Down Into the Dungeon With a Bear(god)
Once upon a time, two men had the same idea upon the same week. This idea grew until it had become so dense it was more an entity of its own than a mere thought. A condensation of pure will. Then came a time this idea-entity shared it’s mystifying power with these men. Some feared them, some chose to oppose them and for some, they were…
One of these two men was Masterlord, and he did deliver unto you writing about Dungeon Synth some time ago. At the time I was in the middle of making my own introductory post about DS, without any knowledge of Underlord Cesiumworm’s* intents. I decided to to delay mine for his benefit, but it seems to me that the time is now, as more than one of you have at some point expressed at least vague interest towards this genre of greatness. But if you for some reason missed the first edition of Down Into the Dungeon, go read it now as I won’t be going through the same stuff about its birth or beginnings, yet this is as much (or more) an additional leaflet meant to be consumed with the first one, instead of its own.
What I will say though, is that even though the our Steeldragonless-semi-retiree showed you the way toward the genre’s classics, there was a severe lack of the Austrian scene, the importance of which we mustn’t undermine. So I shall point you toward these classics, even though many of them are wildly different from many of the “current masters” of the genre.
These bands/artists are not usually thrown headfirst into the DS genre, but honestly I feel it’s a similar case to metal’s endless division of genres. And in any case, their influence on DS is undeniable, even if not as great as some of the Norwegian masters (who are releasing a new, horrid dance/industrial/rock album next year, news covered – never need to mention it again).
- Die Verbannten Kinder Evas – s/t, Come Heavy Sleep, In Darkness Let Me Dwell, Dusk And Void Became Alive
- Pazuzu – And All Was Silent, Awaken The Dragon
Last time Masterlord mentioned Mortiis, one of the most influential characters in the DS scene, and if you payed any attention you noticed that he started to drift away from the “Dark Dungeon Music” he had crafted as the new millennium dawned. Yet he had many side-projects of similar nature, and personally I enjoy these much, much more than the majority of Mortiis’ work. I have linked some of the work created under these other monikers below.
- Vond – Selvmord, The Dark River, Green Eyed Demon
- Cintecele Diavolui – The Devil’s Songs (you’d do well to listen to this or this first)
- Fata Morgana – Fata Morgana, Space Race
Before we venture off to entirely new territories, I’ll let you know that Sequestered Keep, whose work Lacertilian gave a review here, has released new music, as of writing the latest album is called Summit Strongholds; it has got a soundtrack-y feeling to it more than a traditional song-like one. The absence of a distinct beat makes it seem more like a symphonic piece translated for a synthesizer than anything, say, a metal band would do. Went straight to my “play on a hilltop while drunk”-playlist.
You should also know that Erang, who was covered in Masterlord’s effort, has released a new album called Tome X. It’s a very diverse and atmospheric album, for much of the time it hardly fits into the “classic” categorization of Dungeon Synth, but I would say that it is indeed his best (so far).
Now that we’ve got the (g)oldies outta the way I’ve compiled some of my current favorites for you to explore below. For this edition I just decided to flat-out copy Masterlord’s format, but if there will be any more of these (and I don’t see why there wouldn’t be, even Everybody’s Most Electric Friend, Joe admitted to thinking Depressive Silence was “pretty rad“. And man, Depressive Silence is pretty rad) I might come up with a more inspirational format.
Grimrik – Eisreich
My own interest in Dungeon Synth began largely the same way my interest in black metal did, with Burzum. So it was only natural that I went seeking for an artist who evoked the same emotions and applied the same style, without copying Varg. Enter Eisreich, deceptively simple songs that keep on rewarding, an icy cold atmosphere and hauntingly hypnotic compositions.
Die Mauern der Nacht
On October 21st of this passing year, Grimrik released his sophomore. Die Mauern der Nacht is, shall I say, an interesting album. I am not yet convinced if I like it or not, but it follows lines I have not witnessed before. While the music contained within does sprout from the same kind of DS its predecessor did, it plays on a very different emotional-scape . If ever there is going to be an amalgamation of Dungeon Synth and the Perturbator-esque retro-ish synthwave, then Die Mauern der Nacht is Grimrik’s first step toward it.
Arath, I think, has done the best job in bringing the “old school” DS-sound into the modern days. Arath’s approach is vivid and lively, yet breathes the exact same atmosphere the primordial forefathers of DS did, only that it sounds like it was created today – which it is, so that’s good. Arath is a DS band (!) where Grimrik’s and Murgrind’s visions come together to form tales of Arath in a language of their own devicing. While Arath’s story is supposedly a trilogy, there is a collection of unreleased – unrelated to the trilogy – material, mostly as good in quality as the band’s debut, that you can hear here. Ungedul, their sophomore is even more unwilling to follow its predecessor’s footsteps than Grimrik’s was. It’s a black metal album, and as good a black metal album as their debut was a DS album at that. Give it a try here, or just go for “Siilfangrimr” right away.
Murgrind – Journey Through The Mountain / Inheritor of the Forest Throne
As far as Dungeon Synth is concerned these artist are, I think, rather known so maybe next time (if there’ll be a one) we’ll delve into some more obscure artists. And at last I’ll give you the aforementioned Murgrind albums. Also very much in the 90’s style, perhaps most akin of all the artist featured here to Mortiis (whom everybody seems to compare every DS artists ever to) but especially on IotFT more cinematic in scope.
And now we are done, but I will not say the day is done, nor bid the stars farewell. Instead I’ll leave you with this simplistic, Finnish DS album by most-likely handsome feller, by the name o’ Tornvakt.
*[h/t The Former President]