KNIFE WRAITH – Into the Undercity Dungeons [Germany, Dungeon Synth] (2021)

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Self Released | 3-25-21

Listen, I understand this is hard to look at. It is nauseating and I feel this is the perfect place to start. Knife Wraith is a German artist whose love and devotion to old Dungeons and Dragons modules as well as the 8-bit sounds of yesteryear collide in a stereoscopic dream of nostalgia and idiosyncratic joy. One can almost feel being baked in the glow of a living room television sitting on the carpet while sending your adventure through dark caves in search of magical artifacts. The monsters in vivid flat colors emerge from shaded shadow to inflict terror and health damage upon your character. These are the sounds of your quest and your eventual victory over the pixelated evils of the world.

The Orb Weaver – The Orb Weaver [Germany, Dungeon Synth] (2021)

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Neverwood Records | 1-1-21

Yes. A 2021 record I can safely assume is apart of this year. I have talked before about Neverwood Records being a fine merchant of a wide variety of Dungeon Synth. the Orb Weaver is but another chapter in the continuing story of Neverwood with a record of forest based drone that is a near 40 minutes spent in the nebula of grey mist. the Orb Weaver is a project from a German artist by the name of Willow Tea. Similar to past projects, The Orb Weaver explores ambient drone in varying levels of texture and mood. Fans of Neptune Towers will be happy to know the debut from The Orb Weaver is nothing less than a cosmic burial in neutral shades of grey. the artist’s off hand story surrounding the album,, and creation myth, is understand compared to the glacial sounds of its debut

when I was 12, I spent a week at my grandparents’ house. when I got out of their car, there was an orbweaver that had constructed its web in such a way I had to bend backwards to avoid ruining it. it became a familiar companion. the day I left, the web was gone, and the orbweaver too. probably on some adventure.

This small story contrasted with the cerebral sounds of the music is quite a journey as the hypnosis of The Orb Weaver comes with not being prepared for the experience one is about to undertake. There will be joy and narcotic haze undercut by an ever-present sense of anxiety that comes with knowledge of the unknowable. Enjoy this new year and the endless space that exists after awareness recedes.

Walther – Songs from Windhelm [Germany, Dungeon Synth] (2020)

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Self Released | 5-4-20

I have no idea of the title of this release is in relation to the location in Skyrim, but I am going to guess it is. I have no idea since the rest of track titles are in German and do not directly point to video games for inspiration. This is all okay since Walther (Bard’s Leap) gives us a full release of light classical dungeon synth which wafts through open windows in stately manors. I would be hesitant to put this under the same sort of court music that is a favored style among other musicians as Songs from Windhelm is narcotic and enticing but interesting enough to keep one from falling asleep. This is the first release from Bard’s Leap and I am hoping for more to come out of this palatial estate of dreams.

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Synthosaurus – Gigantic Throne [Germany, Dungeon Synth] (2020)

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Self Released | 4-27-20

I am going to preload this review by saying I feel the goofiness of this record is way over the top. This is even accounting for the other Synthosaurus record has a T. Rex playing a synth on the cover. Dungeon synth is not far from comedy but Synthosaurus not only rips the veil of reverence off but paints sparkly dinosaurs on it with glitter glue. Add to this the half baked story of scientists uncovering music recorded by dinosaurs and you ave something that you could probably dispose of or never have encountered in the first place. Perhaps in the only possibly twist of fate, Synthosaurus overcomes their own self imposed hurdles and presents a record so astounding in execution that it is baffling it works. This is not to say the heavy handed sound effects dont make for a chuckle rather, Synthosaurus traverses the prehistoric lands before veils of secrecy and self importance and frolics in the jungles of new age inspired synth in a land that time has forgotten.

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Nekrovault – Totenzug: Festering Peregrination [Germany, Death] (2020)

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Ván Records | 3-27-20

I believe it was one of my online friends who said they loved this 30 seconds in by the sound of dragging chains. There is sometimes a moment when you know you will love a record. It calls to you with open arms of the right aesthetic, band photos, and song titles. I have joked about the decline of basement death which came at the decline of cavern death. this is all funny until there is a constant stream of great cavern/basement death records being released. Nekrovault is not just another festering slab of riffs and attitude rather they are one of the more effective slab of riffs and attitude in recent memory and makes me want to worship at the festering altar of chaos.

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Augrimmer – Pantaleimon Speaks / Lynx [Germany, Black] (2020)

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Self Released | 4-5-20

I love that artwork. What a fantastic cover. Augrimmer has been around for a while, in fact, the band has been releasing music for a decade and has been an actual band since the late 90’s. This single/demo represents my first experience with them and by all accounts, Augrimmer has the formula for a chilly black metal record down to a science. With the two shortish songs on this release, Augrimmer swoops like a specter chasing its quarry through dense woods. The adherence to black metal is just as impressive as the bands ability to make the whole spectacle fun and polished. Whether or not Pantaleimon Speaks / Lynx is a herald to s forthcoming release, we will not know until later. For now, enjoy these two songs as you run through the woods with a feeling of dread coming from above you.

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Hexenfluch – Aradia [Germany?, Black] (2020)

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Narbentage Produktionen | 4-12-20

I know little about Hexenfluch other than the outfit maybe from Germany and the name may mean Heathen’s Curse. Other than those sparse scraps of knowledge, the only thing I have to hold on is a 10 minute preview track which is both boiling with supernatural energy and swirling with chaotic possession. This tape release is just one of many arcane offerings from Narbentage Produktionen which seems to deal music much in the same way a wood witch deals in poisonous plants and trinkets. Come for blistering black metal but know there is no giving it back.

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Trest – Ordalium [Germany, Black] (2019)

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Caligari Records | 7-4-19

I drafted this review to remind myself to listen to the whole album when it was released. Caligari Records has always been reliable in finding music that is demanding existentially. In fact, if there was some sort of blind subscription service when I received tapes in the mail, I am sure I would never be disappointed. Trest is another testament to the strength of Caligari as this German black metal project is centered around the persecution of witches and sounds like a riot of emotions. Ordalium is centered around “the last people sentenced for magic & witchcraft in Europe,” and while this subject matter could lend itself to be celebratory and superficial, Trest’s somber attitude regarding the subject in multiple stages of “ordeal” and “pyre” makes for a record which was not only anticipated but something that is one of the best black metal albums of the year. With a combination of hypnotic rhythms and occasional soundclips, Ordalium is an emotional journey that was by and far worth waiting for.

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Gwoid – Gwoid V – Oiwei Fuat In d’Nacht [Germany, Raw Black / Noise] (2019)

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Self Released | 1-29-19

This is wild. This is also something I am starting to really enjoy despite all its attempts to repel listeners. Gwoid is one person raw black / power electronics outfit who has released 4 serialized self titled demos in 2018. Gwoid V is the first for 2019 which alludes to a year full of harrowing black noise. Structurally, Gwoid oscillates between distant black metal and the ever growing collapse of music under the pressure of noise and chaos. Gwoid V is more apart of the black metal family tree than power electronics which is important as one who enjoys raw black could potentially find enjoyment in 18 minute long tracks of chaos. If logos are any indication of the music contained within, Gwoid is erratic, confusing, harrowing, and capable of drawing blood.

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Vomit Spell – Demo [Germany, Death / Grindcore] (2019)

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Self Released | 1-2-19

What a name. I love everything about it. I love the artwork and the fact it is a bandcamp demo that will later have a cassette release. I love the energy and the fact that I was clued into the release by the creator via email. Vomit Spell is a newish act from Germany that combines both the ferocity and irreverence of grindcore and the raw approach of death metal. The result is everything you have wanted combined with an aesthetic that is less innovative than it is tested and true. According to the Discogs page the demo was “recorded in the band’s rehearsal room between September and December of 2018.” We are just going back to all basics with this one. This is the staring point for all things festering. There are hazy boundaries when something is decomposing and giving off an awful stench. Come for death. Come for speed. Come for the decay of offal from an unidentified source.

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