Guan Yin Video Premiere For “Repentance II”

In May of 2020, I reviewed an extremely diverse and unique collaboration album released on Akashic Envoy Records called ‘Apostils Against Hegemony, Vol. I: Transitive Properties’. Although that album contained thirty three extraordinary tracks, I detailed ten of them that stood out the most. Amongst those standout tracks was “Evocation I” by Guan Yin. The ritualistic essence laid a foundation for bleak drones, discordant vocals and black ambience and left me wanting more. The time has finally come for a new track and I’m extremely excited to present the video for “Repentance II”. It’s everything that I expected it to be and so much more. I hope you enjoy this song as much as I do and please visit the links at the bottom of the page.

Information from the artist/label:

Guan Yin: a ritual ambient project from multi-instrumentalist Cicatrix (Nodus Tollens, Chernozem – they/them)) and vocalist Espi Kvlt (Seas of Winter, Apricitas, Nehushtan – they/he).

In much the same way that the duo’s other collaboration Exsanguinated Shade doesn’t fit neatly within the parameters of a single genre, Guan Yin doesn’t approach ritual ambient in the traditional way. For starters, there are no occult themes in the duo’s music – Espi Kvlt is a practicing Buddhist, and all of their lyrics come from Buddhist texts. From a musical perspective, Cicatrix draws as much inspiration from power electronics artists like Prurient and Theologian as they do from the ritualistic sounds of Corona Barathri or Emme Ya.

For the dark and frequently harrowing half of their split with cinematic ambient duo Sun Through Eyelids, Espi Kvlt took their lyrics from the Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch, specifically the section on Repentance. They chose that particular text because they were struggling with a mistake they made around the same time the duo were working on the split, and when dealing with serious life issues, the way they tend to overcome the pain and suffering from said issues is by making music. By focusing on the Repentance section of the Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch, they were able to heal through singing the words and forgive themselves for said mistake. While no amount of repentance can ever truly eliminate the pain caused to another, it can serve to spread good will into the world and bring loving-kindness to any beings we have wronged.

The Sun Through Eyelids/Guan Yin split will be available on cassette from Acepahle Winter Productions on March 19. Limited to 50 copies on metallic silver shells. Preorders launch on March 5.

Links:

https://guanyin.bandcamp.com

https://acephalewinter.bandcamp.com

https://sunthrougheyelids.bandcamp.com

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

Randal Collier-Ford Ventures Down A Dark, Ritualistic Path on ‘Advent’

If you’re in the market for Dark Ambient that is loaded with substance and distinction, then look no further than Randal Collier-Ford. His unmistakable sound hangs in the balance between desolate drones and ritualistic terror. Somewhere amidst that rudimentary structure, frays of industrial modulations, sonic soundscapes and transcendental field recordings integrate seamlessly to present his signature take on Dark Ambient madness. However, on his latest effort, ‘Advent’, we find a broader approach to the songwriting venture, presenting a more melodic and cinematic sound than ever before. Ranging from effervescent orchestrations to tonal black ambience, ‘Advent’ is the Randal Collier-Ford album I’ve been waiting to hear for a very long time.

The opening track is the near twenty minute long juggernaut, “Beckoning Absurd Shapes”. It begins as expected – bleak, desolate soundscapes with a calm-before-the-storm approach. The drones ascend like low, howling winds and the sound of horns that resembles an early warning alarm enacts in the distance. Disturbing vibes continue to play out, creating an environment of angst and dread. Prolonged stringed arrangements add a slight gothic presence with a noir sediment. Ritualistic undertones in the form of dark, inaudible chants add a necessary layer of power and sonic presence to this track as it continues to ebb and flow with its audible storyline. The last half of this track is inundated with ghastly drones, beautiful stringed compositions and a variety of field recordings that will keep the listener engaged in this visionary conquest. The next track is “Eyes Of The Temple (feat. Northumbria)”. Northumbria – known for their textured guitar and bass recordings – adds a gripping layer of coldness that embodies the true essence of minimalistic ambience. The musical combination of these artists establishes a dreadful world of chaos and darkness that builds into a massive wall of sound. The star attraction in this track is the grandiose guitar reverb. It creates a sound so hollow and disturbing that it’s bound to create nightmarish effects. The final track on the album is the twelve minute long “The Second Wound”. Commencing with powerful drones of a destructive nature, this song slowly ascends into a world of desolate visions. A sultry piano arrangement leads into a tribal drum line of war-like proportions. Enormous soundscapes and industrialized summonings bring forth a climactic ending as the drones fade between the bombastic percussive parts. The track finally comes to a close, as the drums dissolve, leaving synth pads to create a fulfilling ending.

Randal Collier-Ford never disappoints, and has always delivered amazing results on his previous albums. However, with ‘Advent’, he’s stepped up his game and has conveyed his best performance yet. The epic track lengths make the difference for me, as they allow for the atmospherics to captivate the mind and dominate the emotional state. The Cryo Chamber label continues their effortless run of outstanding releases that continue to pioneer the Dark Ambient genre and ‘Advent’ embodies that streak completely. I highly recommend checking this one out so click on the link below and download this amazing album.

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Links:

https://cryochamber.bandcamp.com/album/advent

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

Aleksis Tristan Shaw Reveals An Array Of Influences On The Cinematic ‘Drones Of The Hive’

I’ll be the first to admit that it’s hard to soak in and preserve a lasting affection for many of the albums that I review. It’s not that I don’t like them, in fact, I’ve been fortunate to love everything that I’ve reviewed up to this point. Once I’m finished with one, I tend to put that album on the back burner (for a while), so that I can move on to the next. However, there are many instances where an album stops me dead in my tracks and enthralls me for multiple listens, with an extended staying time on my iPhone. ‘Drones Of The Hive’ by Aleksis Tristan Shaw is one of those albums. Not your typical Dark Ambient release, this one digs deep into emotional wounds with grandiose, cinematic energy, ominous synth leads, and an endless supply of menacing soundscapes & textures that set the mood for continual meditative euphoria. The ten imposing tracks contained within, offer variety, horror, substance, and unequivocal entertainment for the better part of forty eight minutes. Let’s take a deeper dive into each of these tracks.

The album commences with the somber, “Human Remainder”. Soft keys and pads drift sadly as they create a lush melody that will instantly reel the listener in. Soon after, harsh, looping keyboard tones ring out like a warning alarm while the cinematic instrumentation increases. “Vestigial Cries” begins with low, tonal sounds that set a grim mood. High-pitched drones oscillate throughout the track, providing a glimmer of hope to the emotional vibe that was previously set. Layers of synths piece this track together boldly with hints of dissonance and conflict while never loosing focus on the contemplative state. “Shamanic Atavism” is brimming with discordant synth leads while the background sounds like a black metal style song into. This track is very dark, yet dreamy and introspective. “Tenement Graves” is another gloomy piece that features the sounds of a crackling fire and a nifty drum beat that fits right in with the pace of the synths. As the percussive parts change up, multi-layers of quixotic keys & pads provide a grandiose audial platform that’s so easy to get lost in. “Dukkha And Anatman” is a multifaceted track that goes from horror score, minimalistic droning, to cinematic bliss. The use of percussive elements really stick out as well, making this one of my favorite tracks on the album. “Drifting Consciousness” renders terrifying drones, looping soundscapes and unidentifiable noises that will keep the listener on edge. Although this is one of the shorter tracks on the album, it succeeds at masking a horrifying feeling of dread. “Fugitive Drone” is an addictive listen, as the quirky keys & pads fuse perfectly with the cosmic drones, proposing the feeling of a doomed celestial mission. About halfway in, a blast of malevolence alters the tempo, setting up for a lifeless finale that can’t be altered. On the polar opposite of the scale is “Untethered”. Looping tape hisses, minimalistic drones and obscure field recordings dominate this track and when the pulsating drum beat is initiated, it gets that much better. Amongst the crackles and pops, this is actually a really smooth and mellow song that deserves multiple listens. “Caravan Of Outcasts” begins with an ambiguous orchestral arrangement, like a symphony warming up in various keys just before the conductor provides the signal to silence everyone before starting a performance. However, there is beauty amongst the chaos, as melody can be heard throughout. Wind chimes and other field recordings add a layer of organic texture that makes this one stand out as well. The final offering on this wondrous album is, “The Wastelands”. Even though it’s less than three minutes long, this light ambient opus is full of emotions and provides a cleansing affect on the mind and soul. The energy surrounding these hollow drones is breathtaking and it seems to ends too quickly.

Aleksis Tristan Shaw certainly has an ear for not only Dark Ambient but synth music in general. Whether fascinating the listener with cinematic soundscapes, horrifying drones or melodic synth leads, Aleksis Tristan Shaw knows how to administer the perfect blend of music and emotion and the result of that fusion is ‘Drones Of The Hive’. If you’re into ambient recording with meticulous detail and a variety of flavors, then please show your support by downloading this amazing album from the link below. This is truly a masterpiece in sound quality and music depth and it deserves your attention.

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Links:

https://aleksistristanshaw.bandcamp.com/album/drones-of-the-hive

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

The Wyndham Research Institute Constructs A Retro-Grade Space Ambient Album With The Cosmic, ‘Interim Report No. 57: Io Transmitter Sub-Committee’ Release

When we think about the characteristics of space ambient music, usually deep, prolonged drones come to mind and they are complimented by resounding soundscapes that are celestial in nature. As a listener, we often feel as if we are alone on a spacecraft traveling through deep space on a doomed mission. However, not all space ambient albums have to carry out the same accord and that’s none more apparent than on the latest album by Wyndham Research Institute, ‘Interim Report No. 57: Io Transmitter Sub-Committee’. Elongated drones are replaced with retro synths and cosmic soundscapes that are more inline with a 60’s science fiction show soundtrack than modern space ambient. Fortunately, that’s the beauty of versatility in music and the creative complex. Although these compositions seem nostalgic, they are effective in creating a dark, intricate atmosphere that’s perfect for any ordinary space adventure.

Each of the seven tracks are presented as notes, as if to represent a transmitted sequence at a particular point of time. Right from the start, “Note I” has a retrospective feel and presents sound effects that could have be heard on a 60’s science fiction show. Minimalistic noises and tones serve as a beacon of nostalgia, just as older spacecraft lack the technology of newer ones. “Note II” begins with obscure modulation bends and frequency adjustments, as a smooth drone sets in to define the mission at hand. Organic effects tend to be a bit distorted and at around the halfway point, more antiquated tones generate a puzzling nuance as if an impromptu meeting with a foreign being is about to take place. The start of “Note III” reminds me of a special effect that Tool or Voivod would use, just before setting into a crushing riff. However, Wyndham Research Institute decides to dial back the noise to a low-frequency drone and more obscure soundscapes. Random ticks and buzzes play on throughout the track, making this a really unique experience. “Note IV” commences slowly into a hollow drone with piercing signals mixed in. Soon after, an 80’s-style horror themed synth pattern begins to play, making this one of the most terrifying tracks on the album. Assorted scratches and screeches intensify the scene as these unidentifiable patterns can only mean mayhem. “Note V” is like a spark of controlled chaos, as various discordances are fused together to present a grueling environment filled with intense moments and obscure happenings. Melodic keys are played throughout, adding a bit of peculiarity to this bizarre track. “Note VI” is one of the most accessible songs yet, as the smooth flowing drones prevail from the very beginning and ascend into layers of deep space bliss. Light soundscapes and an acoustic guitar strum are introduced as well, creating an intoxicating adventure. However, the additional attributes don’t last too long, as they slowly fade out and all that’s left is an austere drone to finish out the track. The final song on the album is “Note VII”. Commencing with a high-pitched frequency vibration and distorted ambience, the track shape-shifts into a mild-tempered hum with a slight Berlin School influence. The heartbeat-like percussive element is a welcomed sound to this final track as many new musical forms are merged together to what may be the best track on the album. The final minute consists of a continuous hiss, reminiscent of a combustion chamber of a spacecraft, thwarting a lonely cosmonaut into the far reaches of the universe.

Wyndham Research Institute have uniquely carved their own path for creating a variety of Dark Ambient, influenced by science fiction of an obsolete sound. This is also a breath of fresh air in the ever-growing Ambient community where modern, complex themes dominate most recordings. ‘Interim Report No. 57: Io Transmitter Sub-Committee’ is a rare treat for the Space Ambient sub-genre and is an unprecedented achievement for modern synth music. I highly recommend checking out this album so please support Wyndham Research Institute by download it from the link below.

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Links:

https://wyndhamresearch.bandcamp.com/album/interim-report-no-57-io-transmitter-sub-committee

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

Ashtoreth & Chthonia Join Forces To Conjure Ritualistic Ordeals On ‘Throne Of Astrōarchē’

To me, Dark Ambient is much more that a listening experience. It’s also a journey into ones own mind, to the realm where the conscious and subconscious rarely fuse together. Even though the soothing – often grim – elongated drones elevates our psyche to the realms of the unknown and produce a trance-like emotional state, there are other variables to consider as well. In the case of the magnificent collaborative effort of Ashtoreth & Chthonia, the use of ritualistic soundscapes, haunting narrations and chilling black metal-esque shrills can also produce a comparable outcome. On ‘Throne Of Astrōarchē’, four sinister compositions is all that is needed to coalesce the inner oracles of the mind, releasing a feeling of modular discomfort and ethereal tranquility.

To begin the ceremonial happenings, “Asir” boldly combine many of the elements I previously mentioned. Dark, liturgical soundscapes make a menacing introduction as they are combined with insane Black Metal styled vocal effects and sacred narrations that will have the listener fully engaged. Void of any prolonged drones, it is replaced by creepy sound effects that enhance the grim vocal arrangements. “Nehalennia” commences with a consoling drone that captures the essence of spiritual beauty, along with various soundscapes and ringing bells. I love how nothing is rushed, allowing for the mood of the music to take hold of the listener and bring them into this dark, captivating world. At almost seventeen and a half minutes long, there is plenty of time for many additional things to occur that will build this mystical journey to be remembered. At around the four minute mark, the drones begin to assemble in layers, creating a space-like vibe. However, as soon as the vocals come in, this track takes on a whole new meaning. This song has such an esoteric vibe that it’s so easy to get lost in its dark beauty. Even at its epic length, this song just isn’t long enough and is easily my favorite one on the album. “Marmarospilia” begins with a field recording of a rain storm and what sounds like crashing waves. However it is soon joined by warm drones and synthwave-like keys and pads, producing more of an obscure sound than on the previous tracks. The layering of these elements create such a massive atmosphere, even with a minimalistic arrangement. This fascinating combination carries on for the better part of twelve minutes and the time passes much quicker that it seems. The final track on the album, “Baetyl”, opens with ominous, howling winds that – at times – screech at piercing volumes. Soon after, the combination of soft, effervescent vocals and deep, guttural tones of throat singing begin to emerge as if providing the main drone for the near fifteen minute long track. Various spots of soft whispers and devilish shrills continue to tell an eerie story that remains gloomy and mysterious. Several times throughout the track, the vocal intensity increases, but always descends into darkness as to not take away from the ritualistic experience. The malevolent chanting that occurs in the last few minutes are epic and I really wish there was more occurrences of this on the album. However, that doesn’t distract from the fact that this song has a certain purity that is nearly perfect from start to finish.

I’ve been a big fan of Ashtoreth for quite some time now and I enjoy the emotional journey he creates through his music. His diverse back catalog crosses several music genres, yet his energy remains the same throughout. This effort, along with Chthonia, is no exception as it takes the listener on a bleak, ritualistic journey that is as haunting as it is cleansing. I highly recommend this album for those of you that like to wander beyond the normal boundaries of Dark Ambient, especially if the addition of harrowing vocals and narrations are your thing. ‘Throne Of Astrōarchē’ is the album for you and it demands to be taken seriously. Please support this outstanding collaboration and download this album from the link below.

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Links:

https://ashtoreth1.bandcamp.com/album/throne-of-astr-arch

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