“Our hope lies on a solitary hero – who’s destiny is unclear even to the wisest mystiks. Through the forests they must go, beyond the Lost Realm…” This is the line that could be on the back of an adventure RPG Nintendo box somewhere in the late 80’s. Everything about this release is amazing, from the melodies to the aesthetic to the general carefree attitude when it comes to blurring dungeon synth and video game music. The worlds of dungeon synth and games is separated by perhaps a small river which man people have found ways to traverse or build bridges between. Beyond The Lost Realm is a love letter to 8 bit music soundtracks which invoke the spirit of nostalgia that flickers on the screen of a warm television.
Yes, I am unsure about that band name as well at the logo. there are many things which make me wary to approach this US band first and foremost should be the rusty chains which drag behind this behemoth of a record. I say I am wary to approach this since the music and general disposition of Uranium is so caustic in nature I fear I will contract a disease or some sort of radiation burn. An Exacting Punishment is a grand display of torture through sound with black death drug through industrial soundscapes which is closer to noise than it is anything resembling dance. The band’s name and logo seem secondary to a world of nightmares which blink like strobe lights in dark warehouses. This is something that is horrifying and I am so glad is stalking me as the specter of industrial music should want to do.
I was floored by this release. I was amazed by this release despite it dealing with one of the most common topics for dungeon synth. Tolkien and dungeon synth have been companions since some of the first iterations as the lore surrounding the collected works of the author have been interwoven in the fabric of not only dungeon synth but heavy metal. A Long Expected Party takes inspiration and also track names off of Fellowship of the Ring. This again is not new territory yet the melodies and craftsmanship that lies at the foundation of this record is undeniable. Invoking both humble production and elaborate soundscapes, Ithildin (Mithril that only the most experienced craftsmen of the Noldor could learn how to make and pass on to others) weaves arcane sorcery to create an enriching record that may look ordinary from first glance but is steeped in decades, if not centuries, of quality.
At this moment, I enjoy the aesthetic. Untitled release from a black metal act that has no country listed nor is there anything on the internet regarding this release. Anonymity does not substitute for quality but an already interesting release is certainly helped by a lack of information. It feels this release skirts the definition of existence and could disappear tomorrow (has happened before). Antikythaera is here, right now in this moment, making haunted music which is cast like shadows against bleak walls. This demo (?) is less of a release than it is a proof of concept that an entity making this music actually exists. I do not expect this release to be shrouded forever, but at this moment it adds to the enjoyment.
“Dungeon Synth exploring the strange history of Vikings in the UK. Nazis fuck off.” I often love the frankness of Bandcamp introductions as Land Spirit both paints a delicate picture of the music while still telling fascists to fuck off. Through The Eternal Woodland is the third release for Land Spirit just in 2021 and despite the flow of releases, the current offering stands out as a monument in dungeon synth with a heavy magical tone. While the cover indicates an understated raw dungeon synth, the progressive spirit of this release swirls around grainy renders of ancient monuments offering a future that is hazy and cast in vintage tones. In the footsteps of Hedge Wizard, Land Spirit walks offering arcane sorcery in low fidelity.
This one is a special release since it connects many dots for me. Apoxupon is the work of an artist who is also the creator of of Mystic Timbre Records which was home to some fantastic dungeon synth of 2020 as well as a catalog of left field synth projects. Nameless and Formless is the new release from Apoxupon which is seeing support from another wonderful label Realm and Ritual. While this new release falls under the tag of dungeon synth, Nameless and Formless includes satellite styles such as dark ambient and Berlin school style synthscapes. This release splits the difference between the last few Apoxupon albums with a record that is mysterious and surreal which lay at the edge of dream and waking. This hypnagogic kingdom lay in caverns and passage ways which are carved out of obsidian which often time reflect luminescence in otherwise pitch darkness. Nameless and Formless is a dive into the void but also the realization that there is something alive in the darkness. Apoxupon has created something wonderful here and it is through the cooperation of a few entities this release might see a greater audience.
This has everything I could possibly love in a 20 minute offering. Self released raw black debut demo which has all of its tracks on one side. There is little I can offer in the way of translation for the bandname but the demo name translates, quite nicely, to “Misery, Poison and Sorrow.” It is under the auspices of disease and suffering that Sulmata makes its greatest case for being the perfect harbinger of pestilence. Through its 20 minutes, Jad, Otrov i Tuga looms as a storm of finality over an already bleak landscape at many points in its demo, the vocals and music blur into a hypnotic specter which takes the listener in a dizzying embrace. This is a wonderful demo and one I am proud to keep locked away in a closet for fear of it haunting the world.
Another Cusp Record! Mornelance was released independently in the twilight hours of 2020 which would then be picked up by the very great and very reliable Out of Seaosn for tape release. January was the first time many people got to hear the work of Oublieth and their solemn worship of classic dungeon synth. Mornelance is for fans of Depressive Silence to the point where some of the synth sounds match the tones of the veteran German act. This is not to say that Mornelance is derivative rather, Oublieth continues the work of Depressive Silence and other classic era dungeon synth with a record that is both reverent to the style yet creating its own grim castles cloaked in fog. Mornelance is a dark fairy tale where wild fey live in spires among the darkness. It is magical and enchanting in its hypnosis.
This is a Tape Release of a 2020 album by Canadian artist Sprites of the Wood. This tape release came with the latest batch of Neverwood Records releases which is making the early part of 2021 something special. 2020 was a busy time for Sprites of the Wood. From January to December of 2020, Sprites of the Wood released 5 (?) albums (?) all dedicated to the wonder and magic of various fantasy media. While there are a handful of releases dedicated to Tolkien, Old Souls is dedicated to the lands of Myst which I am assuming is the puzzle computer game released in 1993. I could be wrong but even if I am, the music presented by Sprites of the Wood is a magical journey into enigmatic dungeons with solutions that are hidden among its contents. The minimalistic world of the music offers many chances for the melodies to soar high into the sky with a landscape of craft and care.