Gravkväde – Grav | Ruin [Sweden, Black / Funeral Doom] (2020)

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Self Released | 11-20-20

Going to be real honest in saying, it took me forever to spell this band’s name. Perhaps it was the crushing weight of emotion which comes with this release. The below link to the Bandcamp page goes to the Transylvanian Tapes site which is producing the 2021 tape run for this 2020 release. Funeral Doom is a very distinct genre yet its scene, outside of the founder and a few disparate releases, is not as fertile as lets say black or death metal. This could be due to many things but hearing Grav | Ruin was a dark joy as the band combines the ferocity of black metal into the monolithic template of funeral doom. This makes songs like “Begravningskör” at 18minutes not feel like an eternity spent in darkness. While the previous description sounds wonderful, it is the variation which Gravkväde shines. In the landscape of ruin and despair, Grav | Ruin offers both passive mourning as well as more active despair which manifests itself into an extended stay in purgatory with only mixed emotions for reflection.

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.

Mystiska Skogen – Den Förtrollade Gläntan [Sweden, Dungeon Synth] (2020)

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Self Released | 9-3-20

I feel it is a special time and an album can also make one fall in love with the artwork. Alessia Brusco (Skogens Rymd Art) provided the cover for Mystiska Skogen’s second release Den Förtrollade Gläntan and its mystic dreamscapes of woodlands is so fitting to the musical dreamscapes, it is almost as if the two were meant to be paired. Mystiska Skogen is still finding themselves as the second release has crested a new hill in their musical journey with a release that is not only more realized than their debut but stands before a new valley is traditional dungeon synth that is full of morning haze and pastoral serenity. This is something that has both taken my heart in terms of sound and sight.

Disrupted – Pure Death [Sweden, Death] (2020)

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Self Released | 10-9-20

There is a long and detailed history of Swedish death as a sound as it has come to influence and sway the actions of many new bands. The atmosphere if ripping chainsaw guitars and the grinding d misery of mid tempo death is something that is retained in the hearts of devout followers. Disrupted loves Swedish death but also when it is mixed with d-beat which smells like kerosene. the result is something that can be heard, as the band puts it in the Bandcamp page, in the work of acts like Bastard Priest or Bombs of Hades. It is a specific variety of death metal which doesn’t like to wallow or loom rather to chase down its listener wielding power tools. Pure Death is the third record from the band who has yet to achieve sort of recognition their production is ready for. I wish them the best this year since this sound is gnarly.

Barbarian King – Barbarian King [Sweden, Dungeon Synth] (2020)

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Ironmaster Productions | 7-12-20

Barbarian King could be considered in a league of its own when it comes to dungeon synth. Yes, this release is a fantasy bedroom production yet unlike the majority of dungeon synth, its scope is so much larger than the limits of its production. The sweeping melodies and narrative paths of this 2020 debut owes much of its ambition to 80’s sword and sorcery soundtracks which coupled with the lo ceiling of the sound, gives the whole production a worn and warm tone. This is dungeon synth at its most bright essence, a vehicle for escapism no matter the starting position. Barbarian King soars above the warped mountains and faded technicolor of its screen with a release that is as effective as is it is surprising.

Bergtrollets Gravferd – Bergtrollets Gravferd [Sweden, Experimental] (2020)

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Self Released | 6-18-20

I would like everyone to be aware before entering into this record that looks like raw black that you are stepping into a world of dark ambient, post punk, blackwave, and noisy goth. Things are about to get weird and spooky in the realm of abstract bats and conceptual castles. Welcome Bergtrollets Gravferd, a new outfit that has just released this tape today and I feel I am staring at a non euclidean building and its giving me anxiety. I will be honest in saying I do not know what this demo is trying to be but I believe it is operating on a parallel time frame from a intrademension.

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Maim – From the Womb to the Tomb [Sweden, Death] (2020)

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Self Released | 2-20-20

Oh man. Here comes the ruckus. Maim is a Swedish band that perhaps goes straight for one of the most obivous worships and that is the deep history of nasty death metal From the Womb to the Tomb may lack points in album titles but makes up extra credit with a release full of ripping riffs. This is what death metal is all about just ominously posing on top of tombstones pointing menacingly at strangers. Also note this album technically came in 2009 but since I’m so hypnotized by the riffs, i sort of forget where I was.

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Ethereal Kingdom – Oath of Battle [Sweden, Dungeon Synth] (2020)

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Self Released | 5-26-20

I am currently writing a dungeon synth digest with all of my current favorites. Since I keep reviewing a new one each day, I keep finding wonderful releases this delaying the article. Ethereal Kingdom will have to be the one that starts my next digest. This is wonderful. This is sweet. This is a record that is just as foundational as other classics in the genres for its production and scope into fantastic landscapes. Situated on the lighter and orchestral side of the genre, Ethereal Kingdom, however, carries and air of grief and sadness through its cheerful melodies. As if gazing upon a lonely cliff, Oath of Battle is filled with the sounds of closure and contemplation which resounds thorough the centuries.

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Tusen Vindar Kallar – Norrvindarna kallar | [Sweden, Dungeon Synth] (2020)

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Self Released | 5-20-20

I believe I found this searching for black metal Bandcamp releases. What a nice surprise. Tusen Vindar Kallar (no idea what it means) is a Swedish composer who throws their sound back to the cold mornings of the 1990’s with a release which bows to the icy altars of bands like Depressive Silence and Lamentation. With a cover that could be from the same era, Norrvindarna kallar | travels down frostbitten paths tying the binds of both dungeon synth and dark ambient.

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Octobeast – Voyage of Doom [Sweden, Dungeon Synth] (2020)

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Self Released | 5-19-20

This is wonderful and something that comes as a surprise. Octobeast has already released a fairly well received record in April and now returns with another record of epic sea faring synth. There has been a small wave of creature based synth or should I say dinosaur themed synth that I thought this was going to be more of the same. While we could probably lump sea monsters and dinosaurs in relatively the same universe, Octobeast presents a record of mid-fi synth that outside of its visual elements, possess all of the qualities of magical ambient that it as agnostic in theme as anything. Ill take any sort of music that is high of quality and they can throw any sort of monster them on top and we can all be happy.

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