I’ve been astonished at the range of good, black metal inspired dungeon synth releases coming out in the last months. So here’s a summary of some really cool ones!
Old Tower – The Rise of the Specter
Label: Tour De Garde, The Shadow Kingdom
Band: Old Tower
Though Old Tower has released a steady stream of interesting releases over time, this is the first one considered a full length. The sound of this act harks back to the early days of the genre and fully embraces the epic, crawling nature of the dungeon. There’s also definitely something aethereal to the stretched out synth tones and the beckoning of the angelic chanting. Something very alluring I would say, that makes it often feel more like dark ruins in the night, with some heavenly, seductive apparition. Something divine and calm you find in the music, which is very pleasant.
The slow progressing sound of Old Tower has exactly that right spot covered. It’s haunting, slow progression, the dark artwork somewhere between fantasy and occult grimoire. I just love it. Immerse yourself in there where the shadows are with this traditional release.
Thangorodrim – Taur-nu-Fuin
Label: Out of Season, Deivlforst Records
Where Old Forest invokes the early days of the genre with it’s obvious Tolkien reference in both the name and album title. Thangorodrim even has a bit of a black metal cover going on for this release, with a single person in black and white, framed by a black with the name in Gothic font. The sound feels like it was made for abandoned castle halls, enclosed graveyards and dark crypts. The melancholic vibe tells of hubris in a once great keep. A fortress where only bones bare witness to past glories and the churning wheels of time.The chiming sound of bells can be heard on ‘Twilit Fogs on Tarn Aeluin’, which makes it feel a bit more small and intimate than the bass heavy synths on most of the tracks. Soon they’re coming in here too, but it offers a nice contrast from the foreboding, heavy sound that adorns the major part of the Thangorodrim sound.
Dark and dry, but always with a story in tow, this is definitely a record that should be obliged for anyone exploring this genre by themselves. Not just because it is mildly creepy, but because it’s a great piece of music.
Elves & Dwarves – Eidetic Dreams of Sentient Trees
Label: Self Released
Band: Elves & Dwarves
The sound of dungeon synth has become more rich and diverse through the years. Adding ambient sounds like knocking, walking or such simple elements greatly increases the form of story telling the music embraces. As a listener you envision the footsteps in the ages old dust, the beating on the walls and other elements that make up the story. Elves & Dwarves balance this with folky passages and eerie soundscapes as the sound meanders on and on. It creates a record that is more rich and diverse in its sonic offerings. From a playful intermission like the ‘Silent Innkeeper’ to the descriptive, D&D campaign fitting ‘Ambush at Orcshead Rock’, the record really tekads the listener to places.
What is different is the general depth of the sound of Elves & Dwarves. The play with droning sounds and soaring effects on ‘Celestial Passage’ moves away from the cavernous, dry sound usually found in the dungeon synth genre. It creates a more elaborate setting of forests and faery-illuminated lakes. The way the artist creates a story without ever being on the foreground of the whole scenery is pretty impressive and spectacular in itself. Evles & Dwarves play the soundtrack to your next campaign!