Taurwen Finds Solace In Haunting Romantic-Era Anthems On ‘A Wind Blows From The Mountain Of Death’

When it comes to themes and subject matter for Dungeon Synth releases, it’s obvious that historical references play a large influential role. Although mostly tied to Medieval and Renaissance periods, some artist choose a more gothic approach that is more aligned with romantic era topics. ‘A Wind Blows From The Mountain Of Death’ by Taurwen definitely fits into the latter, with elegant synth compositions that beam with both classical and haunting elements. Although not dark and foreboding like Medieval period music, these songs are still somber but in a more peaceful way.

The lead off song, simply titled “Intro”, is a wonderful preface to this album as it quickly establishes its foundation with romanticism and gothic undertones through symmetrical compositions. “Rites Of Spring” is a domineering performance as it showcases cinematic quality orchestrations with rhythmic drum beats. Although this is a sonically dismal piece, it has an alluring nature to it that captures the best of both worlds. “Waterspirit” begins with a soothing field recording of brisk waters hitting a shoreline. As that fades, a deep melodic tone gives way to layers of beautiful synth effects. The underlying drum beat adds a wonderful charm, as flowing synth leads create a massive sound that carries throughout the track. “The Last Farewell” is a memorable dirge-like track that boasts a captivating piano lead in addition to delicate stringed-instrument effect that compliments a melancholic arrangement. “Misty Path” is one of my favorite tracks on the album, as the unforgettable melody is one of the most serene arrangements I’ve heard in quite sometime. This song definitely belongs on a movie soundtrack and epitomizes how great this album really is. “In The Arms Of The Night” is another somber affair that shines with tranquility and emotions. The clarity of the stringed instrument effects are deeply engaging and as this track sways between layers of blissful harmonies and single toned interludes, it never looses focus on the romanticism era for which it magnificently represents. “Resurrection” sounds more like a Medieval piece but played in the Renaissance period, as it’s more uplifting and grandiose. The addition of bombastic beats makes for a more theatrical sound and the excitement of this track continues to grow until the very last note. “Pale Sun” presents a slight change of pace, as the synth effects are more whimsical than other tracks. However, the songwriting is on point and as the additional layers are introduced, scenes of lavish lands and peaceful times come to mind. “Dark Hills” has a very ominous sound and is wonderfully composed. Again, the classical elements continue to assemble into an enchanting barrage of melody. The calmness of the distant rainstorm at the end enhances the moment and slowly creates a sense of reality. “Hum Of The Forest (feat. Tir)” is one of the most ambitious tracks on the album and fuses magical synth arrangements and massive soundscapes, presenting an adventurous composition full of gothic mystery. The final track on this amazing journey is “The Calm Of The Mountains”. At just under two minutes, it wastes no time putting the listener in a placid state, as chirping birds give way to alluring keys and a regal backing synth that exudes an euphoric state of mind.

‘A Wind Blows From The Mountain Of Death’ is much more than a Dungeon Synth album. It’s a classical musical endeavor that uses gothic nuances to pay homage to the romantic period. Although there are a few Medieval elements, tranquil compositions are prevalent throughout and Taurwen excels at creating a musical adventure that sticks out amongst his peers. If you’ve not heard this amazing album yet, I highly recommend checking it out by clicking on the link below.

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Links:

https://taurwenofficial.bandcamp.com/album/a-wind-blows-from-the-mountain-of-death

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/

Top 10 Dungeon Synth / Synth Releases Of 2020

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

10. Moss Golem – Of Witches Blood And Angel Tears

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

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

9. Wooded Memory – My Secret Horror

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

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

8. Erang – Imagination Never Fails

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

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

7. Borg – Woodland

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

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

6. Guild Of Lore – Autumn Bohollow

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

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

5. Abholos – Whispers From The Dark Sea

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

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

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

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

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

3. Jenn Taiga – Plight

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

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

2. Mystica Visio – Mystica Visio

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

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

1. Varkâna – Cosmic Terror

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please Like/Follow my blog so that you’ll get first hand updates every time I post a review. Thanks for visiting the Dungeon!!

Links:

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

https://www.voicesoftheainur.com/

https://www.facebook.com/VoicesOfTheAinur

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

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.

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://almesburyabbey.bandcamp.com/releases

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

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

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

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

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

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Links:

https://ancientsword.bandcamp.com/releases

Dark Ambient & Dungeon Synth Recordings To Enthrall You During The Global Pandemic Continuation

Back in March, I published a playlist of Dark Ambient & Dungeon Synth recordings to help tide you over during the shelter-in-place order. Well – here we are – almost two months later and not much has changed, with the exception of a lot of great music being released. So, whether or not you’re still stuck at home, or have the ability to venture out, please enjoy this personal playlist of Dark Ambient and Dungeon Synth recordings that have been keeping me entertained lately! This is all great stuff so please support these artist and download an album or two!

Dark Ambient Playlist:

https://melanohelios.bandcamp.com/album/the-psychonaut
https://cryochamber.bandcamp.com/album/eternal-drift
https://blackweald.bandcamp.com/album/leonov-2
https://noctilucant.bandcamp.com/album/the-autumnal-end-2
https://roberteggplant.bandcamp.com/album/earth-sinking-into-water

Dungeon Synth Playlist:

https://varkana.bandcamp.com/album/cosmic-terror
https://lordorots.bandcamp.com/album/latzineko-erresumaren-itzulera
https://namelessking.bandcamp.com/album/downfall-of-drangleic
https://wyrmlodge.bandcamp.com/album/the-short-but-touching-tale-of-slime-golem
https://serpentsswordrecords.bandcamp.com/album/perpetual-cruelty

Live Instrumentation And Middle Ages-Themed Atrocities Are The Focal Point of ‘Lux Tenebras’ By Akerius

The Medieval period is one of the most commonly referenced eras in human history. From the Early period of the massive Byzantine Empire and Viking invasions, to the Late period horrors such as religious conflict, war and the Black Death, the Middle Ages contains a massive amount of history, romanticism, and influential subject matter that is perfect for the Dungeon Synth genre. One artist that transcends greatness when dealing with these themes is Akerius, and on the heavy medieval influenced ‘Lux Tenebras’, superior songwriting and frequent use of live instruments catapults this album to a realm all of its own. Although containing only five tracks with about twenty minutes of playing time, these tunes are exquisitely crafted and provide a solid domain for transiting the listener from a modern setting to a dimly lit castle forged high on a mountainside during times of extreme peril.

The felicitous album opener, “Ouverture 1209”, slowly crescendos from an initial deep growl sound effect into a theatrical canticle. The feeling of anticipation and anxiety grows as turmoil sets a grim scene. Beautiful acoustic guitar passages are occasionally accompanied by harsher guitar tones and tribal drum beats. Atmospheric keyboard parts give off a barbaric tone that blends perfectly with the rest of the arrangement. The keyboards in “Tuez-les Tous!” have a 90’s style gothic sound to them that have a dreamy, echo-like effect. As the percussion elements are introduced, the synth notes – with their galloping like quality – are reminiscent of a time when crusades are fought to a bloody death. About halfway through, an alluring acoustic passage plays a peaceful setup to the final valiant march of the crusaders. More distorted guitar tones are added to show power and strength during this trying time. “Mon Âme Sombre” begins with a water-like field recording and a serene narration before drifting into a synth heavy Medieval-style tune that contains robust melodies with grim atmospheric tones. “Melioramentum” has a touch of 70’s prog influence, especially with the acoustic guitar riff and accompanying keyboard sounds. Ancient sounding percussion beats give this track an added archaic influence that ensures its relevance amongst the rest of the songs. The final track on the album, “Lux Tenebras” suns up the overall feel and theme of the album with its long, brooding keyboard notes that are arranged in a melodic way with sparse percussion usage and bell sounds throughout that signify the ending of a specific period or conflict.

Akerius creates a magnificent Medieval period influenced recording that contains some of the most epic songwriting I’ve heard in this genre. With the addition of live instrumentation and percussive elements, ‘Lux Tenebras’ packs a powerful punch that will appease not only fans of Dungeon Synth, but also 90’s symphonic Black Metal and even Goth. This is one artist that I’m really looking forward to hearing more from. I definitely recommend checking out Akerius, so please show your support by downloading ‘Lux Tenebras’ from the link below.

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Links:

https://akerj.bandcamp.com/album/lux-tenebras