Wistful Gardens – Hives Of The Hinterlands [Canada, Dungeon Synth] (2020)

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Realm of Sleep | 9-7-20

“Buy Digital Discography $7.25 CAD or more (75% OFF)”. I have mentioned many times when talking to freinds who couldn care less, that Realm of Sleeps visual direction is perhaps one of its strongest selling points. Let us not forget that Realm of Sleep offers amazing lofi fantasy synth which inhabits the space between sleeping and waking but it is the uniform covers which really give the entire catalog an appeal. No longer are these disparate releases rather a cabal of dream artificers and nocturnal alchemists which craft tinctures of pleasantness and quiet nightmares. Wistful Gardens is another entry into the chapter of slumber with a record dedicated to bees which is as playful and odd as the label which has released the record. May they never stop being weird. Please make Tapes.

Sulfure – Neurotisme [Canada, Black] (2020)

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Self Released | 8-15-20

I am excited beyond belief for this demo. Not only is it blistering black metal from Canada but it is also the debut demo from a elf released entity. These are all things which this site strives to showcase and Neurotisme could be the embodiment of this mission as it gallops on spectral horses to trample its listeners. Rather than let a sound run itsway through 3 or four tracks, Sulfure continues to confound its listeners with multiple tracks of snaking black metal that slithers its way through a dynamic landscapes of rot and ruin. This is a release that will live in memory if for nothing else than it is sure to haunt its listeners.

SCRIBA ÆTERNITATIS – Forgotten Chronicles [Canada, Dungeon Synth / Neocloassical] (2020)

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Dark Age Productions | 8-7-20

I feel the Neoclassical tag differentiates dungeons synth from a style that is one that is ornate in its very structure. SCRIBA ÆTERNITATIS is born of a different family than other dungeon synth composers as their melodies and melodrama make up the very essence of the records. Forgotten Chronicles is less an album than it is a concert performed by a baron among some dark moor for an audience of nocturnal creatures. Its ostentatious design is befitting to a record that is grand in its scope yet limited to its production. This might be off putting for some people with its epic landscapes rendered in low resolution but if one gives it a chance, it is a unique and engaging record that welcomes you into its world. Step into a world where its soundtrack will take you to far away lands and into the darkest mines in search of whatever treasure you might seek.

Uilos – I: Dark Night Of The Soul [Canada, Dungeon Synth / Ambient] (2020)

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So Called Hell | 9-18-20

“Named for star-like flowers found growing on graves around the Gate Of Silver during the journey into Gondolin, the project’s inaugural volume threads 37 minutes of mystic, mournful instrumentals into a shimmering saga of hidden hermits, enticing dragons, and headless knights.”

Even though I am writing this review, I would like to highlight successful attempts at enticing me to listen to records. I reviewed So Called Hell’s previous ritual ambient release and Ulios was next in the queue. I melted when seeing this line as it captures the middleground between high fantasy lore and morbid mysticism. Perhaps this is why I enjoyed Uilos so much as the album pitch crystallizes music that is a landscape of magical gloom with immersive ambient that pulls from the gods of Kosmische Musik as much as it does the heroes of dungeon synth. I: Dark Night Of The Soul is the purported first chapter of a series and if this is the sound of the beginning, I am almost paralyzed with anticipation which has me stuck in a world the is eternally dusk — illuminated only by fireflies and wandering ghosts.

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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