Down Into The Dungeon With Bear
There’s been an influx of Dungeon Synth featured on this site recently, and the reasons are clear. I grew weary not of the music, but of the people around it. Deciding I didn’t need to be part of the scene, and in fact was much happier when I didn’t mingle with it, I took a break. But the men that I had handpicked to sit the throne while I took my well earned rest deserted. The two backstabbing, treasonous worms that abandoned me in search of a bigger (actual) salary shall be dealt with in due time (fatherhood, now that’s a lousy excuse if I ever heard one), and in the meanwhile I shall present to you some of records that have made their way onto my platter most often.
Aindulmedir – The Lunar Lexicon
North Sweden’s Aindulmedir advertises itself as winter music for hermits and bibliophiles. A description that very much seems to fit in with the music, that in turn ties to a novel Pär Boström, the projects father and only member, is writing. The Lunar Lexicon is a minimal record, it’s songs content on repeating a few short motifs, but unlike so many others Pär’s minimalism isn’t empty, nor does it sound like hastily thrown together melody-demos or some such. There’s layers to it, moving against and across each other, much like veils of snowfall, but there’s a charming warmth to The Lunar Lexicon, that evokes images of hearths and lit fireplaces, shelter from the cold, rather than the feeling of being trapped in the raging blizzard outside. Conceptually The Lunar Lexicon is one of the most successful Dungeon Synth(-related) albums I can ever remember hearing. There’s a very slight decrease in quality for the last two tracks, but indeed it is very slight and nevertheless The Lunar Lexicon is also one of the very best released within the last few years.
Bellkeeper – The First Flame of Lordran
Rolan The Recluse’s Dark Souls -inspired Bellkeeper from Georgia represents a very different take on DS, a brighter effort, in instrumentation, though not much in mood. Choirs, piano, strings and the eerily clanging synths make for a boisterous dance, that could perhaps be described as joyous, if the mood didn’t remain ominous through and through. Though there are moments unadorned clarity, and triumphant calls interlaced which make The First Flame of Lordran a diverse effort, each song with a distinct sound of it’s own, though it remains a consistent album. For those who seek more action from their dungeon synth, so to speak, this is the record I would recommend turning towards.
Voslaarum – Secrets from Darklight Tower
Voslaarum released it’s debut demo early this year, and while it’s a fine effort on it’s own, our focus today falls onto it’s quickly arrived successor. For it is much better. Though much of Secrets from Darklight Tower follows the path of simple motifs and melodies, with little layering, it never steeps far into the atmospheric minimalism of Aindulmedir, nor are it’s melodies, or beats for it takes much advantage from the use of percussion to further enliven it’s compositions, ever left to their own devices. Always one or two lines, and most often a beat as well, “The Young Nobleman’s Fear” goes as far as to include guitars fortifying the beat. Though I could have lived without them, it’s not a lamentable choice and works. A fine mediator between the two previous records, certainly more spry than Aindulmedir, but a more traditional take on the genre sound-wise than Bellkeeper, whether it’s horns or flutes, Voslaarum desires to draw it’s sounds from the dungeons of old. The piano melodies on “Lay Siege On The Castle” & “Shadows of the Forgotten” felt a little finger-practice like at first, but after a few spins I got used to them and Voslaarum stole my heart.
Ringarë – Where Cold Dwells And Winter Once Lay
The twosome behind the Richter-approved Ringarë are back with their second album in the span of only few months. Though in truth, Where Cold Dwells And Winter Once Lay was partially recorded last year, and partially as far back as in 2003-2004. Nor does it include a seconds worth of the band’s excellent symphonic, or keyboard-laden black metal. Though it does feature an abundance of keyboards and a similarly structured, ambiance-focused songwriting. Essentially it is what Under Pale Moon might have been, had it been stripped of guitars, drums and other instruments considered conventional for a metal band – which it for a while was. On the ambient-most side of today’s spectrum, it consists of two lengthy tracks that do not as much grow, evolve, change or motion, as much as they linger. Not outright droning, but going through extremely slow motion exclusively. Another hearty recommendation for slow winter mornings in the Australian outback-heat.
That’s all for now folks, hopefully it won’t take us another year to meet again, down in the dungeon. Each bands’ Facebook page and Bandcamp page have been linked where possible, so make sure say “Hello!” to each and everyone of them, and tell them I sent you for 20% of your more or less.