The Menagerie Of Madness Continues To Evolve On Guild Of Lore’s ‘Portals Volume II’

Just in case ‘Portals Volume I’ wasn’t enough to tide you over, the simultaneous release of ‘Portals Volume II’ will surely continue to overload the auditory senses with massive Dungeon Synth and Crypt Hop sounds. As with Volume I, this album sustains the mission of Guild Of Lore reworks in hypnotic fashion, and every track explores territories that are unique to the artists themselves, while maintaining the granite-like foundation set forth by Guild Of Lore. This review will concentrate on the wonderful sounds of ‘Portals Volume II’ and how it perfectly complements the first volume without seeming repetitious.

As with ‘Portals Volume I’, Guild Of Lore provides the lead off track with “Storm Haven (Rainy Night Jazz Mix)”. As the title suggests, it sounds like something you would hear in a late-night dark noir jazz club, many years into the apocalypse. The stand-up bass sound provides a very comforting tone as this decorous composition sets a very soothing yet grim mood. “The Sunless Sea” by Encloaked begins with an excellent piano composition while a storm-like field recording brews in the background. That soon fuses into an elegant guitar riff that is beautiful produced. Although a short track, this one has an addictive sound and will leave you wanting more when it’s over. “The Tipsy Waltz Inn” by FVRFVR is a whimsical piece with carnival-like theatrics and obscurely arranged instrumentation. The production value is effortless and the soundscapes & field recordings make this quite the entertaining track. “Snow Shielded Giants (Blackened Snow Swell Mix)” by Whispering Mirrors is another short track but probably one of my favorites as it contains a very melodic percussive element and and insurmountable mix of industrialized distortion in the middle section, before settling back into the opening melody for its closing. “Somewhere Beneath The Stars” by Orb Of The Moons is a spectacular display of soundscapes and modular frequency manipulation. Containing more of a Dark Ambient or Black Ambient vibe, this is a very welcomed edition to this collection and goes to show how versatile Guild Of Lore’s music can be when given to the right artist to exploit. Next up is “Night Of Harvest (Swirling Fog In The Walnut Grove Mix)” by Guild Of Lore. Putting another mellow, albeit jazzy spin on this amazing track from the ‘Autumn Macabre’ album, there is also a distinct Crypt Hop tone to it as well that will keep the listeners head nodding throughout. “Hills Of Hoarfrost” by Fogweaver is a lush, somber affair that is full of simplicity and emotion and arranged only in a way that Fogweaver can do. It effectively strikes a heartwarming chord and maintains that stance, especially with the consistency of the rainy field recordings. “Sojourn & Return I & II” by Shrouded Gate showcases an amazing arrangement with downtempo beats, a variety of soundscapes and beautiful, elongated keys that are cinematic in nature. Keeping a steady pace throughout, this is a mesmerizing piece that is easy to get lost in. “Winterstead” by Vaelastrasz is another one of my favorite tracks on Volume II. Keeping more in line with traditional Dungeon Synth, this is a doomy track that crescendo’s and build into a wall of distorted sound consisting of dark colors and bleak occurances. At almost seven minutes long, it’s also the longest track on the album as well. The final track on the album is “A Fireside Contemplation” by Garadrak. Featuring minimalistic Crypt Hop beats and 8-bit synth leads, this is a unique song for the album and a very organic way to close out this two volume compilation. The grooves are exhilarating and harmonious fusion of various keys and effects make this an inspiring piece as well.

What more is there to say about ‘Portals Volume II’ that hasn’t already been translated by the ten vibrant tracks presented within? Although there is a variance of influences between Volume I and II, they are both beautiful recordings and effective in their own rights. Even though ‘Portals Volume II’ has a more intimate approach than Volume I, I recommend this one equally and enjoy these tracks so much. Show your support for Guild Of Lore and all of these amazing contributing artist and download both of these albums for an amazing listening experience.

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Links:

https://guildoflore.bandcamp.com/album/portals-volume-ii

Guild Of Lore Summons Select Mercenaries Of Music To Remix Select Intonations For ‘Portals Volume I’

One of Dungeon Synth’s premiere acts, Guild Of Lore, has culminated quite the following of the past few years. Captivating listeners with tales that span the cold corners of Winterstead to the cultivated lands of Bohollow, Guild Of Lore has amassed an impressive catalog of memorable tunes that inspire, thrill and amaze audiences of multiple genres. Those intonations have now been taken to a new level as the galvanizing releases, ‘Portals Volume I’ and ‘Portals Volume II’, pull together a group of astounding artists to breath new life into some of these Guild Of Lore relics. In this review, I will take a closer look at the ‘Portals Volume I’ album and examine the works that were compiled for this musical adventure.

What better way to start off this journey than with Guild Of Lore, providing an astounding alternate take on “Covenant And Conquest (Paarthurnax Wisdom Mix)”. Impeccable drum beats, soothing ambience and endless melodies assimilate in excessive sound quality and quantity and the end results are tranquil to say the least. “Winter Riders” by Phranick develops into an alternative folk experience with haunting vocal melodies with a retrospective production quality. Never loosing sight of the Dungeon Synth origins of this track, they capture the essence of other genres with supreme transparency. “Pumpkin Pickers Festival” by Fen Walker is a groovy piece that gathers hints of Crypt Hop, whimsical instrumentation and alluring orchestrations. Setting a spectacular mid-paced vibe throughout this track, you’ll be nodding your head in amazement and fascination as multiple music styles continue to mesh together. “A Wondering Path” by Malfet commences with an intrusive drone and inaudible narrations, while a variety of soundscapes paint a vivid, winter scene. This track morphs from ghostly drones to somber melodies and continues to maintain a consoling balance for the duration. “Mouth Of The Murky Abyss” by Lurk is my favorite track of Volume I and embodies every single quality of an unparalleled Crypt Hop song. From catchy melodies, groovy synth patterns and insane drum beats, this one demands multiple replays and epitomizes the goal of this remix album in the first place. Next up is another Guild Of Lore outing in the way of “Peace Be With You (Mighty 8-Bit Hero Mix)”. Addictive, mellow and serene, this track has a calming effect but also has a few surprises to keep it especially interesting. The echoes of the guitar track works well with the 8-bit effects and together, provide a gentle atmosphere of Crossover Dungeon Synth. Next is multi-genre/instrumentalist Francis Roberts with the atmospheric rendition of “Descending Drifter Valley”. Showcasing an astounding ethereal feel, Francis makes this track his own with masterful production, stellar percussion integration and a knack for bringing every instrument and soundscapes to the forefront in a cinematic fashion. “The Long Lodge” by Gondar is a grim, theatrical affair with a soundtrack-like quality. A fascinating blend of ambient tones and Dungeon Synth arrangements, this track is laid back and meant for relaxation more than battle-ready warriors. “Voice Of The Mountain” by Cascadian Lightfall is an elegant composition that combines those wonderoud Guild Of Lore styled field recordings with upbeat percussion and synth leads, essentially turning this delicate track into a buoyant recording. The final track on this album is “Isle Of Mer” by Vandalorum. This track is simply amazing as it favorably modifies the astounding original into a Crypt Hop beast. With gracious synths and atmospherics, the perplexing drum beats play a pivotal role in spicing this one up. A perfect way to end this first volume of prodigious remix tracks.

For ‘Portals Volume I’, Guild Of Lore has done an an unbelievable job at choosing top-rate Dungeon Synth and Crypt Hop artists to participate in this project. The song arrangements and layout are perfect as the listener is made familiar with a wide array of genres and sounds. From upbeat to mellow and jazzy to cinematic, these tracks contain it all and there isn’t a single weakness contained within. If you’re a fan of Guild Of Lore, Dungeon Synth, Crypt Hop and anything in between, don’t miss out on this breathtaking album.

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Links:

https://guildoflore.bandcamp.com/album/portals-volume-i

Eyre Transmissions X: Interview With Dark Ambient, Dungeon Synth & Metal composer, Scorpio V

Scorpio V is one of the most accomplished musicians in the synth world. The multi-genre specialist has achieved insurmountable triumph in most of the projects that he’s released. From Dark Ambient mainstay, Metatron Omega to the amazing Dungeon Synth act, Stronghold Guardian, Scorpio V utilizes his musical dexterity to create synth music of another level. I recently had the opportunity to find out a little more about his prodigious projects, musical background and what’s to come in the near future. I hope you enjoy this interview with one of the best in the business.

1. First of all, thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions about your amazing projects. What is your background (musically) and have you always played synth-based music?

My pleasure. I don’t have a formal musical or some other “artistic” background. I’ve just always found myself having the need to either reproduce what I see (by drawing it) and hear, or to create something new based upon what I’ve been presented with. I was always the type of person who cannot just passively listen to music – I had to get involved in the process of making it. As for the musicianship itself, my early beginnings were with keyboards. Although I’ve grown up listening to metal and held great esteem for electric guitar as an instrument, it was only after I’ve dabbled with keyboards, synths and industrial/ambient music that I’ve started also playing the guitar. So, yes, one can say that synths, sound programming and sound design were, and still are, my main niche.

2. The albums on your Prometheus Studio Bandcamp page range from metal, dungeon synth, dark ambient, and various other synth projects. What usually sets the tone for the style of album that is released at any particular time?

There are absolutely no rules for me when it comes to creating something, although as one may have noticed, what I create can mainly be defined by atmospheric, lush, dark or sometimes “grandiose” spectre of experience. I just get the inspiration for something and start channeling the energies. If I should pinpoint what exactly influences the process, it is my life and experiences, my imagination and philosophy. Other than that, it could be the stuff I listen to, literature I read, sometimes a game whose lore or atmosphere I find immersive (although I very rarely actually play them). Same goes for a movie, especially soundtrack and visuals (LotR being a great example here).

3. My first introduction to your music was the Metatron Omega project – which releases music via the Cryo Chamber label. That is by far, one of my favorite Dark Ambient projects of all time. What inspired you to write such monumental arrangements for this project?

Metatron Omega is a story for itself, as is Paleowolf. The main inspiration for creating Metatron Omega was mainly philosophical, coming from the spiritually oriented literature (and readings about the inner workings of some historically important secret societes). I think that on some level, I had the need to create a kind of a “soundtrack” for myself while studying those topics and wandering through my own path of self-discovery. Through the landscape of sound, I’ve channeled what I was experiencing while searching for something greater than myself. I also listen to a lot of church music, litanies, gregorian chants, orthodox russian and Byzantine monastic music, therefore creating ambiental music with those elements has been a natural process.

4. ‘Evangelikon’ was my Dark Ambient album of the year for 2019 and I’ve since been hoping for more Metatron Omega releases. Do you have any plans this year for that project?

Yes, there’s a new album in preparation since the beginning of the year. A few things that happened in the meantime slowed it down. I can’t say for sure if it’s going to be this year, but I’m holding a place in my mind to get back to it.

5. After Metatron Omega, I soon discovered you were behind the projects on the Prometheus Studios Bandcamp page and spent a lot of time deep-diving into those projects like Gaetir The Mountainkeeper and Paleowolf. Although those are Dark Ambient projects as well, they are so very different from each other. Can you talk about how each of those projects came about?

Paleowolf’s story is a big one, I’m not sure if summing it up in a sentence or two would do the justice to the journey I went on with that project. For the sake of this interview, let’s say that I was always interest in prehistory (human or not), and shamanism drew my attention in my teenage years. All these years listening to Mongolian throat singing and shamanic overtone singing, and then one night of immersive myself in Syven’s “Aikantaite” the energies collided into something beyond me. So, put all this together and Paleowolf was born. And it all came spontaneous, natural to me, I had little to ponder about. Gaetir the Mountainkeeper begun somewhat differently, as a way to channel my imagination and journey with Norse mythology, put through my own emotional lense. I felt the need to take my own part in creating the atmosphere for the mythos and nature of the North. Although I can’t say why exactly I “chose” to manifest it in the style I’ve chosen.

https://gaetirthemountainkeeper.bandcamp.com/album/vetrarlj-s

6. Another project that I love – and one that helped solidify my love for modern Dungeon Synth – is Stronghold Guardian. Are you a big fan of that genre as well, and who are some of the artist that you looked to for musical direction for that project?

Dungeon synth followed me since my early plunge into the water of Black metal (as, I suppose, happened with majority of people in DS circles). Of course, in those time I didn’t know that if you put synths and black metal vocals together you call that a ‘dungeon synth’. I always went for the dark atmosphere – using synths and other instruments than electric guitar proved to work very well in achieving this kind of atmosphere. I actually begun finding synths, strings, drones to work much “better” than guitars when it comes to delivering something a lot more immersive. As for the influences, Summoning has been, and still is, one of my favorite projects and influences in a couple of my creations.

7. You recently released a new album under that moniker – ‘Castlelord’ – which is a rework/remastering of earlier material, to include metal guitars. How did this creation come about?

I just wanted to hear how Stronghold Guardian material would sound with electric guitars added. Seriously. And since I was satisfied with the outcome, I’ve decided to share it with the rest of the world.

https://strongholdguardian.bandcamp.com/album/castlelord

8. On some of the tracks, I sense an early Graveland influence. Did any of the mid 90’s Viking Black Metal bands/albums inspire any of these reworks?

Viking black didn’t have much of an influence on Stronghold Guardian. I listen to a lot of different genres and styles so most often than not, I’m not aware of the actual inspiration. When I think about it now, perhaps some clean vocal parts may have come from Limbonic Art’s “In Abhorrence Dementia”. That album also had a magnificent synth work. Fantastic album overall and certainly another influence.

9. One project that has really grown on me is Nebulon. It’s a great project but the ‘Across The Solar Tides’ album was on another level. It had more of a Berlin School/early Tangerine Dream influence. Was that the direction intended?

Sure, Nebulon is definitely following the trails set by ’70-’80 German-French electronics and Berlin School. Early Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze’s solo works too. Let’s also not forget early Vangelis (his synth work) and the masterpieces of Jim Kirkwood, such as “Middle Earth” and “Souls that Dance on The Edge of the Sword”, “Nightshade in Eden”, etc. Nebulon somewhat tried to merge all these into a different gestalt and drown it in the sea of lush cosmic, interstellar ambient with its own complex narrative.

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

10. You recently released two albums [edit: a third album had been released by the time of this publishing] under the Monasterium Imperi name. These are the perfect albums to listen to, especially while waiting for more Metatron Omega, but what makes these projects so different?

The way I see it, the major difference is in the structure of the tracks and type of chanting. Metatron Omega is using heavy and masssive church choirs, most often processed in a droning/brooding manner in the midst of the ‘wide’ atmosphere and heavy dark ambient drones; while Monasterium Imperi keeps things a bit ‘simpler’ and more focused, using structured solo chants upon melodic strings. And of course, there’s a great difference in thematic. Metatron Omega deals with spiritually-oriented philosophy of our world and Universe, a journey of self-discovery, while Monasterium Imperi leads us into the fantasy-inspired Cathedral-worlds spread throughout the Galactic Empire set into an alternative universe, in a far future.

https://monasteriumimperi.bandcamp.com/album/chants-of-liberation

11. What process do you use for recording the amazing Gregorian chants?

It depends where I want them and what I try to achieve. Some are sung by me, some are sampled, and something is a work of the VSTs.

12. One of your more serene (and popular) projects is Forest of Yore. How hard is it to go from bleak and ominous sounds to a more somber and tranquil sound without losing the Scorpio V identity?

For me not ‘hard’ at all. I’m very close to Nature, I’ve spent great deal of time in forests since I was young (and still striving to spend even more time). Forests are one of my main inspirations, not just for musicianship but for my life conduct, philosophy and spirituality. A forest can provide both ‘dark’ and ‘light’ contexts and evoke an entire spectrum of emotions. So, as much as I’m awed by the darkness and mystery of it, the forest also evokes a feeling of blissfulness, a kind of aural peace that surrounds you while you make your way through the unknown path, and into the distance of the trees. Forest of Yore is a soundscape for just this tranquil ambiance far away from the rush of modern society.

https://forestofyore.bandcamp.com/album/mythical-woodlands

13. You have a couple of older projects (Temple of Gnosis & Grailknight) that haven’t produced any new material in a few years. Do you have any plans to keep this projects going?

I don’t have precise plans for some of my projects, such as those two mentioned. I’ve created something out of a ‘need’ to create and that’s it. I usually don’t have a ‘yearly plan’ of what I’m going to do, not to mention a plan to create this or that album. So, we’ll see.

14. There are a few other projects that I love, but didn’t ask about specifically such as Orkforge & Shogun’s Castle. Can we expect new releases from these projects as well.

I think you can, because I’ve already worked on some material with Shogun’s Castle. Still, I have to get into the mental spaces for both projects in order to properly think about hows and whats.

https://shogunscastle.bandcamp.com/album/the-ancient-arts-of-self-discipline

15. These days, cassettes are making a comeback – especially in the Dungeon Synth scene. Do you plan to continue cassette releases for some of your projects? How about a second run of cassettes for the Shogun’s Castle project?

Indeed, cassettes have (again) come a massive hit these days. It’s just amazing to see so many people involved in it and being interested in a pretty much overly outdated medium compared to the technology of this day and age. So, yes, I’ve thought about continuing to put out cassettes for other projects, and perhaps a re-release of some of Shogun’s Castle albums.

16. I really appreciate the time that you’ve take to answer these questions. Do you have any final thought or comments for your fans that may be reading this interview?

You’re welcome and thank you for your interest in my work. Actually, the interview was quite comprehensive thanks to your questions, so I’m satisfied in leaving it as it is.

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Links:

Bandcamp: https://prometheusstudio.bandcamp.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/prometheusstudio.official

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCttFYkVyUGHWsopvkRZgJbg

Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/prometheusstudio

Celestial Ephemerides: A Collection Of Dungeon Synth Summary Reviews, Part I

This is the first post of a new column that I’m writing called Celestial Ephemerides. I created this column for one main reason; I’m getting so far behind in reviews that I needed to find a way to push out more of them in a shorter amount of time in order to keep up with the request that flow in on a daily basis. I hope you enjoy these summary reviews and please support all of these amazing artists.

1. Akerius – Shadowed Paths Through Middle-Earth

Akerius continues to prevail on the Dungeon Synth scene with wondrous anthems of Medieval descent. Part cinematic beauty and part obscure synth compositions of the outer realm, Akerius is determined to produce something just right for everyone. ‘Shadowed Paths Through Middle-Earth’ is no exception as the gothic undertones enhance the masterful arrangements that take the listener on a journey of assorted musical textures.

https://akerj.bandcamp.com/album/shadowed-paths-through-middle-earth-2

2. Ethelborn – Ealdhláford

The sounds of Ethelborn are gloomy, yet warm and melodic. The four pieces that make up ‘Ealdhláford’ are not only charming, but their is a particular simplicity that gives this a natural feeling. The arrangements are well constructed and each song has that special moment that makes them stick out, enticing the listener to come back for more. This is a very enjoyable release and I look forward to more offerings from this artist.

https://ethelborn.bandcamp.com/album/ealdhl-ford

3. Amn – Lands Of Intrigue

‘Land Of Intrigue’ caught me off guard and I wasn’t expected to be blown away by this gem. Part Dungeon Synth, part synthwave, and a lot of psychedelic moments throughout, this album is peerless and put me in a melancholic mood instantly. The forty eight minute adventure that awaits you on this album is truly extraordinary and small, intricate details will surface with each and every listen.

https://amndungeonsynth.bandcamp.com/album/lands-of-intrigue

4. Archana – In The Halls Of Relics

Archana continues to dive deep into the realm of forest & fantasy synth with another ethereal performance of ‘In The Halls Of Relics’. With an overall minimalistic theme, the smooth synth performance careens somewhere between bleak atmospherics and a caliginous & visionary motif. Another impressive release from this reclusive artist.

https://archana.bandcamp.com/album/in-the-halls-of-relics

5. Whispering Mirrors – The Stuff Of Old Dreams

One of Whispering Mirror’s primary focus is to carry on the old-school Dungeon Synth sediment via epic song lengths and grandiose keys & pads. These two tracks tell a compelling story from start to finish and the listener will be captivated by the seamless arrangements and enchanting compositions. This album gets played on repeat quite often for me.

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

6. Pale Castle – Sorrowful Mysteries

From the very first note unto the last, ‘Sorrowful Mysteries’ is an absolutely intriguing effort that has that old-school vibe, yet has a touch of modern melodic sense to it. The Lo-Fi production adds a touch of authenticity without sounding underproduced. There are too many stand out tracks to list a favorite and I typically never skip over any of them during a play through.

https://palecastle.bandcamp.com/album/sorrowful-mysteries

7. Arx Silvestris – Silvestris I

One thing I love about Arx Silvestris is their willingness to defy genre conventions and create something that is bold and cinematic. Although ‘Silvestris I” has touches of Dungeon Synth throughout these three tracks, there is a huge theatrical component the gives it an extravagant quality and the dreamy drones that are arranged throughout give it a touch of light ambience. This is a very impressive release.

https://arxsilvestris.bandcamp.com/album/silvestris-i

8. Rectory – Giallo

Rectory is an exceptional new talent in the Dungeon Synth community that focuses on elements of horror and paranormal entities. Not only does the music establish an eerie essence of ghoulish matter, the themes are relatively focused on the embodiment of afterlife activities and they mesh together quite seamlessly. ‘Giallo’ continues that fixation with malevolent synth-based melodies and spooky soundscapes that takes the listener into a dark world of ghostly imagery.

https://rectory.bandcamp.com/album/giallo

9. Forgotten Ghost – Cave Cathedral

‘Cave Cathedral’ is like a symphony of desolate soundscapes and bleak ambience that combine to form an evil orchestral movement designed to bring forth angst and dread. However, at the same time, there is a particular calmness in these tunes that make them so addictive to the ears. Whether it’s the trance-like song structures or the minimalistic arrangements, this is a fantastic recording that demands multiple listens.

https://forgottenghost.bandcamp.com/album/cave-cathedral

10. Wampyric Solitude – Darkness, Beloved and Eternal…

‘Darkness, Beloved and Eternal…’ is as soothing as it is haunting. These beautiful passages are like a full orchestral act to accompany breathtaking cinematic moments set back in the early Medieval times. From peace time to post-conflict situations, these grandiose anthems firmly represent an era placated by middle-aged imagery. This is high quality synth music that defies genre boundaries.

https://wampyricsolitude.bandcamp.com/album/darkness-beloved-and-eternal

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Elminster’s Musical Vision Of The Forgotten Realms Novel Series Is Boldly Interpreted On ‘The Making Of A Mage: I – V’ EP’s

The more Dungeon Synth becomes a prominent music genre, the more we see countless artist hone their crafts’ and release material of a Medieval vibe with hopes of escalating a fan base and continuing their endeavors in this darkened, underground community. One way to stand out amongst the musical suitors is to swiftly release honorable music that continues an epic, primitive storyline. That’s where Elminster comes in with his ‘The Making Of A Mage’ series, consisting of five astounding albums of compelling and diverse tunes that interprets events from the Forgotten Realms novel by Ed Greenwood. The albums are ‘Part I: Brigand’, ‘Part II: Burglar’, ‘Part III: Priest’, ‘Part IV: Magus’, and ‘Part V: King’. Although they can be enjoyed as individual recordings, when played in succession they build into a wondrous tale of a bold musical adventure.

‘Part I: Brigand’ consists of four uplifting tracks that are minimalistic in sound dynamics but huge in composition. “Heldon Burns” commences with a somber synth arrangement accompanied by a feisty percussive element. Haunting orchestrations are definitely of the middle-ages time period and generally speaking, this is a great introduction to this project. By the time we get to the third track, “Heed The Words Of Helm Stoneblade, The Last True Knight Of Athalantar”, were introduced to clean but slightly discordant guitar strums and thunderous key pads that provide a diverse bass sound. Toward the end of the track, the instruments descend a musical scale with some dissonant keys thrown in for good measure.

‘Part II: Burglar’ consist of three tracks and has a playing time of around eleven minutes. Leading off this endeavor, “Eladar The Rogue’s Theme” has an awesome comedic value but also represents the album title perfectly as there is a lot of mystery and suspense that surrounds this three minute track. Skipping over to the final song, “To Chain A Mage”, there is an obvious sense of growth in the musical direction and this one takes on a more serious role in the series. From mystical keyboard arrangements, massive brass instrument effects, and a pounding rhythm section, this track has such a major composition maturity that will leave you wanting more.

‘Part III: Priest” begins with the dark and heroic, “Mystra’s Query”. From pounding drums, audacious synth arrangements, and even a flute lead that stands out impeccably, Elminster takes this series into darker territories of Medieval grandeur. “Once Elminster, Now Elmara” almost sounds as if the intro is being played on a child’s instrument. However, after light drones are introduced and beautifully played melodies – that layer in synchronized harmony – come about, this melancholic tune is probably one of the most memorable tracks from all of the EP’s.

‘Part IV: Magus’ consists of just two tracks but lead off song, “Ondil’s Floating Tower” clocks in at almost twelve minutes long. Beginning with a desolate droning keyboard tone, an ambiguous keyboard melody sets in to change the ambience and direction of this long player. Every so often, another layer of instrumentation is added, setting a particular mood and specifying the tone for something miraculous to soon follow. After layers of musical building, the instruments slowly fade and the track descents into a depth, just as it started.

‘Part V: King’ is the final EP in this amazing saga and it consists of three tracks of about fifteen minutes of playing time. The first song, “The Eve Of Battle” is an obscure piece that firmly assembles into a magnificent orchestration full of deep, guttural sounds and magnificent melodies. The orchestrations are cinematic in nature and this is one of the most mature compositions of all the EP’s. Skipping to the final track, “Fit For The Throne”, we find more colossal dynamics in the composition department and the stringed melody that is incorporated from the beginning is so majestic that it just reeks of Medieval quality. Big horns and background synth drones make this a grandiose finale as any King couldn’t be more proud to accept their throne under these conditions.

Elminster has done an amazing job capturing the essence of the Forgotten Realms story and translating it to a marvelous Dungeon Synth musical adventure spread out across five EP’s. It’s hard to pick a favorite amongst these, especially since they are all so different and represent various themes in an overarching story. Every one of these albums are worth listening to and downloading, so please visit the link below and support this amazing up and coming Dungeon Synth artist.

Please Like/Follow my blog so that you’ll get first hand updates every time I post a review. Thanks for visiting the Dungeon!!

Links:

https://elminster.bandcamp.com

Guild Of Lore Extends Autumnal Adventures In The Ghoulishly Conceivable Journey, ‘Autumn Bohollow’

So many artists excel at designing the perfect mental landscape that accompanies their music, that sometimes it’s hard to fathom what is reality and what is not. These temporary emotional journeys are intellectually constructed to consume the emotional state and provide an alternate reality to escape to. Eerie occurrences, distant travels and explorations of unknown towns leads us to Bohollow. Welcome to the enthralling imagination of Guild Of Lore. Welcome to ‘Autumn Bohollow’.

The album begins with a cinematic explosion in “Macabre Moon Rising”. Commencing with a sound that is reminiscent of a dystopian western, multiple tiers of magnificent instrumental sounds are joined together in musical accordance and sets the stage for a whirlwind of an album. Next up is “Clearing Of The Corn”. Featuring monstrous beats that will have you tapping your feet, harrowing vocal effects and a wide arrange of stringed instrument sounds, this massive arrangement is a gritty and heralding affair. Fast paced and daring, this is a masterpiece of synth music that defies genre titles. “A Vision Through The Veil” is a somber and harmonious experience that features a wonderful narrative tale that verbalizes the initial Bohollow experience. “The Call Of Fall” is a peaceful affair that borders more toward the Dungeon Synth musical narrative. Still maintaining the incredible storyline, this track presents more of a lite, cinematic tone and is warm and inviting, just like the town of Bohollow. “Pumpkin Pickers Festival” has a simple – but effective – melody that suddenly turns into so much more. With a percussive groove that is warm and welcoming, the layers of keys and synth effects are equally inviting. “Sway The Ember In The Night” is a short piece that has a soothing background ambience and evening-time field recordings that match perfectly with the lush melodies of the synth leads. “Dawn Upon The Countryside” is a breathtaking creation that depicts the dawn of a placid day. Beautiful keys and pads lay somewhat in the background to the essential sounds of nature and roaming farm animals. The quiet tone of this song is so alluring that you don’t want it to end. “The Old Bohollow Mill” is another enticing mix of appeasing instrumentation and the delicate sounds of the country life. As if there is no care in the world, the melody will have your mind wondering back to an ancient time, where life was slower and innocence was at the forefront of human integrity. “Where The Oak Trees Dance” begins with the dainty chirps of nearby birds followed by magical and rhythmic drum patterns. Clean keyboard chops and delicate pads slowly integrate into this massive track, as this becomes a mystifying song full of nostalgia and emotion. “Thread & Thimble” begins with an alluring acoustic passage, but is soon merged with light percussion and euphoric melodies that maintain the balance of sovereignty and tranquility. “Along The Riverside” sounds as if you’re camped out by a slowly flowing river with frogs grumbling in the background while someone strums a random tune that continues the peace with nature. “Winters Arrival” is one of the most charming songs on the album (and one of my favorites), as it has a certain discordant tone to it while remaining melodic and lively. “Declaration From Winterstead” commences with a bold Medieval sound and continues with the verbal narrations of Bohollow. This track, albeit brief, is an excellent interlude before reaching the grand finale of the album. “The Majesty Of Winter Triumphant” is such a heartwarming way to end this adventure, as it represents peace, victory and unity for the township of Bohollow. The music is hugely cinematic and again presents wonderful percussive parts and defiant keys & pads that portray the Medieval era in the most positive of ways. This is the perfect way to end this album and story, or perhaps set it up for more events to follow in the future.

In my opinion, Guild Of Lore is one of the top acts not only in the realm of Dungeon Synth, but in synth music in general. ‘Autumn Bohollow’ is another first-rate performance that is consistent with the rest of the Guild Of Lore catalog. From the music, storyline, production and album artwork, there is good reason why this album made it to my Top Dungeon Synth Albums of 2020 list. Please show your support for this astonishing artist and download ‘Autumn Bohollow’ from the link below.

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Links:

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

Krauhl Chronicles A Tale Of A Medieval Wild Man On ‘Call Of The Woodwose’

According to ancient folklore, a woodwose is a name given to mythical creatures from Middle-Ages Europe that were covered with hair and roamed the land – much like the modern age Bigfoot. It’s only fitting that these wild beings found a common ground with the Dungeon Synth community, as their lineage traces back many centuries and is even featured in modern popular literary representations, such as fictional tales by J.R.R. Tolkien. From the musical spectrum, Krauhl has taken the helm with this allegorical beast to bring us the riveting ‘Call Of The Woodwose’. The seven tracks contained on this album tells a magnificent tale of the ancient forest wanderer and the circumstances surrounding its existence.

“A Discovery Of Footprints” opens with a distorted keyboard drone with a slow, rhythmic percussive beat. Tranquil keys begin to take shape and provide a lush foundation for a retrospective vision. Random spots of pre-recorded dialog are perfectly sampled to further construe the subject at hand. “The Spring Of Whiskey Hollow” is a short piece that gives the illusion of sublime comfort and serenity. As quixotic keys play peacefully during the first half of this short track, an interesting – yet intriguing – acoustic part provides a relaxed and charming riff. “Rambling Of The Cavernous” is a minimalistic blend of balanced drum beats and Medieval sounding key. As the drum pattern begins to increase its time signature, the thickness of the synth sound becomes more apparent and the reverb makes this an extra tasty track. “Rustic Worships” commences with a battle-ridden drum pattern, followed by mellow synth leads that are layered supremely. This is exactly how I would envision Medieval music for a somber situation. “Neither Ape Nor Man” is an obscure acoustic passage with eerie soundscapes and natural field recordings. Although it’s just over a minute and a half, it’s succeeds at fusing with the story of the album, as well as the menagerie of musical sounds that have been heard thus far. “Eyes Beyond Trees” is probably my favorite track on the album. Not only is the short audible passage fantastic, but the mix of deep, thudding tones, piano and keys fuse everything together just perfectly. The final track on the album is, “One Who Runs And Hides”. Magnificent echo effects on the lead keys stand out, as other instrumentations play a bold and continuous melody. The esoteric bells that can be heard throughout, provide such a creepy vibe to this track, that it’s like being embedded into a nightmare. Even with everything sounding low key and muffled, clean piano chops are always a welcomed sound as it demonstrates a keen sense of mature songwriting.

Although this fantastic album has been out for a while already, it’s never to late to share music like this, especially when given the opportunity to listen to something new. Krauhl captured a great subject matter and seized the opportunity to provide a spellbinding soundtrack to a fantasy adventure dedicated to the ancient woodwose. ‘Call Of The Woodwose’ is twenty five minutes of extraordinary Dungeon Synth music that will whisk the listener away to an ancient time. From magnificent synth leads, piano work, acoustic guitar, and phenomenal narrative passages, this album has it all. Please support this superb artist and download this album from the link below.

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Links:

https://krauhl.bandcamp.com/album/call-of-the-woodwose

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

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

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

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

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Links:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Links:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Links:

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