Serpent’s Sword Records | 4-3-20
I am usually wary of releases that look like this. It is not from anything particular rather I thought this was going to be a black metal record tagged as dungeon synth. This is funny since the rest of Dungeontroll’s music and their respected covers look like Dungeon Synth. This does not. Into the Castle of the Forbidden Twilight has many surprises and the first one is an album full of haunted melody which stalks around empty castles where one was expecting lo fi vampiric black. Into the Castle of the Forbidden Twilight also has the distinction of having the lowest number of physical copies at 5 sold exclusively at North East Dungeon Siege, a live DS festival which actually is no longer happening due to the Quarantine. this makes Into the Castle of the Forbidden Twilight perhaps the most rare physical release of all time. With this sort of lore and mystery built around a release, it is difficult not to get excited and fall for the magic.
Self Released | 3-29-20
The Bandcamp for this band states “We are Sepulchral voices and we’re back from the grave” but this should be taken as aesthetic rather than insinuating they are an old band. This is confusing as there is an older band named Sepulchral Voice that plays death thrash. This is not them rather Sepulchral Voices who play black/thrash at the speed of a hurricane which ravages the land. Sepulchral Voices has been around since 2016 and their album covers exude a certain aesthetic of ferocity seen in black/death bands. Evil Crusaders is relentless but not in the grinding concrete style of war metal rather thrash metal that has been possessed by the devil.
Iron Bonehead Productions | 3-27-20
Welcome Oblivion. One of my colleagues gave this full length to me and asked if I remembered this band from a few years back. I have to be honest in saying that my recollection of Amnutseba is relegated to foggy fragments of angular and ruinous black/death. I do not remember much and looking at old demos I am even more confused since I partially remember the cover for Demo II. This could be a phantom band which is a specter sent to haunt me. In any case, Emanatism is certainly able to make an imprint on the psyche as the far out surreal qualities of this record are terrifying and will live in nightmares for many years to come.
Self Released | 3-24-20
Sometimes finding small and pleasant things gives me the reason to go searching everyday. Skogsgudinnan is a US based artist who has produced 10 tracks of quiet and humble dungeon synth / new age that is seemingly for anyone who wants to listen. Without fanfare or bluster, this artist has quietly placed something in a garden for anyone to pick up and experience. Though these tracks are sometimes sketches and others incomplete, the world and experience each one constructs is enough to give pause. Add to that the goofy Bandcamp greeting of “Leave reality for a bit, just take it easy! Take Care!” shows an artist who is making music for whimsy and just wants you to have a good time. I do not know about you but I certainly am.
Rotted Life | 5-20-20
It feels like ages ago when we were swimming in rotting death that was squirming with riffs. Sure we still have it but things have changed. Molder is here to remind us of the fun we had a few years ago with a debut that breathes a festive atmosphere and if your idea of a party is gravedigging and being spooky, you are in the right place. Vanished Cadavers comes after a very long line of demos, splits, and live records. Much like someone gathering up momentum before pouncing, Molder finally springs into action with teeth bared and arms flailing. While this sounds like it is going to be a vicious experience, there is an air of levity with a record of death / thrash that is enjoyable and perfect for a party you will eventually have when you can see people.
Self Released | 6-6-20
This is probably the weirdest release I have written about and it is wonderful. Back when I was writing about dungeon synth heavily, there was a small niche of creators experimenting with chiptune music and combining it into a CRPG aesthetic. This was music that sounded like the soundtrack to video games that never existed but you could almost envision it in your head. I have not heard much music since that time and Goblin Priest was something that brought me back to the reason why I love this genre in the first place. While chip music has a style and sound, each composition takes on unique life. In the case of Dank Vision Sewer Crawl, the life is a sidescrolling rougelike 8-bit cartridge game. With matching album art and tongue in cheek description on the Bandcamp, this whole production is irreverent and successful in everyway.
MIASMA OF BARBARITY | 3-30-20
Miasma of Barbarity is a Portuguese label that puts out really gross things. Spitgrave was the first thing i found from this label and despite its odd looking logo, was two tracks of blistering death/thrash that was like a sledgehammer of riffs in a darken closet. I have put lots of question marks on this entry since I do not really know due to its primitive nature. What I do know is this swings and most certainly leaves a wound behind.
Secret Corridor Records | 3-28-20
The IXth Key is a project based in Secret Corridor Records. Secret Corridor is less a label and more of a universe with different projects ostensibly all by the same person who goes by “S”. The IXth Key is one entity along with Spectral Castle, Medieval Secrets, Winter Pathways, Forgotten Passage, Royaume des Brumes, Secret Corridor, and Filicophyta. I could be wrong about some of those, but this is what I am guessing. It also would not be the first time an artist has split their creativity among a menagerie of outlets and considering that each entity possesses a unique yet familiar composition, it is safe to assume that this is all revolving around one person. The IXth Key is perhaps the most magical of alll of the Secret Corridor releases. “Upon My Frozen Land,” is emerging as one of the best releases from The IXth Key out of earlier experimental recordings. Though the release is 20 minutes in the same tonal space, it makes use of the atmosphere in a demo(?) that is accomplished and touching.
Self Released | 3-1-20
Sometimes aesthetic is enough to get you to a place with talent taking up the slack. Pagan Moon leans heavily on the second wave / bedroom / DS / raw / spooky / anti christian aesthetic with a new demo that looks and feels like a black metal demo but is intimately effective through sheer talent. It is through this talent that atmospheric synth can drape over songs like funeral shrouds and give the entire release an air of ghostly presence. This is a ghoulish record that isn’t abrasive or aggressive rather haunting in its structure.
Mystic Timbre | 6-23-20
Archana is the second release from Mystic Timbre I have reviewed and comes since the first, Alloch Nathir, was a wonderful journey into forest synth. Before I get into this current release, I want to make special mention to the rest of Mystic Timbre’s catalog as it is a free form menagerie of electronic, progressive, experimental releases all with their own unique outlook on life. Rites, from Archana, is no different as its tone and demeanor differs from Alloch Nathir. Where one was meditative cloaked in mature ambiance, Archana is more ancient with classic stoicism at its roots. Overcast in comber silence, Rites pays tribute to dungeon synths tradition of solitary wanderings through glacial melodies and grey dawns. Both Archana and Alloch Nathir draw lineage from the same post black outfit Abhasa and these releases, much like the history of dungeon synth, are intimate meditations on immersion.