Eyre Transmissions VII: Interview With Dungeon Synth Abecedarian, Rectory

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10. Have you thought about collaborating with other artists?

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

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

I use a Ouija board, planchette and automatic writing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Links:

BC: https://rectory.bandcamp.com

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RectoryOfficial

Mocking The Overuse Of Sub-genres, Moss Golem Defies Style Classification With The Perverse ‘The Woods Of Galdura’ Release

Dungeon Synth sure has come a long way, especially over the last few years. Not only has it grown immensely in popularity but it has garnered a slew of new sub-genres in which artists can hone their craft to a setting more suitable for them. After all, the harsh tones of Medieval-themed synth music – typically meant to motivate and inspire bloodshed and battle as war rages on between ancient kingdoms or mythical creatures – is quite different from the tranquility of music that makes you feel all warm and snuggly inside. Now enter Moss Golem, the insidious new-ish project by Davey Sasahara created to be the antipode to one of Dungeon Synth’s most popular (and ever growing) sub-genre’s, Comfy Synth. Although releasing a debut EP in February called ‘The House That Granda Built’, the March release of ‘The Woods Of Galdura’ sees a full release of idiosyncratic Dungeon Synth tunes with menacing black metal vocals that are sure to turn heads and provide plenty of discomfort. Well, if that’s the case, then mission accomplished!

The perfect example of all of the aforementioned, is the lead off track, “I”. Beginning with the soothing textures of layered synths in an intimate setting to provide the feeling of relaxation and comfort, Moss Golem reels the listener in to a false world. After a few minutes, this cushy setting fades out into a moment of silence. Slowly, bizarre and jovial synths emerge with harsh, black metal vocals, defying the cozy setting depicted in the first half of the track. “II” continues the menacing escapade as a brief ambient moment is met with evil vocals and turbulent horn effects. Pounding bass pulses contribute to the heinous intonations as Moss Golem continue to push the boundaries of synth music. On “III”, grim synths pave the way to enlightenment, just to be decimated once again by bitter vocals. This time, the music is almost dirge-like, while the vocals are like a cry out of pain and suffering. The fantasy synth sounds of “IV” are abruptly cut short, as the bewildering vocals once again shine a darkening light and prove the mordancy of Moss Golem’s existence. The grandiose elements of “V” are persistent with the classic aspects of a cinematic black metal interlude that has stood the test of time. However, instead of leading into a blazing black metal riff, Moss Golem leads the listener down a path of mortifying Dungeon Synth like no other. The melodic keys on “VI” are memorable and picturesque of a harmonious time, however when the vocals start, oblivion sets in and a dark reality is soon realized. “VII” begins with a retro, synth wave vibe and is soon joined with elements of forest synth effects and of course, the harsh vocals. Rich piano textures and rigid cries begin the contingent track, “VIII”. Beautiful orchestrations are added about halfway through for a more euphonious effect. Track “IX” has to be my favorite on this album for several reason. First, I appreciate the industrial soundscapes in the beginning to show a different side of the Moss Golem sound. The synths are arranged in a canorous pattern that also makes this an enjoyable listen. Lastly, the Crypt Hop elements toward the end are insane! Not just in the beats, but also with the fact that the heavily distorted black metal rap, just feels so right. “X” is an excellent track as well, as it’s ironically fitting. It closes the album just as it started, calm and soothing, even after listening to nine tracks of exasperating Dungeon Synth.

Moss Golem have released two outstanding albums this year and both have succeeded in confronting the culture of desiring to have a title to fit into a certain category. ‘The Woods Of Galdura’ kills any trends previous built upon the Dungeon Synth genre and dares to be categorized in a single style. If you’re a fan of Dungeon Synth and Black Metal and are curious about the meshing of genres, then look no further than Moss Golem and the latest effort, ‘The Woods Of Galdura’. Click on the link below and download this exceptional album and support this innovative artist!

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://serpentsswordrecords.bandcamp.com/album/the-woods-of-galdura

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

Vociferous Soundscapes Reach New Heights on Avant-Garde Gem, ‘Ab Antiquo’ By Paolo Rocchi

Over the past few years, Dungeon Synth has taken off and sprouted into many wondrous directions. I stay amazed at the amount of influence it has created across so many platforms, and although it may branch off into regions that are far-fetched from the original idea, one can always tell it’s influence by the harrowing compositions that remain dark and uncanny. That definitely holds true for the masterful works of Paolo Rocchi, as he uses the Dungeon Synth foundation to create leading-edge experimental music. By combining eerie synthesizer tones and electric guitar manipulations, Paolo Rocchi conceives a sound of his own on debut recording, ‘Ab Antiquo’.

Self-titled lead off track, “Ab Antiquo”, submerges the listener in an endless dry desert with the blistering sun glaring down on a battered and dehydrated soul. As the high-pitched shrills of a synth fades in, layered electric guitar riffs soon take command and set the scene with a sense of glimmering light and emotional hope. There are touches of melody throughout that you just don’t want to end, and the fast picking toward the end of the track is the perfect climactic conclusion. “Etiam Periere Ruinae” begins with a distant rainstorm field recording, followed by a beautiful piano melody. A haunting synth tone peacefully drifts in to set a somber and atmospheric outlook. The music and the rain seem to get louder simultaneously, creating an emotional setting that may have a captivating outcome, but they both slowly fade off into the distance, leaving the notes of a piano to fill the impassioned void. “Lupus” is a short track filled with guitar manipulations and effects. Although, it seems as a simple interlude, it’s a relative track for this album and fits in perfectly. “In Fabula” is a creative synth wave piece with random sound bits that dart in and out of the main music pattern like a space ship dodging meteors in deep space. At times, the music gains and eases volume control as if someone is loosing consciousness during a violent cosmic flight. The overall sound has a classic science fiction feel to it, creating a nostalgic vibe throughout. “Ex Novo” begins with random high-pitched keyboard sounds that resembles an old style dial-up modem or fax line connection. In the background, theatrical intonations can be heard from time to time, adding a whole new dimension to this peculiar track. The final song on the album is “Codex Temporis” and it fades in just how the previous track ended. With added effects and demented reverberations, this is one disturbing effort. Modular frequencies bend at any given moment, as the persistent keys continue to provide frightening sounds.

Although ‘Ab Antiquo’ is just a short, sixteen minute outing, it’s much larger than it seems. The musical output is very obscure, yet grandiose and unpredictable, and because of that the listener will be enthralled during the entire listening experience. Although loosely based in the post-Dungeon Synth realm, this is full on experimentation full of bizarre twist and calming melodies. I’m very impressed by this album and highly recommend this for anyone that has no genre boundaries. Please show your support for this amazing new talent by downloading ‘Ab Antiquo’ 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://paolorocchi.bandcamp.com/album/ab-antiquo-2

‘Cosmic Terror’, Varkâna’s Lovecraftian Themed Third Album Is A Mind-Blowing Dungeon Synth Magnum Opus!

H.P. Lovecraft – the legendary author that wrote some of the most transcendent stories in the genres of weird fiction, cosmic horror, horror fiction, and science fiction – has inspired generations of entertainers and artists with his Cthulhu mythos (among others), that has allowed his name to live on for quite the foreseeable future. Unfortunately, Lovecraft’s legacy wasn’t cemented until after his death, as his writing craft and vision was virtually unknown and unchallenged and he died in hardship, unable to support himself by his penmanship along. That being said, his writing was well ahead of its time and influenced movies, music, games, fictional characters as well as occultism. Of the Lovecrafian musical output there has been throughout the years, one of the most impressive recordings is the latest album by Varkâna called ‘Cosmic Terror’. An hour long Lovecraft-themed masterpiece, ‘Cosmic Terror’ builds upon the grimness of dungeon synth and appends ritualistic undertones and synth wave elements to produce what may very well be one of the greatest albums of the year.

“From Beyond” wastes no time as the opening sounds are a conglomerate of haunting synth notes straight from the grave. As the eerie melodies prowl the audio waves, incandescent synths radiate a sense of dire oppression. Soon, blazing synth wave tones fill the atmosphere that radiate with pure madness. At around the three and a half minute mark, trance-like droning keyboard sway like the waves of a Dead Sea under a full moon. One final solo synth arrangement plays on to end this stellar track. Next up is “Space Lord”, my absolute favorite song on the album and possibly one of the best despondent sounding synth tracks ever written. Dismal keys play saddened notes while spacious synth leads create a dynamic atmosphere that is more gray than black. Multiple percussion sounds and retro synths begin to crowd the airwaves as the abundance of textures come together to form the perfect mix of dark tones and harmony. A little over halfway through the song, the music fades into a warm ambient composition that drones slowly with the same melody as the beginning of the track. “The Dream-Quest” has the sound of a dark anthem being played in a dimly lit room that is used for seances to conjure unruly spirits. Tribal-like drums set a deathly pace while the long winded keys continue their heinous ways. Toward the end, more traditional drums are introduced, as well as synth wave patterns that add a bit of light to the grimness. “Nyarlathotep” is my second favorite track on the album as it combines memorable synth melodies with extended keyboard notes that establish a baseline for this epic composition. This nine minute requiem is packed with moments of sheer bliss, specifically the final two minutes as the beautifully toned keyboard arrangement plays so well against the rhythm and drums. “Devourer Of Stars” continues the powerful combination of synth rhythms and leads with alluring drums and retro synth wave sounds. “Devourer Of Dreams” is another nine minute anthem that is full of somber annotations and dreamy textures, especially when the percussion kicks in. The standout part in the track starts at around the four minute mark, when an elegant piano arrangement is introduced and layered with the soothing, yet slightly sinister synth melody. “Ex Oblivione” is another elongated track that features baritone-sounding keys and abstract synth effects. Again, simple but elegant drums provide the perfect balance of synth and avant-garde music. The final track on the album is the title track, “Cosmic Terror”. After a short, stark intro, introspective melodies take over and lead right into a progressive drum beat. The part that ensues has a 70’s progressive/fusion sound to it and it fits in perfectly with the rest of the album.

Varkâna is turning out to be one of the most consistent artists in the dungeon synth genre. Last year, the very impressive ‘Ahrimanic Chambers’, made my list for Top 10 dungeon synth albums of 2019. As of this writing, there is a strong possibility that ‘Cosmic Terror’ will be my top pick for dungeon synth album of 2020. The songwriting is spectacular, the arrangements are unbelievable, and each and every track is extremely memorable and soon you’ll find yourself addicted and playing them over and over again. To have music of this high level paying tribute to the great H.P. Lovecraft, I would say that he would be extremely honored. I can not recommend ‘Cosmic Terror’ enough, so please show your support for this exhilarating artist and download this as soon as possible!

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

Eyre Transmissions V: Interview With Dungeon Synth Mainstay, Erythrite Throne

If you’re a fan of Dungeon Synth, then you are well aware of the many talented artists that contribute a steady amount of music for our listening pleasure. One artist that I consider a linchpin of the community is none other than Erythrite Throne. Releasing some of the most consistent blackened Dungeon Synth there is, Erythrite Throne continues to challenge the listener in diving into a medieval world of dark imagery, vampires, and lust for malevolence. With a distinctive sound and style that is unmatched by any other artist, Erythrite Throne is constantly progressing and improving with each release. I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Erythrite Throne main man, Davey Sasahara, to talk about his Dungeon Synth endeavors, Serpents Sword Records and anything in between.

1. First of all, thanks for taking the time to respond to this interview. I have to ask, where do you find the time to write the massive amounts of music that you do? 

It’s pretty much the only thing I do with my free time haha. It’s something that I enjoy doing a lot so I write music as often as I can, I also have pretty bad ADHD, so this is something that helps me sit down and work on my concentration.

2. How many projects have you released music under?

Right now, I have 16 active projects, but I have a lot of projects I’ve stopped working on completely and there’s not much of a trace of them on the web. All together I’ve released music under maybe 30 or projects of varying musical styles.

3. When you are writing new music, do you go into it with a specific project in mind or do you improvise and let the music guide your path? 

I usually improvise everything and just feel it but there a few times that I sit down with the intention of making music for a specific project.

4. Take us back to before you started releasing Dungeon Synth. We’re you involved with music from other genres? 

I was! I was in a hardcore band as well as doing a few projects by myself. I was making some gothic electronic stuff, some vapourware, some trap. I like to experiment with music a lot. 

5. What influenced you to start writing Dungeon Synth? 

I’ve actually been making this type of music since around 2014, I just had no idea it was called Dungeon Synth, so I was just calling it gothic music haha. Actually, the first Voslaarum album Forgotten Vale is a compilation of stuff I made around 2014-2016, some of it is actually still on YouTube under a different name. 

6. I know this year you were slated to play live at the Northeast Dungeon Siege and due to the COVID-19 outbreak it was modified as an online festival (via Twitch). How was it preparing to play live online? 

It was good, it was my first time streaming so it took me a bit to figure it out, but I had a lot of help from my friends in the community and I think it turned out great. All those people put a lot into making NEDS happen and I appreciate them so much, it was a great time and I was honoured to play! 

7. I highly anticipated seeing your set and thoroughly enjoyed it. Did that inspire you to want to play more live gigs in the future? 

100%! I would like to play many more live shows in the future. 

8. It seems like Erythrite Throne is the “mothership” of all your projects. Is that the case? 

It absolutely is. I played around with a lot of other projects and musical styles before I landed here, it has a very special place in my heart.

9. Some of your earlier Erythrite Throne works contains a good bit of Black Metal (Instrumentation & vocals) whereas the more current material is mostly synth based. Was there a plan to make Erythrite Throne a more metal based project at some point? 

Erythrite Throne was always made to infuse Dungeon Synth and Black Metal, I never want to choose between the two because I love them both so much. Which direction I take an album really just depends on how I’m feeling in that moment.

10. One of my favorite projects of yours is Abholos. Although I can hear traces of Erythrite Throne in Abholos, the sound is more ethereal, and the texture is of a primitive nature. What influenced you to start this project? 

The first Abholos demo was actually supposed to be an Erythrite Throne album based on the work of Lovecraft, but it just felt different from Erythrite Throne, so I created Abholos which still has my kind of sound, but I try to make it it’s own entity.

11. Do you have more Abholos albums planned for this year? 

I absolutely do!

12. Another newer project that I absolutely love is Moss Golem. Initially “mislabeled” a Comfy Synth album, it’s actually like a synth-based black metal project. Did you create this project to defy the sub-genre stereotypes that seem to exist these days? 

I did. It was pretty much a fuck you to what you think something is or has to be called. MOSS GOLEM is a really important project to me..

13. One of your less talked about projects is Vokaron – which I think is an amazing project that leans toward the Crypt Hop genre. How did this project come about and do you plan to continue it? 

I actually made this album for my partner when he was recovering from surgery. He likes to sing so I made him this album to sing with well he was at home getting better with nothing else really to do. I do plan to drop at least one more Vokaron album!

14. Other than the projects that I’ve mentioned, what are some of the other ones that are near and dear to you, and why? 

I can’t really choose one honestly. All of them are important to me in one way or another and I try to put a lot into each one.

15. Tell us a little about Serpents Sword Records? 

I created Serpent’s Sword so I could have one spot for all my projects and tapes under one banner. I figured it was better than having 20 different Bandcamp pages.

16. Other than physical cassette releases, are there any plans to expand the merchandise (t-shirts, patches, stickers, hats, etc.) store for Serpents Swords Records? 

Absolutely. I’ve already had patches done for Erythrite Throne, but I’d love to get shirts and stickers done for that and a few of the other projects on Serpent’s Sword.

17. Have you toyed with the idea of releasing other artists material on Serpents Sword Records?

I have and I actually will be releasing some other artists music in the near future starting with a very special release for a good friend of mine! More info will come soon for that.

18. I really appreciate you taking the time to answer these questions, as well all of your contributions to the Dungeon Synth community. Do you have any final thought you’d like to share with anyone reading this? 

I appreciate you taking the time to interview me and listen to my music; it really means a lot to me! I want to thank all the amazing friends I’ve made in the Dungeon Synth community and all the people who listen to and support my music, it really means more to me than I can describe. I’m excited to continue working on music for you all!

Links:

https://serpentsswordrecords.bandcamp.com

https://erythritethrone.bandcamp.com/music

https://www.facebook.com/serpentssword/

Two Obscure – Yet Groundbreaking – Genres Collide On The Unfathomable ‘Crypt Hop Compilations I’

Who would have ever thought that two musical genres at the farthest ends of the sonic spectrum could provide so much listening pleasure when combined? Well, quite a few obviously, because it’s definitely a thing. Crypt Hop was born out of the enigma known as Dungeon Synth and the ambiguities of Memphis style hip hop from the early 90’s. If you’ve not heard artist from that genre such as Manson Family, Gangsta Pat and Three 6 Mafia (among others), you’re missing out on some of the early, most innovative artists from the Memphis Horrorcore genre. If you strip away the gangsta rap, hip hop beats and underlying samples, you’ll actually hear an early 90’s rendition of Dungeon Synth, that typically features lo-fi production and the structural hissing of vinyl and cassette tapes. Fast forward to 2020 and we have the Dungeon Synth-led ‘Crypt Hop Compilations I’, which features thirteen daring tracks from various artist that intend to leave their mark not only in the Dungeon, but also in the Crypt!

The track that begins this morose phenomenon is “Poltergeist Manifestation At Midnight Cemetery” by Kravtun. Ghastly lo-fi synths compete against background static before a stunning hip hop beat immerses to synchronize everything. A swift breakdown in the middle with layered synths before the massive beats and bass tone reignites to finish out the track. “Astrals” by Leneaux has the warm sounds of fantasy synth that is soon accompanied by smooth drum & bass with a constant clap track. The background organ tones throughout add a nice texture to the track. “The Horla” by The Spirit Of Luvenium begins with a traditional Dungeon Synth sound then is bombastically merged with a mid-paced trap beat that is right on point. “Unterwelt Pt. 1” by Orcaluv is more of a hip hop track, as it features some grime style rap but the music is undeniably cemented in Dungeon Synth. “Tenebris Et Spiritus” by Lurk starts with droning synth notes that tip the creepiness scale. Barbaric percussions are interlaced to give a big, theatrical sound as layers of instrumentation continue to build. As soon as it reaches that “wait for it” moment, narrative samples take over, leading the anticipation, then it happens – slow, doom-like hip hop beats explode onto the track for the final minute. “Towers Of Time” by Moon Druid is truly unique in that it features an early 80’s style hip hop beat and clean sounding synth tone. Soon in, it changes to a more modern sound with a lush atmosphere. The track then morphs back into its original beat to close out the track. “On The Darkest Occurrence That Has Ever Happened By Right Of My Own Hand” by Pharanick is a straight up horrorcore rap track with eerie backing music and with medieval rapping about wizards and daggers, what can go wrong? “Windy Night (Crypt Hop Remix)” by Francis Robert is another superb fantasy/forest synth-based track with manic hip hop beats and throbbing bass lines. “From The Ashes Of Bael’s Kingdom” by Erythrite Throne is my favorite on this compilation. The multi-layered synth work is amazing and the quality Of Dungeon Synth in this one track is unmatched. Not only is the production spot-on, but the beats are amazing as they consistently ebb and flow with the tempo change of the music. “His Crimes Against The Realm” by Poodle Knight is another amazing track as it has multiple genre influences. Not only hip hop and Dungeon Synth, but I also hear influences of early synthwave on this track and it fits in perfectly. “Skull Bong” by Resinator begins with ambient undertones, Tibetan bowl sounds, and narrative samples before introducing a dark dub beat and discordant sound effects that are reminiscent of early-90’s pioneering electronic experimental artist, Scorn. “Noblesnatch” by Were-Panther is one of the most unique tracks on this compilation as it features medieval times centered rapping, 8-bit sound effects, chorus breakdowns, and a whirlwind of strange instruments. However, as weird as it is, it’s also a highly addictive listen and probably my second favorite track on the album. The final track, “Belabored With Mysteries” by DJ 行者, is a three and a half minute trip hop, psychedelic adventure that properly closes out this astonishing compilation.

What more is there to say? This compilation album is pure fire! The artists selected for this project have a gift for fusing two seemingly incompatible genres of music and making it sound like a band of gangsta’s should be raiding a castle with 9mm’s instead of swords. At any rate, this compilation is an incredible body of work in which these artists should all be proud to be a part of. If this is any indication of what’s to come, then I can’t wait for what the future has in store for Crypt Hop! Show your support for these artists and download this album from the link below.

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Links:

https://crypthopcompilations.bandcamp.com/releases

Shelter-In-Place Dark Ambient & Dungeon Synth Playlist

We are living in dark times and whether we like it or not, we are witnessing a historical occasion that is effecting the whole world. Although many people still have to work, legions of the worlds population are under a strict shelter-in-place order. Not to make light of the situation, but what better time is there to check out some awesome artists that you may have never heard of before, or to revisit some newer albums that stand out amongst the others. These are some of my (current) favorite albums to listen to and I’m sharing them with you as a recommendation. Check out and support these amazing artists (and labels).

Recommended in Dark Ambient:

https://hiemalambient.bandcamp.com/album/vacant
https://scottlawlor.bandcamp.com/album/badseed
https://cycliclaw.bandcamp.com/album/the-outside
https://cryochamber.bandcamp.com/album/shortwave-ruins
https://cryochamber.bandcamp.com/album/dystopian-gate
https://cycliclaw.bandcamp.com/album/scenes-from-the-sublime

Recommended In Dungeon Synth (and beyond):

https://borg.bandcamp.com/album/woodland
https://serpentsswordrecords.bandcamp.com/album/the-woods-of-galdura
https://crypthopcompilations.bandcamp.com/releases
https://jenntaiga.bandcamp.com/album/plight
https://coniferousmyst.bandcamp.com/album/queen-of-the-timberline-realms
https://criptadel.bandcamp.com/album/the-goblin-market

Varkâna Sets Loose The Spirit Of Darkness And Evil On Valiant Sophomore Album, ‘Ahrimanic Chamber’

In the ancient Persian religion of Zoroastrianism, there were twin spirits that ruled over good and evil. The spirit called Spenta Mainyu was known as the deity of truth, light and all living things, while Angra Mainyu was the evil spirit of deception and death. For thousands of years, these twin spirits fought on the earthly battleground for supremacy and ultimately Angra Mainyu morphed into the entity known as Ahriman. It is at this point where the demonic being became its most horrific form. On Varkâna’s latest album, ‘Ahrimanic Chamber’, sounds of cold and sovereign dungeon synth prevail and display an intense scene of epic bloodshed. Like a doomed enclosure full of impious pariahs, Varkâna makes use of intense keyboard tones, droning ambient textures, live drums and layered frightening resonance to produce moments of dreadful unforgettableness. These nine anthems dig deep into the soul and imagination of the listener and describe the incantations of the dark spirt that once was the Ahriman.

The albums first track, “A Graveyard Under Snow”, sets a very calming, atmospheric mood with its opulent keyboard drones and hazy dungeon-esque melodies. The underlying percussion softly beats a rhythmic pattern as if warriors are slowly marching to an ill-fated battlefield. “Ahrimanic Enlightenment” approaches with a lush synthesizer arrangement that provokes a supernatural mood in ethereal environment. Suddenly, harsher keyboard tones kick in as if providing the audial description to a death scene in a fantasy movie. As the song reaches its climax, dark ambient tones pave the way as if the final onslaught has left everyone lifeless. “Into The Chambers Of Ahriman I Walk” features a great drum track that is supplemented by a beautiful piano provision. This could very well be a perfect intro piece to a symphonic black metal song. However, halfway through the track, it morphs into a peaceful ambient interlude as if the protagonist in the story is anticipating the unexpected as he finally reaches the doorway of the chamber. The music then crescendo’s back into high gear and closes the song out just the way it started. “Lugubrious Ruins” start with droning, dungeon synthesized riffs and continues throughout the whole song with spots of higher pitched keyboards to add layers of dreariness to this already gloomy track. Since this one combines both elements of dungeon synth and dark ambient, it’s probably my favorite and most played song on the album. “Mist” has more of a fantasy/forest synth influence and is predominantly lighter in tone that most of the other tracks. However, it effectively sparks imaginative tales between Angra Mainyu and Spenta Mainyu as their endless battle to provoke good over evil (and Vice versa) rages on. “Old Man’s Tale” succeeds in puts the album back on track in a darker setting with off-kilter piano parts, steady tribal drum beats, and ghostly, droning pads to create a feeling of emptiness. Toward the end of the track, an elegant acoustic guitar riff is introduced and puts the overall sound of this track in another worldly dimension. “Rapture” is another radiant track that combines elements of dark ambient and retro wave sounds of 80’s horror cinema soundtracks. “Spirituality Deformed” has that traditional dungeon synth sound but with added elements of live drums and an unforgettable melody that seems to intensify until the last note of the song is played. The final track, “The Night Of The Hunter” continues down the path as the previous song, as the Ahriman bestows his evil legacy on his legions of followers and it’s chambers become the spiritual battleground for which good has no chance of survival. This track contains energetic keyboard arrangements, a bombastic drum track and ends with a droning tone that signifies the supreme reign of the Angra Mainyu.

Varkâna has auspiciously created a conceptual dungeon synth masterpiece based on the ancient Persian spirit of darkness and evil. The music does an excellent job of providing a soundtrack to this resounding storyline and crosses into dark ambient and even 80’s retro wave cinematic score. With a good balance of both light and darker sounding tunes, ‘Ahrimanic Chamber’ is an excellent dungeon synth album. I highly recommend Varkâna for fans of both dungeon synth and dark ambient so please show your support by downloading this amazing album at the link below.

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Link:

https://varkana.bandcamp.com/album/ahrimanic-chambers

Count Shirintsu Deliver Two Powerful Mixes of Ancient Orient Inspired Dungeon Synth on ‘Welcome Home, Count Shirintsu’

Imagine being a noble king, in charge of a great kingdom where everyone prospers and respects your loyalty and commitment to the common people. Well, almost everyone. A small group of rebellious outcasts decided to thwart the king of his throne and forced him into complete exile. After a very ceremonious – but fabricated – funeral, the kingdom fell under new rule. However, a loyalist of the king realized the betrayal and set out to find the exiled king to help him exact vengeance and regain the kingdom that was wrongfully taken from him. Welcome to the world of Count Shirintsu and prepare to be bedazzled on the debut album, ‘Welcome Home, Count Shirintsu’, that tells the tale of his courageous, yet vengeful homecoming. To provide multiple musical perspectives of this wondrous adventure, a Dark Mix was released in June and then a Light Mix was released in August. I will examine both of these releases and prepare a viewpoint on how they relate to Count Shirintsu’s monumental homecoming.

The first of the two mix albums that were released was the Dark Mix, and the album opener, “Welcome Home, Count Shirintsu” starts with a ceremonious ambient tone with howling winds in the background. As additional keys crescendo in the mix, oriental style patterns are revealed before a short video game audio sequence is brought into the mix, adding an extra touch of creativity. Samples of samurai-like battle cries can be heard throughout, as Count Shirintsu himself, prepares for battle to reclaim his kingdom. “Fire Of Thinking” starts with a fiery field recording, layered with a haunting keyboard melody that signifies the dawn of battle. As this calm-before-the-storm piece reaches a close, Count Shirintsu is ready and motivated to finally lead his people once again. “Kyoden” is a track named after the loyal friend that learned of the evil wrong doings of Count Shirintsu, tracked him down and helped him on his quest for retribution. Although a short track, it serves as an introduction to this essential character to the story and contains some evening time field recordings with a short keyboard piece blended in. “Akashiga Castle” is a more traditional Dungeon Synth style recording with some excellent, stand-out arrangements embedded in the middle. I imagine it’s night time and Count Shirintsu and Kyoden have now entered the kingdom and have plans to overtake the castle and the cruel occupants that inhabit it. “Exile” begins with a grim ambient tone and is soon followed by an eerie keyboard provision, where the tone fades in and out with the pre-adjusted volume. Count Shirintsu is now recollecting the past where he was wrongfully exiled and it provides much motivation to continue his mission of restoring newfound peace throughout the kingdom, one again being under his rule. The final track on the album, “Restoration” can be summed up as the soundtrack for the impending battle to oust the wrongdoers of the kingdom. A simple drum track provides a smooth pace for this picturesque traditional Dungeon Synth track as Count Shirintsu once again takes the throne of his kingdom. The final few minutes of the track provide a beautiful ambient soundscape that resembles peace throughout the commonwealth.

For the Light Mix of the album, we have the same great story and the same excellent songs but some of the keyboard parts throughout the album have been brought to the light (sort of speak), by enriching the sound and providing an extra layer of energy to enhance the sound quality. This is most noticeable on songs such as “Fire Of Thinking”, “Kyoden” and “Akashiga Castle”. That’s not to say that every track hasn’t benefitted from the updated sound edit, but these are the most distinct as far as the value of production is concerned.

‘Welcome Home, Count Shirintsu’ (both mixes) is a grandiose album full of audio surprises that range from tradition and modern dungeon synth to ambient soundscapes, enriched with a plethora of sounds – including 8-bit video game jingles. This album also has a wonderful storyline that I hope will continue on proceeding albums. Show your support for Count Shirintsu and download one of these (or both) amazing albums at the link below.

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Link:

https://countshirintsu.bandcamp.com/