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

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

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

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

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Links:

https://downloadmusic.mortiis.com/album/spirit-of-rebellion

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

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

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

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

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Links:

https://dryads.bandcamp.com/album/those-who-the-winter-path-reveals-2

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

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

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

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

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Links:

https://altrusiangrace.bandcamp.com/album/the-outsider

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

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

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

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

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Links:

https://mortiloqvist.bandcamp.com/album/overmorrow

Edging Both Dungeon Synth & Dark Ambient, Morgoth’s Ring Deliver Two Sinister Hymns On ‘Where Stars Are As Feral As The Prowling Wolf Upon The Hyperboreal Heath Of The Cosmos’

If I were to take a guess, I’d say that if you’re reading this, you’re probably also a fan of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord Of The Rings” books (and/or movies) and everything else that falls within that universe. You’re probably also familiar with Morgoth – the black enemy of the world and the one who thwarted his power unto Arda, making middle-earth (as a whole) become known as Morgoth’s Ring. That malicious intent has crossed over to another Morgoth’s Ring, this time in the form of an ambient driven dungeon synth project. With two ominous tracks totaling over thirty four minutes of playing time, there is captivating songwriting on display here that is equal parts malevolence and cinematic glory. The album, ‘Where Stars Are As Feral As The Prowling Wolf Upon The Hyperboreal Heath Of The Cosmos’, is a daring fantasy adventure in which there is peace & bloodshed, as well as good and evil.

The first track is a sixteen minute, three-sectional opus called “Mystic Flamberge | Tempestuous Witching Inferno | Shadow Garland”. Beginning with a beautiful orchestrations, as if the opening credits of a fantasy movie explores the vast snow-capped mountains and deep wintry valleys of a mystical kingdom as it’s people enjoy peace and tranquility on any given day. However, a great storm rages on in the distance – unheard of by many – but will cause great devastation for those that are unprepared for battle. As the second part of the song enters, field recordings of remote storms signal the beginning of danger, and the kingdom prepares to launch an offensive while the commoners seek shelter. Long, droning (but symphonic) keys play melodic tones while eerie sound effects are sequenced in the mix to change the vibe to a more gloomy impression. Deep, meditative, spoken words begin to infiltrate the speakers, although they are barely audible. The adventure is at its maximum frightful level right now. However, the last three minutes of the track morph into a wonderful fantasy synth orchestration with a cinematic-worthy arrangement. The second and final track on the album is the eighteen plus minute long thriller, “Master Of Countless Terrible Legions | -.. .. . .- .-.. —- -. .”. Starting with a harrowing adventure-like tune that would sound right at home on a fantasy/adventure movie soundtrack, the grim, somber sounds work impartially to calm the savage reign of terror that may be imminent as well as provide a sense of agitated aggression due to its deep, droning echoing frequencies from the abyss. At around the six minute mark, the song proceeds down a malevolent path as supernatural sounds protrude as if you’re making your way through a haunted realm filled with evil, enchanted spirits. The last seven minutes of this song change direction once again into a more fantasy/forest synth arrangement. Although peaceful in tone, it has a bleak and dark sound too it. Even though this portion of the song title is written in Morse Code, it stands for Die Alone, and the emotion I get from the music is very reminiscent of loneliness and despair. What a beautiful way to end such a caliginous album.

Morgoth’s Ring is an exceptional up-and-coming dungeon synth artist that takes the cinematic structure to a new level. Mixing a variety of genres to create a legendary adventure – not only musically but for the imagination – this is one album that I plan to have on repeat for a long time. It meets my personal criteria for a great recording and the entertainment value is through the roof. I cannot wait to hear more from Morgoth’s Ring, but in the meantime, I highly recommend adding this one to your collection by downloading it from the link below. You will not be disappointed!

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Links:

https://morgothsring.bandcamp.com/releases

Five Of The Noblest Dungeon Synth Artists Collaborate On Monumental Disciples Of Sunlight Debut Album Entitled ‘Radiance’

Let’s face it, the Dungeon Synth Community seems a little cutthroat these days. If you follow any of the social media groups, there are quite a few topics that spark debate in a negative way that tends to divide the populace rather than promote unity. That being said, it’s rather refreshing to see artists come together to solicit their craft on a consolidated project so that us – the fans – can come to appreciate a variety of sounds on a single album. We can all thank Disciples Of Sunlight, the collaborative efforts of Vandalorum, Nameless King, Rêvoeil, Amethyst Dagger & Count Shirintsu, for converging to deliver a phenomenal debut album called, ‘Radiance’. These six tracks flow amazingly well together and show the power and resilience of a unified bond between motivated artists.

The first track is “Scent Of Evil” by Vandalorum and it begins with the soft, effervescent movement of layered keyboard tracks that contain a large dose of medieval melody. As more delicate instrumentation is added, I’m reminded of a brisk, wintry dawn as the sunlight breaks over the horizon and overtakes the night sky. As daylight comes to full motion, a synthesized drum beat is added to give the track a more massive sound. The next song is “A Cave Of Crystal” by Nameless King. As one of my favorite dungeon synth artists, Nameless King shines bright on this track with an excellent forest synth vibe that has a multitude of sounds and a superb arrangement. The main keyboard sound is crystal clear and the flute-like harmony is like a mid-day ray of sunshine in a peaceful kingdoms village where everyone seems to prosper. Next up is “So I Stood Below The Stars And Wept” by Rêvoeil. At first the simple arrangement will have you wondering the direction it will take, but soon, a full orchestration of sound kicks in and overwhelms the senses. Although this is the shortest song on the album, it perfectly fits in with the arrangement of the other tracks. Providing a second song on the album, Nameless King is up next with “The Embraced Knight’s Plot”. This is a wonderful, melancholic arrangement that has that signature Nameless King keyboard tone, with – once again – excellent songwriting. There is a trance-like quality about this track, especially as the illustrious melody plays over and over again. Amethyst Dagger provides the first of two long songs with the epic “The Judgement Of The Moon”. At just over eleven and a half minutes, this exquisite piece is mostly an ambient & winter synth track, but does contain a few spots where it breaks off into a dungeon synth tune. However, this is unlike any track I’ve heard in quite some time and it’s quite impressive and possibly my favorite song on the album. The second long song – and final track on the album – is “To Water We’ll Return” by Count Shirintsu. As it begins with a field recording of waves hitting the sands of a beach, a single keyboard track provides a desolate tune that sounds cold and isolated, as if and endless winter is drawing near. This winter synth dirge is the perfect way to end this album as it seems have completed the cycle of radiance, through various seasons.

Disciples Of Sunlight is an alliance that I hope will stick around for a while. If ‘Radiance’ is any indication of the affect of their collaborative efforts, then I’m sure future albums by this group of artist will continue to improve and impress. If you’ve not heard this album already, you’re missing out on something very special. I highly recommend this, so click on the link below and download it right away!

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Links:

https://disciplesofsunlight.bandcamp.com/releases

Grandma’s Cottage Presents Another Blissful Tale Of Serenity And Peace On The “Cookie” Side Of ‘Grandma’s Cottage’

Who says that Dungeon Synth can not offer comfort and warmth amongst the barbaric narratives that seem to overwhelm the subject matter of most releases? Sure there are those that write about mythical places full of tranquility but it’s rare that we get a set of releases that provide a sense of reward after all of the havoc has cleared the air. In steps Grandma’s Cottage, a new take on Dungeon Synth that is as advantageous as it is soothing. With two self-titled releases in the wind – The Cottage EP and The Cookie EP – I will be reviewing the wondrous sights (and smells) of The Cookie EP, simply known as ‘Grandma’s Cottage’.

Fresh out of the oven, the first track, “Snickerdoodle” is as warm as the sweet fragrance of the wintry pastry that is represents. With light keyboards and a nice melodic bell sounding arrangement, this track rolls out the welcome mat and makes you feel right at home. “Ginger Snaps” has a more dungeon synth sounding introduction although it is very light-hearted and uplifting as if grandma herself has forced you rest comfortably in a recliner so that she can cater to you herself. “Thumbprint” has a nice fantasy synth vibe but when the canorous keyboards commit, its as comforting as sitting around a warm fireplace after a nice feast, reminiscing old times. “Jelly Jewels” continues in the same vein as the previous tracks but features soft, flute-like sounds, adding a pleasant dynamic to this cozy scenery. The final track, “Russian Tea Balls” begins with a melodic key intro with the whistling sounds of a water kettle, then dives into an amiable fantasy synth tune that is full of spirit and harmony. Interestingly, if you download this album (from the link below), you’ll receive a recipe for Russian Tea Balls as a bonus.

Grandma’s Cottage is a unique and interesting concept that works rather well in the Dungeon Synth genre. Although the subject matter may be a bit uncommon for the community, the musical aesthetics are easily relatable and will leave a lasting impression. Additionally, while my review focuses on The Cookie EP, another spectacular review site dedicated to Dungeon Synth reviews – The Sword That Sang – is releasing a review on the other self-titled release, The Cottage EP. So, please check that one out here: https://theswordthatsang.blogspot.com/2020/01/grandmas-cottage-grandmas-cottage.html?m=1. These albums are fantastic, so please visit the link below and download them right away!

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Links:

https://grandmascottage.bandcamp.com/album/grandmas-cottage-2