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

Osmord Brings Forth Dark Medieval Settings On ‘The Ruins In The Forest’

Who says time machines don’t exist? They don’t necessarily have to be a physical matter but can exist in an emotional state as well. Take for example ‘The Ruins In The Forest’ by Osmord. These two extended tracks (around thirty six minutes long total), heave the listener deep into enchanted times where Kings and Castles were at the forefront of every commoners conversation. As one dons a pair of headphones and presses play on this obscure little album, an immediate surrender to ancient medieval times becomes inevitable.

“The Ruins In The Forest I” is a sixteen and a half minute perilous journey through the archaic lands of the middle-ages. Rhythmic, percussive beats and layered keys set the backbone of this imposing dirge. Since time is not an issue, the inclusion of lead keyboard chops are mixed in at random intervals, in an appealing fashion. Nothing is rushed and the continuous buildup to a sonic conclusion is quite impressive. Even around the nine minute mark, where the track slows down to more of an ambient piece, it never looses its grace and continues to appeal to the time period of the ancient ones. The final few minutes conclude with grand orchestrations as if providing the soundtrack to a battle scene. “The Ruins In The Forest II” is nineteen minutes of sheer Medieval greatness! Starting with a deep, tonal sound, the inclusion of haunting synths increasingly begin to steal the show. The melody that is built within the lead parts are mesmerizing and completely captivating. This track is like feeling lost in the profound landscape surrounding a hidden castle. As a troop of skilled warriors scale the loose terrain quietly – with the hopes of not giving away their location – they continue their preparations for an endless battle with the King’s guard. The music slowly crescendos to climactic parts throughout and anticipation increasingly builds for the forest warriors. At around the ten minute mark, nostalgic keyboard harmonies continue to lay the groundwork for the overall theme for this dramatic, yet monumental track. The final few minutes find somber melodies combined with balanced percussion and soothing, droning keys that forge on in the background.

With ‘The Ruins In The Forest’, Osmord succeeds at luring the listener back to a time that we usually only dream about. Lush, haunting melodies that are well balanced over minimal percussive parts with beautiful orchestral arrangements are some of the key factors that help take us all down the enchanted path of true Dungeon Synth. This is a really impressive album and I highly recommend it for those that enjoy a more retro sound to their synth music. Please click on the link below and support this incredible artist.

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Links:

https://osmord.bandcamp.com/album/the-ruins-in-the-forest

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

Coelus Cataclysmus Take Us On A Vexing Adventure That Declines To An Abhorrent Demise On ‘Solus Plaga’

The mysteries of a musical journey can be just as mesmerizing as the theme it is providing a soundtrack for. When a daring story line begins with a typically painless setting and transcends obscurity to end up grim and twisted, there has to be a unique listening experience to go along with it. Coelus Cataclysmus contributes exactly what is desired on the extremely versatile, ‘Solis Plaga’. Adapting to just about every thematic scene imaginable – in this story of cosmic destruction and the inevitable downfall of mankind that soon followed – a diverse mix of genres are fused together to arrange a boundless album of energy and creativity. From traditional dungeon synth, medieval synth & neo-classical, to droning soundscapes and retro-synthwave, ‘Solus Plaga’ generates a hefty forty eight minutes of playing time across nine unique tracks.

“One Last Hike” commences the doomed adventure with lush keyboard tones and traditional dungeon synth effects that drone slowly, but in a harmonious effort. Eerie soundscapes give the feeling of solitude and despair, yet the journey must go on. “Darkening Skies” establishes a beautiful Medieval foundation with its orchestrated effects and sorrowful melodies. High-pitched keyboard leads have an ominous texture, yet mix very well with what all is happening in the background. “Night Eternal Sets” is one of my favorite songs on the album, as it begins to introduce elements of retro-synthwave, contributing to the bleak atmosphere of the story being told on the album. The layers upon layers of somber synths have a dream-like quality and will have you wanting to listen to this one over and over again. “Cataclysm” is where the darkness really begins to seep through, as low-end drones barely penetrate the audible frequency ranges. Suddenly, dungeon synth leads ring out in bizarre desperation as it paints an oblique setting. Toward the end of the track, heavily distorted drones come crashing through to represent the beginning of the end of times. “Chrestomathy Of Dread” is a stand-out track with its anomalous creativity and fusion of both slow and faster drum patterns throughout the song. There are spots of peaceful ambient endeavors and other times, the main synth melody of the track shines through like a discernible addiction. “Bring Out Your Dead” starts with a malevolent synth chop with indistinguishable narrations or screams happening in the background and off in the distance. This track has a crushing Medieval vibe and there are several times where brooding soundscapes penetrate the mix to provide something a bit different. This is another stand-out track and they seem to get more gloomy as we reach the final few songs. “Rapture” begins with a sulking drone that soon explodes into a wall of symphonic patterns that clearly portray the end of the world (in musical form). However, after a few minutes of this cacophony of sound, layers of glowing synths suggest a grim aftermath of harrowing desolation. “Empty Lands” is another sonic track that is heavy on the distorted keys, Medieval-like percussion and occasional soundscape to keep everything together. This track has several symphonic twists and turns that are not only pleasing to the ear, but fully show what Coelus Cataclysmus is capable of doing. The final song on the album is the dreary, “Red Rain”. Full of emotion, this dismal track really sends the listeners to an oblivious state, as the collapse of civilization is complete and the only thing left is the atrocities of nature itself. The droning keyboards and bleak ambience really set the tone for this nightmare as the main keyboard melody is so beautiful, yet at the same time, so painful to hear. What a great way to end this spectacular album.

Coelus Cataclysmus have created a monstrous album (and storyline), where the music not only acts as the protagonist but ends up as the villain as well. There are no musical boundaries here, as multiple synth sub-genres coalesce as one to produce a breathtaking listening experience. ‘Solis Plaga’ is an adventure that must be heard to be felt and understood, and this album ranks highly amongst my Dungeon Synth favorites for this year. If you’ve not heard this yet, I can’t recommend it enough, so please support this magnificent work of art and download it from the link below.

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Links:

https://coeluscataclysmus.bandcamp.com/album/solis-plaga

Neo-Classical Elements And A Conceptual Medieval Tale Give Life To Almesbury Abbey’s ‘Queen Guinevere’

There are many stories that depict the life of Queen Guinevere, the nefarious wife of King Arthur, but one of the most regarded chronicles is her lustful betrayal of her husband and consequent affair with Lancelot. After a period of time, she returns to the King and is forgiven of her treacherous disloyalty. However, King Arthur decides to go pursue Lancelot, leaving Queen Guinevere in the care of Mordred, who has an ulterior motive of his own – a plan to marry the Queen. Fleeing his proposal, Queen Guinevere seeks refuge in the nun convent known as Almesbury – where she subsequently remained for the remainder of her life due to the humiliation of her infidelities. Much of this was paraphrased for the sake of this review but it’s such an intriguing story and the major influence for the album at hand. Almesbury Abbey, one of many projects by Arnaud Spitz (and the material contained within), is a rediscovery of compositions previously written but finally released on this conceptual album based on Queen Guinevere’s concluding years in the Almesbury convent.

Somber opening track, “Guinevere’s Gone”, begins with a hauntingly alluring melody that seems so full of sadness, yet offers a bit of brightness with the extended synth tones that weave in and out of the main keyboard passage. Keeping it simple, this song doesn’t build upon layers of synth leads and rhythms, but instead draws the listener in with its beautiful simplicity. “Mordred’s Curse” is where the excitement begins and the grim, Medieval arrangements take over. Layers of obscured synths and a sudden bit of pulsating effects, followed by nightmarish sounds give this short track a big presence on the album. “The Creeping Mist” is another enticing track that is full of wondrous melody and droning ambience to give this brooding dirge a full and really clear sound. The lead synth chops are used sparingly and in good taste, as they provide an additional warming atmosphere. Next up is my a favorite song on the album, “A Madness Of Farewells”. Commencing with a mysterious synth effect that fuses into an elegant, yet melancholic arrangement, this has to be one of the most memorable moments on the album. Medieval-style keyboard leads and layers of dungeon synth melodies complete this monumental song and in my opinion, it’s just not long enough. “Almesbury Gates” starts with blasting cathedral-like organs before developing into a modest dungeon synth arrangement. These two styles battle back and forth throughout the track with the occasional pulse effect, giving it a percussive feel. Toward the end, the melody changes and contains an echo effect, providing a grandiose sound. “Heathen Of The Northern Sea” is an enchanting piece that compliments the style of Almesbury Abbey. The lead keyboard chops are magical on this track and pay further homage to the traditional dungeon synth sound. “My Sinful Queen I Forgive Thee” has the characteristics (and sound) of a classical guitar composition with hints of retro progressive synth arrangements, with regards to tone and its progressive time signature. The final track on the album is “Beyond These Voices There Is Peace.” The choir-like vocal effects are both ominous and mournful at the same time. Medieval synth interpretations slowly crescendo into the mix and ultimately overtake the vocal effects all together. As more synth sounds are introduced, the more dismal the track gets, painting a very grim picture to close out the album.

Almesbury Abbey is a very fascinating project that contains elements of neo-classical, dungeon synth and Medieval compositions. Knowing that all of these magnificent pieces were written and inspired by the latter days of Queen Guinevere, makes it all the more worthwhile. If you enjoy synth music of a more intimate setting with hints of harsher overtones, I would highly recommend checking out ‘Queen Guinevere’ and supporting this prodigious artist by downloading the album from the link below.

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Links:

https://almesburyabbey.bandcamp.com/releases

Eyre Transmissions VII: Interview With Dungeon Synth Abecedarian, Rectory

As Dungeon Synth continues to grow in popularity, the amount of artist surging onto the scene is astonishing. It seems like every few days A new artist appears, or three to five new recordings get released, causing me to maintain extra “Bandcamp Funds” in order to support this community as much as I can. One of the new artist that I’ve really been impressed with is Rectory and with their brand of Haunted Dungeon Synth, it opens up another sub-genre of ambient-based synth music for the ages. Debut recording, ‘Ghost Stories’, contains four ethereal tracks of breathtaking Dungeon Synth that borderlines medieval tones and eerie dark ambient passages that transcends multiple genres. With songs such as “Waking At Midnight” and “This Room Always Feels So Sad”, there is a sense of gloomy malevolence at play that is hauntingly beautiful, yet seemingly damaging to the soul. I recently had the pleasure to conduct an interview with Rectory to find out how they got started, the story behind “Haunted Dungeon Synth”, and anything in between.

1. First of all, thank you for taking the time to conduct this interview. It seems like Rectory quickly infiltrated the Dungeon Synth scene within the last few months. What were some of your main influences for getting started?

That’s very kind of you to say so; I still feel like no bugger has heard of us. Not that I resent that, of course! It’s a scene that’s absolutely exploding at the moment and we’re just happy to be a part of it.

When I first started writing, I only really knew the big names in Dungeonsynth: Burzum, Mortiis, Jim Kirkwood… I explored more as I went and found some really great stuff. I don’t know how much it inspired me directly, though. Musically, I’ve taken the biggest inspiration from film composers, especially Joseph Bishara, Danny Elfman, Fabio Frizzi and Charlie Clouser. 

2. According to your Bandcamp page, you label your music as “Haunted Dungeon Synth”. What sets your music apart from the typical Dungeon Synth music that we hear quite often these days?

I love the medieval things and the sword and sorcery things that some people do, but it isn’t right for me. I’ve been fascinated with ghosts and hauntings since I was about eight or nine years old. I find the subject completely fascinating. If you’re a believer, it’s great that there’s a whole world to explore that we don’t understand yet. If you’re a total sceptic, isn’t it fascinating that your brain can do these things and make you think you’ve experienced something paranormal?

So, the idea for Rectory began to crystallise, and it became a little project for me to work on while England was on lockdown over COVID-19. It’s already gone further than I expected it to. 

If you mean musically, I guess it’s just the general sound. Our music is the antithesis of Comfy Synth. Hell, call us “Discomfort Synth” if you want. The moment we press ‘record’ we are thinking about how we can unnerve the listener.

3. Do you think that “Comfy Synth” has also influenced Rectory’s sound, but in a way that‘s condescending to that sub-genre?

Not at all. There are a few Comfy Synth artists whose worn I enjoy – Tiny Mouse, for example, is wonderful – but it’s not something we’re interested in writing. There’s certainly no backlash or condescension on our part. I’m happy they’re doing their thing, and I’m happy people love it.
The genre is already incredibly small and anti-commercial. I don’t think that infighting or sneering at what other artists are doing is productive for anyone.

4. For the releases that you currently have out, there seems to be a ghostly theme to the music and album covers. What inspires you to write around this subject matter?

Lifelong obsession, really. I love reading true ghost stories, and I’ve been to seances and ghost hunts. I just love all aspects of it. I’ve seen and experienced enough stuff to make me believe that some of it is real. The name “Rectory” is taken from Borley Rectory, which was allegedly the most haunted house in Britain until it was destroyed. 

I also took a lot of inspiration from classic ghost stories by guys like M.R. James, Sheridan Le Fanu, and William Hope Hodgson. There is an atmosphere to those tales that I really wanted to capture. Not that I don’t love modern stuff, too! Adam Nevill is an absolute master. Garth Marenghi is a huge influence on us, too.

5. Do you provide your own artwork for the albums as well?

The cover for “Ghost Stories” is an interior photo of Borley Rectory. The cover of “There Was a Man Dwelt by a Churchyard” is one I took, myself, of my Ouija board.

https://rectory.bandcamp.com/album/ghost-stories

6. How important is the ambient/atmospheric aspect to your craft?

100%. Rectory is nothing without the ambience and atmosphere. That’s often where the song-writing starts.

7. Do you think you might venture out into the Dark Ambient arena some day?

Possibly. A few people have said that they consider Rectory to be more Dark Ambient than Dungeon Synth, already. It’s totally possible we could gradually evolve that way. Lustmord is a huge influence on what we do. His soundscapes are incredible.
Of course, if anyone has a horror film that needs scoring, that’s something we’d love to do.

8. Before Rectory, were you involved with any other musical endeavors? If so, how was the transition to playing/recording Dungeon Synth?

Yeah, I’m a punk musician. Self taught. I’ve been playing and writing stuff since I was about fourteen, with varying degrees of obscurity.

I have very little musical theory under my belt, so that, and learning to play the keyboard from scratch were the biggest challenges. It’s been something totally outside of my experience and comfort zone, but that’s a large part of what has made it so rewarding.

9. Cassette releases seem to be a big thing in the Dungeon Synth community. Do you plan on any physical releases of your recordings?

Yes, Sol Moribundo has released “Ghost Stories” on cassette.

I’m not a fan of the format at all, but enough people were interested that I set out to make it happen. Sol Moribundo are a small, start-up label, but they’ve been great to work with.

10. Have you thought about collaborating with other artists?

Some conversations have been had, but nothing is in the pipeline at present. 

11. Tell me about your recording/playing setup. Do you use a mix of analog and digital recording equipment?

I use a Ouija board, planchette and automatic writing.

https://rectory.bandcamp.com/track/there-was-a-man-dwelt-by-a-churchyard

12. Do you have any desire to play live or do you plan to stick to being a recording artist only?

No, I’m an old man, now. My live performance days are well and truly behind me. To be honest, I’m not sure DS ever translates well into a live environment. If Summoning can’t make it work live, what chance do the rest of us have?

Plus I think so much of “the Rectory experience” – if I may be permitted to talk like an abject fucking nonce for a moment – takes place inside the listener’s head, and I worry any visuals would distract from that.  

13. These days, how much do you rely on social media to spread the word (and music) of Rectory?

It’s the only way of doing it. The Dungeon Synth groups on Facebook are incredibly open minded and supportive, and there’s a few really good blogs out there. One of them wants to interview me, but I forget their name.

14. I really appreciate your time for this interview and thanks for the music that you provide to this wonderful community. Do you have any final words for your fans that may be reading this interview?

Sure. The Rectory album is in production, and will be out as soon as I’m happy with it. It’s called “The Rattle of Dry Earth”. After that, I’ll be working on a World War II themed DS project as a quick break, which should be a lot of fun.

Links:

BC: https://rectory.bandcamp.com

FB: https://www.facebook.com/RectoryOfficial/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RectoryOfficial

Madame Swann Records Rare Compositions And A Few Original Tracks On Unprecedented Self-Titled Album

Although the origins of Dungeon Synth continue to be debated, there is no question that it’s influences date back centuries. From medieval-era composition to turn-of-the-century neo-classical arrangements, Dungeon Synth has taken great prestige in expanding on these magnificent musical cultures. Madame Swann has done something quite unique on their debut album, in that they’ve taken four previously written compositions from the early 1900’s – that have never been musically recorded – and have given them an everlasting audible experience. In addition, Madame Swann have composed two original tracks to add to this stellar recording, giving their personal stamp on this special album. In all, these six tracks flow with a sense of nostalgia with a minimalistic approach to instrument tracking.

Right from the start, the ominous quality of “Balbec Après I’Orage” shuffles through notes with haunting enthusiasm and presents a crystal-clear production that is even more haunting. Various synth effects present a retro feel throughout the track and it’s just so hard to imagine that this beautiful song was written around a hundred years ago, even though it sounds so up-to-date. “Nuit d’Octobre” is one of the original tracks written by Madame Swann and it fits in perfectly with the aesthetics of the other classical tracks on this album with regards to arrangement and melody beautification. In addition, the minimalistic approach provides such an eerie backdrop to go along with the minor keys that are played in such a masterful structure. “Captive” keeps the same sound, tone and timing as the previous tracks and it simply exudes a combination of neo-classical and retro synth layers to create a lavish sound. Next up is the delightfully toned, “Fugitive”. The production contains a huge wall-of-sound that slowly echoes to create a massive musical endeavor. A faint drone plays underneath a busy synth lead that reverberates a passion for classical compositions. “La Mort De Swann” is a standout track as it contains various sounds and effects not heard on any other track. From deep synth grumbles to high-pitched vibrato tones, this is a short eclectic piece that is too interesting not to be recorded for the first time in almost a century. The final track on the album is another Madame Swann original entitled “Prière”. This one features more of a dark ambient intro with mesmerizing narrations before diving into some serious medieval synth leads. After a few bars of this beautiful sound, it begins to build and layer with additional leads that play in the same style but toned down a bit, creating a really enthralling and adventurous track.

I really enjoy the concept of Madame Swann and the approach taken on this album was done with with extraordinary attention to detail. Containing two original tracks written by the artist and four tracks written by Jeanne Spitz (almost one hundred years ago) but never musically recorded, Madame Swann have released an amazing album of neo-classical/neo-medieval synth music that shouldn’t be pigeon-holed to just those two genres. From the arrangements, instrumentation, musicianship and production, this album presents an all-around wonderful listening experience. Please support Madame Swann and download this amazing album from the link below.

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://madameswann.bandcamp.com/releases