Tütsen – The Safety of Prosperity [US, Dungeon Synth] (2021)

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Self Released | 1-1-21

The tape release from v was one of the most darling packages I have every received. “Magical tufts of pink and blue fluff (not edible), Three crown jewels. One commemorative miniature crown.” Obviously these things are no magical nor jewels rather very budget knick knacks but the idea and even execution is enough to provide a warm tactical experience for a release filled with cozy memories. The Safety of Prosperity is a comfy synth record that intends to harm no one and leave no trace with its wistful melodies and delicate approach to the world. Through six songs, one is treated to a dream court of medieval ambience with an arc of journey and exploration. I love my small little crown as I appreciate the gifts of dungeon synth and the objects which people cherish.

Bestial Putrefaction – Gore Drenched Barbarism [Canada, Black / Death] (2021)

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Self Released | 2-3-21

HOLY SHIT. End of review. Most of my reviews are done in the morning with my morning coffee which is why I feel I gravitate to some of the more repellent sounds perhaps as a way to jumpstart my day. Bestial Putrefaction is a new entity with a 2021 demo and now another release which is 17 minutes of fluid leaking chaos. From artwork to sound to general presence, Bestial Putrefaction has found a way to be fucking disgusting without sacrificing on sound. For as much of an avalanche as this release is, Gore Drenched Barbarism is precise in its ability to grab the listener by the throat and never let go with its skeletal hands. Get wild. Get sick. Get your mind ripped open by malevolent ghosts.

Spear of Tetua – Scorn [Croatia, Black / Post Punk] (2021)

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Self Released | 1-18-20

Even though I have a problem with artists calling a two song 11 minute release an EP, it is their prerogative so I can not complain. Scorn, as a release, is fleshed out enough to be considered an EP despite a demo being a better fit. Also the act’s 2020 demo was 18 minutes. All of this audited of time is only superficial criticism on a sound that is widely exciting and is thrown in the wheelhouse of anyone who enjoys grim dark post punk and doesn’t mind the vocals with a little bit more gravel. Through two tracks, Spear of Tetua wrestles with darkness in both a aesthetic fashion but also in the raw shambles of visceral reaction.

Sewermeister – Subterranean Ceremony [?, Raw Black Metal] (2021)

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Self Released | 1-25-21

Well, this is certainly wonderful with morning coffee. there are some releases which feel like they shouldn’t exist or at least try their very best to be repellent to the mind and ear. Subterranean Ceremony is one one of them and I hope it stays on Bandcamp throughout the year as these types of releases tend to disappear after I write about them. Sewermeister is steeped in ritual and this under ten minute offering is less a demo than it is a pastiche of noise and texture which resembles black metal. To some that feels like a negative but to others, it is exactly what they need. Through darkness the heat of chaos pours through this demo offering clarity or just wild abandon for all that seek its wisdom. This might sound grandiose yet this type of raw black metal is wonderful for anyone that is into its sound as the mystery and violence of it aligns with black metal’s history and ultimate mythos. That or it is just a cool sound that scares the locals. Your choice.

Ferhðfriðende – Deruenta [UK, Dungeon Synth / Folk] (2021)

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Self Released | 12-30-20

For purposes of actual cataloging, this was released in the final days of 2020. For purposes of talking about new dungeon synth, I am considering this a 2021 release. Ferhðfriðende is one part (or a separate entity) of Fyrngeflita, a UK based dungeon synth folk project that is dedicated to trees. Both Fyrngeflita and Ferhðfriðende are making demos which combine the easy melodies of guitar based folk with the atmosphere of dungeon synth. The Bandcamp release is accompanied by the description of

“Deruenta is a Brythonic word, translated to where the Oak trees grow”, from which the word Dart is derived. From the head to the mouth, along many a stretch of the peat rich waters, springs the sacred tree of Albion. Amongst which dwell many creatures, some friendly spirits others seldom seen, some so fragile they are found nowhere else and others as hardy as the Granite bedrock itself. This is the delight of the Native Ponies company, or watching the Grey Wagtail’s and Dippers at play. The reward of a long cold night beside the Otter’s den for a chance appearance, or meeting the watchful eye of the Heron patrolling the banks.

..as well as a promise that money from this demo will be donated to the Devon Wildlife Trust. This dedication to nature as well as a marriage of folk instrumentation is a brave step into a new arena of dungeon synth that steps towards a sound that is transcendental and eternally reflective. I am considering this a 2021 release since I most certainly will be talking about it over the course of this year.

Porcha – III [Russia, Raw Black / Dark Ambient] (2021)

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Self Released | 1-15-21

as we head into the new year, I would like to thank everyone who followed this site throughout 2020. I would also like to thanks acts like Porcha for putting out these types of releases, as this is the sound in which I created this blog for. Somewhere in the catacombs of eternity lies a demo which boasts both soul scaring black metal as well as dark ambient interludes. Porcha (“Curse” in Russian) is a project dedicated to the invocation of death and diseases as it blights the land. Between the raw black are generous passages of dark ambient in the vein of Neptune towers which makes this release even more appealing to the near 100 people who would be excited for this release. I am one of them.

Marsyas Zskin – Flight of Icarus [Greece, Dungeon Synth] (2021)

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Realm and Ritual | 1-10-21

As we turn our hearts and minds to 2021, I think I can speak for most that we are collectively excited for new experiences in the coming year. Most of all we are excited for new releases from a handful of excellent labels. Realm and Ritual is preparing for a dazzling year and one of the first releases is the mind shattering world of Marsyas Zskin. This 90 minute epic invokes the Greek mythology with neoclassical dungeon synth that is not content to guide on passive sound. This is the second release from the artist who is continuing a layered journey through mythology that succeeds due to craftsmanship as well as a daring notion to push the sound in new directions. From the first few notes of “Visions of Bright Aether,” the tone of Flight of Icarus is one of active challenge. Make no mistake, there are melodic moment akin to dungeon synth most are used to yet those lay on top of cliff faces and up winding passages on rock crags that urge the listener to scale this improbably steep mountain. Flight of Icarus marches along the same road as a growing number of progressive minded artists that are carrying dungeon synth into a wild and unpredictable realm. This is a place where the colors are blinding and nothing is predictable. What is certain though its the level of excitement one will experience.

トレイル GUIDE – Reflection [US, Dungeon Synth / Field Recordings] (2020)

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Self Released | 12-15-20

Listen, I get it. The use of Japanese on a tape release usually leads to assumptions that it is vaporwave or some sort of hip electronic that you probably will not get. If this release had a fantasy aesthetic to it, it probably would have been a little bit more popular. Reflection is a meditation on nature through a cracked lens of lo fidelity and warping. Through field recordings and the haze of solitude, this release invokes the power of nature to be a soundtrack for for the spirit. This is the second release by Local Forest Society, a US based label, with I believe only one artist, who records albums live in nature with the ambient sounds put to mixed in with the melodies. The idea of this recording process (do not know how true it is) has deep reverence to both nature and the solitary act of recording music where it is just one person and their communion with the wilderness. Despite the idiosyncratic name and aesthetic, トレイル GUIDE continue to forge their own path into nature synth opting to get lost in the woods to finally be at peace.

Lord Lovidicus – Midsummer [US, Dungeon Synth] (2020)

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Self Released | 9-5-20

This was released back in August of 2020 but I am finally writing about it since Dungeons Deep released a tape version in December of 2020. Lord Lovidicus was one of my first real dungeon synth infatuations. This artist taught me me the symphonic heights this genre could travel with releases like The Book of Lore Vol 1 (2015). this is even skipping over some of the releases like Trolldom (2010) which are legendary in the history of modern dungeon synth. Lord Lovidicus is a luminary in the genre and Midsummer continues to add to this artists legacy with a record that is befitting the enchanting cover. Sensual and magical, Midsummer pays tribute to Shakespearian comedies as well as mythological tales of wonder and intrigue. I have always liked using Lord Lovidicus as an example of how melodic and regal, the genre of dungeon synth can become and Midsummer continues to add weight to my example.

Covered Bridges – Covered Bridges [US, Dungeon Synth] (2020)

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Neverwood Records | 12-18-20

this is apart of my quest to write reviews on what feels like a lot of tapes that were recently purchased. It is difficult to say know when you stumble on a wonderful comfy synth release with a tape as well as a record label you did not know existed. Neverwood Records is based in the US and even though they only started to release tapes in October of this year, they have managed to build a decent catalog of dungeon synth and weird adjacent companions. While not entirely a comfy synth label, the releases from Neverwood travel towards the cozy while still retaining some of the more uncomfy esoteric sounds. Covered Bridges, however, is nothing less than a warm cup of tea while starting at a sentimental painting. Comfy synth can be viewed as reductive especially when given a wave of releases at once. Despite this, I have always enjoyed this sound as i feel it promotes a classical sense of escapism where one trades in the dark coldness for inclusive warmth. Covered Bridges works for the holidays but could be played throughout the winter and into the mighty thaw of Spring.