The Legendary Mortiis Returns To His Dungeon Synth Roots On Meritorious New Album, ‘Spirit Of Rebellion’

It’s one thing to be prominent in two different genres of music, but to be considered (by many) to be The Godfather of one is an amazing feat – especially when you leave that genre for several decades and then make a ferocious return as if you’ve never left in the first place. That artist is Mortiis and his genre of dark desires is none other than dungeon synth. Blasting out on the black metal scene in the early 90’s as the original bassist for Emperor, he recorded the infamous ‘Wrath Of The Tyrants’ demo and ‘Emperor’ EP before splitting with the band and creating the Era 1 material of his solo project known as Dark Dungeon Music. I’m not even sure if he knew at the time what an influence those earlier albums would have on the dungeon synth community for generations to come, but he’s inspired a magnitude of artists and labels to create music with the same passion and desire. After the 1999 ‘Stargate’ release, the music of Mortiis began to take on a new form and the dungeon synth sounds were laid to rest…but not forever. Mortiis has finally returned to his roots and has graciously presented us with the magnificent ‘Spirit Of Rebellion’. Although it was intended to be a reworking of the 1994 masterpiece, ‘Ånden Som Gjorde Opprør’, it formed a life of its own and warranted a new title. The outcome is an explosive revival of the Era 1 material and I couldn’t be happier.

The twenty four plus minute long “A Dark Horizon” blasts into a battle worthy anthem with layered keys, pounding percussion and cinematic orchestrations that are film worthy. Depending on the version of the album you get, either the two songs are in a single format, or broken into multiple parts. For the sake of this review, I will reference the various parts of each song when describing the music. Part II of “A Dark Anthem” is haunting canticle with vocal effects that are sure to give you goosebumps. This is just a precursor to Part III which goes full throttle with the electronic vocal effects and pulsating drums as if unavoidable bloodshed is about to commence. However, the tempo changes to a more melodic structure and Part IV finds elements of forest synth as if a scenery of peace has been the vanguard of a mythical village, hidden away deep in a sacred forest. In terms of pure keyboard effects, Part V is the most old-school dungeon synth sounding part in the whole song. This multi-track effort has tons of melody and the background arrangement is memorable enough to stick with you for days on end. This beast of a song ends on a high note as Part VI perfectly summarizes this audio adventure with a welcomed reprise that features elements of the opening moments of the track. The second track, “Visions Of An Ancient Future”, is another top quality musical experience that includes over twenty six minutes of advantageous dark dungeon melodies. Part I is a high-tempo intro with a mix of goth and cinematic qualities. The grandiose elements of Part II are mesmerizing, especially when the electronic vocal chants kick in. The atmosphere continues to grow and remains overpowering throughout the remainder of the track. Part III contains warm elements of forest synth with ambitious effects thrown in to create the perfect medieval ambience. Part IV continues the medieval theme of the last track but takes it to a larger scale with the increased percussion parts. The somber keyboard arrangements create a sense of negotiation between good and evil, as the track continually sways from loud to softer parts. Part V has grim, eerie synth effects that keep this track interesting yet again. As the massive backgrounds continue to play without being overpowering, the dreadful melodies in the foreground carry on aggressively. Part IV is another bold and energetic piece that has an uptempo vibe and a strong mix of all of the elements present thus far in this mammoth of a track. Part VII has a tenacious medieval and fantasy synth vibe and features some awesome percussive sounds and keyboard arrangements. This is not only an excellent way to end this song, but an admirable finale to a spectacular album.

Whether this return to Era 1 material is short lived or an enduring comeback, Mortiis has accomplished an incredible feat – especially after being out of the dungeon synth genre for so long. There is nothing that I would love more than for Mortiis to continue down this path and continue producing material of this nature. If that turns out to be the case and ‘Spirit Of Rebellion’ is just the start, then we are in for a treat, as this album is as good as it gets. If you’re a fan of DS and you’ve not heard this album yet, what are you waiting for? You will not be disappointed as Mortiis once again sets the standard, just as he did nearly thirty years ago.

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Dryads Presents A Compelling & Quixotic Odyssey With ‘Those Who The Winter Path Reveals’

In the realm of dungeon synth, musical adventures don’t always have to be dark and intensified, although that seems to be a common topic as noble warriors decussate enemy territories to defend their kingdoms. However, rightfully so, as it makes for an awe-inspiring theme to attach to these tuneful arrangements. There are also other motifs that reveal majestic exploits of various intents that are equally as fulfilling when matches with the sounds of dungeon synth. On the latest release by Dryads, ‘Those Who The Winter Path Reveals’, I get the sense that this a journey about discovery and seasonal enlightenment. With the paths of everyone and everything that is crossed along the way, a new story and beginning unfolds.

The adventure begins as “Grace And Nobility Of A Summoned Snowstorm” swoops in with lavish soundscapes and pleasant keyboard intonations. Like setting out on a daring, arctic campaign this track sets up as a nice introduction for the album with its brisk pace and tonal sequences. “To Cross Ice Bridges With An Iron Horse” continues the sense of a wintery environment, but added discordant keys and darker accents in the melody give the feeling that gloomy times are ahead. “A Palace Of Glacial Dreams And Conquests” is an atmospheric undertaking with its grandiose soundscape presence and harmonized keyboards that provide a melodic structure of listening pleasure. “In Dreams, The Outcome Of Each Contest Unfolds A Part Of Our True Self” is a cold and brooding piece that would easily fit in a horror movie soundtrack. Exuding a ruminating depth that combines low-end drones and a creepy piano arrangement, this track illuminates a fascinating scene of bewilderment. “This Is The Coldest Journey, Yet You Are Not Lone” continues the same sense of dread from the previous track while combining winter-like field recordings that bring out the nature side of things. “Polar Rites” is a cold, winter synth track that slows down this musical journey but maintains the alluring spirit of the album. The dim soundscapes bring out an element of evil as you can feel the track getting more bleak as it nears the end. Next up is the title track, “Those Who The Winter Path Reveals” with it’s chilled & somber vibe, reveals an excellent cinematic sound. “Forest Omens” begins with some bizarre sequences before a harmonious keyboard arrangement fulfills the darkness. The sound of birds chirping in the background reveal the winters clash with daybreak and a sudden warning of evil lurking in the forest. The albums final track, “The Fallen Of Vidhein Castle” is an upbeat song, signaling the near end of the harrowing winter journey. Although there is light at the end of the tunnel, it’s not been an easy adventure. Oppressing soundscapes and orchestral arrangement are the standout elements of this track, ensuring that the album ends on a definite high note.

Dryads is an excellent dungeon synth artist and with ‘Those Who The Winter Path Reveals’, has sealed them as a new driving force in the winter synth community. There is a lot of adventure and masterful storytelling going on here and the overall beautiful tone of the album will leave a lot of room for interpretation. Show your support for this aspiring artist and download this amazing album at the link below.

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Psyclopean Gives A Musical Interpretation Of An Infamous H.P. Lovecraft Short Story Of The Same Name On ‘The Outsider’

Hearing a musical perception of a piece of literature is a fascinating thing. It’s like hearing a great soundtrack to a movie – when the music is just right, there is no explanation needed as it provide an audial experience for our senses that parallels what it is representing. Additionally, it allows for it to be easily understood without justification. That’s the great thing about being a fan of music such as dungeon synth and dark ambient, where it relies less on vocal interpretations and more on imagination and emotion. When this kind of music is paired up with the right piece of literature, a basic understanding of any subject matter will become easily known. On Psyclopean’s twelfth release, the artist interprets H.P. Lovecraft’s short story from 1926, ‘The Outsider’. This is a story about a sole character that breaks free from his castle in search of human companionship. That being said, ‘The Outsider’ (the album) is an emotional outing filled with tones of sorrow and agony.

The albums sole song is the near twenty two minute long self-titled track, “The Outsider”. Beginning with a somber keyboard arrangement with the sounds of nature in its evening state, there are early elements of dark ambient to this track. Various field recordings and soundscapes add an eerie element as well. At almost the three minute mark, components of dungeon & fantasy synth are introduced as layered keyboards create an intertwined melody and the morning sounds of nature are made known as well. I interpret this as the protagonist in the story beginning his journey and traversing the harsh land through day and night in order to seek contact with another being. At around seven minutes, a more sinister sounding keyboard reprise takes over, as if danger is lurking in the air. Cinematic orchestrations give this section of the song a grand sound while remaining frightening. At around twelve minutes, the track switches focus back to a dark ambient sound with howling winds and subtle keyboards. This is probably my favorite section in the song and it has a nice spacey sound and various field recordings as if the protagonist is traveling across a long, frozen tundra with no bearable end in sight. At around the nineteen minute mark, discordant tones suddenly blare as panic starts to set in, creating havoc for the protagonist as he makes a bold decision about his quest. The final few minutes shift back to a jarring dungeon synth keyboard arrangement as “The Outsider” comes to a close.

Psyclopean successfully give new meaning to the phrase musical interpretation. Although the works of H.P. Lovecraft have been open for analysis for many years, most translations have been done through film or referenced in other works of literature. Even though there have been musical projects that were heavily influenced by the works of H.P. Lovecraft, there haven’t been many artists that propitiously create an album based on one of his short stories that provided a musical adventure that easily details that story. ‘The Outsider’ does just that and more. This is a wonderful listening adventure and I highly recommend it for fans of both dungeon synth and dark ambient. Please show your support for this innovative artist and download the album from the link below.

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Eyre Transmissions III: Interview With Ambient/Winter Synth Artist, Winterblood

Every once in a while, an artist comes along and consistently produces albums that immediately grab your attention from the very first note and captivates you until they fade off into the cold silence. For me, Winterblood is one of those artists and from the very first time I heard the album ‘Waldeinsamkeit I-III’, I knew I was listening to something special. After getting my hands on the back catalog and quickly downloading anything that comes out new, it’s apparent that Winterblood is an extraordinary addition to the winter synth/ambient community. I recently had the opportunity for a Q&A session to find out what drives such a momentous force behind the atmosphere. Enjoy!

1. First of all, thank you for taking the time to participate in this interview. Can you tell me how Winterblood came about?

Hello there! To talk about Winterblood, means to looking back at my childhood first of all. I remember a film called Antarctica, where the haunting melodies played by Vangelis left an indelebile sign on me; I was so attracted by that landscapes, dogs, and all that atmosphere. All so hostile and dramatic, but at the same time so comfortable. As the years passing by, searching for that power and feelings, I discovered the distorted guitar, and soon I was involved in metal music. In 1997 I started recording with some pc softwares, under the influence of very great act in Cold Meat Ind. and Burzum ambient style, and I find out that only the synth can bring that ‘not human’ character that I was looking for. Winterblood is something within me since the beginning and recognized through sounds and images.

2. You have a pretty lengthy discography! What are some of the challenges that you face while consistently writing such impressive material?

I put no limits in what I’m doing. Most of the albums are similar? May the other dimension brings me in the same direction! I’m just a kind of medium doing atmospheres, not ‘songs’. I’m still discovering my inner voices.

3. Sometimes I wonder if Winterblood is a dark ambient project or a dungeon synth project, or maybe a mix of both. What genre would you classify it as?

If I had to choose a term, it would be Polar ambient; ‘dungeon synth’ is more fantasy oriented, and my project is focused on spiritual affairs through coldness and blackness.

4. Music wise, many Winterblood albums have a trance-like quality to them, enabling the listener to drift off in a meditative state. Is it your intention to provide this type of introspective state?

All is about intuition. Every note, every drone you hear, is recorded following inner voices (I repeat myself), voices that make me dream, make me sleep, make me relax, and bring my imagination in a no-limit zone, where all is infinite and beautiful at the same time. In Winterblood, all comes from the darkness, and look how all is bright! Purification through listening, through making music. If it works with me, may it can works with others, and is real cool to have positive feedbacks. To quote my page site: ‘… the really ambitious goal is to put the listener – after a reassuring prelude – into a cold state of loss and confusion; this may causes an awakening…’. Intentional? Of course.

5. When you set out to record a Winterblood album, do you have a plan in place for a particular sound or style or do you improvise based on your feelings at the time?

I spend hours doing tests, sounds, and right fx. The visions leads all, as intuition as well. Music flows naturally cold, ripetitive, obsessive, but at the same time melodic, hypnotic… It’s not about technic, but magic and sensibility.

6. Do you play and record with physical equipment, VST’s or a mix of both?

In the past I usually worked with softwares and plug ins, with the time all is went in the analogue direction. With this equipment I can give originality to my works, something unique.

7. Do you draw inspiration from any particular bands or other genres of music? If so, what/who are they?

As said before, the Cold Meat ind. scene has a great impact on Winterblood. Act like Aghast, first Ordo Equilibrio, Mz412, Sephiroth, Raison d’Être… But also Eliane Radigue, Burzum ambient-era, Apoptose…

8. One of my favorite Winterblood albums is ‘Waldeinsamkeit I-III’. Is there a distinct theme for that album that makes it so special?

Waldeinsamkeit is an album the literally ‘break the borders’. Why? Still don’t know. All is strange behind these album, from the beginning to the end. What make it so special? The total alchemy between artwork and music. It is so nocturnal, mysterious, magic, really describes as well the title itself. Thanx goes again to Canto Críptico label for the first tape press and artwork, and Kunsthall prod. for the massive Lp release that is unbelievable.

9. You recently released ‘Hiraeth’ which was an impressive 3 hour plus long recording. What inspired you to write such a mammoth of an album?

The purpose is to inaugurate a series of releases focused on meditation, Hiraeth as first. I was looking for something very extreme, something that can makes you dream up, sleep, and floating without an end, something eternal. Of course length is fundamental in this. Hiraeth, as other Winterblood opus, is inspired by my obsession for the grey color, dark woods, old vintage illustrations, and the melancholy for something lost, that is nothing but the lost the original perfection.

10. Can you tell me a little more about your side project called Macchine Per Comunicazioni Spiritiche?

MPCS is just a container for bizarre experiments. Let’s see…

11. Are you involved with any other projects (that you care to discuss)?

Absolutely not. Winterblood is my only project.

12. I really appreciate you taking the time to answer these questions. Do you have any final words or thoughts for the Winterblood fans that will be reading this?

First of all thank you for let me open a window to my music, and thanx to all the supporters around the world! A lot is on the making…


Hints of 80’s Retro Synth Illuminate On Winter Synth EP By Castle Zagyx Called ‘The Frozen Moor Of Your Memories’

The mind is a fascinating thing. Full of thought, emotions, intelligence, and memory, we have the power to control more that we can fathom. Unfortunately, there are time where we can decline to a darkened state without a means or a will to escape. In these times, obscurity overshadows our thought process and keeps us in a trance-like state until we are powerful enough to make the return to commonness on our own. The music displayed by Castle Zagyx on ‘The Frozen Moor Of Your Memories’ would be the perfect companion piece to listen to while contemplating a rebound from your own mental asylum. Filled with 80’s style retro synth, this is a soothing EP filled with many magical moments that you’ll not want to end.

Dreamy album opener, “Overture: End Of Summer Season” pulls the listener in with its classical keyboard arrangement and saddened tones before descending down the dark and gloomy path set forth by the rest of the album. “Remembrance I: Carter’s Antarctic Twilight” begins with an introspective sound as if you’re waking up from a cold dream, into an unknown world. As a single keyboard key drones, cold winter synth melodies expand the obscurity of your mind allowing you to meditate beyond the imagination. “Remembrance II: Katabatic Winds” maintains the same dark desires but introduces 80’s synth wave patterns that give the song a chilling sound. Sparse field recordings are compounded in spots for added gloomy textures. While this track successfully preserves its hyperborean effect, it’s easy to drift off to another dimension so that your mind can deal with clearing of the consciousness and lull memories. “Remembrance III: Ittakka” leans heavily on discrepant notes and eccentric harmonies, while light percussion sounds set the pace for something wicked yet to come. The EP’s final track “Remembrance IV: Poulsen Arc/Ice Hole” provides a ghastly conclusion to this overarching story of the hopeless decline of individual thoughts. Inaudible field recordings are a stark reminder of being institutionalized in our own mind, as we deal with our darkness. The keyboard arrangements are melancholic and somber, but seem to end too soon. However, this is the perfect way to rap up such an amazing story.

‘The Frozen Moor Of Your Memories’ is an exceptional EP and it pushes the boundaries of crossover music, diving into winter synth and retro 80’s style synth wave. The overall feel is gloomy and cold and you can easily get mentally lost in each track. My only wish is that this was a full length album, as this is has been an extremely enjoyable experience. I highly recommend this album, especially if you need something to relax and meditate to. Show your support for Castle Zagyx and download this EP from the link below.

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Mortiloqvist Deliver A Necropolitan Tale Of Death On The Imposingly Brilliant ‘Overmorrow’ Release

Death is inevitable for all of us and although we cannot escape it’s clutches, the dreadful end continues to captivate us in many ways. Not only are we mystified by the moments that lead up to the actual occasion, but thoughts of the afterlife and how our physical remains are dealt with (over time) are equally fascinating. What better music is there than dungeon synth to provide a platform for exposing a compelling story of the death and the afterlife? Even with just music alone, ‘Overmorrow’ is an alluring look into a mischievous tale of life after death gone wrong and Mortiloqvist takes us on that passionate journey with extraordinary synth tunes.

Sensational album opener, “The Taste Of Graveyard Dirt” begins with the sounds of workers digging, as if they are seeking to resurrect a long lost tomb. Demon like grumbles signifies they are near their goal but are they really ready to unleash what they are about to find? A beautiful guitar chord plays willfully in the forefront which eventually leads into a clean-sounding, classic dungeon synth recording. With almost a summer synth vibe, the instrumentation leans heavy on medieval times as wondrous melodies layer to create a dazzling sound. Next up is “The Dead Rise Up And Form Into Ominous Words The Night Wind That Moan Through Their Skulls” and is has a dark, winter synth vibe as a single keyboard note drones in the background. Supreme string picking creates an architecture for discordant harmony and although it may sound random, it’s like a cosmic and brilliant string solo from a scene in a horror movie. “Among These Sacred Ruins A Doppelgänger Of You Rots In Silence” is the longest song on the album, as it clocks in at just over eleven minutes. Starting with a quick dose of field recording before moving into a orient style synth structure, this track is full of surprises. Quickly moving back to a traditional dungeon synth sound, the main melody in the song is very unforgettable and you’ll surely be humming along. The addition of exceptional, female operatic vocals is very welcomed and fit in perfectly with the direction of this track. After that, there is a short dark ambient interlude with demon like growls before kicking things back into high gear with the medieval synth melodies. The final track, “Looting A Corpse” begins with the crackling sounds of a small fire in the forest while a lush tune surrounds it in dominating fashion. With the lonely strums of a stringed instrument and long-noted keys augmenting the harmony, this track signifies the dreadful beginning of the end and a sudden journey to the great beyond.

Although we all will probably not have the fortune of having a soundtrack to signify our journey into immortality, Mortiloqvist has put together an exquisite album that tells an adventurous story of the hereafter. As music listeners, we seek fulfillment in satisfying the senses with tales like these and when the music is able to do the talking, then the artist has created a successful endeavor. ‘Overmorrow’ is one of those albums and it is also special in that it uses an equal mix of synths and organic instruments. Additionally, the field recordings are used sparsely but very tastefully. I definitely recommend checking out this album so please click on the link below and download this masterpiece.

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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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