Neo-Classical Elements And A Conceptual Medieval Tale Give Life To Almesbury Abbey’s ‘Queen Guinevere’

There are many stories that depict the life of Queen Guinevere, the nefarious wife of King Arthur, but one of the most regarded chronicles is her lustful betrayal of her husband and consequent affair with Lancelot. After a period of time, she returns to the King and is forgiven of her treacherous disloyalty. However, King Arthur decides to go pursue Lancelot, leaving Queen Guinevere in the care of Mordred, who has an ulterior motive of his own – a plan to marry the Queen. Fleeing his proposal, Queen Guinevere seeks refuge in the nun convent known as Almesbury – where she subsequently remained for the remainder of her life due to the humiliation of her infidelities. Much of this was paraphrased for the sake of this review but it’s such an intriguing story and the major influence for the album at hand. Almesbury Abbey, one of many projects by Arnaud Spitz (and the material contained within), is a rediscovery of compositions previously written but finally released on this conceptual album based on Queen Guinevere’s concluding years in the Almesbury convent.

Somber opening track, “Guinevere’s Gone”, begins with a hauntingly alluring melody that seems so full of sadness, yet offers a bit of brightness with the extended synth tones that weave in and out of the main keyboard passage. Keeping it simple, this song doesn’t build upon layers of synth leads and rhythms, but instead draws the listener in with its beautiful simplicity. “Mordred’s Curse” is where the excitement begins and the grim, Medieval arrangements take over. Layers of obscured synths and a sudden bit of pulsating effects, followed by nightmarish sounds give this short track a big presence on the album. “The Creeping Mist” is another enticing track that is full of wondrous melody and droning ambience to give this brooding dirge a full and really clear sound. The lead synth chops are used sparingly and in good taste, as they provide an additional warming atmosphere. Next up is my a favorite song on the album, “A Madness Of Farewells”. Commencing with a mysterious synth effect that fuses into an elegant, yet melancholic arrangement, this has to be one of the most memorable moments on the album. Medieval-style keyboard leads and layers of dungeon synth melodies complete this monumental song and in my opinion, it’s just not long enough. “Almesbury Gates” starts with blasting cathedral-like organs before developing into a modest dungeon synth arrangement. These two styles battle back and forth throughout the track with the occasional pulse effect, giving it a percussive feel. Toward the end, the melody changes and contains an echo effect, providing a grandiose sound. “Heathen Of The Northern Sea” is an enchanting piece that compliments the style of Almesbury Abbey. The lead keyboard chops are magical on this track and pay further homage to the traditional dungeon synth sound. “My Sinful Queen I Forgive Thee” has the characteristics (and sound) of a classical guitar composition with hints of retro progressive synth arrangements, with regards to tone and its progressive time signature. The final track on the album is “Beyond These Voices There Is Peace.” The choir-like vocal effects are both ominous and mournful at the same time. Medieval synth interpretations slowly crescendo into the mix and ultimately overtake the vocal effects all together. As more synth sounds are introduced, the more dismal the track gets, painting a very grim picture to close out the album.

Almesbury Abbey is a very fascinating project that contains elements of neo-classical, dungeon synth and Medieval compositions. Knowing that all of these magnificent pieces were written and inspired by the latter days of Queen Guinevere, makes it all the more worthwhile. If you enjoy synth music of a more intimate setting with hints of harsher overtones, I would highly recommend checking out ‘Queen Guinevere’ and supporting this prodigious artist by downloading the album from the link below.

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Links:

https://almesburyabbey.bandcamp.com/releases

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

Eyre Transmissions VII: Interview With Dungeon Synth Abecedarian, Rectory

As Dungeon Synth continues to grow in popularity, the amount of artist surging onto the scene is astonishing. It seems like every few days A new artist appears, or three to five new recordings get released, causing me to maintain extra “Bandcamp Funds” in order to support this community as much as I can. One of the new artist that I’ve really been impressed with is Rectory and with their brand of Haunted Dungeon Synth, it opens up another sub-genre of ambient-based synth music for the ages. Debut recording, ‘Ghost Stories’, contains four ethereal tracks of breathtaking Dungeon Synth that borderlines medieval tones and eerie dark ambient passages that transcends multiple genres. With songs such as “Waking At Midnight” and “This Room Always Feels So Sad”, there is a sense of gloomy malevolence at play that is hauntingly beautiful, yet seemingly damaging to the soul. I recently had the pleasure to conduct an interview with Rectory to find out how they got started, the story behind “Haunted Dungeon Synth”, and anything in between.

1. First of all, thank you for taking the time to conduct this interview. It seems like Rectory quickly infiltrated the Dungeon Synth scene within the last few months. What were some of your main influences for getting started?

That’s very kind of you to say so; I still feel like no bugger has heard of us. Not that I resent that, of course! It’s a scene that’s absolutely exploding at the moment and we’re just happy to be a part of it.

When I first started writing, I only really knew the big names in Dungeonsynth: Burzum, Mortiis, Jim Kirkwood… I explored more as I went and found some really great stuff. I don’t know how much it inspired me directly, though. Musically, I’ve taken the biggest inspiration from film composers, especially Joseph Bishara, Danny Elfman, Fabio Frizzi and Charlie Clouser. 

2. According to your Bandcamp page, you label your music as “Haunted Dungeon Synth”. What sets your music apart from the typical Dungeon Synth music that we hear quite often these days?

I love the medieval things and the sword and sorcery things that some people do, but it isn’t right for me. I’ve been fascinated with ghosts and hauntings since I was about eight or nine years old. I find the subject completely fascinating. If you’re a believer, it’s great that there’s a whole world to explore that we don’t understand yet. If you’re a total sceptic, isn’t it fascinating that your brain can do these things and make you think you’ve experienced something paranormal?

So, the idea for Rectory began to crystallise, and it became a little project for me to work on while England was on lockdown over COVID-19. It’s already gone further than I expected it to. 

If you mean musically, I guess it’s just the general sound. Our music is the antithesis of Comfy Synth. Hell, call us “Discomfort Synth” if you want. The moment we press ‘record’ we are thinking about how we can unnerve the listener.

3. Do you think that “Comfy Synth” has also influenced Rectory’s sound, but in a way that‘s condescending to that sub-genre?

Not at all. There are a few Comfy Synth artists whose worn I enjoy – Tiny Mouse, for example, is wonderful – but it’s not something we’re interested in writing. There’s certainly no backlash or condescension on our part. I’m happy they’re doing their thing, and I’m happy people love it.
The genre is already incredibly small and anti-commercial. I don’t think that infighting or sneering at what other artists are doing is productive for anyone.

4. For the releases that you currently have out, there seems to be a ghostly theme to the music and album covers. What inspires you to write around this subject matter?

Lifelong obsession, really. I love reading true ghost stories, and I’ve been to seances and ghost hunts. I just love all aspects of it. I’ve seen and experienced enough stuff to make me believe that some of it is real. The name “Rectory” is taken from Borley Rectory, which was allegedly the most haunted house in Britain until it was destroyed. 

I also took a lot of inspiration from classic ghost stories by guys like M.R. James, Sheridan Le Fanu, and William Hope Hodgson. There is an atmosphere to those tales that I really wanted to capture. Not that I don’t love modern stuff, too! Adam Nevill is an absolute master. Garth Marenghi is a huge influence on us, too.

5. Do you provide your own artwork for the albums as well?

The cover for “Ghost Stories” is an interior photo of Borley Rectory. The cover of “There Was a Man Dwelt by a Churchyard” is one I took, myself, of my Ouija board.

https://rectory.bandcamp.com/album/ghost-stories

6. How important is the ambient/atmospheric aspect to your craft?

100%. Rectory is nothing without the ambience and atmosphere. That’s often where the song-writing starts.

7. Do you think you might venture out into the Dark Ambient arena some day?

Possibly. A few people have said that they consider Rectory to be more Dark Ambient than Dungeon Synth, already. It’s totally possible we could gradually evolve that way. Lustmord is a huge influence on what we do. His soundscapes are incredible.
Of course, if anyone has a horror film that needs scoring, that’s something we’d love to do.

8. Before Rectory, were you involved with any other musical endeavors? If so, how was the transition to playing/recording Dungeon Synth?

Yeah, I’m a punk musician. Self taught. I’ve been playing and writing stuff since I was about fourteen, with varying degrees of obscurity.

I have very little musical theory under my belt, so that, and learning to play the keyboard from scratch were the biggest challenges. It’s been something totally outside of my experience and comfort zone, but that’s a large part of what has made it so rewarding.

9. Cassette releases seem to be a big thing in the Dungeon Synth community. Do you plan on any physical releases of your recordings?

Yes, Sol Moribundo has released “Ghost Stories” on cassette.

I’m not a fan of the format at all, but enough people were interested that I set out to make it happen. Sol Moribundo are a small, start-up label, but they’ve been great to work with.

10. Have you thought about collaborating with other artists?

Some conversations have been had, but nothing is in the pipeline at present. 

11. Tell me about your recording/playing setup. Do you use a mix of analog and digital recording equipment?

I use a Ouija board, planchette and automatic writing.

https://rectory.bandcamp.com/track/there-was-a-man-dwelt-by-a-churchyard

12. Do you have any desire to play live or do you plan to stick to being a recording artist only?

No, I’m an old man, now. My live performance days are well and truly behind me. To be honest, I’m not sure DS ever translates well into a live environment. If Summoning can’t make it work live, what chance do the rest of us have?

Plus I think so much of “the Rectory experience” – if I may be permitted to talk like an abject fucking nonce for a moment – takes place inside the listener’s head, and I worry any visuals would distract from that.  

13. These days, how much do you rely on social media to spread the word (and music) of Rectory?

It’s the only way of doing it. The Dungeon Synth groups on Facebook are incredibly open minded and supportive, and there’s a few really good blogs out there. One of them wants to interview me, but I forget their name.

14. I really appreciate your time for this interview and thanks for the music that you provide to this wonderful community. Do you have any final words for your fans that may be reading this interview?

Sure. The Rectory album is in production, and will be out as soon as I’m happy with it. It’s called “The Rattle of Dry Earth”. After that, I’ll be working on a World War II themed DS project as a quick break, which should be a lot of fun.

Links:

BC: https://rectory.bandcamp.com

FB: https://www.facebook.com/RectoryOfficial/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RectoryOfficial

Madame Swann Records Rare Compositions And A Few Original Tracks On Unprecedented Self-Titled Album

Although the origins of Dungeon Synth continue to be debated, there is no question that it’s influences date back centuries. From medieval-era composition to turn-of-the-century neo-classical arrangements, Dungeon Synth has taken great prestige in expanding on these magnificent musical cultures. Madame Swann has done something quite unique on their debut album, in that they’ve taken four previously written compositions from the early 1900’s – that have never been musically recorded – and have given them an everlasting audible experience. In addition, Madame Swann have composed two original tracks to add to this stellar recording, giving their personal stamp on this special album. In all, these six tracks flow with a sense of nostalgia with a minimalistic approach to instrument tracking.

Right from the start, the ominous quality of “Balbec Après I’Orage” shuffles through notes with haunting enthusiasm and presents a crystal-clear production that is even more haunting. Various synth effects present a retro feel throughout the track and it’s just so hard to imagine that this beautiful song was written around a hundred years ago, even though it sounds so up-to-date. “Nuit d’Octobre” is one of the original tracks written by Madame Swann and it fits in perfectly with the aesthetics of the other classical tracks on this album with regards to arrangement and melody beautification. In addition, the minimalistic approach provides such an eerie backdrop to go along with the minor keys that are played in such a masterful structure. “Captive” keeps the same sound, tone and timing as the previous tracks and it simply exudes a combination of neo-classical and retro synth layers to create a lavish sound. Next up is the delightfully toned, “Fugitive”. The production contains a huge wall-of-sound that slowly echoes to create a massive musical endeavor. A faint drone plays underneath a busy synth lead that reverberates a passion for classical compositions. “La Mort De Swann” is a standout track as it contains various sounds and effects not heard on any other track. From deep synth grumbles to high-pitched vibrato tones, this is a short eclectic piece that is too interesting not to be recorded for the first time in almost a century. The final track on the album is another Madame Swann original entitled “Prière”. This one features more of a dark ambient intro with mesmerizing narrations before diving into some serious medieval synth leads. After a few bars of this beautiful sound, it begins to build and layer with additional leads that play in the same style but toned down a bit, creating a really enthralling and adventurous track.

I really enjoy the concept of Madame Swann and the approach taken on this album was done with with extraordinary attention to detail. Containing two original tracks written by the artist and four tracks written by Jeanne Spitz (almost one hundred years ago) but never musically recorded, Madame Swann have released an amazing album of neo-classical/neo-medieval synth music that shouldn’t be pigeon-holed to just those two genres. From the arrangements, instrumentation, musicianship and production, this album presents an all-around wonderful listening experience. Please support Madame Swann and download this amazing album from the link below.

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Links:

https://madameswann.bandcamp.com/releases

Velvety Synth Leads And Ghoulish Compositions Prevail On Ancient Sword’s ‘Ars Antiqua’

Darkness descending on ominous Dungeon Synth music with a soundtrack-like quality is one of the key elements that I’ve come to love with this genre of music. It’s those artists that continue to push the boundary of songwriting and sound quality without giving up the general aesthetics of the genre is what makes recordings like these sound so great. In this matter, I’m referring to ‘Ars Antiqua’ by Ancient Sword. Featuring eight mesmerizing tracks of elemental Dungeon Synth, this is a beautiful recording of the highest nature.

“Descending The Darkpath” is the perfect album opener with dismal field recordings and evil synth effects to perfectly place the listener in the mood for a harrowing experience. “Hermit’s Dream” begins with a soothing keyboard tone that is soon followed by a clean synth lead that is easy to follow and will have the listener humming the same tune right away. The orchestral elements add a refreshing light to this track as well. “Alabard Song” kicks things off in high gear with a haunting rhythm and portentous drum beats. As layers of synths continue to seep in, it’s obvious that this is a standout track on the album. “A Crowd Of Shades Flitting By Dark Waters” starts as a peculiar synthwave track with bizarre tones and intricate keyboard fills. Around the halfway mark, additional keyboard fills make their presence known as this outlandish track suddenly fades off in the distance. “King’s Farewell” is another sinister sounding track that features many keyboard effects that will please fans of both Medieval Dungeon Synth and retro synthwave as well. The multiple layers of lead synth tracks seems to broaden the spectrum for this song and it takes a beautiful turn toward an orchestral piece toward the end. “Chrysopoeia” features a harmonious keyboard lead that is soon synchronized with swaying synth drones that together, create a wondrous melody that is catchy and memorable. “Night Wanderer” begins with a brooding sound that borders malevolence more than it does the pleasantries of harmonious tones. With soft, percussive sounds and layers of droning synths, this is not only one of the darkest tracks on the album, but it’s also rich in natural composition with a striking arrangement as well. The final track on the album, “Mythical Twilight”, is a somber arrangement with fascinating keyboard tones and layers of congenial synth leads that play out like a magical orchestration until the very end.

Ancient Sword has created an enchanting experience with ‘Ars Antiqua’. Although these eight tracks provide thirty two minutes of listening pleasure, each song is well crafted and diverse in its own right. From ominous tones and sinister sounds to beautiful orchestrations, this album is well diverse and should please fans of all types of synth music in general. I highly recommend checking out this album from the link below and I’m eager to see what this artist has to offer in the very near future.

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Links:

https://ancientsword.bandcamp.com/releases

Isolation And Nature Collide On Grimloch’s Esoteric And Terse EP, ‘Return To The Wild’

Sometimes fate takes you to a remote location in nature that rarely see interaction with mankind. Those are the environmental settings that have a lasting impression on many enthusiasts that rely on the beauties of the countryside for artistic influence. Some are fortunate to live by these landscapes and have access to these types of wondrous sceneries. That’s exactly the case for Grimloch and the purity of the music that is presented on ‘Return To The Wild’. Leaning heavy on the surroundings of the lonely environment with a conservative approach to instrumental and production integration, Grimloch prepares a unique take on Dungeon Synth that combines modest folk influences across seven short and extraordinary tunes.

The delicate keys of “Rapid Forge (Introduction)” play an irregular pattern as if someone is becoming familiar with a strange new land for the first time. Smooth and slightly distorted chops add a brightness and sense of happiness to the situation, as the ‘Return To The Wild’ commences. The arrangement on “Mirkwood Forest” may seem random at first, but is intricately woven with the allure of nature and it’s haunting calmness allows for this layered and rhythmic tune to sound complex and appealing. “Farewell Rose” is a beautiful forest synth piece that contains several tracks of various instruments that seamlessly play a thoughtful and sedative tune. “Druid Sunrise” is another complex piece that is methodically layered with various sounds that remain harmonious throughout. In keeping with the true fashion of this recording, the track suddenly ends, just as you’re starting to get enthralled in its mysticism. “The Orb” has a traditional Dungeon Synth vibe with some ethereal tones and perfectly fitting echo effects that make this a standout track. “Velox Spiritus” is a very short but dreamy synth piece that has a peculiar reverb effect, giving it a huge sound. The final song on this obscure offering is “A Beautiful Birth”. Not only is it the longest song on the album – just over two minutes in length – it’s also the most adaptable, as it contains soothing drone synths, haunting keyboard leads and eerie soundscapes. Toward the end of the track, there is even a low-end drone to close things out.

Grimloch is certainly a unique and arcane artist. Drawing a majority of his influences from hidden landscapes and remote, desolate settings, the power of this esoteric recording is quite fascinating. Although these seven tracks take up only eight minutes of playing time, every second is utilized to the max and not a moment is wasted. ‘Return To The Wild’ is a charming piece of work and is worth checking out. If you like your Dungeon Synth tracks short & sweet, with a variety of minimalistic instrumentation, I recommend checking out Grimloch’s complete discography, which is available for “name your price”. However, the direct link for ‘Return To The Wild’ is available below.

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Links:

https://grimloch.bandcamp.com/album/return-to-the-wild

Count Shirintsu Infuse Traditional Sounds Of Asia With Meditative Synths On ‘Spirit Of The Earth’ EP

The sounds of the Orient have such a soothing & amazing tone and the aesthetics of it’s energy certainly fit in with synth music. In this case, Dungeon Synth perfectly fits the mold for what Count Shirintsu has accomplished over the past several recordings. On latest effort, ‘Spirit Of The Earth’ EP, there is a buoyant sound that provides an introspective look at ancient Asian culture as well as the delicate side of Dungeon Synth music, entwined uniquely across three short, memorable tracks that are superbly written and contribute to a unique side of the genre.

Album opener, “Spirit Of The Earth” begins with a hearty amount of retro synth wave modulations, followed by an exquisite lead keyboard chop that maximizes on melody and early-morning visions. This would be a perfect theme song for an 80’s throwback television show. Even though this track is just over two minutes in length, there is a lot going on and it’s the perfect introduction to the Count Shirintsu sound. Next up, is the ethereal sounds of “稲荷大神”. This is where the music of Asian influences really shine, as the into harmony resembles the twang of oriental stringed instruments. After a bar of of this enthralling endeavor, it seamlessly blends with with additional layers of Far East sounds. This wonderful refrain continues with the inclusion of several instances of lead instrumental work that puts the listener in the heart of a peaceful Byzantine land, where the culture is at the forefront of all other endeavors. Field recordings of flowing water in random patterns and the calming natural sounds of chirping birds complete this meticulous track. The final song on this EP is “Spirit Of The Earth (Reprise)”. Containing the same melody of the album opener, this reprise is a single keyboard recording, stripped down to the original beauty of the arrangement. This is an excellent Dungeon Synth track that is charmingly played and on several occasions, when the half-notes are hit, a sense of awe will embellish the listener.

Count Shirintsu is such an amazing artist with an amazing ear for beautiful melodies that stretch across multiple genres and cultures. ‘Spirit Of The Earth’ is not only a relevant Dungeon Synth recording, it is also an eclectic piece for synth music in general, and that is an amazing feat in itself. I know this was just an EP but I would have loved a full-length album of this material to soak up for a longer period of time. At any rate, this is an excellent album and I can not recommend this enough, so please click on the link below and download this incredible piece of work.

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Links:

https://countshirintsu.bandcamp.com/album/spirit-of-the-earth

Thorgnyr Delivers A Conceptual Piece On The Revolution Of Life Called, ‘Cycles’

As Dungeon Synth continues to grow in thematic expression, I’ve come to the conclusion that no subject matter is off limits at this point and anything that can arouse the emotions is worthy of a conceptual album in this ever-so-impressive genre. Although there are many noteworthy artists that have burst onto the scene to deliver their brand of medieval synth music, one that has been rather impressive as of late is Thorgnyr. On the extraordinary sophomore effort called ‘Cycles’, Thorgnyr releases four long-form tracks that conceptualize a day in the revolution of life (in general). With the help of Icelandic folklore, mythical creatures and ghost stories, these four tracks emerge as a solid story with varied influences and the outcome is outstanding.

On the opening track, “Dusk”, beautifully suppressed synths are woven into a Medieval melody that lay the ground work for this breathtaking ten and a half minute long track. After a short refrain, layers of background synths are added to thicken the sound. At around the three minute mark, synth leads orchestrate a discordant – but necessary pattern – that harmonizes well with the original melody of the music. Soon afterwards, percussive patterns are introduced, solidifying this track in the right evening time mood and preparing the listener for further enchantments that represents the other phases in this cycle. The next track is the grimly composed, “Night”. Starting with just a single keyboard melody and briskly bridging in backup sounds that are daring and bold, this track perfectly describes the title in the dark, brooding music that unfolds across nearly ten minutes of playing time. Deep, thunderous keyboards play modulating sounds that are haunting and spirit evoking. About halfway through, a quirky keyboard arrangement makes its way into the mix, as if representing the awakening of nocturnal creatures, as they stir through the land in search for food and festivities. “Dawn” begins with a loud, shrieking keyboard tone that is definitely in the Dungeon Synth tradition. As the awakening of a new day emerges, warm keyboard melodies pleasantly mix synth leads, creating a warm and inviting sound. This sound maintains a relatively quick pace for the first six minutes or so, then the track takes a sharp turn with different keyboard effect. The keyboard leads really shine throughout this whole track and they rarely let up, except on occasion to bring in more layers of synths and percussion patterns. The final track on the album is the best ten minute long, “Day”. Commencing with a high-pitched keyboard arrangement that matches the relaxing elements of nature as the day unfolds, breathing life into everting into existence. A couple of minutes in, distorted synths provide the backdrop to the enlightened melodies and gives this track an immense sound, as this album comes full circle. Again, the percussion elements add a nice layer of crunch to the track and gives it’s a grandiose feeling.

With having such a short career in the Dungeon Synth genre thus far, Thorgnyr continues to deliver the goods and proves that’s they are in it for the long haul. With just two albums under their belts – ‘Depths’ from March and ‘Cycles’ from April, Thorgnyr sounds like they’ve been delivering the ancient message for much longer than that. ‘Cycles’ is a really impressive release and one that I plan on listening to for sometime to come. Please support this amazing artist and download ‘Cycles’ from the link below.

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Links:

https://thorgnyr.bandcamp.com/album/cycles

Pastoral Refrains Cater To The Gentle Side Of Nature On Alloch Nathir’s ‘The Emerald Grotto’

Nature is the essence of many aspects of life. Whether good or evil, the crux of its attributes supplies endless amounts of viable resources in order to create an unfathomable sense of inspiration for music. From placid elements that relate to the morning dawn, peaceful wilderness and the natural formations of the land to dark & eerie forests, storms & gray skies and desolate terrain, music can take on these exact same forms and emit either a somber or malevolent side. Alloch Nathir’s ‘The Emerald Grotto’ takes the best of both worlds and combines them into a soothing and melodic style of forest/fantasy synth that will have the listener bonding with all elements of nature. Within these eight tracks, the listener will be summoned deep into the forest to a mystical cave that will transcend an ordinary forest floor into an unprecedented hidden treasure.

“Tome Of The Mercurial Font” fades in like a soft, flowing stream, deep in the heart of a secluded forest. Majestic strings pluck a simple but melodic tune to entice the mood. At once, harmonious sounds are brought in to create a peaceful environment, abundant with life. Subtle keys in the background induce feelings of tranquility and enlightenment. “Lost In The Wooded Labyrinth” takes us further down the stream where the currents are stronger and the exalted beauty is matched by sovereign string arrangements. The constant chirps of birds signifies a particularly sheltered environment where the scenery has the upper hand on any unforeseen visitors. Faint synth effects can be heard, but are distinct enough to create a balance between forest and fantasy synth. “Embraced By Dawn’s Gentle Grace” exemplifies all of the core qualities of a great dungeon synth track; slightly upbeat keys, great fills that don’t stop throughout the majority of the track, as well as the delicate warbles of the local inhabitants. Although this is a fairly short track, it exemplifies the content of this album as a whole and really stands out as a memorable piece. “Beyond The Traveled Trail” is a fast paced anthem that features a groovy percussion part that maintains a rhythmic stance throughout. The muffled synth lead is a whimsical nod to somber isolation, yet has an encouraging tone. “The Conjurer’s Cauldron” begins with an aggressive, deep sounding synth tone that plays opposite to a staggering lead part that is reminiscent of a suppressed horn. The polyrhythmic percussion melody is outstanding and fits in perfectly. “Reflections In A Windshorn Mist” continues with the vigorous fantasy synth elements and will have the listener drifting off into the heart of the forest, in search of inner peace and expansion. The final minute of this song changes directions slightly with a solo synth work that is bold and slightly passive. “The Pearl In The Cavern Pool” is my favorite song on the album. It starts with a reticent rain shower field recording and is soon followed by a restrained synth arrangement that has a beautiful melody, but is cold and dark at the same time. The final track on the album, “The Emerald Grotto” is a bleak offering that would be perfect for a hazy autumnal morning, just before the season changes to winter. Although nature’s intonations are absent from this track, it’s apparent that deep inside the hidden cavern, all is lost from the outside world. This is a trance inducing offering that blends droning keyboard effects with harmonic leads that find a delicate balance between repetition and beauty. I can’t think of a better track than this one to end such an amazing album.

Alloch Nathir uses the beauty of nature as well as the mystifying sounds of forest and fantasy synth to deliver an exceptional album that is worthy of multiple listens and will probably be a staple in my DS playlist for a long time to come. Although clocking in at just twenty five minute in length, every bit of this time is used superbly and the field recordings are just about flawless. If delicate synth music riddled with the sounds of nature is your thing, then I can not recommend ‘The Emerald Grotto’ enough. Support this amazing artist and download this incredible album from the link below. You’ll not be disappointed.

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Links:

https://allochnathir.bandcamp.com/