Dungeon Crawling: Summer 2023
Wimps and posers leave the hall, it’s time to reveal our Summer dungeon haul.
Greetings weary travelers! Now that Summer fades to Autumn, hearken unto my words again, for they shall reveal the most recent and resplendent treasures the dusty catacombs have yielded to my ceaseless excavations.
Mournbound — Legends of the Dragon Forge
Independent | August 30, 2023 | Tapes through Dungeons Deep Records
Well met, warriors! Sharpen thy blades and pray to the gods of forge and flame, for Mournbound has opened the gates of fire, and we march for certain death!
This is a powerful dungeon synth masterpiece trained in the martial prowess of Mortiis, Summoning, Depressive Silence, and Thangorodrim. Like a gemstone carved by the hands of a Master Dwarven artisan, Legends of the Dragon Forge was hewn from its parent material with masterful purpose and daring technique. Its many glimmering facets bear both striking beauty and strength in equal measure, and will reward thoughtful and prolonged examination. Should ye possess the brave heart of a fighting (wo)man, plunge headlong into Mournbound’s lair for adventures and wonders untold!
Stand out tracks: “The Hammer & The Anvil”, “With Memories of Battles Past”
Various Artists — Battle Hymns: Triumphs in Transition Compilation
Doots 4 a Good Cause.
This is a most righteous grimoire: a charity sampler from the buds over at Cave Dweller Music entitled Battle Hymns: Triumphs in Transition. Compiled to raise awareness and support for Trans rights, 100% of the proceeds will be donated to the National Center for Transgender Equality. Adventurers who can pass a 15 DC History or Arcana check may recognize some of the noble heroes recorded in this powerful, magicked tome, including: Malfet, Balin, Hole Dweller, Psychic Hood, Hermit Knight, and Ithildin, among others. A veritable trove of sounds if I’ve ever heard one!
Stand out tracks: “Hole Dweller – Holding on to Hope”, “Unsheated Glory – The Kingdom Stands With You”, “Spife – The Fulfillment of the ‘Scapen”, “Automated Hero – Moonrider”
Lil Sheath — The Locust King
Getting Funky in Faerûn.
While I can’t say dungeon synth incorporating hip hop aesthetics and beats is my preferred school of magic, Lil Sheath is making me question my prejudices. Lil Sheath has crafted a compelling combo with their second release by melding the groovy beats and creative instrumentation of “Crypt Hop” with more traditional, but equally creative and dramatic, dungeon synth and medieval ambient passages. That is to say, they didn’t just slap some Memphis Rap beats on top of some creepy synth drones and call it a day. The flute and “plucked” string melodies in album opener “A Star Falls from Heaven” sold me from the get-go, while the catchy beats and fills of “Abaddon, the Locust King” kept me bopping and gyrating through tunnels most dark and perilous.
Stand out tracks: “A Star Falls from Heaven”, “No Weapon Formed Against You Shall Prosper”, “Men Will Seek Death and Not Find It”
Flickers From the Fen— Live in Gielinor
It is with a heavy heart I must admit my previous dungeon haul missed one of the year’s greatest treasures in Flickers From the Fen’s (FFF) sensational and stirring debut, Stoned in Gielinor. Alas, occasionally even seasoned dungeoneers may err. I am rectifying this now by telling you to go buy that album, as well as the wonderful live EP FFF released earlier this summer featuring 6 choice live cuts from Stoned in Gielinor. Live doots just hit different, and in this case they will awaken that wistful, nostalgic part of you that yearns for the simple days of summer break and endless Runescape sessions (or whatever your particular brand of MMORPG poison was). While dungeon synth sometimes gets rightfully derided as either oppressive, skulking TTRPG dirges or cornball “RenFest”/faux-medieval music, FFF has composed something that evokes the adventurous spirit of the high fantasy genre without falling prey to those tropes. Lend your ear to their tale and get lost in Gielinor once again.
Stand out tracks: “Picking Flax”, “I’ve Worn this Cape for Years”
Independent | July 14, 2023 | Tapes through Dungeons Deep Records
Tim Rowlands, AKA Hole Dweller, AKA Alchemy of Flesh (“inside you there are two wolves…”), dropped another EP concerning the continued adventures of Jamwine, AKA our favorite intrepid hobbit from Frogmorton. If I’ve lost you that’s ok, just know this is a return to the crunchy and warm production of Flies the Coop I & II, and features some honest to goodness mandolin. Talk about some Bardic Inspiration. This is a short journey, but chock-full of bucolic scenes, as well as daring exploits as Jamwine treks across the Shire and Buckland. Only Tom Bombadil himself knows where Jamwine’s adventure will take him next, but I for one eagerly anticipate the next chapter of his story!
Stand out tracks: “New Grass Hill”, “Crossing the Brandywine”