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

Top 10 Dungeon Synth / Synth Releases Of 2020

What an amazing year for Dungeon Synth (and other underground synth-based genres). This year has exploded with some of the most absorbing musical ventures my ears have been privileged to hearing. Whether it’s the grimness of Vampyric Dungeon Synth, the obscurity of Comfy Synth or the enlightenment of Berlin School dark synthwave, I embrace all of these sub-genres with the hopes of finding the most amazing music possible. Although there were hundred (possibly thousands) of Synth-based releases over the past twelve months, this is a list of my 10 favorite albums of the aforementioned sub-genres. I hope you enjoy…what I’ve been enjoying!

10. Moss Golem – Of Witches Blood And Angel Tears

https://serpentsswordrecords.bandcamp.com/album/of-witches-blood-and-angel-tears

What better way to get things started than with a dose of Uncomfy Synth! Moss Golem may be categorized by some as Comfy Synth but this is light years from it. It’s more like a menagerie of darkened dungeon synth arrangements with colossal black metal screams and I absolutely love it. Of the small handful of releases by Moss Golem this year, ‘Of Witches Blood And Angel Tears’ is my favorite.

9. Wooded Memory – My Secret Horror

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

‘My Secret Horror’ caught me by surprise this year, as I wasn’t expecting it to be so amazing. Don’t get me wrong, 2019’s ‘The Lost Stories’ was great, but this one is so much better. From the illustrious arrangements to the phenomenal production, I’ve really enjoyed this album and it, accordingly, deserves a spot on my Top 10 list.

8. Erang – Imagination Never Fails

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

Erang takes us on a mythical journey like no other! From brooding musical-like tracks and symphonic marvels, to traditional dungeon synth and synthwave, Erang leaves no stone unturned and is one of the most ingenious synth artists out today. ‘Imagination Never Fails’ is an addictive listen and I revisit this one quite often.

7. Borg – Woodland

https://borg.bandcamp.com/album/woodland

Borg is as quirky as they are talented and this modern day Medieval-style music with analog instruments (and numerous unconventional undertones) is to be taken seriously. ‘Woodland’ is a fantastic album and showcases their capability for idiosyncratic arrangements, as well as more serious sounding tunes that may have well fit in on some cult spaghetti western films. Absolutely amazing!

6. Guild Of Lore – Autumn Bohollow

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

Guild Of Lore is the real deal! The hybrid combination of cinematic elements and dungeon synth makes this one of the most unique albums of the year. The production and arrangements are perfect and the writing will leave listeners (and possibly other artists) in awe of the amazing talents that spew from within. If you’ve not heard this album, you’re definitely missing out!

5. Abholos – Whispers From The Dark Sea

https://serpentsswordrecords.bandcamp.com/album/whispers-from-the-dark-sea

Abholos is one of my favorite Dungeon Synth projects and I look forward to these release than perhaps most other artists. The fusion of retro-style synth arrangements and maritime soundscapes is exactly what I love to listen to and not many others excel at it more than Abholos. ‘Whispers From The Dark Sea” is my most listened to Abholos album and one of my favorite releases of 2020.

4. Lurk – From The Depths Of Y’ha-nthlei

https://lurkmusick.bandcamp.com/album/from-the-depths-of-yha-nthlei

I knew after being just two minutes in to this album that it was going to end up on my Dungeon Synth AOTY Top 10. The crystal clear production makes it possible to enjoy the outstanding music, soundscapes and samples that grace this behemoth of an album. From start to finish, this album rips and I cannot wait for the next dose of Lurk to come about!

3. Jenn Taiga – Plight

https://jenntaiga.bandcamp.com/album/plight

I listen to this album at least once a week. I mean it’s that good and just puts me in a zone that almost no other album can do. Consisting of two tracks that are nearly forty three minutes long, there is definitely enough time to drift off into another world that depicts a scene of sonic beauty. Heavily influenced by Berlin School and progressive space rock, this enchantment of a recording should be on everyone’s playlist by now!

2. Mystica Visio – Mystica Visio

https://mysticavisio.bandcamp.com/album/mystica-visio

‘Mystica Visio’ is probably one of the best albums (of any genre) that I’ve heard this year. Gustavo Jobim is an award-winning musician that decided to try his hand at Dungeon Synth this year and I couldn’t be happier about that decision. Not only is this an amazing album, but the track “Spell Of Entrapment” is probably my song of the year for this genre. This album is an absolute must for your collection!

1. Varkâna – Cosmic Terror

https://varkana.bandcamp.com/album/cosmic-terror

Varkâna’s ‘Cosmic Terror’ was released in May of this year and its still one of my most played albums. This Lovecraftian-themed endeavor features some of the most meaningful tracks I’ve ever heard, and the emotional output is only topped by the amazing musicianship, pristine song arrangements and writing. All of these elements combined have made this my Dungeon Synth / Synth album of the year for 2020.

‘Voices Of The Ainur’ Is A Podcast That Showcases The Best In Dungeon Synth, Dark Ambient, The Obscure, And Beyond

It’s rare to find a podcast that properly showcases the mystical wonders of Dungeon Synth, placating matters of Dark Ambient and the arcane obscurities within the realms of synth music. However, ‘Voices Of The Ainur’ just may be the premier podcast that embodies the spirit of these genres in a supremely engaging platform.

Commencing in October of this year, ‘Voices Of The Ainur’ produces high-quality episodes of the music that we love on a weekly basis. Each episode is around an hour long and features multi-genres of music in some of the most fluid mixes I’ve heard. Best of all, no talk, no interruptions, and all music! Additionally, each episode has its on mini-site with visionary photos, quotes and the playlist (with Bandcamp links) for the artists that is featured. Although this podcast was recently brought to my attention, it’s already my “go-to” platform for getting a weekly dose of the genres that I love.

In summary, ‘Voices Of The Ainur’ is a supremely composed podcast that demands to be heard. I know that we all have our favorite platforms for listening to music, whether it’s by digital download, streaming media, or physical platforms, but if you’re like me and still enjoy great podcasts, then you must check out ‘Voices Of The Ainur’. Not only is the music great, but the possible exposure to new artists makes it that much better. I’ve included the link for Apple Podcast below, but ‘Voices Of The Ainur’ is available on at least fifteen podcast platforms. The links to those can be found on the main web site (also below). Please give this awesome podcast a listen and enjoy!

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Links:

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/voices-of-the-ainur/id1534862806

https://www.voicesoftheainur.com/

https://www.facebook.com/VoicesOfTheAinur

https://twitter.com/oftheainur?s=21

Fusing Dungeon Synth And Gladiatorial Pulses, Haunted Realm’s ‘Songs From The Deep Halls’ Delivers Ominous Anthems For The Masses

Over the past few years, I’ve become thoroughly impressed with the resilience of the Dungeon Synth genre and the community that it’s cultivated. From the magnitude of artists and constant releases to the incorporation of other genres and soundscapes to facilitate a sub-culture all of its own. I’m most intrigued when an artist delivers a wide variety of music, yet stays true to the boundaries of the genre itself. One of those artists is Haunted Realm. With varying musical ventures from release to release, it’s always a surprise to see what’s in store the moment you press play. For ‘Songs From The Deep Halls’, we get a daring Dungeon Synth adventure full of tribal-like rhythms and momentous arrangements, but there is also influences from other synth sub-genres as well, making this a spectacular thirty five minute journey through a fanatical, medieval kingdom.

“Masters Of Mountains” commenced with a slow but steady tribal beat that sounds like the prelude to a death march. After a few bars, a beautiful synth arrangement is introduced, emitting a somber-like dirge to remember. Layers of synth effects and flute notes increase the intensity of this track as it builds up to a glorious finale. The final minute is all worth it, as a smooth and droning synth lead takes over and provides a spectacular harmony to close out the track. “Sons Of Iron And War” begins with several layers of percussive beats and rhythms and it will have you nodding your head or tapping your foot before the first synth note is even played. Deep synth tones sway in and out of the mix as other instrumental effects are engaged to create an ominous result. “Subterranean Throne” starts with a deep tonal modulation that is soon met with slowly played percussive sounds. Another slow building track, malevolent and droning keys are injected to conclude a grim consequence, but they are used sparingly. Synthwave effects are used as well, providing another dimension of sound for this superlative output . “Dominions Of Stone” starts with a moderately paced percussive sound and restrained dungeon synth melodies slowly begin to increase. There are an abundance of sound effects used in this track and they are placed in just the right spots to sound tasteful and very pleasing to the ear. “March Of The Dwarven Legions” is another satisfying track of the highest order with its low-end drum beats, droning ambience, and very dark appeal. The massive horn sounds make this a grandiose affair with a soundtrack-like quality, that would fit perfectly in any Fantasy Adventure film. The final track on the album, is “Eternal Quest”. Most of this track is a bleak, space ambient experience, loaded with cosmic effects that will blast you off into the outermost reaches of the universe. However, it completely changes in the last few minutes and catapults into a darkwave anthem with an illustrious keyboard arrangement and pulsating drum beat. The melody in this part is so beautiful and is worth listening to over and over again. I couldn’t think of a better track to end this amazing album.

Haunted Realm crushed it with this release as this is some of the finest Dungeon Synth I’ve heard in a while and although it doesn’t have an over-the-top fantasy synth sound, the minimalistic efforts really shine through as if this could be a full-on motion picture soundtrack. The steady but agonizing percussive elements are top level and the final track alone makes the whole album seem that much better. If you’ve not heard ‘Songs From The Deep Halls’ yet, I cannot recommend this enough. Please check it out (and download it) from the link below.

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Links:

https://thehauntedrealm.bandcamp.com/album/songs-from-the-deep-halls

Slime Golem Presents ‘The Short But Touching Tale Of Slime Golem’ Through Mystifying Sounds That Traverse Dungeon Synth, Retro Synthwave & Crypt Hop

Slime Golem have firmly solidified their place in the Dungeon Synth arena with the quirky but horrifying new release entitled, ‘The Short But Touching Tale Of Slime Golem’. Combining unconventional effects, ambient textures, traditional dungeon synth vibes and and a horror-themed story, Slime Golem checks all the necessary blocks to make their debut effort a fulfilling and entertaining endeavor. Let’s take a closer look into these unique, nightmarish anthems and reveal what makes this album so special.

Twisted album opener, “Swamp Crawling (A Golem Out Of Clay Emerges From The Banks Of The Ulkah River)” blends whimsical sound effects and melodic keyboards to deliver a spaghetti western-like theme song, but with a slight dungeon synth overtone. “You Have Summoned The Slime Golem! (Master In Awe Of His Creation)” is a sly little piece that features silky synth tones followed by drum & bass rhythms that give this track a grimacing sound. There are plenty of retro synth moments on display here to keep this short track dynamic and interesting. “The Bestowing Of Emet (…Such Is Your Task)”, is another retro sounding keyboard affair filled with layers of rolling synth modulations that increase as the song continues along. As the effects become more disturbing, it’s almost as if it’s part of a soundtrack for an 80’s horror movie. “Forest Walk (Observing Life Itself For The First Time)” is a somber track that is filled with depressing keyboard chops and fascinating sound effects that are almost contradictory, but seem to fit together rather well. “Hands Of Mud And Blood (A Horrid Act Committed)” is a groovy little piece that combines a maniacal synth lead with eccentric effects that are straight out of a dark comedy horror show. However, the merger of the two sounds provides a solid dungeon synth track of epic proportions, with a tad bit of drum & bass included. “The Golem Wept (A Unique Experience Of Sadness And Self-Awareness)” is an atmospheric track with layers of soothing synths played in a somber arrangement. The lead keys have an awesome retro appeal, which makes this one of my favorite tracks on the album. “I Am Appalled By The Human-Like Form! (Golem Turns Into Its Maker)” is a dark track that isn’t as layered as previous tracks but that doesn’t make it any less diabolical. The inclusion of drum & bass really puts this one over the top and all of the instruments synchronize perfectly to form a mind-melding dirge. “What Piece Of Work Is Man To Need A Lesser Being For Slave? (Golem Escapes)” is another bleak experience field with gloomy keyboard melodies and haunting ambience. The layers increase in the middle of the song and then slowly fade toward the end, but keep their majestic appeal throughout. “Prima Materia (Return To The Green And Slimy Vastitude)” has a slight sinister appeal to it, but it’s not full-on ominous, as the bizarre synth affects add a bit of dark satire, even though the keyboard leads are thick and epic. The final track on this dark and quirky album is “Unbinding (The Creature Knows Peace)”. The main synth synth lead is melodic and dreamy, while the background provides a retro darkwave sound, sending this album to another dimension when it comes to mood and genre-blending. The introspective ambience in the background flows with haunting dynamics as it augments all of the harmony provided by the other instrumentation. This not only create an effective outro for this unique little horror story, but also solidifies this amazing artist as a great songwriter.

I am thoroughly impressed by this debut outing from Slime Golem. Not only is the music amazing and genre defying, but the story that it represents is magical and can be easily identified within these wonderful song arrangements. I’m really looking forward to the see what the future holds for this artist and the incredible stories that will possibly be told through the magic of the music are sure to be extraordinary. If you’ve not heard ‘The Short But Touching Tale Of Slime Golem’, look no further than the link below and give this masterful album a listen. I can’t recommend this one enough so please download it now.

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Links:

https://wyrmlodge.bandcamp.com/album/the-short-but-touching-tale-of-slime-golem

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

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

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

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

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Links:

https://ancientsword.bandcamp.com/releases

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

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

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

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

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Links:

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

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

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

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

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

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Links:

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

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

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

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

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

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Links:

https://allochnathir.bandcamp.com/