ElixiR – Le conte des trois faunes [France, Dungeon Synth] (2020)

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Self Released | 9-30-20

I was surprised to ElixiR in the new release feed as I thought this project was disbanded. This is entirely my fault as I was misremembering an incident in 2017 regarding artwork and the Bandcamp for this page being deleted for a brief moment before being brought online. This seems like ancient history as I was surprised to learn of releases which spanned that moment to today. The only person who is confused here is me. Le conte des trois faunes is the second release this year for Elixir aside from a Burzum tribute a few months back. Le conte des trois faunes is worth anyone’s time that seeks medieval style dungeon synth with an air of melancholy and clear production. My own memory can be hazy at times so I am glad I haven’t forgotten abut this artist as they still seem to be releasing stellar work.

Diabhal – M M X X [US, Death] (2020)

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Self Released | 8-1-20

All hail the bulldozer. When discussing death metal from the last few years, there is a certain strain of hip rough edge death metal that relies mostly on riffs and gross looking album covers. This is wonderful death metal but has become apart of an aesthetic that bands can easily subscribe. Diabhal eschews this tradition with a more vintage style of death metal which crushes its listener with a steamroller. Instead of an album cover with two colors and a JCard layout, M M X X appears as if it came from 1995 from a semi mainstream label. Being from NYC, I had a preconception this band was going to be older and possibly with one or two shaved heads. Much to my surprise, the group appears to be young and spry and just into covering songs by Baphomet. Let’s hang out and get crushed by heavy machinery together.

Geldurum – Medieval Campfire Tales [Sweden, Dungeon Synth] (2020)

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Ancient Meadow Records | 9-21-20

“Gather around and have a moment of peace.”

First of all, if you enjoy the sound of this record and would like a Name Your Price copy, you can head on over to the artists Bandcamp to support. If you would like a copy of one of the better dungeon synth / medieval ambient records, then ask Ancient Meadow records if they have any copies left. They probably do not. Medieval Campfire Tales was something I was not expecting as I think I missed its first run earlier this year. It was not until I was picking up other tapes from Ancient Meadow that I stumbled headlong into a would of festooned magic and orchestrated wonder with a record that is fanciful and engaging. I am eternally grateful to tape labels that care enough to showcase artists like this as I can not imagine my life without finding these types of releases.

FOREST HERMIT – DEMO II: BIDDING SUMMER FAREWELL AT MINERS RUN [US, Dungeon Synth / Ambient] (2020)

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Luminous Relics | 9-22-20

“Another demo recorded in one take in the woods. Forest ambient bidding farewell to Summer, released on the Autumn Equinox.” When one talks about forest ambient, the usual connotation goes to sound rather than process. If forest ambient is going to be considered a way of making music, it will be wholly interesting and perhaps mystical. Forest Hermit is a US(?) based composer who has taken the dedication to nature one step future in making records as one perhaps solitary rituals to be preformed in remembrance of the seasons. Demo II is a hazy landscape of distant outlines marked only by passing stone structures which welcomes the coming autumn in wooden masks and heavy robes. Its raw nature is befitting its surroundings and the idea of this recording possibly including field noise and forest ambience is inciting even though it probably doesn’t. I am in support of more ritual ambient / field recording / dungeon synth hybrids that are actually made with enough tapes for the people who want them.

Villein – Splendor Solis [UK, Dungeon Synth] (2020)

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Self Released | 9-12-20

Villein’s debut was a surprise back in the halcyon days of June 2020. Not only was this a competent dungeon synth release swathed in lush layers but it was also somewhat overlooked by the larger community. This is funny since there was a 25 edition tape that accompanied the release which was sold out in minutes through Vicious Mockery. Still even with the tape release and the lush sound, I expected Villein to command more attention at least to the level of quality from these releases. This is okay since we still have time for Villein to enchant strangers with music that is intoxicating in its depth and majestic in its sound. Splendor Spoils is the second release in a few short months which if this final record for 2020, then it s a tremendous introduction to an artist that has come out of nowhere. Villeins music, as well as visual presence, is a wonderful gem for anyone who might have missed it and another chapter in a book I never thought I would enjoy reading so much.

Orcus – Altar of Necropolis [UK, Dungeon Synth] (2020)

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Realm and Ritual | 9-11-20

I am including the link to the Realm ad Ritual release for this album even though the edition of tapes sold out. Altar of Necropolis was self released in May of this year but has since been picked up by the wonderful Realm and Ritual label. Orcus is a UK based artist who seems to live in two different realms with one being the contemporary and the other traditional. While the sound of Altar of Necropolis is exploratory in its sound with a balanced production, there is an air of somber haze which unites the sound with a release which pays tribute to the traditional dungeon synth of yesterday. Altar of Necropolis, as well as its creator, is both joyous and melancholic with a release that transcends time and emotion.

Demon Goat – Messenger of Doom [US, Black] (2020)

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Self Released | 9-11-20

I want you to forget a few things. I want you to forget the tags on this Bandcamp page. I want you to forget the fact that this creator played in Khemmis for a spell. I want you to forget the fact that Demon Goat has a dizzying amount of releases since 2016. I want you to forget about the name Demon Goat. I urge you to forget all of these things and take Messenger of Doom for what it is minus everything that it is attached to. With that you are given an entry into a world of depressive black/doom which is a deluge of catharsis and maligned emotions. I do not want to discount past work or any connection with other bands rather I feel Demon Goat works the best when given a chance to speak and shriek its way into the fabric on your soul.

Mystiska Skogen – Den Förtrollade Gläntan [Sweden, Dungeon Synth] (2020)

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Self Released | 9-3-20

I feel it is a special time and an album can also make one fall in love with the artwork. Alessia Brusco (Skogens Rymd Art) provided the cover for Mystiska Skogen’s second release Den Förtrollade Gläntan and its mystic dreamscapes of woodlands is so fitting to the musical dreamscapes, it is almost as if the two were meant to be paired. Mystiska Skogen is still finding themselves as the second release has crested a new hill in their musical journey with a release that is not only more realized than their debut but stands before a new valley is traditional dungeon synth that is full of morning haze and pastoral serenity. This is something that has both taken my heart in terms of sound and sight.

Lone Adventurer – The Eternal Quest [UK, Dungeon Synth] (2020)

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Vicious Mockery | 9-4-20

This was one of the tapes I picked up from the UK based label Vicious Mockery. Aside from the intimate melancholy of the sparse electric piano, there were a few things which drew me to the tape which include the edition of 25 and the almost handmade quality of the tapes. I feel production in both physical formats and music can be a boon to dungeon synth as well as the lack of those elements can enhance a record. The Eternal Quest is a record that could be someone laying at a piano to no one in particular except for someone just peering into the room. It is charming and “comfy” but with an air of sadness and loss. It drives me to take a place on a couch beside the piano and never interrupt the composer from their somber melodies.

Månskensdvärgar – :I: [?, Dungeon Synth / Ambient] (2020)

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Self Released | 10-1-20

I have my guesses where this composer is from but I could be wrong. It is not like it matters as a location is sometimes omitted by an artist if it is not relevant. Månskensdvärgar is “an acoustic journey through the moonlit root kingdoms and fog-covered moss fields of the northern dwarves of old folklore.” Perhaps that is all that is needed to frame a record that is quiet, contemplative and above all else immersive in its magic. Månskensdvärgar is dedicated to escapism and with a devotion to painter John Bauer, :I: is an esoteric journey into the underworlds of rocks and roots. At this moment there are a few remaining tapes available but I do not expect it to last as this sound is coveted by listeners who crave dreamlike landscapes and twilight atmopheres.