Qual – An Unfathomable Darkness [US, Punk / Black] (2020)

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3-23-20 | Self Released

It is difficult sometimes to parse out where black metal and punk rock meet since its middle is a battleground of trashed vocals and even more trashed riffs. At some point the genres meet in a riotous demolition of sound making it hard to distinguish between the two. Qual fits into this nebulous category as it is just basement punk rock with even more guttural vocals. the funny thing about all of this, is that An Unfathomable Darkness fits so well with its sound. It is groovy in a shredded shirt way and catchy in a bleeding wound sort of fashion. This all is a party with a broken bone and it is wonderful.

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Umbria – The Sleeping Wizard [Spain, Dungeon Synth] (2020)

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Self Released | 3-25-20

There will come a time when my daily search of dungeon synth will either lead to suboptimal releases or things that came out during the period when I stopped looking at daily releases. There will come a time when things will slow down and I will not be mystified by a wonderful release from a new artist. Today is not that day. The Sleeping Wizard is the fourth release from this Spaniard and is so dynamic with its production, I am sort of taken aback at how immersive these soundscapes can be. From the regal quality of “Path of the Fae Knight” to the mysterious carnival of “Mystic Fungus Potion Fermentation,” The Sleep Wizard is a step beyond bedroom dungeon synth into something much more that I have yet to understand.

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Disrotter – Plague [US, Death / Grind] (2020)

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Self Released | 3-25-20

It is funny to think of heavy metal being topical at any point but the title of this demo as well as the Bandcamp message of “Confusion blinding the panic is rising. Disruption commencing this chaos ascension” gives the music a sharper edge not to mention the dissolving human artwork on the front. The interesting part about this whole thing is Disrotter could have come out at any point and its music would be classic death grind worship with well mixed production and killer riffs. Now, in the middle of this whole “chaos ascension,” the music feels reflective on rising tensions which is far beyond exploitative and more reaching reflective. Come throw yourself into this storm of stress.

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Alloch Nathir – The Emerald Grotto [US, Dungeon Synth] (2020)

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Self Released | 6-25-20

The tag of “forest synth” most often times refers to a variety of dungeon synth which is either inspired by the sounds of the forest, has forest ambient on top of the music, or both. Forest synth is also wild in its interpretation where one can have experimental ambient or more structured fantasy synth. Alloch Nathir is in the later camp with a record that is both regal and mystical with ambient bird calls buried deep within its music. The emerald Grotto then turns into a record which is inviting, warm, and kind at hart offering the listener nothing less than a retreat from whatever madness is in the current world. The Emerald Grotto is currently up for tape preorder which ships around summertime. This might be perfect for anyone currently unable to travel far outside as this will be a small mental retreat to a solitary clearing in the woods.

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Beelzebud – Beelzebud [Singapore, Black / Doom] (2015/2020)

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Cyclopean Eye Productions | 3-25-20

Special note that this 3 song full length from Beelzebud was released in 2015 but as most stories go, its distribution probably never left Singapore. This is okay since now we are going to get a second chance at this unltra bleak black doom record with a band whose name sounds like lame ass stoner doom. Listen, I get it, stoner doom plays at an aesthetic and weed themed band names are part and parcel for the genre. Beelzebud does play stoner doom though in a burned out shell of black metal similar to bands like Cough where the groovy vibes have long since dried and what are left are gnarled roots. Beelzebud also possesses the ability to make 10, 15, 25 minute tracks interesting though their protracted torture of rough production and gang vocals. Whether or not this release is actually 2020 or 2015, it seems to not matter as much as the weight of the hammer upon your head.

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Fogweaver – Spellwind [US, Dungeon Synth] (2020)

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Self Released | 2-7-20

Spellwind was a February release from Us based Fogweaver which was a followup to a self titled debut in 2019. Both releases were greeted with acclaim and praise from the small community of fans most certainly for their somberness and mystical qualities. Spellwind is also the second release inspired and dedicated to Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea series. Similar to the ERRETH-AKBE release a few month’s back, Spellwind captures the non Tolkien focus and opens up a world guided by seas and islands and allows soft fantasy synth to populate the world. I maybe a little late on this release but I am thankful I did catch it before it flew away.

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Hexenfluch – Aradia [Germany?, Black] (2020)

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Narbentage Produktionen | 4-12-20

I know little about Hexenfluch other than the outfit maybe from Germany and the name may mean Heathen’s Curse. Other than those sparse scraps of knowledge, the only thing I have to hold on is a 10 minute preview track which is both boiling with supernatural energy and swirling with chaotic possession. This tape release is just one of many arcane offerings from Narbentage Produktionen which seems to deal music much in the same way a wood witch deals in poisonous plants and trinkets. Come for blistering black metal but know there is no giving it back.

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Fen Walker – The Totem Wilds Call Thy Name [US, Dungeon Synth] (2020)

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Dungeon Deep Records | 3-14-20

It is odd and wonderful to see a dungeon synth record, which came out a few weeks ago and still with a massive amount of Bandcamp support. Fen Walker is a Us based dungeon synth artist whose second record continues on the progressive path of the debut Hail! O’ Barrow Lands! . I have already lauded the progressive sound of dungeon synth with Hole Dweller and Fen Walker’s The Totem Wilds Call Thy Name adds to my hypothesis that basement fantasy synth mixed with a 70’s progressive structure is not only agreeable but also something that could define the sound if given the chance. With the grounds for experimentation which does not lapse into artsy experimentation, the wild journeys one travels is completely immersive and something that transports the listener to far away lands.

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Throat Breach -Humiliating Distortion [US, Death / Grind] (2020)

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Desert Wasteland | 4-3-20

Desert Wasteland is fast becoming one of my favorite labels this year and the number of releases is still pretty low. With only 3 releases thus far into Spring 2020, the quality and veracity of these releases has been something to behold. Fleshrot, Wombcage, and Throat Breach have all huddled together to offer a strain of death metal that is both ruinous, rusted, and visceral. Coming after the boom of basement style death metal, Throat Breach presents an album that is both schizophrenic in its mixture of death and grind but also post apocalyptic in its style which is perfect for rusted or burned out structures. This is music for tomorrow in ruins.

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Erreth-Akbe – If Not a Happy Ending, a True Joy [US, Dungeon Synth] (2020)

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Self Released
1-8-20

I would like to thank Fableglade Records for breaking a streak of not purchasing dungeon synth tapes. Soemthing that always speaks to me is things released in series and the Spring Batch of fantasy synthscape tapes from this label was enough to get me back into the habit. It also helps that the first in the series is a remarkable dedication to Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea books which is both dramatic, personal, and immersive. If the quality of releases is even close to the first in the series, then Fableglade Records is going to be a delight for the rest of the year. Come forengaging soundscapes but stay for the mystery of story.

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