Sombre Arcane Release Enthralling New Video For “Ancestral Seat Of The Barovian Scourge”

The dungeon keeper duo from Massachusetts, otherwise known as Sombre Arcane, have recently premiered a breathtaking video of their ritualistic performance of “Ancestral Seat Of The Barovian Scourge”, originally released on the Wrought Records compilation, ‘The Reliquary Of Terror’. The ceremonial ambiance and medieval appeal is awe-inspiring and the musical creativity is dark, moody, and downright genius. Check out the video below and also download the Wrought Records compilation (link below) as well.

https://wroughtrecords.bandcamp.com/album/the-reliquary-of-terror

Link:

https://sombrearcane.bandcamp.com

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrrQxo5jsCMFXaJ4Xott5WA

Eyre Transmissions VIII: Interview With Hungarian Dark Ambient Producer, Blackweald

Each and every year the Dark Ambient community continues to grow and the unexplored regions of intransigent frequency modulations expand beyond expectation. For a genre of such minimalistic underlying components, I’m continually impressed by the deluge of artist that maximizes their creative efforts with such a massive output. One of those artists – that caught my attention this year – is Hungarian Dark Ambient producer, Blackweald. With a handful of monumental albums already released in 2020, it was only fitting that I reach out to him and find out what creates the power and ingenuity behind this dark force. Please enjoy this very informative interview and then go download some Blackweald, and enjoy!

1. Before we get into Blackweald, tell me a little about your musical background, starting from your earliest memories (if possible).

When I was young, I was into Hungarian hip-hop and punk acts. I was amazed by how much energy one can draw from music, and also realized that there are feelings, atmospheres, thoughts that one cannot properly transfer by just words, but these translate quite well in music. 

Then I got into thrash metal by my friends, and later, when I dug deeper and bought a few black metal cassettes, I immediately knew that “This is it!”. It was in the mid-90s, so practically before the widespread usage of the Internet. Since no one around me like this genre, I had to dig deep to find bands on my own, order cassettes, etc.

Before there was Blackweald

As I got older, I really got into industrial, dark electro, experimental music, drone, etc., I learned that each genre has its artists that are producing music on the “negative” side of the spectrum. Like, one might hear upbeat electronic music, and think “fuck all this disco crap”, but then upon hearing an aggrotech act, realizes that “techno” can be done with aggressive vocals, eerie melodies, hard-hitting beats, and suddenly, it appeals to him. In the same vein, not all hip-hop artists are playing gangster rap or mumble rap. Or like, I always thought I hated doom metal, but in reality, I just dislike the heavy metal vocal style and the melancholic vibe. If it’s oppressive and harsh like Indian’s For All Purity, I adore it. So I like music regardless of genre, if it has a nasty/primal/negative/… vibe.

Nowadays, my current favorites, Irkallian Oracle, Nocternity, Svartsyn (the black metal one), Triumvir Foul,  Kriegsmaschine, Ævangelist, Ghostmane, Converge, etc. This, and a crapload of Hungarian hip-hop artists.

2. It seems like a lot of Dark Ambient musicians come from a metal background (or some other extreme form of music), why do you think this is?

I’d rather think that many people who are into dark music, be it dark ambient, dark electro or various experimental genres, these people are open-minded enough to listen to dark music regardless of genre. They’d eventually stumble upon several metal acts, and if they don’t specifically dislike distorted guitars, they’ll find some of the darkest atmospheres in music.
 
People who can sit down and enjoy a long, monotone dark ambient album are often the same people who enjoy a two hours long Swans album, or monotone black metal riffing. So I think the “goal” of these artists is very similar, even if the instrumentation is vastly different.

It’s also interesting how the scene building works for different genres (besides labels and press). Metal bands tend to do splits or concerts together, hip-hop artists like to get featured on each other releases. I wondered how it works for Dark Ambient, and quickly learned that it’s compilations and collaborations.

Cover art for ‘I Saw The Devil’ by Jorge Iracheta

3. Do you remember the moment that motivated you to become a Dark Ambient musician?

As pretentious as it sounds, I wanted to make music that I could not find elsewhere. Stuff I would enjoy listening to. Concepts that I would be interested in. 

I’m not saying that what I’m doing is the pinnacle of originality, rather it’s about “I’d love to listen to a space ambient concept album about my favorite cosmonaut” or “damn, I’d love to listen to this or that kind of drone sound.”, etc.

Actually releasing music is also a good motivator to close and seal these compositions. I’m sure most musicians know the “Art is never finished, only abandoned.” feeling. The more hours you are putting either into the mixing or mastering, the more you are seeing diminishing returns, so eventually, it has to stop. When I’m putting stuff out, I never have a “I would not change a single thing in this!” feeling, but I’m okay with that.

Of course releasing music that is selfishly created is contradictory, but hey, that’s what most musicians do.

I’ve been contacted with a few publishers and micro-labels, but so far, I declined these opportunities, to fully keep my independence.

4. Who are some of your influences in the Dark Ambient genre?

Although I have many favorites in the genre (Cryo Chamber Collaborations, Creation VI, Vestigial,…..) , most of the influences on this project are rather from different genres. Let me list a few.

Earth, who pioneered the drone metal genre. Dylan Carlson is my single biggest influence on the drone and minimalist aspect of music and both Earth2 and Hex are all-time favorites of mine.

Godflesh, not necessarily musically, but on how mixing different elements of genres can create something very unique. I mean, who would have thought that putting heavy guitars on half-assed hip-hop beats will create such an industrial vibe, that it will pioneer a whole new genre.

Swans’ later period, for their eclecticity, mixing noise rock, folk and ambient, and generally a ritual vibe with their music. Seeing these old people playing a punishing three hours long live show changed my mind regarding metal not being the heaviest music. 

Burzum, when Vikernes really brought ambient close together with black metal. Not with his ambient tracks! Just the way he composed his metal tracks and creates an ambient like atmosphere with metal instruments. 

For the ritual aspect, my main influences are Aghast, Zero Kama and Forest Silence.

5. You’ve mentioned the Swans several times and also Godflesh – two bands that I love very much. To me, both of these bands are one-of-a-kind, in that their sound is undeniably theirs, and they seem to incorporate so many different genre’s and sounds without loosing their audience or fan base. As a musician, why do you think this is, and what type of impact has that had on you with expanding your musical boundaries?

Both are led by uncompromising individuals and were highly influential back then. I gotta say, considering they are still relevant today, they are both even underrated, although Godflesh is well-known in the metal scene due to their notorious first record. I think both band’s fanbases are built upon the fact that they are meandering in style, at least that’s the case for me. Expecting the unexpected for such a bands new record is part of the thrill.

I feel sorry for bands that are bashed by their own fans when they explore further musically. Be it Mayhem with Grand Declaration of War or Bring Me The Horizon with Amo. Each new genre in music came to life by having outrageous ideas. Eg. Let’s deliberately crank this guitar amp up until it distorts. Such experiments are fine, even if they fail.

As for Blackweald, it only means that I fearlessly try out techniques, often disregarding if even I will later like it. I often let things “just happen” when composing, and go forward with “mistakes”. If I don’t actively hate it, I keep it like that. I have failed experiments (eg. Patricia), and I’m okay with that. Pieces sometimes just put themselves together, maybe in a bad way, time will always tell.

While at this topic, I think listeners who are throwing away music that they don’t love at first sight, are heavily missing out. Many of my favorites are bands or albums that I initially did not get or I thought “yeah, it might be good, but it’s not for me”.

6. There are many styles in the Ambient arena so when you first became a Dark Ambient musician did you do a lot of experimentation until you found the right formula and sound that represented Blackweald?

I think I will never find “the right formula” and I do not even have the intention to do so.  I don’t even mind if the sounds end out to be very different to what I initially had in mind. 

This is why I like compilation works. I happily took part in 3 of these so far, and really liked the restrictions that the thematic guidelines, song length limit and release deadline had put on me. It knocks me out of my workflow or offers a concept I haven’t even thought of.

7. Please tell us about the name Blackweald. How did you come up with the name and what does it represent?

The name is a foolish play around the name of one of my favorite black metal projects, Hate Forest.

I had the same approach with the name as with the music. Not striving for perfection, just having something that’s good enough.

8. When going in to make an album, do you always have a particular theme in mind, or do you just “see what happens” as you create the music?

I always have a thematic concept in mind, and often a musical one as well. Moreover, when I’m “covering” a real life story, as with “She and the Devil’s Sons” and “Leonov”, I already have the narrative concept in mind.

Eg. with “She and the Devil’s Sons”, the story is given, so I only had to piece together how I would musically represent each part. So I figured, there should be some ominous strings with carriage sounds for the part when she is being taken away (that part is an homage to one of the intro songs of early Carpathian Forest). Then some castle prison ambience for the imprisonment, some female vocals and unearthly growls for the pact her witch-nanny makes with the devil, etc.

Same approach with “Leonov”, I knew I wanted to begin with some heavy industrial sounds, representing Koralev as the “Grand Constructor”; then the lift-off of their spaceship with some propaganda music in the background; long space-ish drones for orbiting Earth; majestic choirs and samples of Leonov speaking during the actual EVA; something frightful when he fails to re-enter the spaceship; rattling machine sounds for the re-entry; and finally some winter ambient as they struggle to keep alive in the taiga, waiting to be rescued.

The problem artistically with these narrative concepts, is that you lock yourself into many things. Sure, you have room to experiment sound-wise, but the album or single has to represent the story. You cannot just skip parts of it, or add something that does not fit there narratively. Still, it’s a lot of fun to work on these.

For the rest of my material, even when there isn’t a real-life story behind the concept, it’s still the thematic concept that comes first, which immediately makes the musical concept clear for me as well.

9. Do you use physical equipment or computer-based VST’s (or a combination of both), when producing and recording your music?

It’s mostly digital equipment, although I sometimes use my acoustic and electric guitars. A good chunk of it is audio manipulation of misc. samples.

Eg. Under the Moon of the Dead Pig was made solely from samples (namely FreshFabrik, Keep of Kalessin, Hate Forest, Sunn O))), Shahmen, Zero Kama, Korn, Johan Johansson, Hildur Guðnadóttir, Tsatthoggua, Prodigy, Wolvennest, Zombie Girl). Not a single original sound was used on that album, but I also did not use any VSTs. Just cutting, looping, pitch-shifting, stretching, filtering, etc. Then there is the opposite side, like “I Saw the Devil”, where I played most of the tunes myself on synth, and manipulated those.

I have to note that I pretty much work in a “no budget” way, hence the lo-fi production. I have an old PC and a broken midi controller. I don’t even have a proper sound card, just an integrated one. I’m often recording on my phone. I’m using two headphones, a 30$ one and a 3$ one. I’m just using what I have.

Any art has two components, idea and execution. I’m not short on ideas, so I have to work on getting the execution part right. I’m trying to focus on getting the craft right, and not focusing too much on the tools themselves.

10. Do you have any other musical projects that you are currently working on or is Blackweald an exclusive endeavor?

I’m doing vocals and playing guitar in a black/death metal cover band. This purely “analog” way of playing music is a perfect companion to the (currently) mostly digital nature of BlackWeald.

Besides music, I also like to write short horror stories, but as a non-native speaker of English, it’s quite a struggle.

11. As for Blackweald, what can we expect to hear in the future?

Right now I have 8 albums worth of concepts ready to be executed. Ranging from Lovecraftian, Dark Souls themed, sci-fi, about the rural life in my country, setting a novel of a friend of mine to ambient, etc.

Just the concepts and ideas for sounds, nothing recorded yet. I rarely work on projects in parallel, I rather finish any current work before jumping on the next one.

In the last few months, I’m working on a quite massive project, an extremely long, 10+ hours concept album. I often feel like it’s overburdening me, so as an exception to the above stated, Pure was born while working on this project. I just had to take a break from it, and fortunately, Pure came quite spontaneous and got shaped quite quickly. 

12. I appreciate this wonderful opportunity to conduct this interview! Do you have any final thoughts for those that will be reading this?

Thank you for your questions and thank you for your work in the DA/DS scene with continuous reviews and interviews.

There is so much music out there nowadays, even in niche genres like this, that it’s hard to get the attention of people.

I’d also like to thank all the people who listened to any of my output, supported me on Bandcamp, or sent me encouraging messages on social media. It means a lot!

Feel free to follow me on Bandcamp/Facebook/Twitter:

https://blackweald.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/BlackWeald/

https://twitter.com/BlackWeald

Finally, I’d like to recommend a few albums to the readers. I guess most of you are quite familiar with Dark Ambient, so I’d rather recommend mostly outside of this genre:

⁃ Grave Upheaval – Untitled (2013): Although traditional metal instruments are used on this album, I’d rather consider it as a “power ambient” akin to Sunn O)))

⁃ Inferno – Gnosis Kardias (2017): Can you imagine black metal without distorted guitars? This is it! Amazing mystic atmosphere and temple-like vibe.

⁃ Walknut – Graveforests and Their Shadows (2007): Unmatched desolate feeling. The guitars sound rather like synth.

⁃ Slagmaur- Thill Smitts Terror (2017): Classic fairytales twisted into slow-paced avantgarde black metal.

⁃ Pagan Megalith – Túlvég (2017): Acoustic black metal music with ritual vibe.

⁃ Dälek – Absence (2007): If Godflesh would truly play hip-hop with a competent MC. 

⁃ Control Alt Deus ‎- Made Of Fire (2008): A short-lived aggrotech project, great melodies with visceral atmosphere.

⁃ Moor Mother – Offering (2020): A very talented experimental artist, just emerging in the last few years.

Finally, let me recommend a few dark ambient artists from my area: Abandoned Shelter, ∆ø∆ and Remete.

Links:

Bandcamp: https://blackweald.bandcamp.com

Fusing Lo-Fi Melodies With Binding Drones, Ataşehir Unleashes The Stunning ‘AVM’

I’ve often wondered if it’s possible for a dark ambient album to provide a sense of euphoria. While the genre is typically the subject matter of dismal, apocalyptic setting or doomed, deep space missions, lighter sentiment can certainly be ascertained, albeit through equally grim music. Such is the case for the latest release by Ataşehir called, ‘AVM’ – a soundtrack (of sorts) that describes a single days worth of events in a shopping mall. It’s a fairly unique theme, with quirky song titles, that stretches the boundaries of dark ambience into a more jubilant state. Let’s examine these peculiar tracks more closely.

“Your Message Woke Me Up In The Middle Of The Night And I Couldn’t Get Back To Sleep” commences with a somber energy like no other. Although at first it seems like you’re drifting through space in a motionless void, cold nebulas and other space phenomena begin to flash by you in a silent instant. Narration samples are barely audible, but make their presence felt as the tide changes to a darker tone through fierce drones. The last minute and a half introduces beautifully toned guitars that play a ceremonial chord before fading out. “A Slight Feeling Of Euphoria As We Entered The Place Where Everything Is Shiny And New” has a nostalgic feel too it, as the dreamy keyboards play a 80’s synthwave groove and multiple layers of luminous synths provide a lush atmosphere. “The Had The Right Size But The Wrong Color And This Triggered Something In Me” is an introspective piece with retro synth tones and more spots of barely audible narrations. There is a slight echo throughout this whole track that gives it a slightly cold and grim feel. “Leaving The Cinema To An Empty Food Court, We Believed The World Was Ours Or At Least Could Be” has a soft, cinematic texture that emits volumes of emotions. From the slight reverberation that are taking place in the background, to the keyboard leads that are as melodic as they are harmonious, this track builds up slowly and has a long fade out as well – stretching out whatever emotive state is present here. “This Is My Ice Cream And Yes You Can Have Some” is a minimalistic piece that places layers of beautiful drones at the helm, and then builds wonderful melodies around them. This track also has a nostalgic vibe that will take your memory back to yesteryear, as the quintessential arrangements play in looping pattern until they slowly fade out. “A Cold Breeze Blew Through The Smoking Area And I Shivered For A Second” is a bit of a serene offering with a space-like synth presence as well as an obscure looping sound that is peculiar to say the least. “The Wait For The Elevator Seemed Like An Eternity, Our Lives Encapsulated In That Moment” begins with a smooth keyboard arrangement that is backed by layers of harrowing drones and obscure soundscapes. Alluring keyboard compositions are the standout on this one and it’s probably my favorite track on the album. Cryptic voices, haunting guitar riffs and mesmerizing loops account for some of the additional things that make this a standout offering. “Outside Shake Shack” may seem like randomly played notes at first, but after listening to the melodic contribution that the instrumentation has to offer, this is such an elegant track that just isn’t long enough. “While Lost In The Otopark We Felt A Sudden Sense Of Our Own Mortality And It Was Beautiful” starts right away with warm drone sounds while faint instrumentation can be heard in the background. As that looping sound slowly crescendos into a more audible arrangement, additional drones are added to provide a thick layer of sound and uncompromising atmosphere. “Theme From AVM” is a minimalistic drone showcase as congenial sounds modulate warm tones throughout this simplistic but necessary track. The final track on the album is “Epilogue”. Although this is another minimalistic offering, drones are traded in for looping keyboard arrangements that are slightly discordant, but at the same time played in a pattern that is memorable yet slightly disturbing.

Ataşehir has found a common ground between dark ambient and euphoric music and ‘AVM’ provides the perfect platform for those results. Combining keyboards, synths, guitars and soundscapes to take the listener on an everyday nostalgic journey, ‘AVM’ is one of those albums that can be listened to over and over again. Each time I’ve played this, I’ve come across small nuances and subtleties that weren’t previously noticed and that says a lot about the effort that was put into this release. I highly recommend checking out this album so please support this artist by downloading ‘AVM’ from the link below.

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

Links:

https://sumatranblack.bandcamp.com/album/avm

Moloch Conspiracy Produces A Chilling Listening Experience That Eclipses Genre Boundaries On ‘Incantatios From Ugarit’

The bewilderment of ritualistic ambient music never ceases to amaze me. The element of dark, ceremonial soundscapes fused with minimalist drones and tonal ambient vibes conjure a malevolent atmosphere that takes a special artist in order to create this monstrous effect. If not done correctly, the outcome can lead to an extremely boring affair with no sense of liturgical reasoning. Fortunately, Moloch Conspiracy has mastered this craft and presents us with the bold ‘Incantatios From Ugarit’, a dynamic, ritualistic encounter that reaches the far scopes of the obsidian spectrum.

“The Cold Escape” epitomizes the ritualistic experience and is the perfect album opener with its nefarious soundscapes and ominous atmospheric undertones. Harrowing vocals add a layer of chilling bleakness that is thought-provoking, yet unforgiving. This gloominess continues into “Daughter Of Anu”. With the vocals more dominant and layered than the first track, a depth of ancient ceremonial vibes begins to come into view. The addition of haunting narrations and acoustic instruments create endless boundaries as this musical exorcism is now in full stride. “She Clambers Over” begins with a dissonant musical arrangement, played over a dark drone that has a feeling of misery and suffering. As the distant, narrations read through long lost religious texts, constant, soft percussive rhythms provide a trance-like state for the lister to absorb everything that is happening. “The Familiar Weapons” introduce new sounds to the album as this track has a lighter arrangement than the previous ones. That’s not to say that the message and delivery aren’t as heinous, as female vocals and narrations take center stage once again. Containing more soundscapes than ambient tones, this track stands out amongst the dark, ritualistic listening experiences. “The Head Of The Cauldron” commences with sinister drones that fade in like an evil spirit taking over a summoning encounter. Dark, and atmospheric with the occasional ceremonial instrument inclusion, this is one of the more perverse tracks. With “Visions Of Namtar”, Moloch Conspiracy once again proves the versatile nature of songwriting on this album. Although, it starts off with a lighter sense of reasoning, it quickly takes a turn to a more gloomy ordeal. Featuring bleak drones and somber soundscapes, this is actually a busy track as there are a lot of things are going on without sounding over bearing. The final track on the album is “Legions To Legions”. Beautiful drones and ritualistic chanting are at the forefront, as it soon becomes an all out dark ceremonial experience – a climactic summoning of evil spirits. Various instruments add liturgical tones throughout, as this wondrous sacrament of evil comes to a daunting close.

‘Incantatios From Ugarit’ is an exception Dark Ambient album album with majestic ritualistic influences and it goes without saying that Moloch Conspiracy didn’t hold anything back for this magnificent listening experience. From somber drones and bleak atmospherics to female vocals and ceremonial narrations, ‘Incantatios From Ugarit’ contains all of the elements necessary for an album worthy of multiple listens. Please support this captivating artist by downloading the album from the link below.

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Links:

https://eighthtowerrecords.bandcamp.com/album/incantatios-from-ugarit

Colonial Skyway Provide A Desolate Soundscape Of Midwestern-Influenced Ambience On ‘Landline’

As with any genre of music, there is a wide variety of flavors to choose from even in the dark ambient arena. Whether it’s the cold, isolated drones of space ambient; ominous, ceremonial vibes of ritualistic black ambient or the harsh soundscapes that infiltrate the airwaves in industrial ambient, there is always something to appeal to a particular mood. Colonial Skyway takes us down a different path with an equal balance of warm and cold ambient vibes, heavily influenced by the Midwestern landscape and character. The output is a minimalistic and bleak recording that is heavy on atmospheric and transparent drones that are trance-inductive and perfect for the meditative practice. On the latest album, ‘Landline’, the listener is taken on a spiritual journey in which the mental excursion is self-induced, yet magnified by the listening experience.

The album begins with the sincere and barren, “Data Over Iowa”. The hiss and crackles of tape loops flourish lightly in the background while light winds and diverse soundscapes contemplate in a cycled pattern. Somber keyboard tones are introduced as another element to the mix vice as a standout instrument, adding to the depth and meaning of this track. “Overnight” is a bold statement on the album as it is an eleven minute continual drone that doesn’t contain any additional instrumentation, soundscapes or field recordings. When you put in perspective the song title and it’s style, it all makes sense. If the listener sits back and lets this track take them away to another encounter, then the perpetuity begins to come together. Next up is my favorite venture on the album, “Could Be Down”. Featuring cold atmospherics and bleak soundscapes, this is one of the darker experiences this album. Deep tonal synths sway with high and low modulations, perpetuating a feeling of solitude and malevolence. While enjoying the apocalyptic feeling of this recording, it’s astonishing to know that this ten minute track seems to pass by so quickly. “Calling Merrytown” is another dismal piece that could easily be in a horror film sequence, at the point where viewer anxiety has reached it maximum level, and just before a climactic and violent sequence takes place. However, for the theme of this recording, I can imagine traveling through a deserted town where the infrastructure has all but rotted or collapsed, with weeds growing through every crack in the roadways and sidewalks and vines creeping up everything that remains vertical. Even without the help of a deep drone, the consistent looping of the discordant keyboard chops are enough to keep the shock value in tact. “Subdivision” starts with a warm drone, as if the clear sky of the early morning dawn radiates on the horizon. I can imagine driving down a long empty highway, listening to this track while (in unison) the sunrise slowly comes into view. The final song on the album is “Town And Country”. With the faint sounds of (what could be) a train soaring by, howling keyboard effects provide a shining light to end this amazing album. The elongated keys drone systematically throughout most of the track fading softly into the final few minutes that end in the same fashion as it began.

Colonial Skyway have put together an immaculate recording of expertly crafted dark ambient material. The use of field recordings, soundscapes and overbearing deep drones are used sparingly and in proper taste. However, that has all been replaced with long, intelligent drones and keyboard use, that is full of emotion and mid-west landscape influences. For me, this is the perfect meditative album for sleeping and even complementing thought patterns while working or just trying to relax. I highly recommend checking out ‘Landline’ so please support this fascinating artist by downing the album from the link below.

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Links:

https://colonialskyway.bandcamp.com/album/landline

Artists Of The Obscure Realm Conjoin To Finalize The Overture Militia Compilation Known As, ‘The Plan’

Label compilation albums are the perfect introduction for not only finding new and electrifying bands and artists, but to also dig deep and explore in a vast array of genres that we – for the most part – tend to generally only skim the surface. Earlier this year, Overture Militia Inc., a small label that spotlights artists of the post-industrial and dark ambient domain, released a valiant, eighteen track collection known as ‘The Plan’. Examining genres such as dungeon synth, dark ambient, drone, harsh noise & industrial, ‘The Plan’ is an hour and forty six minute journey into the oblique side of esoteric music. Although this is an amazing, yet bleak outing, I will further examine a few of my favorite tracks below.

“Ruination, The New Dawn Cometh” by Old Tower is the second song on the album and one of my standouts overall. Although most of the album consists of harsh, industrialized noise and dark ambient, this dungeon synth track fits in perfectly, with its austere sound, doomy tempo, and thick synth tones. There is a great bit of melody on this song, which is hauntingly beautiful. However, don’t get use to it because that vibe stops almost completely after this song. “Nursery” by Aseptic Void is the fourth song and it contains some of the creepiest dark ambient emotions I’ve heard in a while. The sound bit in the beginning – of children playing on a playground – adds an extra sinister awareness to all of the malevolent soundscapes that continuously possess the audio waves. Low-end drones and the occasional guttural narration is enough to give consistent nightmares. “Unhallowed” by Ursuper is the fifth track on the album and it continues in the dark ambient arena with a brooding, minimalistic approach in the beginning. It’s one of those tracks that slowly grows and builds to a climactic ending but you never know what’s going to happen in between until it actually does. At around the four minute mark, industrial affects increase in volume as if total annihilation is soon to happen. Over the next couple of minutes, this mechanized sound crescendos before slowly fading into oblivion. “The Horsemen Ride Out On Foaming Steeds” by Nordvargr is the ninth track on the album and probably one of my favorites. Nordvargr is such an amazing artist that consistently delivers appetizing music that borders post-industrial, black ambient, and death metal (specifically with the vocals). This track is a standout masterpiece on the album and the guttural vocals are what make this so appealing and unique. I could listen to this style of music all day. “White Sun Over Our Children – Exhale 22” by Miracle Of Love is the tenth track on the album and is just over ten minutes long, making it one of the longest songs on the album. Beginning with a short blast of harsh noise, it soon settles into a rhythmic drum & bass loop with minimal synth effects and soundscapes. Every so often, the drum beat alternates rhythms and the occasional harsh noise sample is thrown in for good measure and in good taste. For the last three or four minutes, the drum beats are replaced with drones and maniacal sound effects. “Hackfleisch” by Rubber Nurse is the eleventh and most evil sounding track on the album. It’s a near three and a half minute grueling drop into the abysmal hole of blackened industrial ambience, with a fair share of barely audible voice samples. Never the less, this sounds killer and I want to hear more by this artist! “Euer Hunger” by Todesritual, is the twelfth track on the album and is like listening to a scene from a horror movie. There are layered whispers, obscure field recordings, industrial soundscapes, and mild keyboard sounds, but they all come together in a frightening way and the final minute is an excellent throwback to the retro synthwave sound of the 80’s.

Overture Militia did an excellent job putting together this compilation of artist from varied backgrounds and genres. For those that are into obscure music and for those that don’t mind venturing into territories of the unknown, then ‘The Plan’ is for you. This album is sure to contain some artist or tracks that will get your blood pumping (or boiling), allowing you to continue following their artistic endeavors outside of this compilation. That being said, do yourself a favor and support the underground by downloading this album from the link below.

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Links:

https://overturemilitia.bandcamp.com/album/the-plan

Lunch Cult Bends The Knee To A Variety of Genres And Musical Influences To Present ‘Knights & Knaves”

When it comes to exploring new territories of music for some artists, some are a little apprehensive about taking risks while others compromise their original sound altogether despite reproach. One such collective is Lunch Cult, a LoFi Garage Rock Band that transcends experimental creativity but has never strayed too far from the pop/rock genre…until now. On latest album, ‘Knights & Knaves’, Lunch Cult fuses an improvisational blend of Dungeon Synth, ambient textures, crypt hop moments and synth effect wizardry to produce an eclectic concoction of three Medieval tales that will have the listener spying for influences throughout each track.

Animated album opener, “Return To Cucumber Castle”, sets things off in high gear as the somber synth tones are reminiscent of a jazzy, noir setting that slowly begins to incorporate layers of effects, hip hop rhythmic beats and hypnotic keyboard effects that perfectly harmonize with the main chop of the song. At about the halfway point, a fast drum beat takes over and plays along side the main keyboard section. This combination of fast beats and slow keyboard arrangements go over really well and flow perfectly into the next section of the song, as if it’s taking after a 70’s prog rock instrumental track. As the song climaxes in the final minute or so, all of the arrangements come together in unison and slowly fade out to a improvised saxophone section. Up next is the eccentric “Knavesong”. Random keyboard licks, percussion grooves and saxophone notes, come together as individual improvisations but can be easily interpreted as a single and relevant composition. There are parts of this track that remind me of of the OLD (Old Lady Driver) track, “Backward Through The Greedo Compressor” from their 1993 album, ‘The Musical Dimensions Of Sleastak’. Like any fusion-era jazz composition – that seemed wildly random at the time – this kind of music is an acquired taste for some and an audible gem for others. I fall in the latter category and commend Lunch Cult for their creativity and output, and for remaining open to ideas that unfold across multiple genres. The final track on the album is the twelve minute long “Knightsong”. With more of a straightforward approach, Lunch Cult takes the listener on a Medieval journey with brooding Dungeon Synth sounds that are augmented by haunted rhythmic beats and ambient sections. Although it is more minimalistic than the other tracks on this album, it has a heafty output and at times sounds chilling. There are small bits of chiptune thrown in at random and the peculiar noises that fade in and out throughout, are done in great taste. There is an awesome video premier for this track below, and I highly recommend checking it out. It’s really entertaining and put together very well with a comedic, but impeccable storyline.

If you take the time to peruse through Lunch Cult’s Bandcamp discography, you’ll probably reach the conclusion that there’s truly no accounting for musical taste. The sounds you may hear on one album will be completely different from the next. That couldn’t be further from the truth when it comes to ‘Knights & Knaves’, as it includes rich ambient textures, Dungeon Synth overtones, a little bit of quirkiness and a considerable amount of anything else that can be processed to compose magical musical endeavors. Check out the awesome video for “Knightsong” (below) and support this unique band by downloading ‘Knights & Knaves’ from the link (even further) below.

Video Premier of “Knightsong” (Official Music Video):

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Links:

https://lunchcult.bandcamp.com/album/knights-knaves

Xerxes The Dark Escalates Industrialized Tension On Monumental Dark Ambient Effort, ‘Final Crisis’

Anyone that knows me or follows my site, must know by now that Xerxes The Dark is probably my favorite Dark Ambient artist. Whether sketching out bleak, industrialized madness on his solo projects or lending his captivating production work to collaborations, XTD embodies the true, stark nature of Dark Ambient music. That being said, anytime there is a new XTD release – without hesitation – I’m ready to spend my hard earned money because I know it will be well worth the investment. ‘Final Crisis’ does not disappoint in the least bit and may be XTD’s darkest (and most ruthless) offering to date. To summarize the ‘Final Crisis’ listening experience, it’s like being embedded into a nightmare, or a relentless horror story where there is no escaping the agonizing terror of the unseen entities that haunts you.

Beginning the horrific ordeal is “The Hiding (Alternate Edit)”, with uneasy and ominous drones seeping into audio range while sinister static noises causes unrest. As the hollow sounds increase and tension builds, various soundscapes detail a malevolent mission of violence and dread. The listener is now locked into seventy two minutes of ambience filled with malicious intent. The intensity continues to build with “Antimatter Emergence”. Filled with industrialized drones that are accompanied by bizarre effects and field recordings, the minimalistic feel will easily increase all anxiety as the anticipation of lurking evil never seems to dissipate. The torment continues with “Parallel Disturbance”. If the abundance of screeches and unknown nuances weren’t enough to increase your blood pressure, the sudden blast – of what seems like – air brakes from a vehicle will definitely get your heart pumping. There is no escaping the unnerving soundscapes of the rainfall, traffic sounds, mixed with other unidentifiable noises to keep you on edge. A steady low end drone continues to play in the background as a storm races to the forefront of this track. There is a sense of ferocity as this near ten and a half minute nightmare displays a furious depth like no other. “The Leakage Between The Worlds” starts with a space ambient drone with a multitude of effects and soundscapes that gives an otherworldly feel. There are some excellent minimalistic moments on this track that are cold and dreary, with spots of inaudible narrations that are muffled and downright sinister sounding. “Crisis (Pt. 1 – Microscopic Black Holes)” immediately begins with an industrial feel as static materializes at a frantic pace. Vocal modulations are added, along with destructive soundscapes and field recordings. The impression of urgency can be heard, as all of these sounds are thrown together in perilous unison. Drones and synthesized tones increase in volume as the intensity reaches its peak. “Interaction” crystallizes from a somber drone that shifts in tone, as an industrial sample creates a harsh moment in the album. This chaotic sound ruptures into a loop and echoes from speaker to speaker before finally shifting into an all-out industrialized audible assault. “Crisis (Pt. 2 – Vacuum Bubbles)” continues down the path of deafening sounds as the synth modulations use various pitches and depths – especially in the beginning of this track. At times, there is a bit of distortion added to the drones, giving it a thicker, meaner tone as it accompanies some of the fiercest soundscapes and samples thus far. There is no rest for the weary, as bitter, severe noises wait around every corner. “The Hiding” is just as intense as the album opener but is a little more minimalistic at times. There are still periods of madness and mayhem as this original cut is just as menacing as the Alternate Edited version. The final track on the album is “Theory Of Nothing”. Displaying a great mix of dark and space ambience, there is a beautiful instrumental melody that is guided along with layers of clear, tonal synths. Unlike the other tracks on this recording, the soundscapes take a backseat (volume-wise) to the somber drones and instrumentation. What a genius move to close out such a dark and gruesome album with a brilliant track like this.

Xerxes The Dark continues his streak of releasing exceptional Dark Ambient albums, and has been doing so for the better part of fifteen years. Although he’s (lately) been devoting time to the downtemp/IDM project known as MOREGO, I’m glad to see that he still has the dark desire to continue releasing amazing albums such as ‘Final Crisis’ under the Xerxes The Dark moniker. This album is not for the faint of heart, nor one that you would probably want to fall asleep to – as you’ll sure to wake up sweating from a terror-filled nightmare. On the other hand, this album epitomizes what Dark Ambient is all about and is one of my favorite releases of this year thus far. If you like your Dark Ambient on the more sinister side, look no further than ‘Final Crisis’. Please support XTD and download this amazing album from the link below.

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Links:

https://xerxesthedark.bandcamp.com/album/final-crisis-24bit

Mora-Tau Lets the 70’s Minimalistic Space Rock Influences Shine Bright On ‘The Light Of The Winter’

The calm demeanor of minimalistic music can evoke all sorts of human emotions. The vast listening experience is like an endless field of dreams and nightmares, all rolled up in one, and depending on your psychological state, it could allow for one of the best experiences ever. This is especially true when we realize that the ambient music that is providing this backdrop, is heavily influenced by spacey elements of 70’s progressive synth music – especially the monumental sounds of Tangerine Dream and the brilliant solo works of Klaus Schulze. Luminous Japanese recording artist, Mora-Tau, maximizes these influences on a spectacular new release called, ‘The Light Of The Winter’. The four improvised – but majestically written – tracks on this album will catapult the listener to a cold, surreal world where there is no limit for crafting a story for blissful meditation.

The ultra silky sounds of the the lead off track, “The Light Of The Winter”, is reminiscent of a jazz noir piece that has improvisations in the perfect spots to create a hauntingly beautiful moment. As the synth volume increases and the play becomes more sporadic, the listener is cascaded back into an era where time was slower and gray weather drifted in between sun rays at a snails pace. Although this song is filled with many peaceful moments, there is a sense of dreadful nostalgia in the background that always makes its presence felt. Up next is the twenty five and a half minute long “Cityscape”. Without rushing a single note, the track starts off with dreary deep tones and oppressive melodies that represent a cold, dark and miserable time where the infinite clock paints a mesmerizing picture of never ending despair. Slowly, additional soundscapes are added to the track, bringing a great variety of light and dark ambience to the mix. At around the halfway mark, layers of drones begin to build, creating a climactic effect. Even though this is an extremely long track, it continues to build and garner strength throughout its duration, making it a wondrous journey to be a part of. The next track, “For The Memory Of The Earthquake” is a fascinating song as (in my opinion) it pays homage to the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake (and tsunami) that decimated parts of North Eastern Japan. Coincidentally, I lived in Japan during that time and experienced some of the effects of this disaster and would never want to relive that situation again. Anyway, back to the song at hand as it contains somber instrumentation with a very minimalistic approach. It’s almost as if the artist is reliving the experience in slow motion and the music is creating a positive outcome from such a negative event. Retro keyboard tones really stand out on this one as the improvised moments take us back to the old days of synthwave. The final track on this illustrious album is the near twenty one minute long “New Moon”. Starting with deep modulation tones that reverberate as a solid foundation, odd synth tones slowly build and create a mild frequency havoc when some of them are pinched together. However, this is a necessary part of the track as the sound waves continue to build until they are replaced by clear, piercing drones. Bizarre improvisations fit in rather well during this moment and even make this a standout track on the album. Soon, ordinary synth tones begin to layer in a harmonious effort to bring much needed light to this track. More retro synth sounds are added, along with mysterious keyboard effects, to present an irregular ending. Although it fades out with a few minutes to spare, it abruptly fades back in with a systematic closing that summarizes the fascinating style of this album as a whole.

Mora-Tau is an extremely compelling artist that is full of vision, even when creating long, epic tracks full of improvisations. ‘The Light Of The Winter’ not only captures retrospective synth moments, but it also finds common ground with dark and light ambient compositions, making for an extraordinary production effort. I’m eager to hear more from this talented artist and I highly recommend checking out this album as soon as possible. Please show your support and download ‘The Light Of The Winter’ from the link below.

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Links:

https://kalaminerecords.bandcamp.com/album/the-light-of-the-winter

Apocryphos Reveals A Dismal Truth Of Society With The Guitar-Heavy ‘Against Civilization’

Taking into consideration that the year 2020 has been one of the most atrocious years in recent history, it’s safe to say that the perception of society as a whole is pretty detestable at the moment. Politics aside – a subject I will never glamorize in my reviews – times have changed and cultural understanding and guidance seem to have fallen by the wayside. That being said, it must have been like a premonition when Apocryphos released the phenomenal album, ‘Against Civilization’ back in February of this year. The overall theme for this album is exactly what we’re dealing with when it comes to humanity’s embrace on life. These eight tracks of guitar-laden dark ambience reveals the chaos when handling the rage of the untamed.

Right from the opening track, “Heartsick”, there is a dispiriting sensation that prevails when the soothing and melancholic guitar effects begin to play out. There is a somber quality with the tone that instantly suppresses the mood to allow for the prolonged and hypnotic drones to take center stage. “Altschmerz” initiates with an empty space of dread while mesmerizing, layered guitar effects slowly imbue the mix. Acoustic tones play indiscriminately while boosting the various soundscapes that hauntingly play out in the background. “A Feral Nature” begins mournfully, playing depressive and minimalistic drones. Even in the bleak nature of this track, Apocryphos still seems to find a way to mix in beautiful melodies that are not only memorable, but highly addictive to listen to as well. “Dysphagia” commences with a haunting static effect with various soundscapes added in to deliver unbiased nightmares to the listeners. Low-end guitar tones playing in the background to increase the creepiness factor and keeps the overall sound at an abysmal level. “Cupio Dissolvi” continues the use of beautiful, yet dismal guitar drones and the slow buildup to the louder sound level is soothing and leaves the listener in dire anticipation for what’s next. The melodic drones build over time and change in tone often to make this a consoling piece of work. “A Feral Night” begins with a deep, tonal modulation that remains constant and hypnotic. The guitar-heavy drones are reminiscent of an industrialized wasteland as the austere tones are layered perfectly and are used sparingly to provide a sense of apprehension. “Sunken Eyed Theopanies” starts with an astonishing sound that resembles the constant gong of a Grandfather clock. Without hesitation, higher pitched intonations ring in on multiple occasions to ensure this bleak track remains as enthralling as possible. The final track on the album is “ A Feral Kind”. It calmly begins with a mollifying drone that increases in volume over a short period of time. Additionally, it seems to add in a deeper layered drone to thicken the sound. Throughout this track, drone tones are manipulated in higher and lower pitches without conflicting, in order to contribute to this wondrous and minimalistic offering.

‘Against Civilization’ is not like most other Dark Ambient offerings, as the artist relies heavily on guitar effects and tracking to provide layers of massive drones and quality melodies. Not only does that make this a unique contribution to the genre, it’s also one of my favorite Dark Ambient albums of the year so far. Additionally, the songwriting impeccable, and the quality of the material is beyond exceptional. Apocryphos is a staple artist on the Cryo Chamber label and with releases like this, it shows why. If you’ve not heard this amazing recording, now is the perfect time to do so. Please click on the link below and support this stunning album.

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Links:

https://cryochamber.bandcamp.com/album/against-civilization