Tranquilizing Synths Never Sounded So Sinister, Than On Subterranean Hellchasm’s ‘Unholy Descent Into Catatonia’

For someone like me – that simply cannot live without music – it’s nearly impossible to listen to all of the amazing albums that are released in a given year, especially across multiple genres. In the Dungeon Synth and Dark Ambient communities alone, some artist produce ten albums or more in a calendar cycle. So, when it comes to conducting music reviews and putting together my “Best Of” lists at the end of the year, I can only base judgement on what crosses these ears. I’ve had ‘Unholy Descent Into Catatonia” by Subterranean Hellchasm in my review queue for a while now and if I ever had the chance to get to this album last year, there is no doubt that it would have found a spot on my Top 10 Dungeon Synth albums of 2020 list. There is something equally terrifying and quirky about this release and I love every minute of it. The fact that we’re graced with fifty three minutes of malevolent synth vibes is a great bonus to this amazing album.

“Phosphorescent Luminations” immediately catapults the listener to an ancient, ethereal world with traditional dungeon synth vibes and dreamy synth tones. The layered keyboard arrangements are vibrant and chock full of haunting melody and even the darker twists seem to take on the role of heroine vice the villain. “Chamber Of Goblin Rituals” begins with a jazzy arrangement and discordant keyboard chops that soon fuse together in a grim little harmony that has a mischievous sounding tone, as if a murder mystery is currently being investigated. “The Trials Of The Vials” features a dissonant keyboard composition, accompanied by intense soundscapes and captivating layers of synth harmonies. “Exchange Of The Goods Inside The Underground Plaza” is a jazzy arrangements with contrarient keys that sounds as if it could be played in the dimly lit corners of a jazz noir club of yesteryear. This is definitely one of my favorite tracks on the album. “Discovering The Cavernous Aqueduct” takes the sound back to a more traditional dungeon synth arrangement and the beautiful harmonies are guided with a soothing, water-based field recording and compelling synth leads. “Cautiously Down The Ominous Corridor”, is a quirky little tune that has a wondrous rhythmic pattern played by a looping keyboard chop. You’ll be nodding along to this one, as the lead keyboard parts take center stage and delights the listener with an incredible cantana. “Chased By An Invisible Presence” abruptly takes the album in a different direction by introducing an incredible synthwave composition. Just as you get hooked on the main rhythm section, alluring synth leads show a progressive side in the way they are arranged and played and it’s absolutely irresistible to the ears. “Sudden Envelopment Of Lunacy” is one of the darker tracks on the album, as it begins with a harsh drone and ominous soundscapes and effects. From grimness to creepy, the darkness has set in and evil is definitely present. “Awakening From A Deep Trance In A Mysterious Potion Shop” is a quaint little tune with hints of percussion and textural soundscapes to give it that dreary feeling. The key leads are cozy and effective at portraying the message represented by the song title – an awakening state of unknown euphoria. “Impervious To Cabalistic Enchantment” starts with a beautiful, fantasy synth tone and the echo sounds bare reminiscent of being disillusioned in a great hall with no clear path to an opening or exit. The synth leads are dry, but properly counteract the background music and it all takes shape to be a wonderfully majestic tune. The albums title track, “Unholy Descent Into Catatonia” is a nightmarish concoction of discordant tones and eerie soundscapes, fused together to present a punishing take on the traditional dungeon synth sound. Multiple keyboard effects take turns running up and down the ivory keys to present a dismal arrangement. The final track, “Disembarking With Newly Acquired Ancient Wisdom”, lightens the mood one final time, especially after previously hearing several dark intonations. The backing keys sway smoothly throughout the track and are almost orchestral like and properly accompany the main chord as well. The scattered bizarre synth compositions are firmly placed to keep a warm, spirited mood throughout without seeming to be overused. All in all, this is the perfect track to end this highly adventurous (and infectious) album.

Subterranean Hellchasm have released a monster with this album and consistently remain on point throughout. Although presenting more of a fantasy vibe than a Medieval one, there is no doubt this is top-rate dungeon synth music and shouldn’t be overlooked by anyone that is a fan of the genre. Please show your support for this amazing artist and download ‘Unholy Descent Into Catatonia’ from the link below.

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Links:

https://subterraneanhellchasm.bandcamp.com/album/unholy-descent-into-catatonia

Eyre Transmissions IX: From Death Metal To Dungeon Synth, Whispering Mirrors Carries On The Old-School Grandeur

The ties between metal and dungeon synth has been present since the inception of the genre. Although, predominantly a larger influence has been drawn from the mystical shrouds of black metal, death metal shares a similar allegiance. Whispering Mirrors has affiliated with both death metal and dungeon synth and now fully focuses all efforts in composing epic, old-school dungeon synth without compromise. I had a chance to chat with the driving force behind this project and was intrigued by the influences and depth of everything that has been conceived, as well as the direction it’s headed. Please enjoy this interview session with Whispering Mirrors.

1. Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions. Let’s start by talking about the dawn of Whispering Mirrors. Was it initially intended to be a death metal project or a multi-genre endeavor?

Hey thanks for the interview! When I decided to form Whispering Mirrors back in 2018, I initially only planned to release Dungeon Synth music specifically. I ended up releasing Altar Knife only because I wasn’t entirely confident in my keyboard abilities at the time and wanted to show that I also played guitar (an instrument I felt way more proficient in). I also wanted to keep the project open to other musical styles and influences so I wouldn’t be completely locked down playing only Dungeon Synth music. As a side note, I started making what would later be called Dungeon Synth back in 2004 but those albums and that era is a story for another day.

2. There is a definite parallel between black metal and dungeon synth but do you feel that death metal provides that same equidistant value?

Interesting question, I never really thought about it! I think the imagery and a lot of the lyrics of extreme metal in general are a huge influence on many in the scene, myself included (polishes gauntlet). 

3. How was the transition from shorter metal tracks to dungeon synth tunes of epic song lengths?

To me it was secretly always what I wanted to do. I always enjoyed long ambient tracks, Dungeon Synth or otherwise, because they can take you/are designed to take you on a journey (it’s hard to tell an epic tale through traditional, three minute song lengths). Repetition and variations on themes create the song length intrinsically. I also think, fundamentally, that Dungeon Synth is Mortiis and the blueprint laid out in his early albums is what Dungeon Synth should be.

https://whisperingmirrors.bandcamp.com/album/altar-knife

4. These days, there are many sub-genre’s of dungeon synth. What sound/style does Whispering Mirrors best relate to?

Whispering Mirrors main, original goal was to create “Traditional” or “Old School Dungeon Synth” directly inspired by Mortiis. That is what Dungeon Synth will always be to me; the truest form and the style that resonates most with me. Presently, I’d say I’m a bit more open to experimentation and other sounds in general, so we’ll see what the future has in store.

5. From ‘Grammaticon’ to ‘The Stuff Of Old Dreams’, I can sense a shift from more ethereal tones to a Medieval sound. Was that due to intentional growth or experimentation…or both?

It was a bit of both. A lot has to do with fully buying in – literally. The midrange keyboard that I used on Grammaticon didn’t really have the sounds I wanted when it came to the traditional sound I was going for. Once I upgraded to a true workstation/synthesizer (or three or four), suddenly I found myself using more and more real sounds and better pads. I was also playing more with sounds other than strings so naturally a more varied sound comes through on “Dreams.” If you can make a good brass sound and couple it with a timpani, you’re well on your way to medieval.

https://whisperingmirrors.bandcamp.com/album/grammaticon

6. Your latest album, ‘Stuff Of Old Dreams’ is phenomenal! Is there a backstory to the music?

Firstly, thank you! I feel a bit like this release slipped under the radar. I wrote “The Stuff of Old Dreams” with the concept in mind first and that concept was “bravery.” Basically, it’s a story about a knight going solo to slay a dragon. No metaphors here, just blood and steel. I was watching Dragonslayer and thought this is it, this is the concept for the new album! In hindsight, it seems like such an obvious theme that I’m really surprised I don’t come across more albums with this concept.

7. I like how these two tracks seamlessly flow between louder rhythms & tones and elegant passages. What’s your strategy for piecing all of this music together?

Grammaticon had a very loose theme, more tones and imagery I had in mind while I composed stream of conscious. I wanted to make a true concept album this time around so I really started by writing the story. Once I knew the story arc, I started hammering it out musically and then went back over and over again refining passages and adding layers to fit the narrative. My strategy really isn’t the best for getting music out quickly! At least, it takes me forever as I’m a bit of a perfectionist. I think at the core of my creative process is a very real sense of don’t rush it and really only working when I want to/feel inspired to. I might go three or four weeks not even touching a keyboard and then sit down on a random Saturday and knock out ten minutes of usable material all at once. I’m a big believer in the subconscious mind always working in the background and most of the time I’m thinking about this project and what I want to do musically with it without even touching a keyboard. Once I finally sit down to compose, I know exactly where I’m going.

https://whisperingmirrors.bandcamp.com/album/the-stuff-of-old-dreams-2

8. Do you ever have those moments where you think of a riff, keyboard chop or rhythm in the middle of the night while trying to sleep and then get up and record? How about while at work or away from home?

Absolutely! I have a ton of recorded voice memos that go back years for both guitar and vocal melodies. I also keep a notebook by my bed for ideas in general.

9. Do you plan (or already have) any physical releases of your albums?

All the albums have been released through Ancient Meadow Records with the exception of Altar Knife, which was released on the now defunct Castle Wall Records. I plan to remaster all my albums in the future and self release them again on CD or cassette. 

10. You seem to be a well versed musician. Besides your Whispering Mirrors solo material, have you been involved with any other projects?

I’ve been playing guitar since I was 14 and did the whole singer songwriter thing for years before starting Whispering Mirrors. I was also the vocalist in a punk band in high school and a Black Metal band in my mid twenties. Whispering Mirrors really covers all my bases at the moment so I don’t see the need to start another project or band (or join one for that matter).

11. Do you have any big musical plans for 2021? Recording, collaborations, playing live, etc..?

I’m currently working on some new material that’s quite a bit different than what I’ve been doing for the past two years. Since the pandemic started, I’ve recorded two EPs that may or may not ever see the light of day. Both of them are very “Old School” in sound and style but ultimately I was bored with the results. I was actually watching an interview with Fenriz where he describes the shift from playing technically to simply and how Darkthrone benefited from that in so many ways. While I’ve heard that particular story a million times, for whatever reason this time it sunk in. Old School Dungeon Synth is difficult for me to preform live and that’s the direction I see this project going or at least, that’s my new goal for 2021-playing live. I’m so used to playing along with a drummer and I miss that. I’m also a better player when I have that structure behind me so I look forward to incorporating more drum sounds in the future.

12. Now that would be a cool concept – full band playing dungeon synth (maybe 2 keyboardists, guitarist and/or bassist and a percussionist). Would you ever consider something like that?

I’d be the first guy to say yes to joining something like that and then not show up for the second practice. I think that’s a cool idea, but fundamentally believe the solitary nature of Dungeon Synth is what makes it important and interesting. The more you move away from it being a one or two person creative outlet to something band like, the more it becomes something else.

13. I really appreciate your time and music and look forward to many more years of your tunes? Any final words for the Dungeon Synth fans that will be reading this?

Thank you again for your interest in my musical endeavors, I truly appreciate it! To those who have supported me and been there for me over the years (you know who you are) INFERNAL HAILS! To anyone new reading this, I hope my music can inspire you or help you along on your own musical journey. Stay true to your vision and everything else will follow.

Links:

Bandcamp: https://whisperingmirrors.bandcamp.com/music

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/whisperingmirrorsofficial/

Arcana Liturgia Composes Somber, Old-School Compositions On The Adroit, ‘Follow The Old Path’

With the infusion of so many sub-genres of Dungeon Synth these days, it’s always refreshing when artist embrace the classic culture of the genre and produce old-school medieval tunes. Arcana Liturgia does just that by capturing the essence of a mystical life in the Middle Ages, when kingdoms, ancient battles and folklore of mythical creatures terrorized the villagers. On the aptly titled ‘Follow The Old Path’, the listener is whisked away in an audial time capsule, where they are put right in the path of age-old existence and are compelled to navigate the lands through ten fantastic songs of pure synth bliss.

“The Arcanum Revelation (Intro)” initiates this compelling story and propels the listener back to ancient days with alluring, orchestral arrangements and percussive elements that are of soundtrack like quality. The depth and melody that is being delivered on this opening track is an inauguration for a fantastical journey like no other. “Follow The Old Path” slows the pace down just a bit but is no less majestic than the intro. The synthesis of smooth, rich keyboard work and rhythmic beats are an addictive sound and the layers of synth leads that are introduced throughout, make this an even more dynamic listen. “The Kingdom Under The Mountains” is nearly seven and a half minutes of esoteric keyboard melodies that are played effortlessly in a serene manor with a dirge-like tribal beat. This song touches on dark times and has a gloomier spin than than the previous tracks. However, it’s well written and maintains the integrity of the album really well. “In The Depths Of The Crystal Caves” takes the album in a slightly different direction musically, with clean, reverberated keys and backing drones that are warm and catchy. Complete with a chimerical rhythm section, the long, drawn-out keys continue to build as if a climactic scene is to be introduced. This track also presents a delicate side to Arcana Liturgia and shows just how musically versatile these compositions are. “Through The Obsidian Portal” has a harsher tone to it but the arrangement is as fluid as can be and this could also serve as a Black Metal track intro. A couple minutes in, a short whimsical pattern is played but soon after, it’s back to serious business as the volume and synth depth pick back up and blast away, as if setting the stage for a battle scene. “Baptized In Blood” commences with the crackling of a fire and a flute sound effect. After that short introduction, a faster paced beat is introduced – along with dreamy sounding keys – as anticipation starts to build. Additional instrumental parts join in and finds this track shifting from the earlier sounds of the intro to faster keyboard sections. This is probably one of my favorite tracks on the album. “The Whispering Forest” shows another side of Arcana Liturgia as it introduces more of a Forest Synth sound, with clean keyboard arrangements, flute sections and various field recordings. This is one of the most peaceful sections of the album. “The Rise Of The Arcanum” begins with a battle-like percussion beats and the glaring sounds of war horns. Surprisingly, this track shifts toward a more melodic sound with tasty keyboard chops that will have the listener humming along. Suddenly after a short break, brooding narrations can be heard and the music gallantly picks back up again. “The Ashes Of A New Era” has a gentle sound but the combination of the fast and slow keys are outstanding – especially on this track. Not only is the musicianship at its peak, but this is a supremely written composition and the choir-like vocals are a great addition. The final track on the album is “Cinere In Ventum (Bonus Track)”. Starting with a low-end drone that is almost out of audial range, a rhythmic pattern is soon introduced. As the percussive parts increase, obscure chanting can be heard, followed by desolate keyboard arrangements. This pattern repeats a few times and not only is it creepy, it’s also a fantastic way to close out this album. Even though this track is so different from the others, it certainly fits in when imagining a storyline from those ancient days.

This is such a superb album by Arcana Liturgia. From the old-school Dungeon Synth sound to the consistent use of percussion, ‘Follow The Old Path’ contains all of the elements for a great synth album as well as the perfect conduit for a wondrous Medieval story. If you like classic Dungeon Synth with plenty of symphonic elements and gritty percussion, look no further than ‘Follow The Old Path’. I can’t recommend this album enough so please click on the link below and check this album out now.

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Links:

https://arcanaliturgia.bandcamp.com/album/follow-the-old-path

Not Dungeon Synth Nor Dark Ambient But…Fifteen Albums From 2020 That (for me) Transcended Greatness!!

The year 2020 hasn’t been great for much of anything except for, well…music! I listen to (and appreciate) just about every genre under the sun and I’m never bored when it comes to finding something to listen to at any given moment. In a single sitting, I can listen to Dark Ambient, grindcore, soft jazz and progressive rock without blinking an eye! Because of that versatile appreciation, I’d like to share with you a list of fifteen albums (in no particular order) that were released in 2020 (that are not Dark Ambient or Dungeon Synth) that I found to be full of grandeur and sheer brilliance. I hope you enjoy these releases and please support these artists/labels.

https://myrkur.bandcamp.com/album/folkesange

I am a big fan of Myrkur and after 3 albums of blackened folk metal, she drops the black metal sound and delivers a folk album that is nothing short of stunning beauty. ‘Folkesange’ is like Enya on steroids but is still alluring and undeniably Myrkur. Without a doubt, this is my favorite album by her and I honestly wouldn’t mind if she delivered more albums of this nature.

https://popnihil.bandcamp.com/album/footsteps

DIY musician and multi-genre specialist, Daniel Holt, produced one of my favorite albums of 2020 under the Human Figures moniker. ‘Footsteps’ is a deep dive into darkwave, lush production and dreamy vocals and I can’t count how many times this album has been played in my house or on my ride to/from work. Every track is spectacular and I don’t think I have ever skipped over any of them while listening.

https://reposerecords.bandcamp.com/album/the-occult

Reign and Rulum, two Black Metal bands from the UK, team up in this eclectic split album to deliver nearly forty six minutes of supremely written metal. Although displaying two different styles, the combined alliance of these two bands present one of the most blistering metal albums of the year.

https://zombi.bandcamp.com/album/2020

If you’re into Synthwave and B-movie horror soundtracks from the 80’s, then you have to love Zombi. They epitomize that 80’s retro-synth sound, and the duo just gets better and better. On this years ‘2020’ release, they’ve included electric guitars in their instrument arsenal and went for a heavier sound. However, there is no denying this is Zombi and ‘2020’ is the perfect nighttime driving album.

https://enslaved.bandcamp.com/album/utgard

If you didn’t know, I’m also a staff writer over at MaximumMetal.com and when asked to put together our Metal AOTY lists, Enslaved’s ‘Utgard’ was my top choice! Although no longer the cult viking black metal band they use to be, their current sound is absolutely incredible and they do everything with sheer brilliance. ‘Utgard’ is probably one of my Top 3 favorite Enslaved albums and they actually age better than fine wine!

https://sunaddictedfamily.bandcamp.com/album/solar-dreams

Another beautiful example of perfect genre collision when left in the hands of the right artist. Varkâna main man fronts this amazing new band that fuses post black metal, electronica, shoegaze and just about everything in between. Combine that with harsh screams, dreamy vocals and powerful lyrics and you have ‘Solar Dreams’. Such an amazing album that combines intensity and atmosphere in the best way possible.

https://gatemaster.bandcamp.com/album/gate-master

Gate Master brings the worlds of Dungeon Synth and Black Metal together on this unyielding self-titled album. Between the Dungeon Synth sections is some of the best trance-inducing black metal that has probably been produced this year. The inhuman vocals are frightening and the overall songwriting is magnificent. The track “Inverse Transcendent Hypostasis” is worth the price of the album alone!

https://nebulonambient.bandcamp.com/album/across-the-solar-tides

Flawlessly executed dark synth music with a heavy Berlin School influence, Nebulon continues to climb the ladder of excellence. ‘Across The Solar Tides’ contains three epic tracks to get lost in and it demands repeated listens. From the creator of Metatron Omega and Stronghold Guardian, Scorpio V continues his path of electronic music excellence.

https://hammerhedd.bandcamp.com/album/grand-currents

How can 3 kids (1 barely a teenager) from Missouri produce some of the most pummeling thrash metal of our generation? I would chalk it up to good parenting! Hammerhedd takes the sound of classic Sepultura and combines it with the technical ferocity of Gojira to make their own sound and it’s down right sick. I can just imagine how threatening (to other metal bands) they will sound in about ten years time.

https://thesunsjourneythroughthenight.bandcamp.com/album/eternal-black-transmissions

This album is my introduction to the band The Suns Journey Through The Night. It embodies the early 90’s spirit of LoFi Black Metal and with supreme atmospherics, shrilling vokills, precision drumming and discordant riffs, this has to be the sleeper Black Metal album of the year. It’s as grim as it is menacing and I was hooked from the very beginning and enthralled until the very end.

https://ouroceansband.bandcamp.com/album/while-time-disappears-2

Our Oceans takes it brand of melancholic progressive rock a few steps further on ‘While Time Disappears’. Adding metal guitar tones, screams and mesmerizing electronics, Our Oceans defies categorization this time around and simply generates the best music possible. “Your Night, My Dawn” is one of my favorite songs (any genre) this year!

https://unexplainedsoundsgroup.bandcamp.com/album/anthology-of-experimental-music-from-mexico

I was introduced to this album by Raffaele Pezzella (owner of Unexplained Sound Group) a few months back and it immediately blew me away! Containing nearly one hundred minutes of ambient, noise, industrial and experimental music from some of Mexico’s best underground artists, this album is a whirlwind of chaos and harmony. An absolutely stunning release!

https://abhasa.bandcamp.com/album/–2

Abhasa takes us on an enthralling journey with their sophomore album. It’s less ritualistic ambience and features more of a doom and post-metal sound. Every song is hypnotizing and plays to the emotional state of the listener. For me, this album combines the best of bands like If These Trees Could Talk and Isis (the band), in the most staggering of ways.

https://kscopemusic.bandcamp.com/album/space-for-the-earth

Ozric Tentacles have been around for thirty seven years and have stuck with the same aggressive, psychedelic space rock formula for almost the whole time. Led by the great Ed Wynne, ‘Space For The Earth’ finds The Ozrics laser focused on producing the best music possible. I’m always a first-day-buyer when a new album is released and this one continues their trek of spectacular releases.

https://witnesses-nyc.bandcamp.com/album/doom-ii

My introduction to Witnesses was the 2019 album ‘III’, which was a cinematic ambient album of the tallest order. However, 2020 brings about their latest effort, ‘Doom II’ and it’s an atmospheric doom metal masterpiece. Containing plenty of harsh riffs and grooves, it’s also complemented by spots of blast beat drumming, classical guitar moments, and stunning vocals. Expect nothing but greatness when listening to this gem!

Osmord Brings Forth Dark Medieval Settings On ‘The Ruins In The Forest’

Who says time machines don’t exist? They don’t necessarily have to be a physical matter but can exist in an emotional state as well. Take for example ‘The Ruins In The Forest’ by Osmord. These two extended tracks (around thirty six minutes long total), heave the listener deep into enchanted times where Kings and Castles were at the forefront of every commoners conversation. As one dons a pair of headphones and presses play on this obscure little album, an immediate surrender to ancient medieval times becomes inevitable.

“The Ruins In The Forest I” is a sixteen and a half minute perilous journey through the archaic lands of the middle-ages. Rhythmic, percussive beats and layered keys set the backbone of this imposing dirge. Since time is not an issue, the inclusion of lead keyboard chops are mixed in at random intervals, in an appealing fashion. Nothing is rushed and the continuous buildup to a sonic conclusion is quite impressive. Even around the nine minute mark, where the track slows down to more of an ambient piece, it never looses its grace and continues to appeal to the time period of the ancient ones. The final few minutes conclude with grand orchestrations as if providing the soundtrack to a battle scene. “The Ruins In The Forest II” is nineteen minutes of sheer Medieval greatness! Starting with a deep, tonal sound, the inclusion of haunting synths increasingly begin to steal the show. The melody that is built within the lead parts are mesmerizing and completely captivating. This track is like feeling lost in the profound landscape surrounding a hidden castle. As a troop of skilled warriors scale the loose terrain quietly – with the hopes of not giving away their location – they continue their preparations for an endless battle with the King’s guard. The music slowly crescendos to climactic parts throughout and anticipation increasingly builds for the forest warriors. At around the ten minute mark, nostalgic keyboard harmonies continue to lay the groundwork for the overall theme for this dramatic, yet monumental track. The final few minutes find somber melodies combined with balanced percussion and soothing, droning keys that forge on in the background.

With ‘The Ruins In The Forest’, Osmord succeeds at luring the listener back to a time that we usually only dream about. Lush, haunting melodies that are well balanced over minimal percussive parts with beautiful orchestral arrangements are some of the key factors that help take us all down the enchanted path of true Dungeon Synth. This is a really impressive album and I highly recommend it for those that enjoy a more retro sound to their synth music. Please click on the link below and support this incredible artist.

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://osmord.bandcamp.com/album/the-ruins-in-the-forest

Top 10 Dungeon Synth / Synth Releases Of 2020

What an amazing year for Dungeon Synth (and other underground synth-based genres). This year has exploded with some of the most absorbing musical ventures my ears have been privileged to hearing. Whether it’s the grimness of Vampyric Dungeon Synth, the obscurity of Comfy Synth or the enlightenment of Berlin School dark synthwave, I embrace all of these sub-genres with the hopes of finding the most amazing music possible. Although there were hundred (possibly thousands) of Synth-based releases over the past twelve months, this is a list of my 10 favorite albums of the aforementioned sub-genres. I hope you enjoy…what I’ve been enjoying!

10. Moss Golem – Of Witches Blood And Angel Tears

https://serpentsswordrecords.bandcamp.com/album/of-witches-blood-and-angel-tears

What better way to get things started than with a dose of Uncomfy Synth! Moss Golem may be categorized by some as Comfy Synth but this is light years from it. It’s more like a menagerie of darkened dungeon synth arrangements with colossal black metal screams and I absolutely love it. Of the small handful of releases by Moss Golem this year, ‘Of Witches Blood And Angel Tears’ is my favorite.

9. Wooded Memory – My Secret Horror

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

‘My Secret Horror’ caught me by surprise this year, as I wasn’t expecting it to be so amazing. Don’t get me wrong, 2019’s ‘The Lost Stories’ was great, but this one is so much better. From the illustrious arrangements to the phenomenal production, I’ve really enjoyed this album and it, accordingly, deserves a spot on my Top 10 list.

8. Erang – Imagination Never Fails

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

Erang takes us on a mythical journey like no other! From brooding musical-like tracks and symphonic marvels, to traditional dungeon synth and synthwave, Erang leaves no stone unturned and is one of the most ingenious synth artists out today. ‘Imagination Never Fails’ is an addictive listen and I revisit this one quite often.

7. Borg – Woodland

https://borg.bandcamp.com/album/woodland

Borg is as quirky as they are talented and this modern day Medieval-style music with analog instruments (and numerous unconventional undertones) is to be taken seriously. ‘Woodland’ is a fantastic album and showcases their capability for idiosyncratic arrangements, as well as more serious sounding tunes that may have well fit in on some cult spaghetti western films. Absolutely amazing!

6. Guild Of Lore – Autumn Bohollow

https://guildoflore.bandcamp.com/album/autumn-bohollow

Guild Of Lore is the real deal! The hybrid combination of cinematic elements and dungeon synth makes this one of the most unique albums of the year. The production and arrangements are perfect and the writing will leave listeners (and possibly other artists) in awe of the amazing talents that spew from within. If you’ve not heard this album, you’re definitely missing out!

5. Abholos – Whispers From The Dark Sea

https://serpentsswordrecords.bandcamp.com/album/whispers-from-the-dark-sea

Abholos is one of my favorite Dungeon Synth projects and I look forward to these release than perhaps most other artists. The fusion of retro-style synth arrangements and maritime soundscapes is exactly what I love to listen to and not many others excel at it more than Abholos. ‘Whispers From The Dark Sea” is my most listened to Abholos album and one of my favorite releases of 2020.

4. Lurk – From The Depths Of Y’ha-nthlei

https://lurkmusick.bandcamp.com/album/from-the-depths-of-yha-nthlei

I knew after being just two minutes in to this album that it was going to end up on my Dungeon Synth AOTY Top 10. The crystal clear production makes it possible to enjoy the outstanding music, soundscapes and samples that grace this behemoth of an album. From start to finish, this album rips and I cannot wait for the next dose of Lurk to come about!

3. Jenn Taiga – Plight

https://jenntaiga.bandcamp.com/album/plight

I listen to this album at least once a week. I mean it’s that good and just puts me in a zone that almost no other album can do. Consisting of two tracks that are nearly forty three minutes long, there is definitely enough time to drift off into another world that depicts a scene of sonic beauty. Heavily influenced by Berlin School and progressive space rock, this enchantment of a recording should be on everyone’s playlist by now!

2. Mystica Visio – Mystica Visio

https://mysticavisio.bandcamp.com/album/mystica-visio

‘Mystica Visio’ is probably one of the best albums (of any genre) that I’ve heard this year. Gustavo Jobim is an award-winning musician that decided to try his hand at Dungeon Synth this year and I couldn’t be happier about that decision. Not only is this an amazing album, but the track “Spell Of Entrapment” is probably my song of the year for this genre. This album is an absolute must for your collection!

1. Varkâna – Cosmic Terror

https://varkana.bandcamp.com/album/cosmic-terror

Varkâna’s ‘Cosmic Terror’ was released in May of this year and its still one of my most played albums. This Lovecraftian-themed endeavor features some of the most meaningful tracks I’ve ever heard, and the emotional output is only topped by the amazing musicianship, pristine song arrangements and writing. All of these elements combined have made this my Dungeon Synth / Synth album of the year for 2020.

‘Voices Of The Ainur’ Is A Podcast That Showcases The Best In Dungeon Synth, Dark Ambient, The Obscure, And Beyond

It’s rare to find a podcast that properly showcases the mystical wonders of Dungeon Synth, placating matters of Dark Ambient and the arcane obscurities within the realms of synth music. However, ‘Voices Of The Ainur’ just may be the premier podcast that embodies the spirit of these genres in a supremely engaging platform.

Commencing in October of this year, ‘Voices Of The Ainur’ produces high-quality episodes of the music that we love on a weekly basis. Each episode is around an hour long and features multi-genres of music in some of the most fluid mixes I’ve heard. Best of all, no talk, no interruptions, and all music! Additionally, each episode has its on mini-site with visionary photos, quotes and the playlist (with Bandcamp links) for the artists that is featured. Although this podcast was recently brought to my attention, it’s already my “go-to” platform for getting a weekly dose of the genres that I love.

In summary, ‘Voices Of The Ainur’ is a supremely composed podcast that demands to be heard. I know that we all have our favorite platforms for listening to music, whether it’s by digital download, streaming media, or physical platforms, but if you’re like me and still enjoy great podcasts, then you must check out ‘Voices Of The Ainur’. Not only is the music great, but the possible exposure to new artists makes it that much better. I’ve included the link for Apple Podcast below, but ‘Voices Of The Ainur’ is available on at least fifteen podcast platforms. The links to those can be found on the main web site (also below). Please give this awesome podcast a listen and enjoy!

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://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/voices-of-the-ainur/id1534862806

https://www.voicesoftheainur.com/

https://www.facebook.com/VoicesOfTheAinur

https://twitter.com/oftheainur?s=21

Fusing Dungeon Synth And Gladiatorial Pulses, Haunted Realm’s ‘Songs From The Deep Halls’ Delivers Ominous Anthems For The Masses

Over the past few years, I’ve become thoroughly impressed with the resilience of the Dungeon Synth genre and the community that it’s cultivated. From the magnitude of artists and constant releases to the incorporation of other genres and soundscapes to facilitate a sub-culture all of its own. I’m most intrigued when an artist delivers a wide variety of music, yet stays true to the boundaries of the genre itself. One of those artists is Haunted Realm. With varying musical ventures from release to release, it’s always a surprise to see what’s in store the moment you press play. For ‘Songs From The Deep Halls’, we get a daring Dungeon Synth adventure full of tribal-like rhythms and momentous arrangements, but there is also influences from other synth sub-genres as well, making this a spectacular thirty five minute journey through a fanatical, medieval kingdom.

“Masters Of Mountains” commenced with a slow but steady tribal beat that sounds like the prelude to a death march. After a few bars, a beautiful synth arrangement is introduced, emitting a somber-like dirge to remember. Layers of synth effects and flute notes increase the intensity of this track as it builds up to a glorious finale. The final minute is all worth it, as a smooth and droning synth lead takes over and provides a spectacular harmony to close out the track. “Sons Of Iron And War” begins with several layers of percussive beats and rhythms and it will have you nodding your head or tapping your foot before the first synth note is even played. Deep synth tones sway in and out of the mix as other instrumental effects are engaged to create an ominous result. “Subterranean Throne” starts with a deep tonal modulation that is soon met with slowly played percussive sounds. Another slow building track, malevolent and droning keys are injected to conclude a grim consequence, but they are used sparingly. Synthwave effects are used as well, providing another dimension of sound for this superlative output . “Dominions Of Stone” starts with a moderately paced percussive sound and restrained dungeon synth melodies slowly begin to increase. There are an abundance of sound effects used in this track and they are placed in just the right spots to sound tasteful and very pleasing to the ear. “March Of The Dwarven Legions” is another satisfying track of the highest order with its low-end drum beats, droning ambience, and very dark appeal. The massive horn sounds make this a grandiose affair with a soundtrack-like quality, that would fit perfectly in any Fantasy Adventure film. The final track on the album, is “Eternal Quest”. Most of this track is a bleak, space ambient experience, loaded with cosmic effects that will blast you off into the outermost reaches of the universe. However, it completely changes in the last few minutes and catapults into a darkwave anthem with an illustrious keyboard arrangement and pulsating drum beat. The melody in this part is so beautiful and is worth listening to over and over again. I couldn’t think of a better track to end this amazing album.

Haunted Realm crushed it with this release as this is some of the finest Dungeon Synth I’ve heard in a while and although it doesn’t have an over-the-top fantasy synth sound, the minimalistic efforts really shine through as if this could be a full-on motion picture soundtrack. The steady but agonizing percussive elements are top level and the final track alone makes the whole album seem that much better. If you’ve not heard ‘Songs From The Deep Halls’ yet, I cannot recommend this enough. Please check it out (and download it) 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://thehauntedrealm.bandcamp.com/album/songs-from-the-deep-halls

Slime Golem Presents ‘The Short But Touching Tale Of Slime Golem’ Through Mystifying Sounds That Traverse Dungeon Synth, Retro Synthwave & Crypt Hop

Slime Golem have firmly solidified their place in the Dungeon Synth arena with the quirky but horrifying new release entitled, ‘The Short But Touching Tale Of Slime Golem’. Combining unconventional effects, ambient textures, traditional dungeon synth vibes and and a horror-themed story, Slime Golem checks all the necessary blocks to make their debut effort a fulfilling and entertaining endeavor. Let’s take a closer look into these unique, nightmarish anthems and reveal what makes this album so special.

Twisted album opener, “Swamp Crawling (A Golem Out Of Clay Emerges From The Banks Of The Ulkah River)” blends whimsical sound effects and melodic keyboards to deliver a spaghetti western-like theme song, but with a slight dungeon synth overtone. “You Have Summoned The Slime Golem! (Master In Awe Of His Creation)” is a sly little piece that features silky synth tones followed by drum & bass rhythms that give this track a grimacing sound. There are plenty of retro synth moments on display here to keep this short track dynamic and interesting. “The Bestowing Of Emet (…Such Is Your Task)”, is another retro sounding keyboard affair filled with layers of rolling synth modulations that increase as the song continues along. As the effects become more disturbing, it’s almost as if it’s part of a soundtrack for an 80’s horror movie. “Forest Walk (Observing Life Itself For The First Time)” is a somber track that is filled with depressing keyboard chops and fascinating sound effects that are almost contradictory, but seem to fit together rather well. “Hands Of Mud And Blood (A Horrid Act Committed)” is a groovy little piece that combines a maniacal synth lead with eccentric effects that are straight out of a dark comedy horror show. However, the merger of the two sounds provides a solid dungeon synth track of epic proportions, with a tad bit of drum & bass included. “The Golem Wept (A Unique Experience Of Sadness And Self-Awareness)” is an atmospheric track with layers of soothing synths played in a somber arrangement. The lead keys have an awesome retro appeal, which makes this one of my favorite tracks on the album. “I Am Appalled By The Human-Like Form! (Golem Turns Into Its Maker)” is a dark track that isn’t as layered as previous tracks but that doesn’t make it any less diabolical. The inclusion of drum & bass really puts this one over the top and all of the instruments synchronize perfectly to form a mind-melding dirge. “What Piece Of Work Is Man To Need A Lesser Being For Slave? (Golem Escapes)” is another bleak experience field with gloomy keyboard melodies and haunting ambience. The layers increase in the middle of the song and then slowly fade toward the end, but keep their majestic appeal throughout. “Prima Materia (Return To The Green And Slimy Vastitude)” has a slight sinister appeal to it, but it’s not full-on ominous, as the bizarre synth affects add a bit of dark satire, even though the keyboard leads are thick and epic. The final track on this dark and quirky album is “Unbinding (The Creature Knows Peace)”. The main synth synth lead is melodic and dreamy, while the background provides a retro darkwave sound, sending this album to another dimension when it comes to mood and genre-blending. The introspective ambience in the background flows with haunting dynamics as it augments all of the harmony provided by the other instrumentation. This not only create an effective outro for this unique little horror story, but also solidifies this amazing artist as a great songwriter.

I am thoroughly impressed by this debut outing from Slime Golem. Not only is the music amazing and genre defying, but the story that it represents is magical and can be easily identified within these wonderful song arrangements. I’m really looking forward to the see what the future holds for this artist and the incredible stories that will possibly be told through the magic of the music are sure to be extraordinary. If you’ve not heard ‘The Short But Touching Tale Of Slime Golem’, look no further than the link below and give this masterful album a listen. I can’t recommend this one enough so please download it now.

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://wyrmlodge.bandcamp.com/album/the-short-but-touching-tale-of-slime-golem

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