Keys of Orthanc – Unfinished Conquests [Canada, Dungeon Synth] (2020)

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Naturmacht Productions | 7-24-20

“While working on a new Lord of the Rings themed black metal album, “Unfinished Conquest” is a Dungeon Synth ode to all heroes who marched to, fought and died on glorious quests and adventures.” I enjoy when dungeon synth comes out of an intense desire to wade into the knee deep waters of atmosphere. Dungeon synth was birthed from black metal ans has since taken on a unique sound and presence in the musical world. While there are better examples of black metal and dungeon synth hybrids, Keys of Orthanc resides in the melodic side with almost no harsh qualities. Perhaps this is better as Unfinished Conquests boasts moody synth journeys through dark mountain passages with an album full of exploration of not just sound but spirit.

Sarin Bath – Sarin Bath [Canada, Black / Sludge] (2020)

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Self Released | 7-20-20

With a name and cover like Sarin Bath, one is going to have ready themselves for distilled emotion in the form of black tar. Similar to bands like Thou and to a lesser extent Couch, Sarin Bath delivers a torrent of raw blackened sludge which unlike the two bands listed, comes without any filter of production. This is just the listener and the band in a room together and one of them is waving a knife. It may take a bit but after a some time spent in the depths of madness, this whole affair becomes oddly desirable.

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Execration Chamber – Cathedral Of Unbeing [Canada, Dungeon Synth] (2020)

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Gondolin Records | 7-6-20

I would like to mention that the name and album title of this release sounds like an angular death metal demo rather than a dungeon synth release. It helps that Execration Chamber presents a suffocating brand of dungeon synth and Cathedral of Unbeing is an existential wasteland of dying thoughts and feelings. If dungeon synth was a civilization, Cathedral of Unbeing would be the scattered remnants of civilization striving for survival on the frontiers of desolation after the fall of humanity. This tone and approach to dungeon synth is refreshing even though it is post apocalyptic.

Of Antler And Oak – Midsummer [Canada, Dungeon Synth] (2020)

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Realm of Sleep Records | 6-21-20

This review is going to encompass all of the Realm of Sleep catalog even though I am focusing on just one release. I might not like every releases from this label (which is really just one artist) but I support the idea of using a tape label as a hub for creativity. Realm of Sleep is a creation of J. Browne who uses various avatars to create music from the woozy melodies from Of Oak and Ash to the raw noise of Hermit Of The Black Wood. Even though most of the tapes are already sold out, the limited quantity of these releases fits the aesthetic of an intimate spellcaster doing cantrips in the woods. Midsummer is Browne’s dedication to the solstice and the pagan overtones are as narcotic and dreamy as the music itself.

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Longmoan – Longmoan [Canada, Dungeon Synth] (2020)

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Self Released | 6-16-20

“$2 from every cassette sold will go to the NAACP legal defense fund.”

I enjoy conscientious pledges like this even when its from a sub niche tape release in an already obscured genre. Welcome Longmoan, a 16 bit themed DS release that is styled after a Sega game that never existed. CRPG music and video game worship is something that is not talked about a lot in the DS community though I secretly feel everyone is slightly into it. Longmoan welcomes the listener into a world of bright dark blues and top down dungeon crawling that is littered with deadly skeletons and ghouls. This is Saturday afternoons spent in the living room trying to beat the level and strategy guides opened up on the carpet.

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Sophia – death bows his head and gently weeps​.​. [Canada, Dungeon Synth] (2020)

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Serpent’s Sword Records | 6-1-20

This is the second release I have encountered with the tag “funeral synth” though I feel the project Sophia might fit into more styles that just one. death bows his head and gently weeps​.​. (all lowercase) is a short demo of of ultimate despair. In fact the emotion on this record is boiling to the point of melodrama. While the last sentence feels like it is a criticism, the protracted despair of oozing synth fits the Gothic atmosphere constructing a palace of melancholy and nights that never end. Most of Serpent Sword releases posses the same sort of vampiric DIY aesthetic and Sophia is no different with its weep for a 100 years approach to synth.

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Ukcheansalawit – Tekipuk [Canada, Atmospheric Black] (2020)

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Self Released | 1-20-20

From the cold gloomy lands of Canada comes a slightly atmospheric black metal release with…you guessed it….a black and white tree on the cover. Outside of this very obvious joke, Ukcheansalawit (ûkcheânsâlâwit) debut demo has everything going right to be a memorable exploration of black metal themed after indigenous cultures. While most of these summations could be wrong, the majority of Tekipuk is centered around words of the Mi’kmaq tribe which was one of the largest Native people centered around Canada’s Maritime Provinces (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island). Outside of some vague references to Canadian native people and the use of the language, most of the work of Ukcheansalawit remains a mystery aside from a 17 minute demo of synth heavy lo – fi black metal. Perhaps 2020 will see more releases but for now, this release is enough to spark interest in a relatively unexplored area of pan American culture.

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Wormreign – Wormreign [Canada, Black] (2020)

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Self Released | 1-14-20

Good morning, it is time to wake up and run straight into that opposing wall. Wormreign comes to us from Canada and with an album cover that is to be expected but most certainly welcome. What is surprising about this debut EP is the tenacious nature of the music and also the energy in which the band uses to, perhaps literally, throw themselves at the listeners. “Ad Vermiis” is nearly bursting at its seams and feels like it is bouncing against the door in order to get out. This ads to the frantic chaos of this EP and promises to make participants anxious if not brimming with feverish mania.

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Witches Hex – Rituals Under The Red Moon [Canada, Raw Black] (2019)

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Self Released | 5-3-19

I feel that the tag Raw Black is less a genre and more of a sign post for interested parties. Rituals Under the Red Moon is black metal just fed through a filter of noise and chaos. One can still hear the riffs and structure just now with rough edges which bleed like static. I do not know much about this band other than their desire to play into a genre. From their cover to names, Witches Hex embraces the thematic elements of underground black metal. What is interesting about the band however is their ability to make those thing still seem sinister and raw perhaps with the help of shredding noise.

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Father Moon – 2 [Canada, Doom] (2019)

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Self Released | 1-13-19

This is not usually the type of music featured on this site. I do not think this type of music is really featured anywhere. I do not know what this is. It is weird and I love it. Father Moon is a Canadian act which seems to take its cues from Nightfall era Candlemass but the drug fueled days of Sabbath. The result is something that more difficult to explain but easy to enjoy. Additionally the near DIY production and presentation is something which makes this EP feel like a flea market discovery of the year since it is difficult to understand what is exactly happening. Come confused, leave delighted.

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