The Harbinger – The Consecrated Barrow [US, Dungeon Synth] (2019)

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Self Released | 8-27-19

This review is going to encompass the three released by The Harbinger from August 27th of 2019 to September 10th of 2019. The three releases which spanned those few weeks make up the entirty of work from The Harbinger. It is strange to highlight such a limited collection of work but the three releases from this artist show such promise and ability, it is difficult not to get excited. Through awkwardly designed album covers and cryptic veils of flowery text, these three releases (The Consecrated Barrow, The Convocation of Forgotten Gods, The Absolution of The Blind God) are masterful in their silent declaration in a world that seems crafted for the artist but has space for the listener to observe.

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Skogsgudinnan – Skogsgudinnan [US, Dungeon Synth] (2020)

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Self Released | 3-24-20

Sometimes finding small and pleasant things gives me the reason to go searching everyday. Skogsgudinnan is a US based artist who has produced 10 tracks of quiet and humble dungeon synth / new age that is seemingly for anyone who wants to listen. Without fanfare or bluster, this artist has quietly placed something in a garden for anyone to pick up and experience. Though these tracks are sometimes sketches and others incomplete, the world and experience each one constructs is enough to give pause. Add to that the goofy Bandcamp greeting of “Leave reality for a bit, just take it easy! Take Care!” shows an artist who is making music for whimsy and just wants you to have a good time. I do not know about you but I certainly am.

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Molder – Vanished Cadavers [US, Death / Thrash] (2020)

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Rotted Life | 5-20-20

It feels like ages ago when we were swimming in rotting death that was squirming with riffs. Sure we still have it but things have changed. Molder is here to remind us of the fun we had a few years ago with a debut that breathes a festive atmosphere and if your idea of a party is gravedigging and being spooky, you are in the right place. Vanished Cadavers comes after a very long line of demos, splits, and live records. Much like someone gathering up momentum before pouncing, Molder finally springs into action with teeth bared and arms flailing. While this sounds like it is going to be a vicious experience, there is an air of levity with a record of death / thrash that is enjoyable and perfect for a party you will eventually have when you can see people.

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Pagan Moon – Deathlike Journeys [US, Black] (2020)

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Self Released | 3-1-20

Sometimes aesthetic is enough to get you to a place with talent taking up the slack. Pagan Moon leans heavily on the second wave / bedroom / DS / raw / spooky / anti christian aesthetic with a new demo that looks and feels like a black metal demo but is intimately effective through sheer talent. It is through this talent that atmospheric synth can drape over songs like funeral shrouds and give the entire release an air of ghostly presence. This is a ghoulish record that isn’t abrasive or aggressive rather haunting in its structure.

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Disrotter – Plague [US, Death / Grind] (2020)

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Self Released | 3-25-20

It is funny to think of heavy metal being topical at any point but the title of this demo as well as the Bandcamp message of “Confusion blinding the panic is rising. Disruption commencing this chaos ascension” gives the music a sharper edge not to mention the dissolving human artwork on the front. The interesting part about this whole thing is Disrotter could have come out at any point and its music would be classic death grind worship with well mixed production and killer riffs. Now, in the middle of this whole “chaos ascension,” the music feels reflective on rising tensions which is far beyond exploitative and more reaching reflective. Come throw yourself into this storm of stress.

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Alloch Nathir – The Emerald Grotto [US, Dungeon Synth] (2020)

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Self Released | 6-25-20

The tag of “forest synth” most often times refers to a variety of dungeon synth which is either inspired by the sounds of the forest, has forest ambient on top of the music, or both. Forest synth is also wild in its interpretation where one can have experimental ambient or more structured fantasy synth. Alloch Nathir is in the later camp with a record that is both regal and mystical with ambient bird calls buried deep within its music. The emerald Grotto then turns into a record which is inviting, warm, and kind at hart offering the listener nothing less than a retreat from whatever madness is in the current world. The Emerald Grotto is currently up for tape preorder which ships around summertime. This might be perfect for anyone currently unable to travel far outside as this will be a small mental retreat to a solitary clearing in the woods.

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Fratricide – Horrible Deformities [US, Death] (2020)

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Self Released | 3-19-20

This is perhaps one of the starkest examples of a demo whose music is the best thing about the presentation as the logo, band name, and album artwork fail to live up to the experience of the music. It is not that Fratricide has a terrible presentation rather the music goes beyond the confides presented by its cover. Where one would think you get mid shelf death metal that is sloppy but kind of fun, Fratricide presents winding journeys in rotting flesh. Heavy metal, like most music, is about musical and visual presentation and though I feel that one if severely lacking, I am glad for the other to be so strong.

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Altar of Rot – Altar of Rot [US, Black / Death] (2020)

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Self Released | 3-15-20

“Black Metal combining the first and second waves with some primitive thrash influence. Destroy your fucking mind.”

I love the description for this album since it is most certainly not what is advertised. Yes, the Altar of Rot debut has black, death, and thrash influences somewhere close to the second wave but it is nowhere near a primitive nature. This is okay however as what Altar of Rot really is is a party in a debut record which feels like a chair being smashed against your back. From solid riffs to decent production to an atmosphere which grants permission for costumes, Altar of Rot is less a basement band than it is a club show that would be fitting the scent of decaying meat. Ew gross.

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Impetuous Burial [US, Death] (2020)

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Self Released | 3-16-20

Yes. Is really gross death metal still going on? Well, i guess that is the thing about rotting death, is that even if it is slightly hip with bands like Blood Incantation and Tomb Mold, that its presence is eternal regardless of what mortals think of it. Enter Impetuous Burial and a demo that sounds like the sounds of the last 5 years in death metal distilled down into a punchy record. We are all mature enough to realize that despite this demo not breaking any new ground from its name, cover, or sound, if the riffs are solid, which they are, then it is going to be a fantastic ride in the dark.

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Empyreal Forest – Divinations [US, Dungeon Synth] (2020)

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Self Released | 1-4-20

I have had a long sordid history with dungeon synth which is both weird and amazing. I do not think I have covered any dungeon synth on this site since the first Erang record which sent me head first into the genre. At this moment I do not wish to cover the genre as extensively as I did but hearing Empyreal Forest ‘s 15 minute release not only dredges up foind memories but also aesthetically fits with some of the other records on this site also adorned in dismal black and white album covers. Dismal Ruin is a new label which specializes in dungeon synth, dark ambient, and second wave black metal which is varied across the label’s four releases. Empyreal Forest seems to be a new entity but is already entrenched in its worship of DS luminaries like Depressive Silence and Thangorodrim just cloaked in more atmospheric noise. The result is something that intimate but also cold in its wanderings through fog veiled forests. I do not think Ill ever get back into dungeon synth like I did but maybe perhaps there is room on this blog for more things like this.

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