Self Released | 6-24-20
“Projecting a psychedelic medieval dungeon exploration in music: monsters, beasts and foes are around the corner. Powerful and mysterious forces decide the fate of Gaia and the world. Time is convoluted.”
If the title did not tip you off, this is going to be non traditional dungeon synth. I will give everyone a chance to clear out if they came for proper and serious sounding dungeon synth. With that out of the way, what an absolute dream this release is and with a sound I never thought I would be into until hearing it for the first time here. DungeonWave or VaporDungeon is the creation of two artists with the goal of making music that fuses the fantasy of dungeon synth with the hypnogogic irony of vaporwave. The result is something that is insatiably tied to the aesthetics of vaporwave with its title conventions but is, at its spirit bound to the the realm of escapism.
Lighten Up Sounds | 7-11-20
Medhelan was one of my first DS cassettes and Lighten /up Sounds was one of my first tape labels that I began acquiring dungeon synth material. the release and promotion for Nocturnal Wanderings, the first proper release since 2016, marked a special occasion for me to reminisce about a time when I first heard the magical musings of dungeon synth. While there is only one long preview track available, the scope of nature ambient and melodic dungeon synth stretches like a wooded canopy across a glowing night sky. This is dungeon synth from an old wizard who has once again dedicated to open their spellbook for us.
Faberglade Records | 6-21-20
Imagine my complete anguish when I learned that the Faberglade Summer Tape Batch was sold out in a day. This is okay since more people seem to be clued into this mystical series of releases from a very wonderful label. Additionally, the Summer batch came with Fogweaver’s Spellwind which is a fantastic release. Nuovaerav is a new artist for me but just from the few opening tracks, it already fits within the comforting world of Faberglade and while missing this series purchase by a day, I shall try again for the fall.
Dark Age Productions | 6-10-20
“Ancient Sword is the solo project from Dysangelium of black/death metal band Necromorbid and it rises from the antique land of Tuscany… where the gloomy atmospheres of dark ambient and dungeon synth music are melded in a classical and dramatic manner to achieve and recall the glorious splendor of the medieval and Renaissance art.”
I enjoy the presentation of this record even if it looks like traditional dungeon synth when in fact it is more experimental than most. Ancient Sword does not play by the rules and Ars Antiqua, while still devoted to tradition, fills its world with dark ambient, oppressive synth lines, and a feeling of unease when one was expecting soft melodious synth. This is less regal court music and more Tangerine Dream / Neptune Towers worship and it is great.
Self Released | 2-28-20
This is not the most recent Winterblood release and not even the first one I have reviewed. I wish I could begin this review by starting at the beginning but it seems like there is much to digest. Winterblood is a “polar ambient” outfit that crafted glacially slow landscapes that are intriguing and immersive. Luftschloss (Castle in the air / pipe dream (?) ) is the third release this year and presents two 40 minute (!) tracks of hypnotic magic that robs the listener of any warmth they once possessed. Winterblood may not be the style for everyone but anyone that is looking for a lengthy experience or atmospheric music for a cold winter’s night, I might have the perfect suggestion for you.
Ancient Entity Records | 7-5-20
The more I spend time with this record, the more I love it. Profane Oath follows a very familar template when it comes to their approach to heavy metal. Surrendering to the style of black / thrash, Profane Oath has bought into the sounds, image, and general lifestyle of black/thrash with an EP that could make its idols blush with its dedication. This becomes apparent when looking at the cover with a guitar pretruding fromt he mouth of Christ and songs like “Possessed By Quorthon.” Unholy Hymns is not going to break any genre barriers anytime soon but for now it is a six pack and a party of a time and everyone should love being here.
Self Released | 5-15-20
“Nifheldhur is a project born back in 1996 and dispersed over time. 24 years later, it comes back to life, to pay homage to shields and swords, in a concept of 4 acts, divided into the melodies of a single track ……”
I enjoy the flavor of this release. It also helps when the music is in step with the concept. Nifheldhur, for all intents and purposes, is a new band as I could not track down any of the 90’s material but we will assume it existed in some fashion before the wave of the internet. Of Wolf and Battle is the first release in this sword and shield production and is a panaorama of emotion and melodies. The grandeur of the music is restrained by the production though its lo-fi quality makes for interesting dichotomy as it is a wall sized oil painting on paper hung by tacks. Any indication that this is a criticism should be discarded as Nifheldhur achieves the vast escapism in battle scenes made in basements.
Ascension Records | 6-5-20
This release comes to us from Ascension Records which is based in Mexico with an Italian black metal act who seems to have figured out their visual identity. The cover for ΑΣ ΑΡΧΙΣΕΙ Η ΤΕΛΕΤΗ is a grand departure from the bands 2017 debut. Instead of a large white logo, the cover for ΑΣ ΑΡΧΙΣΕΙ Η ΤΕΛΕΤΗ is adorned with subtle black and red occultic imagery. This coincides with the black/red album cover trend which quite frankly works to give the music an ominous quality. While we are not given the full release quite yet, the sheer ferocity of the preview track is enough to make me wait for a few weeks until I can hear the rest of it.
Self Released | 5-6-20
I know the tag for this record states it is raw black but I would be more comfortable putting it in the mid tier of black metal. This is not to take away from the bare nature of Vexev’s music rather their production is neither claustrophobic nor oppressive rather they have an entire empty cathedral to play in and it is through this space that their music swoops and dives like phantoms rising out of the walls. Abyssus Abyssum Invocat is the band’s deb ut full length and first release which is surprising given the genre. With no demo, EP or rehearsal to precede this, Vexev makes their first declaration and by all accounts it is loud enough to gain attention.
Self Released | 4-11-20
Probally one of the most interesting aspects about this record is the Angelo Branduardi cover which nestles itself within a magical record of dungeon synth. Angelo Branduardi is an Italian folk singer who saw moderate success in the 1970’s but has since developed a following among woodfolk and like minded people. The instrumental cover of “The Stolen Bride” is transcendental and arcane as it feels apart of the original compositions yet highlighted as the centerpiece of the record. Sidereal Fortress has been releasing music since 2017 yet for anyone like me who is first encountering this woodsy patch of mushrooms, it maybe a great place to start.