Tag: Dungeon Synth (Page 3 of 3)

Mortiis – The Unraveling Mind – Review

Artist: Mortiis
Album: The Unraveling Mind
Release date: 15 March 2017
Label: Omnipresence

01. Virosus – Silentium
02. Hollowed
03. Submit
04. Submit (Flux)
05. The Unraveling Mind
06. Redeemer
07. Submit (Subdued)
08. Surge
09. Zotheca
10. Thrall
11. Virosus – Amentia

Over the years Mortiis has become a very relevant figure in the industrial / post-industrial scene. Releasing some of his first albums through the Cold Meat Industry label, Mortiis was one of the pioneers of the label and the scene. While his music has made several huge shifts in content and style, his fan-base has more or less stayed consistent through the years. Always managing to pick up new listeners as others drop out.

Mortiis started his career in, what one might consider, the worst way possible. Joining the group Emperor in 1991 as their bassist, by the end of ’92 he had already been ejected from the band. What came next was quite unlikely in the grand scheme of things. Mortiis released a handful of albums over the next few years which would leave the record industry scratching their heads in confusion. Mortiis delved into a style which he called, dark dungeon music. The sounds were seemingly elementary in their depth. Using little more than some basic synth Mortiis managed a sound that was at once unique, basic, and dark.

While he may have left this style of sound behind following the release of The Stargate, almost two decades later, there would still be a massive following of his early (Era I) albums, and a whole genre of music blooming with Mortiis as a de facto trailblazer. What is now known as dungeon synth has been revived in a big way. Many labels are cropping up all over the world looking to get involved in this new wave of interest. With the cassette as their format of choice, dungeon synth fans are proud of their collections beyond the imagining of outsiders. Many of these outsiders still scratch their heads in confusion at what draws hordes of fans to this genre.

For the last twenty-ish years Mortiis has retained and gained popularity with a more generalized industrial rock sound. His goth meets Tolkien image and his creepy yet catchy vocals have done him well over the years, and it would seem that he has never looked back in regret upon this massive change in direction.

The Unraveling Mind hits us as sort of an anomaly even within the career of such an anomalous artist. The album is fully instrumental, but there are plenty of instruments and a fully developed industrial sound. And yet sometimes these sounds will slow to a crawl and mirror most closely to something that could be considered dark ambient. While this isn’t the norm for Mortiis, he seems to navigate this territory with just as much confidence and skill as he has in any of his other endeavors.

Part of the reason for such a different album comes from its original intended use. The Unraveling Mind was created as a soundtrack to the film Broken (2006). While the film used some of the music, many of the tracks never saw the light of day. Eleven years later, it is finally getting a proper release.

The Unraveling Mind is available in the digital format. But, the pride of this release can be seen in its vinyl pressings. There are no less than 5 variants produced, with a host of purchase options, including 5 test pressings and 13 copies which include original art by lauded dark artist Stanislav Krawczyk. The remaining 150 copies are divided evenly between red marble, clear yellow and dark blue. The first 50 red variants are hand-numbered in Mortiis own blood!

The music itself is unsurprising when considering that it was meant as a soundtrack to a horror film. There are some tracks like “Redeemer” which are quite upbeat with industrial drum tracks and distorted guitars. Some tracks, such as the opener “Virosus – Silentium” take on a more dark ambient vibe, coming close to something that could almost resemble a more active track by Atrium Carceri. “Surge” is one of the most subtle tracks on the album, with much of its focus on atmosphere and little attention to “musical” content. The rest of the album will fall somewhere within these extremes.

The Unraveling Mind is highly enjoyable and entertaining from beginning to end. Leaving me a bit surprised that Mortiis hasn’t put more attention into this area of his sound, which seems to fit him quite naturally. This certainly is not the usual Mortiis fare. Whether you are a fan of his Era I work, his later albums or neither, The Unraveling Mind is certainly worth a listen. I thoroughly enjoyed this side-step of Mortiis and would be pleased to hear him create more music in this vein over the coming years.

Written by: Michael Barnett

Dark Forest Reigns – Dark Ambient / Dungeon Synth Mix

Travel deep into the dark and malign forests. The birds sing, but the song is wrong. The rains fall, but the Earth they touch is distorted and perverse. Let this combination of nature and darkness enshroud you in the mysteries of the ancient woodlands, where daemons and faeries dance among the flames of ancestral fires.
Full set-list with links to albums below.

01. 0:00:00 Alphaxone – Intro
02. 0:02:50 Enmarta – Journey to the Celestial Rivers
03. 0:08:10 Item Caligo – Oneiroid Garden
04. 0:14:30 Dead Melodies – A Trial of Crows and Blood
05. 0:21:00 Asmorod – Night of the Skies
06. 0:26:50 Halgrath – Deep Immersion and Repose
07. 0:33:50 Northumbria – Night Wolves / Black Moon
08. 0:43:30 Med Gen – The Haunted Forest
09. 0:49:50 M.Nomized – Forest Sunrise
10. 0:53:00 Elador – Great Forest
11. 0:56:40 Thomas Köner – Forest, Brisbane
12. 1:01:30 Dronny Darko & protoU – Riparian Forest [300 Million Years Ago]
13. 1:08:20 Elador – Through the Forests, Lakes and Rivers
14. 1:11:40 DeepDark – In The Woods
15. 1:19:30 Erwachen – On Glades of the Old Forest
16. 1:21:15 Foglord – The Tower In The Forest
17. 1:23:00 SiJ – Night Near the Shores of Gladys Lake
18. 1:39:35 Kave – The Ancient Gardens
19. 1:42:20 Kristoffer Oustad – Row Me Over
20. 1:50:35 Coma Centauri – The Watchful Sea
21. 1:53:30 Vinterriket – Tal der Trauer
22. 1:55:00 Dead Melodies – Peach Black Descent

Winterblood – Waldeinsamkeit – Review

Artist: Winterblood
Album: Waldeinsamkeit
Release date: 30 May 2017
Label: Self-released

01. I
02. II

Polar ambient has always been one of my favorite sort of sub-genres within the confines of the greater dark ambient genre. I’ve used this term in the past to describe works by artists such as: Northaunt, Ugasanie and Vinterriket. Winterblood, in many ways, could fit this classification as well. The music certainly begs of isolation and a cold despair, akin to those feelings brought on after many months cowering in a chilly cabin, waiting out the dark winter season. While the aforementioned artists take their inspiration from the far northern regions, Winterblood finds his in the mountainous regions of northern Italy.

Where Winterblood truly captures my interest is in the way he seems to effortlessly meander between dark ambient and that ever growing, often notorious, genre of dungeon synth. Winterblood takes on a minimalistic approach to his music. Most often incorporating little more than a layer or two of synthesizer. This stripped-down approach helps promote those feelings of isolation in the cold. In the past he has also incorporated field recordings, bringing that biting winter wind right into the mix.

Presently, on Waldeinsamkeit, Winterblood opts for one of his most minimal approaches to date. The first track, which is really the first part of what is considered to be one long-form track, split in two parts, is peaceful, slightly melancholic and simplistic. Older works of Burzum, on his first outings in the dark ambient / dungeon synth genres come to mind as a loose comparison. There is a gentle bass synth which creates a droning foundation throughout “I”. This is layered with a chilly sounding synth lead, which is often repetitive in nature, but manages to create the proper environment, and hold the listener’s attention over the entirety of its 20 minute length.

As the album moves into its second half, “II”, Winterblood adds a bit more complexity to the work. A continuation of “I”, we still hear that underlying foundation of a single deep note, the same crystalline notes layered on top. But, the dynamics of these elements are increased here on this second half. The bass has a bit more fluctuation, the lead synth ups its pace. While still holding us in that cold winter trance, the second half of the album has just enough of a shift to renew the listener’s attention and interest, just when that renewal may be most needed.

At the heart of Waldeinsamkeit is a simplistic approach to winter soundscapes. Fans of elaborate combinations of multiple instruments, pads and field recordings may not fully appreciate what Winterblood seeks to accomplish. Yet, those out there who find meaning and comfort in the stripped down elements of the dungeon synth genre, as well as much of the polar wing of dark ambient, will likely have a pleasant experience with Waldeinsamkeit. I, personally, found myself listening to this album on repeat for hours, which is no small feat when the content is so minimal and repetitive.

Winterblood, continues to slowly creep up the ladder of the collective consciousness of dark ambient and dungeon synth fans. With each album, he steps a little bit closer to his ultimate goal, which appears to be the creation of the quintessential winter soundscape. Waldeinsamkeit, for me, is quite probably the best work to date by Winterblood. The lessons he’s learned over the last few years have coalesced into this album, which bathes in a genuine simplicity, a simplicity which avoids the pitfalls of many previous attempts at this style. If one is looking to reminisce on those chilly winter months, which have recently drawn to a close, Waldeinsamkeit is the air conditioning unit for your soul. If one is in the southern hemisphere, then this album is dropping at just the right moment to be the soundtrack to the coming winter.

Written by: Michael Barnett

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