient album to put you in the right mood, that will provoke a certain relevance to the barbaric surroundings behind the confines of these enigmatic institutions. Inhum Awz has just the soundtrack for properly describing these nightmarish acts with the aptly titled, ‘Asylum’ EP. at nearly thirty minutes long, these four tracks waste no time portraying a concise narrative ranging from immediate consternation to extreme chaos.

The album opener, “Binah” starts with a very creepy vibe and some eerie soundscapes, as if someone is wondering aimlessly down a long, dark corridor of the asylum, looking for patients after a known breakout and escape has occurred. Not knowing what to expect, the wanderer, moves slowly and checks every room although the darkness keeps the details at a minimum. The music’s trance-like effects provides a sense of dread and enables the listener to submit themselves to the inner walls of the asylum as well. Various sounds and noises randomly creep from speaker to speaker, ear to ear, and succeed in putting the listener on edge as what’s next to come. The following track, “Spirale” begins with the thump of a low-end frequency tone followed by a random keyboard run and this repeats several times in a looping pattern. A deep ambient tone and additional soundscapes come into play as if the wanderer now finds themself in a sense of urgency. As they turn the corner down the next corridor, the dim light is replaced with red lights throughout the length of the hallway as well as the rooms. As the wanderer approaches the first room, he notices that it’s completely empty. Then he approaches the second room and it is empty as well, and so is the next, and also the next. This corridor has no patients. They are all gone. The disturbing tone in the music provides an emotional sensation for the listener to contemplate the next move for continued exploration or departing the asylum. Next up is the spectral sounding, “Séphira”. The higher frequency sounds of the synthesizers give this track a very supernatural feel to it, as if the asylum’s only current inhabitants are those of a metaphysical nature. Although there isn’t a lot of droning going on, there certainly is enough abstract keyboard tones to keep up with the creepy vibes of the rest of the album. The final song on this extended play is the minimalistic, “Trinité”. Their track builds like a finale of a TV show or a movie and the constant pounding of the drum is unnerving enough to make anyone want to make an emergency exit out of the asylum and find their way to safety. A subtle growl can also be heard in the background every so often, representing something otherworldly that may stand between sanity and reality. As the song comes to the end, it can be concluded that the ‘Asylum’ is just part of a vicious mental cycle that never ends and there is no escaping for anyone.

Inhum Awz has created a soundtrack full of relevance that properly represents the awful stereotypes of being committed to an asylum. With eerie soundscapes and calamitous keyboard and synth sounds, ‘Asylum’ is thirty minutes of non-stop, angst-filled dark ambience that not only brings the misery, but defines it as well. Italy’s Lake Label has signed another great artist in Inhum Awz and ‘Asylum’ is one of their best releases of the year. Show your support for Lake Label and Inhum Awz by downloading ‘Asylum’ from the link below.

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Top 10 Dark Ambient Releases Of 2019

I’ve been a huge fan of dark ambient for quite some time now but this is the first time that I’ve had to put together a Top 10 list of my favorite albums of the year. If the truth were to be told, this could have easily been a Top 50 list as there were so many exceptional releases this year. Instead, I want to give props to the following 10 amazing albums that have impacted me in multiple ways. Although there were many more astonishing dark ambient albums that were released in 2019, these are the ones that (in my opinion) have set the standard for modern dark ambient.

10. God Body Disconnect – The Mist Between The Mirrors

What a way to start this top 10 list. Right from the opening field recordings and narrative remarks, I knew instantly this was going to be one of my go-to dark ambient albums! Themed around emotional subjects such as disappointment & isolation, this recording is as therapeutic as it is relaxing.

9. Xerxes The Dark – Tower Of Silence

Xerxes The Dark is in my top 5 favorite dark ambient recording artists of all time, but XTD didn’t make my list based on a biased decision. ‘Tower Of Silence’ is simply XTD’s best release to date and one of my most listened to albums this year. Every track is haunting and addictive and will give you the feeling of being trapped in a post-apocalyptic industrial wasteland.

8. Melanohelios – VII: Warmth Within Endless Emptiness

When it comes to space ambient, Melanohelios is one of the best in the business. On ‘VII: Warmth Within Endless Emptiness’, the drones are longer, chilling, and gives the sensation of relentless confinement on a doomed space mission. Seventy two minutes of vacuum filled incarceration will leave your senses void of all intelligible emotions.

7. Ruptured World – Archeoplanetary

I’m such a huge Ruptured World fan and the second album of the Planetary series, ‘Archeoplanetary’ is as good as they come. Whereas most Dark ambient recordings leave room for the listener to provide an imaginative scenario to match the music, Ruptured World prepare a captivating narration throughout the whole recording.

6. øjeRum – Without Blood The Sun Darkens

‘Without Blood The Sun Darkens’ is one of the most haunting and mesmerizing dark ambient albums I’ve ever heard. Consisting of a single, fifty nine minute track of repetitive and impassioned synths and pads, this song is about reflection and memory. This is still one of my favorite meditative albums to listen to.

5. Winterblood – Finsternis

‘Finsternis’ is a very enthralling and hypnotic work of art that will leave you in a trance-like state throughout the hour long recording. Winterblood is like a dark ambient accomplice to the black metal band Paysage D’hiver, as I receive the same type of ardent pleasure from both artists. This album is a MUST HAVE for any true fan of dark ambient.

4. Neraterræ – The Substance Of Perception

Alessio Antoni has summoned an all-star line up for his debut project Neraterræ and the result is the impeccable recording, ‘The Substance Of Perception’. Each track is sonically different, yet they are produced as a seamless dark entity that is fathoms above most others. I cannot wait to hear more from this amazing project!

3. Ager Sonus – Mithra

‘Mithra’ is probably the most musically diverse album in my top 10. Taking us back to Ancient Rome, Ager Sonus uses subtle stringed instruments and grandiose drones to create a vision of enchantment and fascination. I still listen to this album on a weekly basis and although it was released in March, it continues to grab my attention with each and every listen.

2. Monocube – Substratum

Monocube has to be the dark ambient sleeper artist of the year. With almost no attention drawn to this album prior to its release, I downloaded it solely based on the reputation of the Cyclic Law label lineup. One of the best decisions I made all year, as ‘Substratum’ is a mammoth of an album. The hollow – but frightening – drones will make you feel claustrophobic and uneasy and will leave you with a sense of uncontrollable anxiety. Although very minimal and austere, I tend to find new ambitious elements every time I listen to it.

1. Metatron Omega – Evangelikon

Metatron Omega is another one of my favorite dark ambient artists and anytime there is a new release available, it’s an instant purchase from me. ‘Evangelikon’ is a mastercraft in ritualistic dark ambient music with beautiful Gregorian-style chanting and unnerving drones. I listen to this album continually and it’s without a doubt my favorite dark ambient album of the year.