Strix – Obscurent Nos Tenebrae [Italy, Black] (2022)

Standard

Dolomia Nera | 10-31-22

If there is anything that can be said about Strix, outside of having a cool name, is their longevity. Formed in the mid 00’s this black metal duo has weathered over a decade of existence with one full length, one EP, two demos, and now two splits. Strix releases are nothing but glacial and one would think this void of production would lead to a 2022 split that would be average. Obscurent Nos Tenebrae is anything but with 12 minutes of misanthropic rain which pours from the its black skies. These two songs are so deft in their execution it is a wonder why this act only releases something once a decade. The two songs are accompanied by a band called Inverno. I would mention more about their contribution but there seems to be nothing on Bandcamp. Regardless the sheer presentation of Strix out of almost a decade of silence is impressive and combined with stunning artwork makes this split one for a desolate night.

MURGRIND – The Power of Yourself [Germany, Dungeon Synth] (2022)

Standard

Uralte Herrschaft Productions | 8-21-22

If Murgrind is good at anything it is rolling out the carpet for their releases. Murgrind is the creation of Sven Strack who has also created other dungeon synth projects such as Draped in Shadows, Haryon, Arath, and runs the label Uralte Herrschaft Productions. Murgrind’s 2013 record Journey Through The Mountain was an important artifact in the early days of the dungeon synth revival and subsequent works have been met with a deep admiration and regal fanfare. The Power of Yourself might be the fourth full length in almost a decades worth of existence but each release from the artist commands a few years worth of attention.

The Power of Yourself, at a staggering, one hour running time, is a cinematic experience which transcends what most people would think of dungeon synth. Nowhere is there any hints of bedroom production rather widescreen fantasy orchestras which put the listener in the role of adventurer and conqueror over dark shadowy mountains. This is what Murgrind does the best which is spend years creating a campaign world for its listener. Each record might come with a long procession but the experience with each release is undeniable in both craft and execution.

Burgfried – Geistertum [Germany, Raw Black] (2022)

Standard

Narbentage Produktionen | 7-1-22

“BURGFRIEDs 2nd strike of Primitive Franconian Black Metal. Dedicated to the chivalric specters that roam the Upper Franconian valleys & hillsides.” I love this line which is on the Bandcamp for Burgfried’s Geistertum. It is near absurd but is unique enough to be evocative. The images of ghost knights roaming the hills of the French country side is something that feels comfy to imagine. Add to the the crashing sounds of shredded black metal and one has an evening of terror and abject horror. Geistertum is the second release from Burgfriend following the equally gripping and hilariously named 1631 which I am sure is the date of some obscure French atrocity. Burgfried brings history, or at least the flavor of history, to the table and messily mixes it with black metal producing something that may not be novel but is undoubtley effective. Chivalric specters certainly carry the banners for these dead rulers which seem to ride into battle on horses that are probably also ghosts or some shade of dead.

Tales Under The Oak – Swamp Kingdom [Germany, Dungeon Synth] (2022)

Standard

Self Released | 8-7-22

I do not think I was aware of this magical kingdom until today. Tales Under the Oak is a German act who in a year’s time has crafted two amazing releases which seem to weave a tale of mystical lore. Swamp Kingdom is the 2022 release which follows The Toad King in 2021. Both releases have uniform art and direction which makes each release feel like a chapter in a storybook reads by fireplace. Tales Under The Oak employs lush music still under the veil of lo-fi bedroom music yet the landscapes feel more open and rich than dungeon synth contemporizes. Swamp Kingdom is medieval music being played by bards who just happen to be submitting music under the dungeon synth label. This is truly transcendental music as you are no longer just hearing this on Bandcamp rather from a distance as you travel a strange and enchanting land.

Offernat – All Colours Retract [Denmark, Sludge] (2022)

Standard

Self Released | 9-2-22

Part of the reason why I first picked up this EP was the cover as it was so non descript and without any trace of bandname, release title, or anything. It is as if this release just materialized and we have to deal with its existence. Offernat is a Danish sludge / post metal (?) three piece who play music in the style of Neurosis and old Isis. While comparisons are easy to make at first, Offernat quickly becomes dense and complex. The only track available at this monument is a 14 minute preview called “The Winds” which is a raucous maelstrom heavy sludge which tempers into a slow ambient unravel of both form and temper before forming into something unexpected and delightful. “The Winds” is a powerful declaration from a band who has had just one EP to date. All Colours Retract, when release, has a possibility of being a robust release with music that is understated in its album cover.

檳榔袋鼠 Betelnut Kangaroo – 天地頌 [Taiwan, Ambient] (2022)

Standard

The Tidal Charm | 7-10-22

Complete the treasure map and solve its accompanying puzzle before Season 1 ends to find the hidden treasure TCX001, a private album on BC exclusively available to these treasure hunters.

.

Absolutely charming. I wrote about a compilation from The Tidal Charm earlier this year mostly because I fell in love with it and if it was a school yard, I would be following this label around asking to be their best friend. We are going to be stepping outside the bounds of even dungeon synth but I feel this is where the spirit lies. Somewhere between ambient, new age, vaporwave, slushwave, and a dozen other names that only exist inside the internet, The Tidal Charm is a marketplace of the dreaming where tapes are made for people seeking dreamwave music. 檳榔袋鼠 Betelnut Kangaroo is listed as a Taiwanese artist making music in Guitar Pro 5 ( a popular tracker software in 2005). 天地頌 is a hidden wonderland of surreal synth, ambient landscapes, and enough sincerity that nothing feels like a farce. 天地頌 is a 2021 release but comes in a tape packaged together (?) with 浮咒 which doesn’t seem to be listed anywhere on the artists Bandcamp page. The tape comes with a quarter of a treasure map which seems to be a hidden album listed as TCX001. The Tidal Charm continues the tradition of esoteric puzzle music and even puts a time limit on the game which makes me wonder how many dreamy treasure hunters are out there. I will absolutely support ventures like this and hope there are more liminal games that are pushed out into the real world warping the fabric of reality.

SCUMSLAUGHT – Knives and Amphetamines [France, Thrash] (2022)

Standard

Caligari Records | 6-23-22

Baptized In Piss.

I think when I opened up my email and saw the name SCUMSLAUGHT, I was immediately sold to whatever style of music these three were selling. Whatever it was, it was going to come with the force of a toppling building. Knives and Amphetamines is the debut EP following a 2020 demo which was rightfully called High on Death. Scumslaught in in the same gross orbit as other French death / thrash bands including Sépulcre, Skelethal, Cadaveric Fumes, and Repugnizer. Its all disgusting and they are probably all waiting for us outside. Knives and Amphetamines takes a giant step in terms of production brining out the energy which was buried under the floorboards during their demo. Now the band is inside the house and they are wielding horrid instruments of destruction. Thrash might be in a weird time period in 2022 but I am glad it is being nurtured by loving and tender maniacs.

Middle Ages – Reclaiming the Throne [International, Dungeon Synth] (2022)

Standard

This whole thing comes with a paragraph of explanation. Reclaiming the Throne is a reissue / compilation of demoscene tracks that were ripped from a website in the 1990’s and put onto a tape. The tape gained a following and was known as “Caduceus – Middle Ages.” It wasn’t until 2020, that the true nature of this music became known to the internet record keepers and extensive work was put into tracking down the three musicians behind this work. The work formally known as Ranger Rick, Mateus, and Blackwolf. Reading the Youtube link for the original Caduceus rip, Blackwolf responds with:

This has been wild – I wrote “Seeds of Desire” for a demoscene music competition in 1995 (it placed 19th in the rookie division of MC3 out of…I don’t know how many, maybe 100?) and then find out 26 years later that it was put on a cassette that has a cult following in a genre I hadn’t really heard of.

This whole affair from the subterfuge, the longstanding misunderstanding to the internet reconciliation is made even better with the Dungeon Deep reissue which rightfully credits the artists and adds bonus tracks and write ups to the presentation. The joyous tracker based synth music makes the whole event feel like the closing credits to some lost Super Nintendo RPG and through arduous strife, the rightful rulers take the throne and suddenly the stormy lo-fi clouds part. Part of my love for this scene of music not only comes from the sound itself but the intesnse desire to archive and catalog music from the past decades. Dungeon synth has laid in the shadows and things like a bootlegged tape that gained popularity feels right when a group of fans reconstruct and credit the true musicians. This entire thing is wholesome and makes me smile all day long.

L A N D S R A A D – Fate; The Inevitability Thereof [UK, Dungeon Synth] (2022)

Standard

Self Released | 8-1-22

Last year, I raved about L A N D S R A A D and their debut The Golden Path. This release kicked off a potential long series of Dune inspired dungeon synth which not only showed excellency in terms of composition and production but also a new avenue in terms of thematic source material. Dungeon synth is not relegated to the earth and the silent foundations of Berlin School / Kosmiche Musik becomes more apparent with each release filed under its name. the dungeon is just the beginning for a brave new world of space based progressive ambient. Fate; The Inevitability Thereof takes its inspiration, and namesake from the themes of Dune Messiah, Frank Herbet’s second book in the Dune series. More than just Dune DS, L A N D S R A A D feels like it is guided by the principles and precepts of Herbert’s universe. Fate, prophecy, power, and the zeal of faith all drive the topics of this record making it not just a tribute album but rather a space ambient record which shares the interests which constructed the book series. Fate; The Inevitability Thereof is a fantastic dungeon synth record which continues an interesting series that I felt was a novel idea at first but is quickly becoming something with unforeseen importance.

Astral Coroner – Leaching the Ancient Void [US/ Canada, Death] (2022)

Standard

Self Released | 6-22-22

This is my everything. Deathgrind obsessed with topics such as aliens, skinwalkers, and quantum suicide. If this was a book, it would already be on my shelf but here we are and these topics comes through a death ray aimed at the listeners chest. Astral Coroner is from both the US and Canada with no members listed so if we were in the conspiratorial mindset, we could assume it is the work of other death metal luminaries making even more underground music. Even if this group is a bunch of Coast to Coast AM weirodos who probably have some documentaries about The Goblin Universe, Leaching the Ancient Void is a punch to the throat which never stops being fun.