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.

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Links:

https://elminster.bandcamp.com

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

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

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

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

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Links:

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

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

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

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

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

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Links:

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

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

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

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

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

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Links:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Links:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Links:

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

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!

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://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.

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