Pafund Exemplifies The Old School Dungeon Synth Sound With, ‘Forbandelsen’

I consider Pafund a Jack-Of-All-Trades Dungeon Synth artists. Whether it’s the pounding rhythms of Medieval battle hymns, the sultry sounds of Renaissance era synth arrangements or gothic undertones that provide a ghastly atmospheric presence, Pafund is the quintessential composer with a firm grasp on the genre as a whole. On latest release ‘Forbandelsen’, the musical fortitude has increased to an expounding radiance that shows why Pafund is the Keeper of the Stronghold. Teaming up with Voices Of The Ainur to produce a special edition “enhanced” cassette release, the lo-fi resonation of this masterful collection of tunes sounds as authentic as ever and is sure to take the listener back in time, on a journey of pugnacious quarrels and darkened skies.

Album opener, “Gammel Trolddom I” begins with an excerpt that literally sounds like someone is being thrown into the depths of an ancient dungeon. Suddenly, majestic keys begin to flow and attune to a melodic pattern that depicts an intense and austere disposition. Layers of haunting synths and background attenuations begin to conform to the bleakness of Medieval skies and the transformation to dark ancient times seem almost complete. “En Søgen Efter Ære” commences with a soothing string arrangement before bursting into a battle-like composition, complete with balanced percussion and layers of synth effects that encourage triumph and victory. Next up is the enchanting narrative, “Ruinernes Hvisken”. As one of the most cinematic tracks on the album, this one is overflowing with wondrous synth effects – expanding to genres beyond Dungeon Synth – while maintaining a solid foundation in Medieval-based compositions. The drums are particularly exciting, as they are upbeat throughout the track and have a strong presence in the mix. More along the lines of a forest synth track, “Visioner Af En Anden Fortid” opens with alluring keyboard affects and an ethereal backing synth that provides a solid foundation from start to finish. Maintaining a steady, celestial tone throughout, this track has a trance-like quality that is easy to get lost in. “Gammel Trolddom II” begins with a gloomy synth intro that builds into a bleak but tenacious intonation that has both synthwave and Neo-classical influences. It continues to build into obscurity and the drum parts seem to play a minor (but important) role this time around. “En Kamp Mod Forbandelsen” starts with a heavy drum pattern and airy synths before leading into a whimsical arrangement, showing even more of a musical diversity than ever before. After a few minutes the reverberations become more grandiose, as organ effects begin to play in unison with the mischievous keys. The track ends with a barrage of percussive patterns before finally falling silent. The final track on this ceremonious album is, “Hvor Klipperne Møder Havet”. Consisting of a funereal orchestral arrangement, this is a soothing and serene way to end an album that was – at times – aggressive and intense.

I’d like to take a few minute to talk about the immaculate cassette quality of this album. Released on the incredibly meticulous, Voices Of The Ainur label, this is one of the highest quality cassette releases I’ve ever seen. From the superb slip case, detail-oriented j-card, and the pro-labeled cassette with the artist name and song titles etched on it, this is as good as it gets. You’d be hard pressed to find quality like this in a cassette release – not only in the music, but with the physical material as well. It’s detail like this that makes Voices Of The Ainur stand out amongst the rest. An absolutely stunning job for this cassette and I highly recommend grabbing one of these gems as soon as they go on sale.

As for the music, ‘Forbandelsen’ is another spectacular Pafund album and I continue to be impressed as to how much effort goes into each release. Although, this is your typical lo-if Dungeon Synth recording, the production effort is by no means low quality. Everything is stellar about this album, from the writing, arrangements, instrumentation to the production and physical release elements. I highly recommend checking out ‘Forbandelsen’, so click on the links below and indulge in the cassette release as well as the digital download, you won’t regret it.

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Links:

https://pafund.bandcamp.com/album/forbandelsen

https://voicesoftheainur.bandcamp.com/album/vota-012-forbandelsen-2

Gavella Glan Summons Medieval Forebodings On Dungeon Synth Debut, ‘A Silent Vigil For Oncoming Plagues’

One of my favorite sites to monitor for new and upcoming releases is the Noctilucant Bandcamp page. Creating some of my most cherished Dark Ambient and synth-based releases of the past few years, Joseph Mlodik has a knack for cultivating neural sounds through various projects such as Noctilucant, Sonic Oscillations and my personal favorite, House Of The Maker. Although these projects are firmly based in the realm of Dark Ambient, they each explore various audial modulations, broadening the spectrum for his magnificent releases. Earlier this year, the Noctilucant catalog (and sound scope) was aggrandized further with the release of his first-ever Dungeon Synth album, ‘A Silent Vigil For Oncoming Plagues’ under the moniker of Gavella Glan. Containing ten tracks of ambient based fantasy synth music, this album is a magnificent debut in a genre full of unlimited potential.

The ambient influences are apparent on enigmatic album opener, “The Calm Before The Storm”. There are plenty of field recordings and obscure soundscapes to propel the listener back to an ancient time, preparing them for the Medieval campaigns that lay ahead. Every so often, a dreamy synth lead will add a sense of peace and tranquility, as the sound effects continue to carry the story. Calmly leading into “Echoes Of The Past”, we’re greeted with lush vocals and synth harmonies that continue down the path of equanimity. As if that wasn’t serene enough, the soothing sounds of gentle waves crashing on a shoreline are added and maintain repose until the end of the track. The next song, “Beyond Hill And Dale”, is a relaxing, yet whimsical tune with random bits of distant laughter and a variety of instrumental effects. Although just a couple of minutes long, this is a beautiful piece that fits right in with the rest of the album. “The One Atop The Mountain” commences with a cracking fire and a soft ambient tone before fusing into a noble synth melody, suffused with layers of harmony and trance-like modulations. I love how the mild use of discordant notes change the atmosphere of this track and the spirit of this arrangement is one of my favorites on the album. “The Oxenfurt Drunk” begins with a quick narrative clip that is loud and crisp in the mix and if you’re not expecting it, you’ll probably jump at first listen. As the narration firmly belts out, “I’m here to talk about the contract”, you’ll be fully participating in the audial essence of the music that begins right after. From ambitious to whimsical, this track goes through several atmospheric changes and is a strong contender for the most cinematic track on the album. “A Story Night Of Arcane Hexes” starts with softly played synth leads and a hint of a strange commotion in the background. Key leads and haunting vocals are reminiscent of a horror movie soundtrack while a multitude of dangers lay ahead as the song is filled with evil sounds, firing blasts and obscure melodies that paint a bleak scene of destruction. “A Silent Vigil For Oncoming Plagues” dabbles in the synthwave arena while staying firmly planted in the cinematic Medieval Synth genre. Elongated synth leads combined with dark, oppressive soundscapes and field recordings provide an extremely textural composition with the occasional subtlety to keep it pertinent with the rest of the album. “Child Of The Elder Blood” is a dreamy arrangement that combines pastoral synth leads and melancholic drones. It’s as if you’re having an out-of-body experience and this track is maintaining a trajectory to propel you to another plane. This is an amazing piece and another one of my favorites. “The Path Of Warriors” is more on the lines of a traditional Dungeon Synth song with lo-if synth effects, combined with soft, flowing winds and a beautiful backing synth arrangement. From chirping birds, a warrior drawing his sword to an overall peaceful setting, this is another outstanding track and is sure to gain multiple listens. The final track on the album is the epic, “The Lord Of Undvik”. At almost eleven and a half minutes Lin length, it’s the longest track on the album and the most diverse. Beginning with the usual field recordings and soundscapes, an ominous drone carries forth in the background and flows persuasively from side to side, as it fuses into layers of ghastly synth leads and battle-like soundscapes, as if a deranged outcome was suddenly bestowed upon an unlikely kingdom. This haunting track concludes with devilish laughter and dark ambient-like drones and a perplexing end to this fantastical story.

I’m so glad that the Noctilucant mastermind decided to venture out and try his hand at Dungeon Synth. Not only is it a highly impressive album, but it showcases quite a story as well. There is adventure, cinematic music, a daring mix of genres and an entertainment value that will definitely keep this album in my play list for a long time to come. I highly recommend checking out this amazing album as well as all the other incredible albums on the Noctilucant Bandcamp page. Please click on the link below and download “A Silent Vigil For Oncoming Plagues “ by Gavella Glan.

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Links:

https://noctilucant.bandcamp.com/album/a-silent-vigil-for-oncoming-plagues

Eyre Transmissions XI – Interview With Medieval Dungeon Synth Artist, Pale Castle

If there is ever a musical venture that represents the desolation of solitude while remaining steadfast to the culture of true Medieval Dungeon Synth music, Pale Castle would fit the bill perfectly. Creating a sound that mirrors emptiness and isolation, Pale Castle excels at composing bleak arrangements that casts the listener back to an ancient time of fierce commonwealth rivalries, mystical imagery and mythical adventures, while presenting a soothing atmosphere to get lost in. I recently had the pleasure of communicating with the mastermind behind Pale Castle to gain more in-site to this amazing project and what adventures are to come.

1. First of all, welcome to the Dungeon and thank you for this interview opportunity. The name ‘Pale Castle’ is so intriguing to me because there could be so many meanings for its being. How did you come up with the name and what does it mean to you?

You are very welcome. This is first time I have spoken to the outside world and I thank you for the opportunity. The timing was providence as I have now finished a journey from a dark place of inspiration. 

The name is a place, the place is where I once dwelt. The castle was not always pale but now it fades. Some say it’s no longer there….I have not seen it in ages. 

The Pale Castle is where memories once grew but now fade away. Another musician I admire once said that he could “build a castle with memories just to have somewhere to go”. That is how the listener could interpret ‘Pale Castle’…as a fortress of memories.

2. The music of Pale Castle is – at times – very bleak and dismal, presenting a true Medieval perception. Was that the vision for this project?

Thank you, for that is what I sought to convey.

The vision is that of solitude and adventure. 

A personal journey that I would like to share with my listeners. It’s my path in life to seek mystery and find a higher purpose though music and the realms it brings me to. 

My photography on the Pale Castle Instagram heightens and documents this passage.

Simply put though, the vision is a tale as old as time itself. Loss, gain, death and rebirth. The songs are fragments and imprints of my torment and occasionally my joy. That is my vision, a projection of my emotions both jovial and melancholic.  

3. I really enjoy the minimalistic aspect of the compositions, especially on the S/T album. What’s your typical routine for creating and tracking a typical Pale Castle song?

Sometimes I wander the hills and valleys and there I find inspiration in the wind and the night’s sky. There, when I’m Fortunate enough, I am hit with a burst of creative energy and begin to whistle or hum a few chords and melodies. I take that energy and store it in my mind. Then, when I return to my quarters I center myself and begin to preserve it. The process varies depending on the ambiance or sound I ultimately desire to achieve. I use a few different instrument and I enjoy sketching out a kind of story with a single motif and then expanding from that as my mood commands the direction of the track. A lot of the sorcery happens in the mixing and mastering phase of an album. 

I prefer minimal arrangements as it allows for the listener to focus on the emotion of the piece. Powerful chords and melodies and can be repeated with benefit, similarly as a steady fire can warm one’s bones.

4. My favorite track from the S/T is “Wall Of Blood Crosses”. How did you amass such an ethereal sound for that track and what was the inspiration behind it?

Plenty of analog reverb and tape delay was used to get that tone. It was layered several times as well. The inspiration came from the story that the album tells. As you can see, the album has a linear narrative that is told through the song titles. “Wall Of Blood Crosses” is the part in the story when I am wandering the castle and reflecting on my history and admiring the silver crosses filled with my family’s blood going back centuries. Imagine a huge hallway lined with such talismans all sealed with lead to keep them protected. 

That is the wall of blood crosses. Thousands of talismans filled with blood in a room that is most likely no more. “What happened to the crosses?” one might ask. 

I no longer care anymore. 

5. It’s impressive how your songs can transition from ominous to harmonious on a whim. Is there a particular concept in mind for these types of arrangements?

The concept is that those are reflections of life and how things change quickly, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. Especially when traveling. Dungeon Synth to me was always about the idea of traveling and adventure even if only in one’s mind. 

And even in the mind the mood of one’s thoughts can change without warning. This can be an emotional spark in music when done with feeling. I like to catch my listeners off guard and so that maybe they are slightly startled and taken back if for only a split second. That is not unlike when an animal or a force of nature enters your path while wunderlusting on an otherwise clear road. 

6. Moving on to ‘Sorrowful Memories’, it still contains the dreary aspects of the S/T, but this time around there seems to be more cinematic elements. Was it a conscious decision to branch out with a grander sound the second time around?

The initial offering captured in the self titled release is all about the castle and the stories within it’s boundaries. ‘Sorrowful Mysteries’ is the adventurous spirit the was freed once I was able to separate my soul from my body. On the first tape I created a cold and confined sound to illustrate the oubliette like atmosphere, in ‘Sorrowful Mysteries’ I wanted to convey the feeling of traveling and discovery. So yes, it was a very conscious decision to create a more cinematic sound. The listener should feel outdoors and upon a means travel. 

7. Your songs carry a lot of background ambience that is not only soothing, but an important part of your sound. Have you ever considered doing a Dark Ambient project as well?

I have done several Dark Ambient projects over the years. My very first recordings in the late 1990s could be considered Dark Ambient. 

I was only a teenager when I started recording music, nonetheless I believe that Dark Ambient was my first inspiration for recording my own compositions. There are artifacts of these recordings and others that were produced throughout the 2000s and as recently as last year. I will not name them here but there are ways to find these projects. 

That was another life. Still, fragments remain.

8. “The Gathering Of Spirits” is one of my favorite tracks from ‘Sorrowful Memories’ as it seems to have that gothic, romanticism influence. What were some of your influences during the recording of this album and this track in particular.

When my father died in 2011 it was in our family home and many souls gathered there, myself included to witness his death. Convergences such as these are a sort of phenomenon that occur with little or no flow of information, as if to say that the spirits inform those who need to know. The spirits also gather with each other for the preparation to carry one’s essence to the land of deeper shade.

A family friend one night once witnessed an eerie green ball of energy hover over my family’s land, he and I both believe this to have been my father’s power manifested as it was right before he fell ill. After my father’s body grew cold and rigid other visitors arrived.

They brought flowers to adorn his corpse and helped wrap him in sheepskin pelts. 

Some told us that they knew not of his demise and were only guided to the estate by an urge. Others came wholeheartedly to pay their final respects. He was the sorcerer and the final track is about his death as well. As far as musical inspiration for that track I’d say that perhaps it was inspired by my memories of that fateful night.

9. Speaking of influences, let’s talk about your Dungeon Synth beginnings if we can. When did you first start listening to the genre and who were some of your favorite artists?

My first encounter with Dungeon Synth is difficult to pinpoint as I have been listening to unusual music for quite awhile and definitely heard “dungeon” like music on the odd college radio stations at night in the 1990s. 

With that said though I would say that my first introduction to traditional Dungeon Synth was though listening to Black Metal interludes from bands such as Dimmu Borgir, Burzum, Noktunal Mortum, Summoning and also more avant-garde dark synth, especially Sopor Aeternus & The Ensemble of Shadows. That project definitely had a very significant impact on my musical path. I would actually recommend that your readers listen to ‘Songs From The Inverted Womb’.

I would also like to take this opportunity to share an experience I had upon listening to my favorite Dungeon Synth album for the first time which is ‘Fjelltronen‘ by Wongraven. As I recall I was laying in a pitch dark room and within the first few measures of the opening track I began to feel weightless and I drifted into a simi -conscious state of being. Throughout the rest of the album I experienced what could only be described as an “out of body experience”

After that I began to see Dungeon Synth as something very special. That was 2004. By 2005 I had began recording Dungeon Synth experimentations. Pale Castle is my first complete Dungeon Synth endeavor. 

There is a “je ne sais quoi“ about the genre that definitely matches my personality. 

Not in a dark and brooding gothic fantasy way, more akin though to my fascination with the past and of realms unfound or forgotten.

Loss, isolation, suffering, love and remembrance…those are the aspects of life that stoke the fires of the castle.

10. When did you realize that you wanted to record a Dungeon Synth album and at that time were you involved with any other non-synth based music projects?

I have been recording synthesized music since the 1990s and have been involved with a handful of black metal, ambient, experimental groups and solo projects over the last two decades, although as of 2010 I have been producing and recording only synth based ambient and Dungeon Synth. 

The idea for Pale Castle came to me in late 2019 as I began to see the future of “dark music” and it’s esthetics. The romanticism of old-school black metal, the re-discovery of what brought me solace and to be in a mental place where I felt I could give it a valiant effort. 

That is when the transformation occurred. 

I found the castle in the dark recesses of my mind. It’s with me now forever. 

And with that said, I will choose to remain quiet about those earlier recordings as I see them as part of an old life. Not that I am ashamed or not proud of my past but rather to exemplify my commitment to the future and to Pale Castle. 

11. Earlier this year you released the ‘Remember Together, Remember Forever’ cassette, which features both Pale Castle recordings. How is the cassette release doing so far and what do you think about the recent surge in cassette sales as a form of music release?

At time of this interview it is almost gone far as it’s availability on my Bandcamp merch page. 

So that is good, most importantly because that means it is being heard and shared with others and hopefully will bring some to tears, whether they be tears of joy or sadness, so long as they are not tears like those of a crocodile.

That is the goal of my music, to get a genuine emotional response, especially stimuli connected to memories and personal turmoils. 

Yes, the appreciation of the cassette tape as a collectible form of musical preservation is something that makes me smile. When the compact tape cassette was introduced in 1963 it was not yet a major competition to the vinyl LP, by the late 1970s though it was becoming a standard for music collections across the world. It remained very popular until the early 1990s when CDs, although introduced in 1982 we’re finally more affordable and the players portable enough to start the inevitable death of the cassette tape from a popular consumer prospective. That is what is endearing about cassette culture, that people choose to support artists who make tapes and collect their releases despite it being cumbersome and less convenient. I think the resurgence is also due in part by the current generation hearing about the old times of tape trading and the satisfaction of making something by hand. That is the thing about cassettes, they require just the right amount of patience to make at home but are not too expensive such as the case with vinyl and when compared to CDs, tapes are much more resilient. I have seen an uptick in compact discs as well though,albeit in other genres such as noise and ambient. To finish the subject, I will say that I think the resurgence of tape is an art in and of itself and that alone is a testament to the importance of the cassette’s existence.

12. What else is in store for Pale Castle for the remainder of 2021?

Currently I am recording new tracks for a 60 minute album titled “When Everyone Else Dies, We Won’t” Hopefully I will find the time to also design and make a few clothing items. 

Not only t-shirts, I’d like to offer some one of a kind garments and special items for my supporters. That is the beautiful part of this new golden age of independent artists, no longer do musicians and artists need the approval and favors of the gatekeepers to share their creative passions.

I plan to share many of my creations in 2021.

13. Have you ever thought about performing in a live setting or is Pale Castle strictly a studio project?

The idea of preforming Pale Castle live is something that intrigues me, it would most certainly have to be the appropriate location and setting though. An old church, a stone cellar or an actual dungeon. Short of a venue along those lines I don’t see it happening. If I were possessed to somehow play a bar or club I would probably loose my temper at the crowd and go from “dungeon synth” to “prison synth” 

No, If I were to perform it would have to be around a respectful audience in a somber atmosphere.

14. I really appreciate your time for this interview. Do you have any final thoughts or words for those that will be reading this?

Thank you for the invitation and for providing me an audience so that I could share my thoughts regarding not only my music but that of the genre itself and with that I would like to say that Dungeon Synth is not a novelty genre to me and that it’s existence is very much rooted in history though various periods in human history. Growing up I often heard sounds that are not “synth” but most definitely of the “dungeon” I would like to say that Dungeon Synth and Dark Ambient as musical genres are two of the most important aspects of my artistic pursuit in life and that anyone considering releasing their recordings should definitely go forth and be proud of your creations. To all artists, take personal time to be alone with your thoughts preferably in the outdoors or more importantly where you as an individual feels the most tranquil. It is within that tranquility that you will find your most genuine ideas. I could ramble for an eon but I shall save that for hopefully a later time with you as I would be interested in a video interview in the future. In closing I would like to say thanks to you again and all hailz be to TYRANNUS! thank you for your music and inspiration! You are noticed and appreciated. 

– Bless all those who keep the candles burning and the fires lit. I feel your pain and I hear your voices in the night.

-Pale Castle

Links:

https://palecastle.bandcamp.com

https://www.facebook.com/𝔭𝔞𝔩𝔢-𝔠𝔞𝔰𝔱𝔩𝔢-111304390635373

https://www.instagram.com/pale_castle/

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

I’m back with another round of Dungeon Synth summary reviews. As I continue to catch up on my review queue, I find it refreshing (and engaging) to release these more concise write-ups, as it enables me to dive deeper into these albums at a quicker pace without distraction. I hope you enjoy reading about these incredible albums and it’s my intent that you find them intriguing enough to download them and support these wonderful artists.

1. Unterland – Heimweg

Heimweg is a surprisingly good album and it differs from most other Dungeon Synth recordings, as it is primarily guitar based. This unique recording is heavily based in Medieval compositions but a wide array of instrumentation – including metal guitar riffs – adds an unforeseen twist that works out really well. If your ready for something a bit unorthodox but with impeccable songwriting, look no further than this gem.

https://unterland.bandcamp.com/album/heimweg

2. Vacarch – A Dance Around Ourselves

Vacarch, another genre-bending act, pulls no punches on the immaculate, ‘A Dance Around Ourselves’. Although planted in Various sub-genre’s of Dungeon Synth, there is no limit to the musical variety that is packed into this fifty two minutes album. From synthwave to metal, no genre is safe from being besieged by this incredible artist. The compositions are astonishing and the production is gloomy like on mid-90’s gothic metal album releases. Highly recommended for those that aren’t afraid to venture beyond the ordinary!

https://vacarch.bandcamp.com/album/a-dance-around-ourselves

3. Alkilith – Tales Of The Wandering Mage

Minimalistic Medieval Dungeon Synth with a significant mix of gloomy soundscapes and field recordings that easily succeeded in summoning the listener back to the Middle Ages. Don’t expect fancy compositions or pristine productions, as this was meant to be an unsettling adventure back in the times of dark unrest. This is masterful Dungeon Synth at its best and shouldn’t be overlooked by anyone.

https://alkilithmage.bandcamp.com/album/tales-of-the-wandering-mage

4. Erang – Imagination Never Fails

‘Imagination Never Fails’ was in my “Top 10” list for Dungeon Synth releases of 2020. Not only is Erang a legend in the Dungeon Synth community, he creates a fantasy world like no other and by the end of the album, you’ll have visited a fanatical realm beyond verbal description. A master at song composition and instrumental arrangements, this album is one of his best and it continues to expand beyond Dungeon Synth and explore other synth-based genres. Highly recommended for fans of synth music in general!

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

5. WizzardStorm – WizzardStorm Presents: ‘Excerpts From Beowulf’

This Medieval Folk-based album may be one of the most bizarre albums in this list. However, this guitar-heavy recording is an entertaining endeavor with a high production value and quality songwriting. The vocals are deep in the mix, adding a depth of character that is dark and brooding, while the music is bright, yet at times discordant. This reminds me of a mix between modern Xasthur and Devin Townsend’s Casualties Of Cool recording – very interesting and worth the listen.

https://wizzardstorm.bandcamp.com/album/wizzardstorm-presents-excerpts-from-beowulf

6. Spawn Of Incantation – Ancient Hordes Of Bochi

Not all sides of Medieval imagery has to be dark and majestic. Spawn Of Incantation play an alluring brand of Dungeon Synth that soothes the soul and meets the criteria for Middle Ages themed synth music. This music is a soundtrack for somber times amongst the darkest of days. It’s quite the change of pace from the typical Dungeon Synth music that is released, but it’s calming demeanor is great for me.

https://spawnofincantation.bandcamp.com/album/ancient-hordes-of-bochi

7. Leaves Of Lorien – Golden Wood

‘Golden Wood’ is forty six minutes of whimsical & cinematic synth injected with well-placed field recordings topped off with crystal clear production. This is a high-quality effort that musically expands the Medieval and Renaissance periods and the huge efforts of this artist shows, as this is a gripping album with definite replay value.

https://leavesoflorien.bandcamp.com/album/golden-wood

8. Wooded Memory – My Secret Horror

‘My Secret Horror’ is another album that made it to my “Top 10” Dungeon Synth albums of 2020 but definitely worth mentioning again in this publishing. More like music from the Renaissance era due to its condensed song structure and lightened sense of arrangement, the songs sway from alluring piano arrangements to gothic-infused synth piece with retrospective soundscapes and layering. This is just an excellent album to get lost in.

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

9. Spectral Spire – Ruination Of Tehten-Hurz

Consisting of just two lengthy dirges of lo-fi Dungeon Synth music, this album will take the listener back to a Medieval landscape of desolation and melancholy. With an excellent blend of droning keys, bleak field recordings and haunting atmospherics, it’s hard not to be emotionally transported back to that daunting time when all things led to darkness. Fortunately, there are layers of beautiful melody throughout these two tracks that make this listening experience a completely enthralling one.

https://spectralspire.bandcamp.com/album/ruination-of-tehten-hurz

10. The Backwards Funeral – The Last Day: Part I

‘The Last Day: Part I’ is the complete package in terms of truly embracing the many sub-genres of Dungeon Synth. This release has tracks that range from Medieval intonations to Crypt Hop and Chiptune. Even if you’re not a fan of all of these sub-genres, this album is laid out so well that it’s bound to draw you in at some point, as this is a highly enjoyable release. I would recommend this album to anyone that is open to a variety of music and tones on a single album.

https://thebackwardsfuneral.bandcamp.com/album/the-last-day-part-i

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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