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.

Alkilith – Tales of The Wandering Mage [US, Dungeon Synth] (2020)

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Realm And Ritual | 10-16-20

Release Date/Info: Pre-order October 16th on the Realm and Ritual bandcamp. Limited to 30 cassette copies.

this is one of the first prerelease tapes I get to review which is an exciting step in getting ahead of the limited release tapes that always seem to elude me. Alkilith is a US based composer who has already had a well received release this year. In fact, Blade of Morndinsamman was released in September, of this month, and already the composer is setting up for another release in October. If you are not familiar with the lonesome minimalism of Alkilith, then please see yourself to the nearest lonely mountain for a journey through the blistering cold of northern winds as it whips from the glacier. I make mention of the cold atmosphere but Tales of the Wandering Mage is a campfire set up in the shelter of rock ledges as it burns throughout the night. The sparse atmosphere combined with the undertones of solitude and emotional journey cast in lofi hues is something that can only be experienced by oneself in the shadow of great mystery and adventure. Realm and Ritual has already released fantastic tapes this year and Tales of the Wandering Mage is another chapter in a tome that is slung on the back of a traveling wizard.

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.

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.

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.

Deathevn – Deathevn [Poland, Black] (2020)

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Self Released | 9-20-20

This is a striking and exhilarating demo from a new Polish band that I most certainly shared to make a joke regarding the name. Deathevn is the work of Warped Blasphemer who also lends his talents to Dagorath, Nurt Ognia, and Xarzebaal. Detheven was said to be created in three days and the immediacy of it is apart of a network of standoffish atmosphere that makes me feel bad for mentioning their name and similarities to popular post black metal bands. Detheven doesn’t give a shit about my jokes and this 22 minute demo is a crawl against the fiery floors of damnation. It is unrelenting, without compromise, and above all else not in the mood for humor.

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.

Xard – Dreams of the Strange Tower [US, Dungeon Synth / Dark Ambient] (2020)

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Self Released | 8-28-20

Somewhere between the realm of waking and sleep likes Xard and their dreams of the strange tower. Somewhere between the sound of dungeon synth and the haunting of dark ambient is Xard and their dreams of the strange tower. Xard is an odd entity as it the debut for the composer who goes by the name of the main human antagonist on the 1957 film Night of the Demon.” Dreams of the Strnage Tower is also dedicated to the memory of recently decreased Power Trip member Riley Gale. With a traditional DS sound combined with a hip low brow visual aesthetic, Xard exists in many realms at the same time and Dreams of the Strange Tower is a dungeon synth record that exists on the edge of many different scenes. For all of its transitive properties, the sound of Xard is fitting as it floats in the aether of emissions with its spectral sound and haze of ambiance.

Charnel Ascension – Spectral Dances Towards The Coffin [US, Raw Black] (2020)

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Old Spire Records | 8-22-20

“Charnel Ascension is a member of The GraveLight Order along with Mortevexis, Slaves To The Enchanted Fog, Vampyric Bvrial and others.” With this being kinda local to me, I often wonder if I pass the basement or abandoned church that houses these record labels. Spectral Dances Towards The Coffin is the debut demo for the Charnel Ascension project though its sole member is most likely apart of other other bands maybe even on the same label. The Gravelight Order is an esoteric name for the roster of Old Spire Records and much like other musical scenes, all bands fall under the same stylistic banner. This banner just happens to be raw and mutilated black metal. Spectral Dances Towards The Coffin is for a certain listeners who is wanting black metal before it goes into the refinery. The caustic dissonance both from its music and its cover allows the release to fall back onn an aesthetic that is theatrics but ultimately enjoyable to be apart of.

Villein – Kreis [UK, Dungeon Synth] (2020)

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Self Released | 7-1-20

Even though the 30 copies of this July release have already been sold out, I feel am stumbling into a gem of a record that has yet to be hared with the amount of people it deserves. Villein is a UK artist who balances traditional dungeon synth with neoclassical new age with something that sounds like a cross between a Renaissance fair and dozing outside in the afternoon. Kries is a brief magical journey through woodlands and fairy villages which intends nothing more than to delight and comfort. Linked above is the artists page which has a NYP fee for the digital record. If you were to get any low price dungeon synth record of the last few months, make it this one. The physical release of this record comes from another UK based label called Vicious Mockery which aside from being a spell in D&D is a dark abient / DS label that does small runs of tapes. Maybe I will be lucky enough to grab the next dungeon synth tape which eludes me like pixies.