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

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

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

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

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Links:

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

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

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

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

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

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Links:

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

Fflewddur Emits Sonic Impulses Of Chiptune, Synthwave And Gracefully Crafted Dungeon Synth On ‘Farther Down We Go’

When the songwriting is spot on, I will listen to just about any genre of music, to include sub-genre outputs that may go against the grain of traditional boundaries. Even for Dungeon Synth, there are some sub-genres that I enjoy more than others but I will always give anything a chance regardless. That being said, if there is a definitive skill set in the composition department and arrangements are done in an appealing taste, I’m up for anything. That definitely holds true for Fflewddur and their riveting album, ‘Farther Down We Go’. Although some of the instrumentation is a bit more whimsical than my normal taste for Dungeon Synth, these songs are crafted with such meticulous detail and an irresistible amounts of melody that I can’t help but fall victim to the addictive style that shines on these seven light-hearted tracks.

Album opener, “There’s Nothing In This Cave Worth Dying For” is quite an impressive beginning to this adaptable album as it exposes several layers of genre-defying sounds that are intricately woven to produce an initial audial stimulating experience set to take place over the next twenty six minutes. “Caution To The Wind” begins with the guns a blazing as massive synth effects expose a grandiose scenery of Medieval savagery. However, not even twenty seconds in, a beautiful 8-but melody begins to play and changes the course of this track. As layers of synths and orchestrations begin to make their presence felt, it’s obvious how imposing this song intends to become and the wonderful melodies continue to impress until the end. Next up is the title track, “Farther Down We Go” and it’s as daring and adventurous as the previous tracks but in a different way. The effects are more subdued and haunting and the rhythmic beat in the background will have the listener nodding their head with awe and admiration for the songwriting skills on display. “A Fire For Warmth” begins with, well, a crackling fire field recording and it’s soon joined by several layers of compressed synth effects. The background melody and lead keys play off of each other so well, and the lingering drone in the near distance holds everything together perfectly. “A Discovery Of Gnomes” is a jubilant and whimsical piece that borders the realm of Comfy Synth. However, the bombastic drum beat provides a darker essence than usual for a melody of this nature. Ultimate, it all works together very well for a short but entertaining track. “The Elders Speak Of Treasure” contains inaudible vocal samples (or probably a distorted synth effect) that sets an eerie scene and then follows it up with grim keyboard harmonies and soothing synth leads that set a melancholic mood. The final track is the breathtaking, “Reaving The Gnomic Keep”. Featuring fast-paced percussive elements and quirky 8-bit leads, this eccentric track pretty much sums up the musical genius of the previous tracks in just under four minutes. This one will have you reminiscing fantasy movies of the 80’s or leave you wanting to play dungeon crawlers games from yesteryear. If that’s the case, then mission accomplished for Fflewddur.

‘Farther Down We Go’ is such a charming and enjoyable album. Delightful melodies and compelling songwriting are a predominant factor for the duration of this twenty six minute long amusing journey, which is full of twists and turns along the way. If you enjoy your Dungeon Synth with a sense of easement and calm demeanor, look no further than Fflewddur’s ‘Farther Down We Go’. Please support this fantastic artist and download the album from the link below.

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Links:

https://fflewddur.bandcamp.com/album/farther-down-we-go

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

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

1. Akerius – Shadowed Paths Through Middle-Earth

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

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

2. Ethelborn – Ealdhláford

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

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

3. Amn – Lands Of Intrigue

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

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

4. Archana – In The Halls Of Relics

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

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

5. Whispering Mirrors – The Stuff Of Old Dreams

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

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

6. Pale Castle – Sorrowful Mysteries

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

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

7. Arx Silvestris – Silvestris I

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

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

8. Rectory – Giallo

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

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

9. Forgotten Ghost – Cave Cathedral

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

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

10. Wampyric Solitude – Darkness, Beloved and Eternal…

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

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

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Vandalorum Surpasses All Expectations On The Extremely Diverse ‘Maewyn’

Vandalorum is an artist that needs no introduction, especially if you’ve followed the Dungeon Synth genre for the past couple of years. Quickly establishing himself as one of the premier acts in the community, Vandalorum has persistently released a number of exceptional albums, garnering a huge following amongst musicians and fans alike. Vandalorum is also no stranger to The Dungeon In Deep Space either, as I reviewed the 2019 album, ‘Flagellum Dei’. That album erupted with enormous Medieval anthems and made me an instant supporter. Although I didn’t get the chance to review the massive follow-up release, ‘Mesopotamian Death Cult’, it was also a work of art that surpassed its predecessor. That leads us to the latest release called ‘Maewyn’, the gallant story of the life of St. Patrick; from the trials and tribulations of his actions with bringing Christianity to Ireland to his lasting impression on history and story telling throughout the ages.

Jubilant album opener, “A Saint Lays Claim To The Souls Of The Irish” is light and vibrant and immediately presents colorful layers of energetic electronic music that transcends Dungeon Synth. The warm drum patterns and vigorous synth leads catapult this track down a genre-less path and exposes it to boundless sources of musical universal acclaim. From the very first note of “Rise Of The Fomorians”, I realized that this album was going to be special and once again eclipse its predecessors. After a short keyboard intro, a drum beat fuses with expansive synths and showcases a groove that is completely mesmerizing. Traditional Dungeon Synth keyboard effects have a few spots that are commendable and gives it a bit of flare and variety, but the real winner is the choir-like vocals and the bombastic drum fills. I can’t get enough of this track and it may be my favorite one on the album. Next up is the short, symphonic piece,“Moraltach”. Although at just under a minute and a half long, it plays an important role by continuing this voiceless story and shows just how powerful good music really is. “Children Of Lir” continues the passion set forth in the previous tracks and offers even more melody as layers of synth effects meld together to form a memorable composition. However, once the drum beats are engaged, this Crypt Hop track soars to chilling new heights. Retro synthwave vibes with a touch of reverb keeps it old-school while maintaining a modern appeal. “Enslaved By Celtic Raiders” takes us back to a more traditional Dungeon Synth style, but powerful percussive parts and soaring guitar leads makes this one of the most ambitious compositions yet. The synth break in the middle – complimented with natural sounding field recordings – is beyond extraordinary and it completely exudes tons of emotions. “Exodus Of The Tuatha De Danann” commences with an immaculate piano lead that builds up to a serene duet with a soaring synth. As other instruments are betrothed, you can sense a maniacal presence taking over as this early-dawn, synthwave track soars beyond the stratosphere. “Cu Chullain” is another musically diverse piece, as it begins with a peaceful and somber intonation. As various instruments assemble to form a harmonious arrangement, the track ascends to new heights as black metal vocals are introduced at the same time the drum beats come in to play. “The Nymph Of The Forest Of Neri” is an elegant cantata that has some of the best melodic moments on the album and the brisk drum beats are a welcomed treat. “The Cave Where He Saw Hell” takes us back to a more traditional Dungeon Synth sound, specifically in the layered synth effects. However, this one would easily classify as a Crypt Hop track as well, especially when the smooth beats start up at various times. There is a velvety shine throughout this emotional song and it serves as a spiritual uplifting guide, as this magnificent album comes to a close. The final track on the album is the near ten minute long, “A Prayer In The Fields, and God Answered”. Not rushing a single thing, it begins with a simplistic synth drone, with layered leads filling in with some lush details that sound very emotional. This structure remains throughout the track, although the synth effects change style a few times to maintain a curious introspective. This song is so mellow & beautiful and provides the perfect ending to this amazing album that has provided so much variety.

This is one of those albums that can be listened to from start to finish without ever skipping over any tracks. I can’t think of a single song on ‘Maewyn’ that I would skip during a play through. Since it contains so much diversity on every track, I wouldn’t want to miss any of the intricate details contained within because at any given time, any of these tracks could easily become my favorite song on the album. The vast improvements in musicianship and songwriting over the past three albums or so is just unreal and Vandalorum should be proud of such an amazing accomplishment. Please show your support for one of the genre’s best and download ‘Maewyn’ from the link below.

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Links:

https://vandalorum.bandcamp.com/album/maewyn

Lord Orots Establishes A Powerful And Enthralling Setting With ‘Latzineko Erresumaren Itzulera’

Some artists just have that IT factor. The IT factor being the difference in quality and quantity in artistry that makes them stand out amongst the masses. From songwriting, compositional arrangements, effective use of soundscapes and field recording, production and even the visual aspect of the artwork, achieving this level of excellence is often curated by many but seldom maintained by few. One of those that stand out, albeit in a brief Dungeon Synth career, is Lord Orots. With a few EP’s, several singles, and a split release under his belt, we also have the massive full-length album, ‘Latzineko Erresumaren Itzulera’ to absorb and appreciate. This album is true, Medieval Dungeon Synth of the highest order with a cinematic quality like no other. The eight tracks contained within will no doubt take you back to a darkened, Middle Ages period of mystical wonder and endless tales of fantasy and adventure.

Right from the opening seconds of “Mendekurako Garaia”, the sounds of nature bring forth peace and tranquillity and pave the way for a celebrated transition to pulsating drum beats and melodic keys. The slight presence of a rain storm changes the mood to a grim appeal as this brief introduction comes to a close. Not wasting any time, the grandeur’s of Medieval essence can be felt as “Ziegan Giltzapetuta Betiko” announces its audial arrival. The awe-inspiring layers of synths fuse gallantly without becoming over imposing. Mixed perfectly, every instrument can be heard throughout its entire arrangement with complete clarity. The addition of a palpitating rhythm section adds a unique depth to this already wondrous track. Fading right into “Zeberio Errekako Iamiak“ with an elongated drone, it swiftly migrates into an ancient sound, courtesy of harmonized keys and harp-like effects. About halfway through, the action begins to pickup with choir-like vocal effects and muffled drums. “Oreina Eta Ontza Gauaren Ezkontza” is a beautiful piece that is filled with magnificent melody and sorrowful keyboard chops. Wonderfully composed, this track not only has an emotional standard throughout, it’s complimented by a deep drone that often goes unnoticed, but is crucial to the massive sound. The vocal effects are used sparsely but in great taste and just as this track puts you on the edge of your seat, it comes to a halt. That leads right into my favorite track on the album, “Ehun Mila Urte”. Commencing with a drum beat that is more in line with an enthralling death-march than a tribal pattern, it sets the stage for a bleak affair with an austere synth arrangement and a slightly discordant drone. Crisp lead keys flow smoothly across the electronic ivories as tensions start to rise. An intensity in the drum beat and layered tones begin to build as the song reaches a climatic point. After a short bridge section, influences of Warhammer 40k and Gregorian chants belt out in a victorious effort, and this dynamic song soon comes to a close. “Basoaren Besoetan” features lush keyboard melodies that sway between the soothing sounds of nature as birds randomly chirp in the background. At almost ten minutes in length, this is the longest track on the album and contains many sublime moments of dreamy, harmonized synth leads and it never loses focus on establishing a a connection with the essence of its environmental surroundings. “Udazkena” is another one of my favorite tracks on the album and it’s musical prowess enables this gem to standout amongst the others. Consisting of mostly slowed down synthwave chops and marginally distorted drones, this piece is full of early-dawn emotions and borders somewhere between melancholic and downright ominous sounds. The final track on the album is the war-like anthem, “Amaiera”. Although mainly consisting of calming synths and synchronous drum beats, this would be an effective composition for either rallying the troops or bringing unity throughout a discordant kingdom.

When it comes to uncompromising Dungeon Synth, Lord Orots has proven to be the chieftain of the synths and quite the skillful composer. Showing no timidity to venture beyond the borders of DS, Lord Orots incorporates many musical facets and ideas to create a unique musical experience, while staying true to the genre and the time period that it represents. I’m thoroughly impressed with ‘Latzineko Erresumaren Itzulera’ and am certain this album will stand the test of time. This one has been out a while already but if you’re one of the unfortunate few that hasn’t checked this one out yet, I highly recommend clicking on the link below and adding this masterpiece to your collection.

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Links:

https://lordorots.bandcamp.com/album/latzineko-erresumaren-itzulera

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

Disgusting Cathedral Injects A Harsh But Symphonic Form Of Controlled Chaos In ‘Adventurers Despised And Rejected’

Just the name – Disgusting Cathedral – is charred with contrast and residual meaning that is beyond the scope of initial thought. First, the word disgust means repulsive to the aesthetic taste of ones morals. However, in this day and age of antonymic speaking, disgust could also mean the awesomeness of something. A cathedral is basically a religious sanctuary. So, when we put the two words together, we have an abhorrent room of worship. That being said, it’s only fitting that Disgusting Cathedral (the artist) finds solace in composing angst-filled arrangements in the Dungeon Noise sub-genre of Dungeon Synth. ‘Adventurers Despised And Rejected’ is a forty four minute gritty adventure deep in the halls of a noise-filled castle where dark dungeons and dimly lit corridors pave the way for sick (antonymic-ally speaking) compositions.

The ten tracks presented on this blasphemous affair constitute a dark and grueling concept of restrained reverberations and malevolent soundscapes that tell an abrasive story of true Medieval happenings of a hideous nature. Album opener, “A Crystalline Cavern On The First Level Of The Barrow Of Arcane Secrets” send cosmic signals right away, as every note, every soundscape is riddled with distortion or reverb (or both), and it sends an immediate maniacal impression of the dark past. A few tracks later, the dose of frequency distortion is increased as “A Gatehouse In A Nearby Dwarven Town” tips the noise scale. However, there is a wondrous underlying composition of notes, with a fascinating conglomerate of melodic keys being played. Soon, mass distortion takes over as a full-on static noise pierces the ear canal via deafening audio waves. The random chirps and squeaks that are heard throughout add a uniqueness as well. Forging onward, the fifth track, “Lord And Lady Stone Gnome Are To Expire” is an eight plus minute slow build that finds Disgusting Cathedral dabbling with elongated drones and looping soundscapes. As the volume crescendos, clarity turns into musical deformity while the thick modulations continue to build. On the eighth track, “Per Bend Sinister Or An Azure, A Badger Statant Countercharger”, we find a nice keyboard melody that soon blends with random, industrialized noises that seem to suddenly take on a life of their own. As these obscure tones begin to take over the focus of the track, additional distorted elements come into focus and aimlessly create a wall of sound that becomes more abhorrent as the song comes to a close. Skipping over to the final track on the album – which is also considered a Bonus track – “The Kindness Of Fossilized Plants Pt. II: Part One (Cursed Version)”, we are still presented with the abrasive formula of the previous arrangements. However, there is more of a cinematic song structure going on here that is extremely dismal and haunting and almost depressing. The sinister effects and baneful soundscapes create a dark scene of ill intention but with less modularity as on previous tracks. This is the perfect song to end this inauspicious album.

Disgusting Cathedral summons a new type of darkness – in the form of harsh noises and frequency modulations – to enhance the Dungeon Synth listening experience. If your seeking soft atmospherics and lush keys with harmonic undertones, you’ve come to the wrong castle, as ‘Adventurers Despised And Rejected’ is the polar opposite. Strong, brash sounds with a hateful intent are the primary focus on this outstanding album of unique compositions. I highly recommend this for anyone that is open to an alternate reality in the Dungeon Synth realm. This music is not for the faint at heart though, as it’s an all out audial assault with evil intent. However, if harsh noise and industrialized synth music is your style, then this will be a very rewarding experience.

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Links:

https://disgustingcathedral.bandcamp.com/album/adventurers-despised-and-rejected

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