Eighth Tower Records unveils companion book for ‘The Black Stone – Music For Lovecraftian Summonings’

The Black Stone – Stories For Lovecraftian Summonings

In January of this year, Eighth Tower records released another groundbreaking album of Dark Ambient resonance that featured the best-of-the-best artist of the genre. Some of them are amongst my favorite and include Mombi Yuleman, Alphaxone, Ashtoreth, NEW RISEN THRONE and Moloch Conspiracy to name a few. All of these artist successfully constructed Lovecraftian-themed tracks of fascinating darkness and a sonic exploratory of unmatched mythical subject matter. Fast forward a few months and we find another innovative event for Eighth Tower Records in the form of their first-ever book release. A companion to ‘The Black Stone’ album, it is entitled, ‘The Black Stone – Stories For Lovecraftian Summonings’ and features twenty seven tales of horror inspired by H.P. Lovecraft and his Cthulhu Mythos.

Here is some additional information about the book and writers, as found on the Eighth Tower Records Bandcamp page:

Featuring: Ramsey Campbell, Brian M Sammons, Glynn Owen Barrass, Lucy A. Snyder, E.A. Black, Chris Kelso, Andrew Coulthard, Stephen Mark Rainey, Kevin Lewis, Richard A. Scott, Russell Smeaton, John Buja, Made in DNA, David Agranoff, Pete Rawlik, Brian C. Short, Michael Housel, John Chadwick, David Voyles, Konstantine Paradias, Edward Morris, Parry Milton, Phil Breach, Garrett Cook, Andrew Freudenberg, Love Kolle, Sarah Walker.

Curated by Raffaele Pezzella
Cover illustration by John Chadwick
Editing by Parry Milton

https://eighthtowerrecords.bandcamp.com/merch/the-black-stone-stories-for-lovecraftian-summonings-book-cd
https://eighthtowerrecords.bandcamp.com/album/the-black-stone-music-for-lovecraftian-summonings

Grab a copy of this book before it’s sold out and if you’ve not heard the amazing album that was released back in January, do yourself a favor a download that one right away for a stunning audial experience.

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Links:

https://eighthtowerrecords.bandcamp.com/music

https://unexplainedsoundsgroup.bandcamp.com

Cryo Chamber Label’s Seventh Lovecraftian Collaboration, ‘Yig’, Is The Most Versatile Offering In The Series Yet

Since 2014, the Cryo Chamber label has embarked on an annual endeavor that epitomizes the meaning of artist collaboration. Paying tribute to world renowned author – and creator of the Cthulhu Mythos – H.P. Lovecraft, these musical ventures have proven time and time again to be epically daring and adventurous beyond the realm of typical artistry participation. Consisting of mainly album-length tracks, these Lovecraftian collaborations find the gathering of current Cryo Chamber artists, alumni of the label, and additional artists that are some of the best in the business. As each album culminates an evolution of sound and dynamics, they also improve with more sophistication and a variation of modular potency. The seventh (and latest) album in the series, ‘Yig’, consists of two songs that are around seventy minutes in length each and the transparency of these arrangements make it the most accessible and auditory one yet.

“Yig 1” wastes no time in creating a cinematic ambience, as mystifying soundscapes and fearless drones find a balance between sinister accord and Middle Eastern vibes. Percussive elements of a tribal nature begin to create a ritualistic groove that challenges the senses which results in being caught between darkness and a theatrical emotive state. As the percussion slowly fades, it gives way to deep, peaceful drones that succeed in delegating mental prowess to the subconscious. Various field recordings and effects paint an eerie scene, but this is just the beginning. At the twelve and a half minute mark, electronic beats add a rhythmic cadence that is downright sinister, but it is also a well designed section for this track as it adds an authentic layout to the ominous subject matter. One of my favorite sections of this track starts at around the twenty eight minute mark. Up to this point, the output has been mostly dark and malevolent in nature, but here there is a particular calmness that is a perfect inclusion. Layers of vibrant drones create a spacey vibe while keeping it melancholic at the same time. It’s so easy to get lost in this section as it’s so dreamy and introspective. If you’ve not done so up to this point, you’ll want to close your eyes and soak in the fantasy world that is being created. This section carries on for about seven minutes or so before traversing into darker territories again. At around the forty seven and a half minute mark, another important section of this track is introduced. Commencing with a good mix of field recordings, it is soon joined by West Asian instrumentation and some wicked vocalizations that are barely audible. After a few more very powerful sections of this track, we finally make it to the last few minutes, which ends in the same fashion as it started – unique field recordings and beautiful instrumentations that provide the cinematic finale to this grandiose piece. “Yig 2” is another impressive feat of legendary proportions. Starting with dark, desolate drones and apocalyptic soundscapes, the beginning sets a ravaging pace of systematic annihilation for the next seventy minutes. At around six and a half minutes, spacious drones meander in slow motion while a calming effect pierce through its dense layers. The looping effect creates an arcane sensation and the trance-like results are mind blowing. Another impressive section begins at around nineteen minutes in. As one section transparently fades into the next, this one has soaring guitar and piano leads with almost a dark noir sound. I could listen to a whole album of this stuff. Well played and just enough distortion on the percussive parts to change things up a bit, this is one of my favorite parts on the whole album. Starting at around the thirty two minute mark is probably one of the most essential sections on the album, as it really provides that nostalgic Lovecraftian vibe of horror and fascination for darkness. The bombastic drum beats combines with various drones and soundscapes create a menagerie of sound that is addictive and suggestive of the subject matter. Ominous and explosive black ambience is captured at around fifty two minutes in, as elements of industrialized drones begin to take over. The sound continues to grow darker and more perilous as a sense of anxiety begins to mount. However after a few minutes, that is counteracted by soft, soothing drones that successfully develop into an emotional journey for the final few minutes of this monumental album.

One of the most impressive aspects of the ‘Yig’ collaboration is how over twenty artists from all over the world, supply a version of their craft for this themed story with absolutely no opacity between parts. We’re talking two, seventy plus minutes tracks of some of the best arranged Dark Ambient material that has been produced recently. That extraordinary effort has made ‘Yig’ one of my favorites amongst the Cryo Chamber Lovecraft Collaboration series. If you’ve not heard this yet, I highly recommend checking it out by clicking on the link below.

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Links:

https://cryochamber.bandcamp.com/album/yig

Guan Yin Video Premiere For “Repentance II”

In May of 2020, I reviewed an extremely diverse and unique collaboration album released on Akashic Envoy Records called ‘Apostils Against Hegemony, Vol. I: Transitive Properties’. Although that album contained thirty three extraordinary tracks, I detailed ten of them that stood out the most. Amongst those standout tracks was “Evocation I” by Guan Yin. The ritualistic essence laid a foundation for bleak drones, discordant vocals and black ambience and left me wanting more. The time has finally come for a new track and I’m extremely excited to present the video for “Repentance II”. It’s everything that I expected it to be and so much more. I hope you enjoy this song as much as I do and please visit the links at the bottom of the page.

Information from the artist/label:

Guan Yin: a ritual ambient project from multi-instrumentalist Cicatrix (Nodus Tollens, Chernozem – they/them)) and vocalist Espi Kvlt (Seas of Winter, Apricitas, Nehushtan – they/he).

In much the same way that the duo’s other collaboration Exsanguinated Shade doesn’t fit neatly within the parameters of a single genre, Guan Yin doesn’t approach ritual ambient in the traditional way. For starters, there are no occult themes in the duo’s music – Espi Kvlt is a practicing Buddhist, and all of their lyrics come from Buddhist texts. From a musical perspective, Cicatrix draws as much inspiration from power electronics artists like Prurient and Theologian as they do from the ritualistic sounds of Corona Barathri or Emme Ya.

For the dark and frequently harrowing half of their split with cinematic ambient duo Sun Through Eyelids, Espi Kvlt took their lyrics from the Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch, specifically the section on Repentance. They chose that particular text because they were struggling with a mistake they made around the same time the duo were working on the split, and when dealing with serious life issues, the way they tend to overcome the pain and suffering from said issues is by making music. By focusing on the Repentance section of the Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch, they were able to heal through singing the words and forgive themselves for said mistake. While no amount of repentance can ever truly eliminate the pain caused to another, it can serve to spread good will into the world and bring loving-kindness to any beings we have wronged.

The Sun Through Eyelids/Guan Yin split will be available on cassette from Acepahle Winter Productions on March 19. Limited to 50 copies on metallic silver shells. Preorders launch on March 5.

Links:

https://guanyin.bandcamp.com

https://acephalewinter.bandcamp.com

https://sunthrougheyelids.bandcamp.com

Aleksis Tristan Shaw Reveals An Array Of Influences On The Cinematic ‘Drones Of The Hive’

I’ll be the first to admit that it’s hard to soak in and preserve a lasting affection for many of the albums that I review. It’s not that I don’t like them, in fact, I’ve been fortunate to love everything that I’ve reviewed up to this point. Once I’m finished with one, I tend to put that album on the back burner (for a while), so that I can move on to the next. However, there are many instances where an album stops me dead in my tracks and enthralls me for multiple listens, with an extended staying time on my iPhone. ‘Drones Of The Hive’ by Aleksis Tristan Shaw is one of those albums. Not your typical Dark Ambient release, this one digs deep into emotional wounds with grandiose, cinematic energy, ominous synth leads, and an endless supply of menacing soundscapes & textures that set the mood for continual meditative euphoria. The ten imposing tracks contained within, offer variety, horror, substance, and unequivocal entertainment for the better part of forty eight minutes. Let’s take a deeper dive into each of these tracks.

The album commences with the somber, “Human Remainder”. Soft keys and pads drift sadly as they create a lush melody that will instantly reel the listener in. Soon after, harsh, looping keyboard tones ring out like a warning alarm while the cinematic instrumentation increases. “Vestigial Cries” begins with low, tonal sounds that set a grim mood. High-pitched drones oscillate throughout the track, providing a glimmer of hope to the emotional vibe that was previously set. Layers of synths piece this track together boldly with hints of dissonance and conflict while never loosing focus on the contemplative state. “Shamanic Atavism” is brimming with discordant synth leads while the background sounds like a black metal style song into. This track is very dark, yet dreamy and introspective. “Tenement Graves” is another gloomy piece that features the sounds of a crackling fire and a nifty drum beat that fits right in with the pace of the synths. As the percussive parts change up, multi-layers of quixotic keys & pads provide a grandiose audial platform that’s so easy to get lost in. “Dukkha And Anatman” is a multifaceted track that goes from horror score, minimalistic droning, to cinematic bliss. The use of percussive elements really stick out as well, making this one of my favorite tracks on the album. “Drifting Consciousness” renders terrifying drones, looping soundscapes and unidentifiable noises that will keep the listener on edge. Although this is one of the shorter tracks on the album, it succeeds at masking a horrifying feeling of dread. “Fugitive Drone” is an addictive listen, as the quirky keys & pads fuse perfectly with the cosmic drones, proposing the feeling of a doomed celestial mission. About halfway in, a blast of malevolence alters the tempo, setting up for a lifeless finale that can’t be altered. On the polar opposite of the scale is “Untethered”. Looping tape hisses, minimalistic drones and obscure field recordings dominate this track and when the pulsating drum beat is initiated, it gets that much better. Amongst the crackles and pops, this is actually a really smooth and mellow song that deserves multiple listens. “Caravan Of Outcasts” begins with an ambiguous orchestral arrangement, like a symphony warming up in various keys just before the conductor provides the signal to silence everyone before starting a performance. However, there is beauty amongst the chaos, as melody can be heard throughout. Wind chimes and other field recordings add a layer of organic texture that makes this one stand out as well. The final offering on this wondrous album is, “The Wastelands”. Even though it’s less than three minutes long, this light ambient opus is full of emotions and provides a cleansing affect on the mind and soul. The energy surrounding these hollow drones is breathtaking and it seems to ends too quickly.

Aleksis Tristan Shaw certainly has an ear for not only Dark Ambient but synth music in general. Whether fascinating the listener with cinematic soundscapes, horrifying drones or melodic synth leads, Aleksis Tristan Shaw knows how to administer the perfect blend of music and emotion and the result of that fusion is ‘Drones Of The Hive’. If you’re into ambient recording with meticulous detail and a variety of flavors, then please show your support by downloading this amazing album from the link below. This is truly a masterpiece in sound quality and music depth and it deserves your attention.

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Links:

https://aleksistristanshaw.bandcamp.com/album/drones-of-the-hive

The Wyndham Research Institute Constructs A Retro-Grade Space Ambient Album With The Cosmic, ‘Interim Report No. 57: Io Transmitter Sub-Committee’ Release

When we think about the characteristics of space ambient music, usually deep, prolonged drones come to mind and they are complimented by resounding soundscapes that are celestial in nature. As a listener, we often feel as if we are alone on a spacecraft traveling through deep space on a doomed mission. However, not all space ambient albums have to carry out the same accord and that’s none more apparent than on the latest album by Wyndham Research Institute, ‘Interim Report No. 57: Io Transmitter Sub-Committee’. Elongated drones are replaced with retro synths and cosmic soundscapes that are more inline with a 60’s science fiction show soundtrack than modern space ambient. Fortunately, that’s the beauty of versatility in music and the creative complex. Although these compositions seem nostalgic, they are effective in creating a dark, intricate atmosphere that’s perfect for any ordinary space adventure.

Each of the seven tracks are presented as notes, as if to represent a transmitted sequence at a particular point of time. Right from the start, “Note I” has a retrospective feel and presents sound effects that could have be heard on a 60’s science fiction show. Minimalistic noises and tones serve as a beacon of nostalgia, just as older spacecraft lack the technology of newer ones. “Note II” begins with obscure modulation bends and frequency adjustments, as a smooth drone sets in to define the mission at hand. Organic effects tend to be a bit distorted and at around the halfway point, more antiquated tones generate a puzzling nuance as if an impromptu meeting with a foreign being is about to take place. The start of “Note III” reminds me of a special effect that Tool or Voivod would use, just before setting into a crushing riff. However, Wyndham Research Institute decides to dial back the noise to a low-frequency drone and more obscure soundscapes. Random ticks and buzzes play on throughout the track, making this a really unique experience. “Note IV” commences slowly into a hollow drone with piercing signals mixed in. Soon after, an 80’s-style horror themed synth pattern begins to play, making this one of the most terrifying tracks on the album. Assorted scratches and screeches intensify the scene as these unidentifiable patterns can only mean mayhem. “Note V” is like a spark of controlled chaos, as various discordances are fused together to present a grueling environment filled with intense moments and obscure happenings. Melodic keys are played throughout, adding a bit of peculiarity to this bizarre track. “Note VI” is one of the most accessible songs yet, as the smooth flowing drones prevail from the very beginning and ascend into layers of deep space bliss. Light soundscapes and an acoustic guitar strum are introduced as well, creating an intoxicating adventure. However, the additional attributes don’t last too long, as they slowly fade out and all that’s left is an austere drone to finish out the track. The final song on the album is “Note VII”. Commencing with a high-pitched frequency vibration and distorted ambience, the track shape-shifts into a mild-tempered hum with a slight Berlin School influence. The heartbeat-like percussive element is a welcomed sound to this final track as many new musical forms are merged together to what may be the best track on the album. The final minute consists of a continuous hiss, reminiscent of a combustion chamber of a spacecraft, thwarting a lonely cosmonaut into the far reaches of the universe.

Wyndham Research Institute have uniquely carved their own path for creating a variety of Dark Ambient, influenced by science fiction of an obsolete sound. This is also a breath of fresh air in the ever-growing Ambient community where modern, complex themes dominate most recordings. ‘Interim Report No. 57: Io Transmitter Sub-Committee’ is a rare treat for the Space Ambient sub-genre and is an unprecedented achievement for modern synth music. I highly recommend checking out this album so please support Wyndham Research Institute by download it from the link below.

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Links:

https://wyndhamresearch.bandcamp.com/album/interim-report-no-57-io-transmitter-sub-committee

Ashtoreth & Chthonia Join Forces To Conjure Ritualistic Ordeals On ‘Throne Of Astrōarchē’

To me, Dark Ambient is much more that a listening experience. It’s also a journey into ones own mind, to the realm where the conscious and subconscious rarely fuse together. Even though the soothing – often grim – elongated drones elevates our psyche to the realms of the unknown and produce a trance-like emotional state, there are other variables to consider as well. In the case of the magnificent collaborative effort of Ashtoreth & Chthonia, the use of ritualistic soundscapes, haunting narrations and chilling black metal-esque shrills can also produce a comparable outcome. On ‘Throne Of Astrōarchē’, four sinister compositions is all that is needed to coalesce the inner oracles of the mind, releasing a feeling of modular discomfort and ethereal tranquility.

To begin the ceremonial happenings, “Asir” boldly combine many of the elements I previously mentioned. Dark, liturgical soundscapes make a menacing introduction as they are combined with insane Black Metal styled vocal effects and sacred narrations that will have the listener fully engaged. Void of any prolonged drones, it is replaced by creepy sound effects that enhance the grim vocal arrangements. “Nehalennia” commences with a consoling drone that captures the essence of spiritual beauty, along with various soundscapes and ringing bells. I love how nothing is rushed, allowing for the mood of the music to take hold of the listener and bring them into this dark, captivating world. At almost seventeen and a half minutes long, there is plenty of time for many additional things to occur that will build this mystical journey to be remembered. At around the four minute mark, the drones begin to assemble in layers, creating a space-like vibe. However, as soon as the vocals come in, this track takes on a whole new meaning. This song has such an esoteric vibe that it’s so easy to get lost in its dark beauty. Even at its epic length, this song just isn’t long enough and is easily my favorite one on the album. “Marmarospilia” begins with a field recording of a rain storm and what sounds like crashing waves. However it is soon joined by warm drones and synthwave-like keys and pads, producing more of an obscure sound than on the previous tracks. The layering of these elements create such a massive atmosphere, even with a minimalistic arrangement. This fascinating combination carries on for the better part of twelve minutes and the time passes much quicker that it seems. The final track on the album, “Baetyl”, opens with ominous, howling winds that – at times – screech at piercing volumes. Soon after, the combination of soft, effervescent vocals and deep, guttural tones of throat singing begin to emerge as if providing the main drone for the near fifteen minute long track. Various spots of soft whispers and devilish shrills continue to tell an eerie story that remains gloomy and mysterious. Several times throughout the track, the vocal intensity increases, but always descends into darkness as to not take away from the ritualistic experience. The malevolent chanting that occurs in the last few minutes are epic and I really wish there was more occurrences of this on the album. However, that doesn’t distract from the fact that this song has a certain purity that is nearly perfect from start to finish.

I’ve been a big fan of Ashtoreth for quite some time now and I enjoy the emotional journey he creates through his music. His diverse back catalog crosses several music genres, yet his energy remains the same throughout. This effort, along with Chthonia, is no exception as it takes the listener on a bleak, ritualistic journey that is as haunting as it is cleansing. I highly recommend this album for those of you that like to wander beyond the normal boundaries of Dark Ambient, especially if the addition of harrowing vocals and narrations are your thing. ‘Throne Of Astrōarchē’ is the album for you and it demands to be taken seriously. Please support this outstanding collaboration and download this album from the link below.

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Links:

https://ashtoreth1.bandcamp.com/album/throne-of-astr-arch

Robert Eggplant Leans On Expansive Field Recordings And Tangible Surroundings To Offer The Organic Sounds Of ‘Fields Of Yarrow’

The recordings of Robert Eggplant are a rare commodity in the Dark Ambient community. Instead of relying heavily on intense drones, elongated synth notes & pads, he cultivates a unique sound built around field recordings, tape loops & hisses, and guitar manipulations. That’s not to say there aren’t any synths involved, but it’s just not the “go to” instrument of choice. In the end, Robert Eggplant succeeds in constructing a decaying sound that is grim and – at times – down right sinister. As if the sound exploits of the first two albums weren’t enough to blow you away, ‘Fields Of Yarrow’ is released as a magnifying effort to the stunning elements of the previous two albums. At just over an hour long, this seductive offering is meditative and trance inducing but the constant subtleties will keep your sensory level sharp and aware of the ominous effects that skulk without warning.

Album opener, “Absorbence” finds a myriad of field recordings fused together in a pristine effort and cemented by the lull strums of a guitar. Storm winds, rain and other natural sounds present the illusion of nature in its most sedative state. This is where Robert Eggplant excels the most, as though some of these nuances are dark and abrasive, he brings them all together in a soothing package that has complete meditative value. Continuing on, a few tracks later we find “9/18/20”. I’m not sure of the significance of the title but the field recordings suggest a date that may have been great for venturing out and enjoying nature’s elements. The placid flow of an isolated stream is powerful enough to calm the greatest of temperaments and the ominous instrumentation flows just as smooth. “Deer Park” is a short piece but is one of my favorite tracks on the album. The music is quite ghastly and a slight distortion on the drones creates a bucolic feel. “Poetry Is Best Read In Braille” is another standout tracks as it features monumental tape loops and deformed hisses, mixed with a rainstorm field recording. The additional “close up” rain drops add a personal touch as well. Twisted guitar chords produce a manic touch to this esoteric song. Skipping over a few more tracks, we find the dreamy “Absconded Prisoner”. Haunting guitar reverberations with a retro-style texture start things off and then fades into wicked drones, minimalistic soundscapes and field recordings. From start to finish this track is completely hypnotizing. The last track that I’d like to spotlight is the final song on the album, “Warrior’s Bracelet”. This track epitomizes the quest for complete sound manipulation as massive use of reverb, distortion and tape loop reconstruction creates an atmosphere of controlled chaos that is as much chill as it is anxious. The creepy vibe resonates throughout this near six minute track and the end result is beautifully disturbing.

Robert Eggplant is one of the most unique Dark Ambient artists I’ve had the pleasure of listening to and his releases are unprecedented with regard to sound deconstruction, use of field recordings and overall ingenuity of crafting experimental songs. The latest album, ‘Fields Of Yarrow’ is no exception and the thirteen songs contained within form a perfect bond between the listener, music and the dark side of nature. Please show your support for this exceptional artist and download ‘Field Of Sorrow’ from the link below.

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Links:

https://roberteggplant.bandcamp.com/album/fields-of-yarrow

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

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

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

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

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

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Links:

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