Month: August 2017 (Page 1 of 2)

Randal Collier-Ford – Promethean – Review

Artist: Randal Collier-Ford
Album: Promethean
Release date: 8 August 2017
Label: Cryo Chamber

01. The Breach
02. Watching Eden Burn
03. Flesh Reconstitution
04. Apotheosis (feat. Northumbria)
05. Arc of Thralls
06. Reverence of Wounds (feat. Simon Heath)
07. The Fruitless Lands Pt II (Live Excerpt Redux)
08. And Hell Followed
09. Rebirth Through Fire

On his third release with Cryo Chamber, Randal Collier-Ford closes his apocalyptic series. Promethean follows in the footsteps of Remnants and The Architects before it, bringing listeners into a futuristic version of our world which has seen itself torn apart. But this dying planet clearly has achieved many more technological advances than are present in our current age. This gives us a futuristic story which is simultaneously bleak and imaginative, progressive in its advancements of science and robotics, but degenerative in its social stability.

We are told in the album blurb for Promethean that this final chapter of the story takes place years after the events depicted in The Architects. If The Architects was the time of great advancements, Remnants was the time of their decline, and it would seem that Promethean is the time of a renewal or a wiping of the board, a clean start for whatever remains of humanity.

Parallels can be drawn between this trilogy by Randal Collier-Ford and the stories of Atrium Carceri and Sabled Sun, both by Cryo Chamber label-head, Simon Heath. The story seems to be linear in its telling across this trilogy, moving toward a definite end, like that of Sabled Sun. But, like Atrium Carceri, the storyline is often blurred and not necessarily following a single protagonist through this series of events. It would seem that each album in this trilogy contains its own mini-story, all three of which connect to form the full scope of the trilogy. But, pinpointing this as a formula still won’t necessarily bring a lot of clarity. It doesn’t seem feasible to pull the whole story together in this review, though I tried hard to connect the dots. Much like the stories by Simon Heath, the hints given by Randal Collier-Ford will take time, effort and a bit of imagination to fully reveal themselves. The guessing is half the fun and each listener is likely to draw their own conclusions.

The opening track, “The Breach” is certainly the most straightforward attempt to let listeners in on some of the secrets. We hear the voice of the album’s protagonist, but it is distorted, troubled and frankly hard to understand. But, with repeated listens on a good set of headphones, the passage will definitely start to come together. The story seems to pick up on Day 252 of the protagonist’s journey, or at least their documentation. We are told that there has been a possible overdose on some drug, but that this will not hold them back from continuing with their mission, whatever it may be.

As we move through the album, along with the protagonist, we encounter the recurrence of crackling fires, footsteps and strong rains, usually accompanied by thunder. Within this journey across this scarred landscape we encounter a plethora of futuristic mechanical sounds. Sometimes it seems that we are moving into some industrial complex, other times we may come across some demonic robot, maybe of the sort that we were introduced to so long ago in “Construction of a Demon” on The Architects. Then late in the album on “And Hell Followed” we experience deep rumbling bass and industrial noises of some heavy machinery. Which may or may not represent the place visited during “Hellgate”, also from The Architects. The protagonist, most often seems to be making a solitary journey, devoid of other human life, but there are instances like “Arc of Thralls” which seems to be a potential point of encountering slave laborers in some industrial complex, or maybe these are just more machines.

All these futuristic, industrial and robotic sounds on Promethean seem to have connections to The Architects. But, there is an equal portion of the album that pulls at a more emotional element, which makes an equally potent connection to Remnants. The setting of lonely campfires and what seems to be perpetual thunderstorms help set the emotional aspect of Promethean. Furthering adding to these elements are the contributions of Simon Heath on “Reverence of Wounds” and Northumbria on “Apotheosis”.

“Reverence of Wounds” seems to be the perfect clashing of the two different elements of futuristic technology and a solitary depression. The track starts off giving vivid details of footsteps inside a building, robotic whirs and bleeps as if the protagonist is working hard in some robotics laboratory, but the track takes a dramatic turn midway through, as if the protagonist is stepping outside of this area, gazing over the scorched abandoned landscapes. The piano draws on emotions of longing and despair. We can almost imagine the dark heavy clouds hovering over a dilapidated cityscape, crumbling streets, abandoned homes and vehicles. The protagonist, reminiscing on memories of times and events that will never return, or that he may never have even been able to experience in the first place. This sentiment seems to continue as the album proceeds into “The Fruitless Lands”, another track filled with thunder, rains, contemplative drone-work and a spattering of these futuristic robotic noises which return toward the end of the track.

Ending on “Rebirth Through Fire” the album takes a more positive turn. Plucked harmonics, a catchy piano tune and the continued exposure to the futuristic noises which almost melt into a proper beat provided by electronic percussion lead us to an ending that truly seems to depict a rebirth. Whether the protagonist has actually died and been reborn, has transferred their mind into an artificial vessel or just found a new ray of hope for the future is hard to tell.

What is most important is the emotions evoked on this journey, the experience of the listener as they travel through the varied landscapes created by Randal Collier-Ford. After years of experimenting with just about every angle of the dark ambient genre, Randal Collier-Ford has learned exactly how to move our minds in the way he intends. The story is meant to be elusive and cryptic. But the emotions are real, the experience is authentic. Whether any of us listeners will one day crack the code, and figure out exactly what the hell is happening on this trilogy is secondary to the experience of enjoying it for what it is, a work of aural art. Highly cinematic at times and down-right musical at others, Promethean is a pleasure to experience in its entirety.

Written by: Michael Barnett

Erang – Interview

Interview with: Erang
Conducted by: Maxwell Heilman

Within the rapidly growing sea of creators beneath the umbrage of dungeon synth, Erang has gained a reputation for the depth and musicality of his output. Besides consistently providing incredible compositions, his boundless imagination takes his music out of this world. His impressive body of work centers around a world of his own design, which he calls The Land of Five Seasons. While respecting the DIY approach with which dungeon synth has become synonymous, each of Erang’s albums paints a unique picture of a mysterious synthesis of reality and fiction. The French mastermind was kind enough to answer some questions regarding his music, his world and the future of his creation.

Max: You often refer to the Kingdom of Erang as something that has been a part of you since you were young. Do you remember a specific moment when the The Land of Five Seasons took shape within you?

Erang: It is a bit hard to explain it with words. The Kingdom of Erang is directly linked to some places & people from my childhood and family. So I grew up with it… then, as I became adult, I’ve added to it other cultural references from old fantasy movies, books, etc. I mixed them with new events of my life, new places and also, of course, others’ creations made directly within my imagination.

So this world-building is kind of a big “monster” to me. It’s an aggregation of my real and fantasy lives mixed together…

Max: Do the recurring characters in the Land of Five Seasons hold any connections to people on earth, or aspects of yourself?

Erang: Yes, that’s exactly part of what I’ve tried to explain in the previous question. Sometimes a character is a mix of a real person name or behavior, or it is a side of my own personality mixed with a fantasy name. I’m the only one who knows exactly what’s behind all of that and I like to let the imagination of the listener wander…

Max: What role does Erang play in The Land of Five Seasons? It seems that he is more than a narrator or an observer, though one might be lead to believe that since he retells tales from that world.

Erang: Erang is kind of a ghost within this world… The Kingdom of Erang still exists, but it is not “ruled” by the character of Erang : it has a “human” king. The skull masked man is wandering through this land, he is the spirit of this land, a shadow from its golden past. Kind of an observer who knows far more than the simple mortal living within the Land of the Five Seasons… he knows about the different dimension and he knows that “Time is a Window.”

Max: How did the music come to be the medium by which you communicate this alternate reality?

Erang: It came naturally. I started making computer/synth music a long time ago by the age of 14, 15 yrs old. I’ve always been in love with raw sounds and early computer music, but always thought that nobody could care about it as it was too unpolished with fake cheap instrument like early DOS game soundtracks. So when I came across the Dungeon Synth blog and the first album of Lord Lovidicus I thought “well, maybe I’m not alone and people out there might like what I like too.” That’s when I decided to release Tome I. Many tracks on this album were written a long time before I knew about fantasy synth music.

Max: Read any good books recently? Have any literary works inspired your fantasy world?

Erang: I used to read more when I was younger, but for years now I don’t have enough free time as I dedicate all mine to my family and my music (and, of course, my everyday job).

I read The Children of Húrin two years ago and it really moved me… the ending was so powerful and beautiful.

Considering the influence of literary works on my own world I would say it is very very little: despite a few tracks name on Tome I, my major cultural influence (outside of real events from my life) comes from movies from the 80s/90s like: Willow, Dark Crystal, Conan, the Neverending Story, etc. Of course, some of them were books before but I came to them through the movies. I was watching them at a very early age and it left an indelible mark in my mind.

Max: Have you ever thought about writing a book about The Land of Five Seasons?

Erang: Well, I think about that almost everyday, yes.

The thing is that, to me, writing doesn’t come as naturally as making music. When I make music it is pure feelings and emotion… I would say that I don’t use my brain, intellectually speaking… However, when I write, I of course need to think about the words and the sentence and ideas I want to share so I need to be in a completely different state of mind which is hard for me to find in my everyday life… I would need 2 months alone in a mountain cabin to be able to write.

On the contrary, as soon as I have five minutes of free time I can instantly start to work on a track or mess with sounds. It’s like breathing to me.

So, to answer you: I’ve already started to put many ideas and scenes on paper, but it will be a very long work and I’ll need a lot of time to put all of that together into a proper book… if I ever do it.

Max: With regard to your musical training, are you self taught or do you have classical training. I ask because the classical crossover in much of your music is hard to ignore.

Erang: Definitely 100% self taught. I know absolutely nothing at all about music theory. That’s why I sometimes spend a lot of time finding the right chord I have in mind, because I don’t know the rules of progression and harmony, etc.

I’m not against theory, not at all… but this is how I am and this is how I like to make music. It’s the same way I drew as a child or made tunes when I was 14… I knew nothing but, man, it was such a blast to play with pencils or my dad’s computer…

Max: Some of the most noticeable aspects of Erang’s music are the meticulous arrangements, soundscapes, and choice of synth sounds. How does your writing process work, and what thought process goes into your choice of sounds (horns, bells, etc)?

Erang: First of all, I listen to tons of music in any style, and I’ve done so since I was a teen. In my opinion, this is a great way to “learn” if you don’t have any theory knowledge. When I listen to music, I can’t help but try to analyze it and isolate all parts in my mind… that’s also a shame because sometimes it’s hard to listen to music “innocently.” Anyway, I could divide my writing process in 3 different parts :

First, I have a melody that comes to me and I try to re-create it. It is as simple as that and I couldn’t tell you why these melodies exist or where they come from… it’s just there and I can’t ignore it.

Second way of doing, I listen to a track I like and I’m hit by a specific sound, or melody or atmosphere within it. Then I try to re-create it, and almost 100% of the time it ends up being completely different… and if it’s too close to the original, I skip it.

Third, I just run my computer and browse my instrument and synth, I mess with sounds and preset… and, lots of times, a “sound” inspire me to create a melody and that’s how a track starts.

If I think about it I would say that the third one is the most common to me.

I always try to put in each song a small thing that is a bit different from my previous work or from what I’m hearing around… just to keep me entertained.

Max: Have you taken notice of any more recent dungeon synth projects?

Erang: I’ll be honest: I haven’t really listened to dungeon synth for a while now. I know it may sound strange but it’s the truth. I follow the “news” and always give a quick listen to new releases here and there, but I don’t really listen to full tracks or albums. However, I could say that if one wants to check interesting projects, one can just go to Bandcamp with the “dungeon synth” tag and find a lot of brilliant stuff right in the first page and so on. Many new and old artists make great stuff, so the best thing is to check Bandcamp, I guess. And the Dungeon Synth Archives channel on YouTube as well.

Max: Are there any dungeon synth artists that inspired you to pursue that style?

Erang: That’s the following of my previous answer: right now I feel a bit like I need to take a step back from DS… I don’t know… it’s maybe not the right time to do so because Dungeon Synth gains more and more interest everyday but, musically speaking, I’m not really excited about what I hear.

Let me be clear, because I don’t want to sound pretentious: many people and artists make clearly great work. The problem comes from me. It’s just that, most of the time, when I listen to DS, it sounds like I’ve already heard it before… Furthermore, as the genre is stuck in the medieval fantasy imagery, to say it fast, you always end up with very similar stuff and the same topics, etc.

So, because I’m into it and making music since early 2012, the problem comes from me: it’s not fresh enough to my ears anymore. That’s also part of the reason I’ve started to experiment with synthwave with 2 of my albums… and that’s probably why the next Erang might be the last… at least for some time… still not sure about that.

Max: If you were to introduce someone to dungeon synth for the first time which of your albums would you choose? If you prefer, you can use an album by another artist.

Erang: About another artist I’ll go with early Lord Lovidicus, probably Quenta Silmarillion. Concerning mine, well, that’s hard to say because they are all different. But I’ll go with Tome I because it’s the one that started it all, and with “Within the Land of my Imagination I am the only God.”

I take this opportunity to tell you that Within the Land… will be available physically in CD really soon (with Kingdom of Erang as well).

Max: Two of your more recent albums have a synth-wave leaning. What inspired that change? Do you have any curve-ball artists outside of the DS/fantasy ambient/medieval ambient sphere that you enjoy?

Erang: The change was inspired by two things: a need of fresh air and the fact that, in my mind, the Land of the Five Seasons always took place between different ages and dimensions. An alternative future of it has always excited in my mind and I wanted to express it in music. The two synthwave albums are part of the “LAST AGE” of my world. And the next one will be the 3rd and last album of the “LAST AGE” era… but it won’t be synthwave because of a twist that you’ll know soon.

Recently I’ve really enjoyed HOME (album, Odyssey) and I’ve been listening to a lot of David Lynch music during the last weeks, some COIL as well.

Max: Dungeon synth has much of its roots in black metal, yet you don’t seem to run with that crowd. Do any black metal bands tickle your fancy?

Erang: Being a teen in the early 90’s I’ve grew up with metal as well as electronic music and other genre. So I’m not a metalhead per se because I’ve never been “addicted” to one musical style only but I was listening to big names like Megadeth, Metallica, early Rammstein, and other stuff as well because my older brother was playing guitar in a metal band. But I wasn’t listening to black metal as a teen. I’ve only gotten into it six years ago and I love several bands: Burzum (a case where I really love the music but I can’t stand the man’s ideas and propaganda), early Dimmu Borgir, Enthrone Darkness Triumphant and Isengard. I love Summoning of course, some Windir as well and probably other bands I’m forgetting right now. As you can see, it’s always black metal related to synth and atmosphere.

Max: Your website features a section dedicated to covers people have done of your music, so it goes without saying that you appreciate people wanting to try their hand at your output. Do you consider the fact your art inspires others to reimagine it to be a milestone with regard to your influence in the dungeon synth community?

Erang: I don’t know what influence I can have or if I have any, but I know for sure that it’s always a pleasure and an honor for me when people make covers of my work. It’s always something surprising that someone on the other side of the world tried to make a cover of one my songs.

If some of your readers want to make a cover of me and need some midi files, they can just drop me a mail on the “contact form” of my Bandcamp page. I’ll send it to them when possible.

Max: Speaking of the dungeon synth community, to what extent do you think it exists? Have you seen these solitary artists begin to connect more?

Erang: Dungeon Synth has changed a lot during the last few years and the community has definitely got bigger. I remember a time when I was releasing an album on Bandcamp and there were only 1 or 2 pages that showed up if you wrote the tag “Dungeon Synth.” There was no Facebook group and Andrew’s Dungeon Synth blog was almost the only source of info. I have no problem if the scene is big or small as long as there are people making cool music.

Concerning the community, I’m not really a “community” or a “social network” guy. I’m on them because you can’t avoid it if you want to share your music. That’s why I put it online, because I want people to listen it: that doesn’t mean I would do anything for that and I wouldn’t put my face on a cereal box to do so (if some people from the Dungeon Synth board are reading, this is an inside joke for you). I don’t adhere to the culture of Facebook discussions on Facebook groups. I’m not against it and I find it cool when it leads to interesting discussion, but I didn’t grew up with it so it is not in my nature. However, I like to go in the FB group or in the forum board and read posts, I do it almost everyday. I would like to participate more sometimes because I don’t want to be the guy who posts only when he releases an album, but most of the time I post about new releases.

Max: Do you have any future plans for Erang that you would like to share?

Erang: Yes… This is important. I’m currently working on the last album from the “LAST AGE” era and that might be the last Erang for a while (except if something really inspiring comes across my way I will reconsider it). This album will explain many things concerning the Land of the Five Seasons and I’m sure the fans will appreciate it. It will be Dungeon Synth/Fantasy Music but with many surprises. I’m very proud of the music I have so far, and it will probably be my “darkest” album.

In addition, 2 of my albums will be available soon physically, in CD : Kingdom of Erang and Within the Land of My Imagination I am the only God.

That will be a lot of work to end the year and, after that, I think I deserve some sleep and silence…

Max: Anything you’d like to say to wrap things up?

Erang: Every time I receive a message from people telling me what my music means to them, it’s the best feeling on Earth. I’m not selling thousands of albums, but it’s still unbelievable that people from all around the world can project themselves into the world I’ve created. They are definitely a part of this world. That’s why I truly thank all of them for their warm support!

… Imagination Never Fails… the Kingdom is ours!

Erang links: Official websiteFacebook, Bandcamp, Youtube

Frozen In Time: Weekly News 30 August 2017

Sorry for the delay, it’s been a rough week for me, physical therapy is kicking my ass. But, alas, the show must go on! I am very pleased to announce that we have a  new contributor joining our very small team! Maxwell Heilman has many of the same interests in music, games and books, so he should be a great fit here as far as his likes. Also, he majored in journalism, so we have a pro entering the ranks! The link to his first review of the Depressive Silence re-release can be found at the bottom of the page, please check it out and give him a warm welcome!

There are tons of new releases this week! Personally, I am ecstatic to announce that Cryo Chamber just posted their first vinyl release, Black Corner Den by Atrium Carceri & Cities Last Broadcast, for pre-order! Get them while they’re hot! More information on that below, along with many other noteworthy releases. I hope everyone is enjoying their week and if any of you are from the Houston area, I hope you found safety and a dry bed! Thanks so much to all our readers for you continued support! We would be nothing without our readers and the musicians that inspire us! We have a huge announcement coming up in the next week or two that will serve as a big thank you to both readers and artists! Until then, peace and godspeed!

New Releases & Preorders

A Bleeding Star – New Album Released (Xtraplex – Digital Only)
“Encyclopeiaferamorte Decuparactesdelosotros Vienhivernatomeindormir or short EDV, is a capsule one takes on dark sweaty nights. The kind of summer nights you have to sleep but you are too full of energy to stop your thoughts. Restless steamy nights. A capsule for soothing the heavy heat around and protecting you from the geiser of dysfunctionality in the world outside.
‘Yo man, u restless? Here, have some EDV, it will calm u down'”

Anabasis – New Album Released (Østpreussen – Digital Only)
Follow Odysseus on his voyage throughout the enchanted ancestral islands of the great Hellene nation. Anabasis introduces us to the sorcery, underworld and other courageous feats of the great Odysseus on this “name your price” experimental dark ambient album!

Ancient Boreal Forest – New Album Released (Digital Only)
A compilation of hand picked tracks from the Ancient Boreal Forest catalogue. Set as “name your price” this is a perfect chance to get acquainted with the music of this atmospheric artist.

Atrium Carceri & Cities Last Broadcast – Preorders Available
(Cryo Chamber – Vinyl/CD/Digital)
The two bearded Swedes join forces on this collaborative album. Black Corner Den is the result of long winter studio sessions separated by the atlantic ocean but made possible by the internet. Lonely moments in the company of the night lamp, overlooking the messy pile of tape loops while the machines hummed and the piano played until the morning.
Pär Boström’s dreamlike soundscapes combines with the careful melodies and elegant structures of Simon Heath. The perfect soundtrack for decadent nights or introverted reading sessions, preferably combined.

Brother Saturn – New Album Released (weareallghosts – Digital Only)
“Apollo, Can You Hear Me? is an exploration of subtle, dreamy electronics in a languid, luscious longform ambient manner. It is as much about restraint as it is about expression, Miller has not let his wonderfully five-steps-ahead creative mind runaway but has, instead, kept it tightly constrained and, in doing so, created an engaging collection of tracks that are cohesive, coherent and downright enjoyable.” “name your price”.

Cian Orbe Netlabel – New Compilation
H.P. Lovecraft Tribute [At The Mountains Of Madness]”(dark ambient, experimental, musique concrete, soundtrack)
Check out the album on here.

Dronny Darko – New Single Released (Digital Only)
“No matter how many times I wanted to leave my country for better life. No matter how sad a feeling is when you see old people on the street bagging for help because our government is too busy robbing itself. No matter all the bad aspects, this land will always be my home. This is where the soul lives. This is where it all started…
I created this track to celebrate the Independence Day of Ukraine, my home. I still believe in our people and that we can drive ourselves to something good. Fighting the all corruption, wars and all the bad stuff. Happy Independence Day, Ukraine!”

Grist – New Album Released (Sombre Soniks – Digital Only)
“It is time for our yearly dose of hypnotik mono goodness from thee mighty Grist, thee Blak Ritual Projekt hailing from Australia!
‘Levitation’ is thee fifth release from Grist for thee Sombre Soniks label and features three kompositions totalling just under an hour of apokalyptik minimalism and immersive Drone environments!”
From thee Artist: “For this season’s Auguristic Offering, GRIST humbly delivers three pieces, two connected and one unconnected but old, so the first and last act as a Chronistic Bridge over the ancient thrashing abyss between them.”

Haunted Me – New EP Released (Petroglyph Music – Digital Only)
Gretchen Feast on Slow Things is a long-form dark ambient track that takes the listner deep into the dark depths of its hauntingly dark drones, vocals and experimental noises. “name your price”.

Holotrop – New Preorder Available (Rabbau – CD/Digital)
The dead birds are calling. Holotrop unleashes the dark side of Transpersonal Musick, visions of this world coming to an end. In his compositions, drones mixed with ritual sounds result in tremendously powerful tracks which evoke the feeling of desolation which throws us back onto the essence of mere human existence. The crawling rhythms together with distorted vocals make the darkness settling on our souls almost tangible. Holotrop created a world without hope that we find ourselves in as we walk the path towards our own downfall and decay.
In addition to the oppressive soundscapes, this work has been expanded to a philosophical compendium influenced by pioneers of anthropofugal thinking like Philipp Mainländer and Ulrich Horstmann. Freed from all cultural limitations, Holotrop dissects the abyss of human consciousness, leaving us in a desert of nothingness while the archaic soundscapes outline the entropy of all life along the lines of shamanic traditions. The dead birds sing their final song – the end is near!

Paleowolf – New Album Released (Digital Only)
“Fourth full length album by Paleowolf. Prehistoric tribal ambient, shamanic invocation of the ancient Ice age animal Totems, gigantic wildlife of the 150.000-9.000 BC, collectively known as Megafauna.
Early history of the planet Earth was ripe with lifeforms that may well go beyond our imagination. Still, animal world lost to our knowledge and percepetion is not lost to our collective unconscious and genetic memory.
There was once a magnificent and glorious time when giants walked the Earth. Colossal wildlife roamed the Ice Age tundras and steppes while early Hominids watched in awe. Impressions that these glorious beings, powerful specimens of mother Nature, made to the newborn minds of Ice Age humans was tremendous.
Prehistoric artist-shaman carves the lines and draws the glyphs in the cave walls, creating a Totem of the Megafauna, inviting the mighty ancestral energies of the Wild to take hold of tribe’s life and destiny. The tribe chants and meditates in unison, summoning the Great Feral spirit of Nature.”

Sana Obruent – New Album Released (Blackjack Illuminist Records – CD/Cassette)
Everybody who shat their pants listening to Sana Obruent’s incredibly dark and terrifying predecessor album Dyatlov must feel like being taken back to life from the dead listening to the opening track of the new album August, simply entitled “I”. It sounds like being pushed into an overwhelming stream of energy. A strong, wild river full of what life might have in store for you, full of all possibilities, all emotions at once, strangely positive on the surface, yet intimidating with its rumbling deep drones underneath.
It is a heavy album that Paul Lopez who is the sole member of Sana Obruent created. As if he wanted to imitate the sound of icebergs floating by or massive mountain ranges scraping the earth, it is intense Drone, bulldozer-like, heavy Drone that shakes the listener’s living room walls. This can best be felt in “II” which sounds like the field recording of a giant spaceship which is passing through an alien portal heading for planet earth with dubious intentions on their minds.

Scott Lawlor – New Album Released (Digital Only)
“Inspiration for the music came from Tangerine Dream’s Zeit
album, in particular, the first track called Birth Of Liquid
Plejades, one of my favorite tracks by this legendary band.”

Sound_00 and Lefterna – New Album Released (Throne of Bael – Digital Only)
Collab 27 is a deep ambient release filled with thick washes of field recording sounds manipulated and contorted into droning textures. “name your price”.

Tryhm – New Album Released (Kalpamantra – Digital Only)
Labyrinth uses a heavy dose of tribal/industrial drums and deep rumbling drones along with experimental vocal elements to give us a dark dungeon-like experience.

Vacant Stations – New Album Released (Winter-Light – CD/Digital)
Awaken. Force yourself up. Draw the blinds. Grey light burns your eyes. Plug yourself in. Step out of the door and fade in to the swim….
From the first opening moments of ‘Day’, you already know that you are about to experience something totally different from the artist ‘Vacant Stations’. As the first solemn sounding notes play out, the mood is set, hanging in the air like a heavy, dark oppressive mantle. But all is not lost…there is always hope.
Vacant Stations is an ambient project hailing from London, UK who has a background in film and video. Through his music, Vacant Stations generally hopes to conjure visuals and inspire creativity. A little bit about the thoughts behind ‘Clones’ in the words of the artist himself.
“Some of the motivations and intentions behind ‘Clones’, are mostly concerning the theme of identity: A meditation on the conflict and pressures of striving for individualism in an era of homogenisation, while considering implications about the future of human identity as it inevitably merges with the technology it creates. A self-reflexive comment on what have come to be regarded as dark ambient genre conventions. Hopefully a sense of narrative also comes through.” – Vacant Stations.

Voctum de Mortum – New Album Released (Digital Only)
An experimental dark ambient album filled with a plethora of field recordings and other sounds coming together to create something dark, unique and thought provoking. “name your price”.

Voiid – New Album Released (Hexx 9 Records – Digital Only)
SR​-​783△ takes listeners into dark industrial noise soundscapes. As hypnotic as it is haunting, Voiid showcase a more experimental side of dark ambient that still upholds its atmosphere.

Any record labels with sales and specials up on their sites should definitely give me a heads-up. I try to track down current sales for various labels but I’m sure some have slipped through the cracks.

Malignant Records – Bandcamp Sale (ALMOST OVER!)
Friendly reminder that there’s 1 day left to take advantage of the 30% sale happening at the Malignant Bandcamp page. Head on over and use the code: dogdays30

Cryo Chamber – Atrium Carceri Sale #3
In this weeks sale we are focusing on Atrium Carceri
Save 50% on these digital downloads:

“This week I’m going to give you a few more glimpses into the Atrium Carceri mythos, these texts are taken from the CD Booklets and are also available on”

Atrium Carceri & EldarSacrosanct
This was one of my earlier albums on Cryo Chamber and it was the first real collaboration I did with Atrium Carceri and another artist, which has led me down a path of further collaborations.

Atrium CarceriThe Untold
We reached the bottom. Outside the sky is black but we see each other clearly. No color through. Did the stars take that from us?
As we stepped out, our feet crunched on countless shards of glass. Glittering dunes rolled endlessly. The ground squirmed with motion. I chose a piece and saw a man picking at his teeth. I reached for another, a woman undressing. At my feet I saw a thousand people looking back at their own reflections.
One of my captors whispered to himself: HE WATCHES US.
– Excerpt from the 17 page digital book The Untold Associated Collections

Atrium CarceriMetropolis
When we were gods, they were our slaves, now they hold our chains as we live oblivious to their existence.
They serve our enslavers now, and have been rewarded plentiful for doing so. They are the bankers, the judges, the priests, the commanders, the presidents, the educators, the kings and queens.
They love tormenting us for what we did to them in ancient times.
The Cowled Seers-
The Seers watch us day and night from the other side, their agenda is unclear.
Their pawns in our world tend to be homeless drifters who travel from place to place spreading the word of “truth” until the Servus eventually finds out and shuts them down.

Atrium CarceriArchives I-II
The Archives collection is a look into Atrium Carceri’s archived audio files from the last 10 years. This album was created using audio recorded during 2005-2015 and consists of B-sides, forgotten tapes, tracks that for one reason or the other did not make it onto one of the Atrium Carceri albums, or tracks that were in circulation but needed a remaster.

This Is Darkness Week In Review

Asath ReonBuried Visions
We should not be surprised to hear such a quality release. Black Mara Records have continued to prove that they are not going to back down from the realms of ritual dark ambient. They are slowly finding their niche, which diverges greatly from that of a label like Aural Hypnox, but finds an equally attractive balance and consistency in its form of ritual darkness. Michal Polgár has been honing his skills for years, and now more than ever he seems like he’s truly found his calling. I would highly recommend Buried Visions to any fan of ritual ambient music. Asath Reon could easily become one of the heavy weights in this genre.
Read the full review here.

Depressive SilenceMourning (first review from our new contributor Maxwell!)
The return of Depressive Silence stands as testament to the longevity of Ral’s two-decade-old album. Though many modern artists continue heightening the instrumental and thematic elements of dungeon synth, Mourning stands as a distant lighthouse beckoning back to the source — a reminder of the potential this vein of dark ambient had already realized merely three years after The Song of a Long Forgotten Ghost by Mortiis which sparked it into being.
Read the full retro-review here.

Please consider making a donation!

This Is Darkness has gone live with the help of friends and supporters. I have been disabled since 2015, due to a spinal injury. Any support that can be given is greatly appreciated. Donations will go toward the maintenance of this site as well as additional promotion to increase its reach and influence. You can help through the donate button below,  or follow this link to the This Is Darkness Patreon page here.

Asath Reon – Buried Visions – Review

Artist: Asath Reon
Album: Buried Visions
Release date: 10 August 2017
Label: Black Mara Records

01. Aka Manah
02. Dark Waters
03. The Timeless Self
04. Soul Stealing
05. Lone Weaver
06. Rise of the Forked-Tongued
07. The Damned
08. Tower of Silence

I’ve been following the musical career path of the artist behind Asath Reon for several years now. Back around early 2015 I found his old project Morvranh. I quickly fell in love with sounds of his music. The darkness was heavy, the sounds were subtle, perfect for increasing that dark augmentation to my surrounding atmosphere. Over the next few years, Morvranh continued to gather the releases. As a solo artist his albums found their way to labels such as Forest Path, where his first album, Mysterium had a digipak release. His work with Ruairi O’Baoighill in the form of Order of the Black Dawn released their first collaboration through Noctivagant Records.

Early 2017 saw a change of direction for Michal Polgár, from Handlová, Slovakia. Starting with a fresh slate, Asath Reon was born. This project would go on to record the debut, Buried Visions, which has been released through Black Mara Records, out of Novosibirsk, the Siberian city in south-central Russia. True to form, when it comes to Black Mara, the release was given an impressive production. The album is available in an exclusive limited-edition, on a CD that comes with a red leather hard-bound book, themed photos, poems and quotes, as well as a hand-made wooden pendant. There is also a themed t-shirt coinciding with the release.

Asath Reon takes Michal Polgár into some of the darkest territory we have yet witnessed from him, arguably darker even than much of the Black Mara discography! Its foundation lies directly in the ritual ambient sub-genre with a full array of sounds drawing it to this placement. One need look no further than the opening track, “Aka Manah”, to find so much of what makes this project truly dark. There are singing bowls, human chants, recitations from some malefic book in a deep guttural tonality. All these elements sit atop a layer of hollowed-out drone-work. By the end of the track, the ritual is underway and the listener is primed for the further plunge into these daemonic rites.

Much of the album more or less follows these patterns described in “Aka Manah”. The music could be compared to that of Shibalba. I use Shibalba as a reference to these sorts of albums quite often, but it really is the case. The one point that Asath Reon differs noticeably and may even surpass Shibalba is in the use of this guttural vocal element. The vocals produced by this artist are beyond malign and seem to arise directly from the fiery depths of the earth.

On “The Timeless Self” the vocals seem to come, not from some dark priest, but instead from some horrendous creature, some truly demonic aberration. The drones, chants, ritual instruments and field recordings come together in a cacophonous wall of sound that eats away at the sanity of the listener. This is not to mean that the sounds are unpleasant, everything works together as a seamless whole, that feels right, regardless of the depths of its darkness.

We should not be surprised to hear such a quality release. Black Mara have continued to prove that they are not going to back down from the realms of ritual dark ambient. They are slowly finding their niche, which diverges greatly from that of a label like Aural Hypnox, but finds an equally attractive balance and consistency in its form of ritual darkness. Michal Polgár has been honing his skills for years, and now more than ever he seems like he’s truly found his calling. I would highly recommend Buried Visions to any fan of ritual ambient music. Asath Reon could easily become one of the heavy weights in this genre.

Written by: Michael Barnett

Depressive Silence – Mourning – Retro Review

Artist: Depressive Silence
Album: Mourning  
Original release date: 1996
Original release label: Self-Released
Re-release date: 2016
Re-release label: Unborn Productions
Formats: Digital, Vinyl

01. Forests of Eternity
02. Depths of the Oceans
03. Spheres
04. Mourning
05. Dreams

Depressive Silence’s 1996 demo continues its influence.

Back in 1996, dungeon synth was not a recognised genre. The likes of Norway’s Mortiis, Austria’s Summoning and Greece’s Lamentation existed in amorphous limbo between dark ambient, medieval music and the black metal scene it stemmed from. It was in this environment that the German musician Ral dropped a handful of releases under the moniker Depressive Silence. Together with the aforementioned artists, his self-titled demo helped found what would become a highly-trafficked avenue of independent music. Renamed Mourning, the album’s return in LP form not only reestablishes its raw mysticism, but heralds its status as both a foundation and a benchmark for dungeon synth.

From the arpeggiated flute that begins the album, it becomes clear that Ral balances submersive atmosphere with acute musicality. No technical flaws and production limitations hold Mourning back as each song sports unique hues through a film of isolated melancholy. “Forest of Eternity,” the first and longest track, spotlights Ral’s meticulous layering and sound choices. Hypnosis coincides with orchestration as choral music and string trills punctuate shimmering chords and moving lines. On top of that, the vinyl pressing imparts warmth to the cold recordings, which increases their mesmerizing aura.

The following track “Depths of the Oceans” comes packed with swift single-note lines over washed out legato, traversing territory as vast as the aquatic catacombs it is named after. Ral balances the delicate and the stark, allowing his songs to breathe naturally within their brittle confines. Field recordings in these and other moments give the realm Depressive Silence conjures tangibility in the midst of otherworldly dreariness.

With such a multifaceted emotional palette, this album transcends the product of a man with a keyboard. The organ drones and wistful crescendos that drive “Spheres” definitely have as much of a synthetic quality as the other tracks, as do the timpany-esque percussion, but Ral’s atmospheric ingenuity creates an indescribable suspension of disbelief. He uses his limited medium to his advantage and weaves a sonic tapestry of accessible mystery. He accomplished this without the brawn many of his contemporaries and successors often implement.

Unlike albums such as Født til å Herske by Mortiis, which tend to utilize bombastic fanfares via brassy synth, this album drifts along its 36 minutes with whimsical grace. The title track encapsulates Ral’s knack for ornamenting his synthscapes with celestial melodies while founding them on swelling modulations. Coating individual timbres and tones sparingly, he keeps his work interesting in its minimalism. Bells, voices and piano creep in and out of the mix as the songs need — never as attention-grabbing gimmicks. Even the concluding “Dreams” finds its footing in echoing harpsichord and marching rhythm, something Ral wisely saved for last. Whether Mourning escalates to a wall of sound or a single instrument, intuitive orchestration makes every moment gorgeously dynamic, yet coy in its execution.

The return of Depressive Silence stands as testament to the longevity of Ral’s two-decade-old album. Though many modern artists continue heightening the instrumental and thematic elements of dungeon synth, Mourning stands as a distant lighthouse beckoning back to the source — a reminder of the potential this vein of dark ambient had already realized merely three years after The Song of a Long Forgotten Ghost by Mortiis which sparked it into being.

Written by: Maxwell Heilman

Maxwell Heilman – Reviewer

Name: Maxwell Heilman
Location: Long Beach, California, USA
Languages: English
Contact: ,
Social Media Profiles: FacebookTwitterInstagramBandcamp
Outside projects:

Frozen in Time: Weekly News 21 August 2017

This week we have a ton of new releases to share with you. Some lesser known as well as other better known projects are releasing albums. We also have a few reviews and a mix to share from the previous week, you can find these at the bottom of the article, as usual. We are getting close to finalizing a new project here at This Is Darkness and within the next few weeks will have a huge announcement (edit: actually two announcements). So stay tuned for that! I hope everyone’s summer is going well. Thanks as always for following This is Darkness! If you are interested in supporting our cause, you can find information about how to do that at the bottom of the article. Peace!

New Releases & Preorders

Alphaxone & Dronny Darko – New Album Released (Cryo Chamber – CD/Digital)
Alphaxone (Iran) and Dronny Darko (Ukraine) join forces on this mysterious album.
“The fog hangs heavy over the emptied town as you make your way down the crest overlooking the ocean. The streets lie silent but for the subtle click of a stoplight juggling colors. Your hand disappears into the thick fog here and the smell of sulfur from the nearby factory feeds your head. Something about this place feels wrong.
Damp thuds spins you around towards the misty outskirts of the beach town. A white horse disappears into the hills and behind it a trail of other animals flee after it. And then it booms, the sound of the fog horn rolls in from the black ocean and echoes off the buildings, the stoplight sways. Silence afterwards, ear shattering.
The old man was right, they’re coming for us!”
Alphaxone’s smooth pads and deep bass meets Dronny Darko’s long form drone and ethereal reverbs in this trip into the fog. For lovers of evolving drone soundscapes.

Andrew R. Grant – New EP Released (Digital Only)
Grant is best known for his death industrial project The Vomit Arsonist. This latest release is in the genre of dark ambient. Amended is three shortened versions of a much longer piece of music. The sounds were recorded in the Fall of 2014. Grant will be planning to release the unedited versions in a physical format at a later date.

A Bleeding Star – Weekly Single Released (Digital Only)
“Wildcavenight: Organically Erotic Ambient for those Cryptic Souls Passionately Grave Inclined” is the latest track by the dark ambient artist A Bleeding Star. Deep and slowly morphing drones meet subtle, quite distant drumming for a track that is highly minimal and yet steeped in character.

Bad Sector – New Collection Released (Digital Only)
Selected is a compiliation of previously released Bad Sector tracks. While many of these are not his most well known tracks, there are a lot of gems here and its a brilliant way to enjoy a the sound of Bad Sector from 1995-2016.

Biophon Records – Memorial/Benefit Compilation for Christian H (Biophon – Vinyl/CD/Digital)
“For Christian H” is a compilation album from the Arctic Norwegian city of Tromsø, dedicated to the memory of Christian Hollingsæter – the director of the Insomnia festival – who died unexpectedly in May this year, only 35 years old.
All 18 tracks have been gifted exclusively for the album, which is available as a digital download, a CD, and as a limited edition numbered LP with hand printed artwork by Knut Fjørtoft. It goes on sale on September 13th., with all proceeds going to Christian´s son Julian.

Birth (Defects) – Album Teaser (Anathemata Editions – 7″ Lathe LP/Cassette)

Bzaurie – New Album Released (ΠΑΝΘΕΟΝ – Digital Only)
Hidden Landscape Voice isn’t classified as dark ambient and yet for the dark ambient listener share should be everything here that one would seek in a dark ambient album. ASMR field recordings, gentle drones and presumably tape loops set the foundations for this track which adds many more various sounds to the mix for an highly engaging album that is best experienced on headphones. “name your price” and highly recommended.

Empty Chalice – New Album Released (Cardinium – Cassette/Digital)
This latest release by Empty Chalice is an interesting take on dark ambient. The artist behind the project has provided a poem by David Lynch which encompasses the ideas and direction of the album:

“Ideas are like fish.
If you want to catch little fish,
you can stay in the shallow water.
But if you want to catch the big fish,
you’ve got to go deeper.
Down deep, the fish are more powerful
and more pure.
They’re huge
and abstract.
And they’re very beautiful.”
(David Lynch)

The physical release can be purchased here.

Grid Resistor – New Album Released (Digital Only)
This latest release by Grid Resistor, the new project by the man behind Mystified, is on the more experimental side of the dark ambient spectrum. Using only machine sounds as his source material, Grid Resistor takes a bold step into the deepest depths of the post-industrial world. “name your price” so it is worth a try for those whom enjoy highly experimental works.

Haunted Me – New Single (Digital Only)
“Hey folks, a new, long, deep piece is here for you, waiting to be downloaded. “Gretchen Feast On Slow Things” is a 21 minutes drone, now out for Petroglyph Music. This is the longest track I made so far and it was quite a challenge, so please take a listen and tell me what you think. Download is obviously free (click here). ”

Kashya – New Album Released (Digital Only)
Kashya is an artist that I’ve been following for several years. Though I don’t think he’s made a release backed by a proper label yet, his discography is quite enjoyable and impressive. His music is best suited for times when relaxation is the ultimate goal. The “darkness” in his releases usually comes in the form of subtle drones and synth pads. If this album is to your liking, I would recommend searching deeper into the discography of this artist, you will find many hidden gems here.

Marcus Fischer – Preorders Available (12k – Vinyl/Digital)
Loss is the long-awaited and anticipated follow-up to Marcus Fischer’s acclaimed Monocoastal (12k1063, 2010). Fischer created Loss over several years, finding inspiration to complete it during his time at the Robert Rauschenberg Residency in Captiva, Florida, in early 2017. The album is a particularly emotional work as Fischer explored what loss means to him and how to cope with the permanence of absence. The result is decisively somber and perhaps one of the darkest, most emotional albums in the 12k catalog.
Fischer manifested the concepts of loss in his compositions through the use of generation loss from reel-to-reel tape, re-recording sounds through various speakers in physical spaces, layering, and the use of sounds that have been physically displaced from their source. Conceptually, he listened inside the degradation of sound, pulling out chance moments of beauty and hope amid the rubble.
While Loss has a bleak and lonely tone, the music is characteristic of Marcus Fischer with fragile tape loops on the edge of falling apart, distant haunting melodies and a physicality that grounds the album’s human spirit.
Releases 1 September

Metadronos & Scott Lawlor – New Album Released (Digital Only)
This is quite a disturbing release. Those whom enjoy the experimental side of dark ambient should find a lot to like on this release. It is surprisingly haunting considering the way it was crafted. Scott Lawlor says of the release,
“‘to suffering there is a limit, to being in fear there is none”‘
(Pliny the Younger)
MetaDronos and I felt that this quotation was an accurate description of the subject matter used to create this very dark ambient concept album about a friend of mine
who has been in all manner of institutions and clinical settings from medical hospitals to insane asylums and the tales of horror therein.
No hardware or software synths of any kind were utilized in creating this album.
All of the tracks were created from various voicemails sent to us, granting both of us permission to manipulate them into the horror that will unfold before
your ears.”

Michael Meara – New Album Released (Aural Films – Digital Only)
“The inspiration for this record is the aging process. As we age, the following usually occurs: Focusing on close objects becomes harder. The lens becomes denser, making seeing in dim light harder. The lens also yellows, changing the way we perceive colours. The number of cells in the spinal cord begins to decrease. The amount of active bone marrow, where blood cells are produced, decreases. Our skin tends to become thinner, less elastic & drier. Nerve cells may lose some of their receptors for messages. Blood flow to the brain decreases, thus the brain may function slightly less well. We may react and do tasks more slowly. The ability to taste and smell starts to gradually diminish. Hearing high-pitched sounds becomes more difficult (known as presbycusis) making some words become harder to understand.”

Rauppwar / These Gaping Jaws – New Split Album Released (Throne of Bael Records – Digital Only)
Wire Lambs / 78’s is a brutal yet worthwhile journey into dark and disturbing cacophonous noises. This is a release for those listeners that prefer an album packing a punch. Not for the faint of heart, but a nuanced and interesting experience for those willing to take the plunge. “name your price” so you can decide if it is for you without making any real commitments.

Thangorodrim – New Album Released (Deivlforst Records – CD/Digital)
The dungeon synth artist Thangorodrim has just released his second full length on Deivlforst Records. He is considered by many to be one of the foremost artists in the dungeon synth scene. You can check out the review on This Is Darkness here.

Thangorodrim – Gil-Estel – Review

Veiled Monk – New Album Released (Cephalopagus Records – Digital)
To truly understand the path of self-knowledge, one must be present for all steps along this path. This ritual reflects the pain and ecstasy of the seeker when they cross the fields both physical and mental.
Correlation between the physical impulse and mental obscurity is tightly wound around the middle Identifier; The very creation of a center that will be completely absorbed and destroyed in the process of lighting. “I’m The Veiled Monk, I started my journey much later than others, determined to pamper myself in a world of insanity for the season.
Travel is a necessity for me, if not for someone else. After the transition from the monastery of Silence, the main purpose of this journey is the opening of the Night Gate. This is my burden, my mission, my goal. Follow me …

Weress – New EP Released (Digital Only)
Weress is an experimental one-man project from Bordeaux, France. His music covers a variety of genres, though almost all of them fall within the realms covered by This Is Darkness. This particular release his a demo in the niche of electro space ambient.

Winterblood – New Album Released (Digital Only)
The latest release by the Italian dark ambient / dungeon synth project Winterblood takes us on another plunge into the fridged cold and isolated darkness of the most remote mountainous regions of northern Italy. For this release Winterblood only uses analog synths to achieve his lo-fi eerie atmospheres. Yet, the music still seems to have a character that stands out from most analog synth albums. A particular treat is the first track “Waldeinsamkeit II” a thirty minute follow-up to his previous release, Waldeinsamkeit. A highly recommended release.

Specials & Sales!

Cryo Chamber – Atrium Carceri Sale #2
In this weeks sale we are focusing on Atrium Carceri
Save 50% on these digital downloads:
This week I’m going to give you a glimpse into the Atrium Carceri mythos, these texts are taken from the CD Booklets and are also available on

Atrium Carceri
I continue ever inward through the home of the 12 Angels, the home of no gates. Each voice in my head a different soul – ground, cut and re-injected into my quivering flesh, 6000 steps below. Disillusioned yet somehow more in touch than ever before with my own divinity. In the bunkers of long forgotten wars, victims of drought, disease and war lining the corners like jewels – one of the few permanent links to our former home, resplendent yet decaying, as are we all.

Atrium CarceriPhrenitis
Dead tired with gloves made of mud I cower in the sulphurous smattering rain. The stench of spilled blood fills my nostrils, together with a sickly sweet odor that defies dexcription. I glance up from the trenches towards the ruined city and the opposing soldiers, caught up in their insanities. War is painted on their faces, grinning, bloody, obscene – their pupils dilated, black and vibrating. The air itself feels charged with something, the essence of which cannot be comprehended, much less explained. In their midst he stands – The Warlord, The General. Calm and in control, yet his face twisted… Shifting from human to utterly obese, with milky skin and veins that move frantically as sea snakes. His bulbous black tongue moves from left to right in his drooling maw like a lizards tail while he watches over the slaves that do his bidding. Engorged, he shudders with barely contained fiendish glee.

Atrium CarceriReliquiae
I had reworked the formula again. This time factoring in the element of chaos. It was all dependent on the same intertwined variables and the ugly, faceless will of the masses. Would they stand their ground when the veil was torn screaming from their eyes or would they cower in fear, mentally maimed by the devices their controllers had thrust upon them? A few years past I would have thought it impossible to manipulate – No, de-manipulate them. Yet reclaiming my godhood, facing the myriad horrors from beyond the illusion. The enlightenment had shaken me to the central core of my being. We are not to be scared of them, because they are scared of us. They. Our former slaves have rebelled against us. As we shall rebel against them.

Atrium CarceriVoid
The Cowled Seers from beyond the frigid void incessantly observe us moving through our daily lives. Manipulating the orders of chance and whimsy they collect our thoughts and steer us through the illusion. Their goal to collect the few for an expedition deep down into the abyss where The Lost God once sought refuge. The weave of “reality” grows thin as they explore what lies beyond even the manifold spires of the ancient city as well as the fractured memories of every swayed traveler.

Malignant Records
To escape the heat and suffocating humidity, might I suggest you stay indoors and take advantage of the newly applied 30% discount on digital downloads over at the Malignant bandcamp page? Just use the code dogdays30 at checkout and curse the sun as you drift into darkness.

This Is Darkness – Week In Review

The mastering by Grimrik and the high quality physical release formats of this album provide a great reason to delve into Gil-Estel, as opposed to so many other dungeon synth albums that have been released recently. Adding to this the talents of the man behind Thangorodrim (who is still quite the mystery, only showing his painted face and devoid of social media profiles) this is really a great place to make a first delve into the dungeon synth genre. The only draw-back for me is that I do prefer my dungeon synth to have a consistently dark atmosphere, if one is in agreement with me, I would recommend starting with his previous album, Taur-nu-Fuin. For those already aware of this genre, I imagine you will also find as much to love about Gil-Estel as I have. Whenever I’m in the mood for some dungeon synth, I really can’t go wrong with Deivlforst releases and this one is no exception.
Read the full review here.

Veiled MonkThe Acolyte’s Burden
This is a well executed debut for the Veiled Monk project and a high point for the Cephalopagus label, run by the man behind Araphel. The album is released in the “name your price” format on Bandcamp, so there is really no excuse for not giving it a chance. I, for one, have listened to this album many, many times in the weeks preceding this review and haven’t even gotten close to being tired of it yet. While I’ve used the names of several other artists to convey the in words the sounds presented, I don’t feel that the music has really attempted to mimic, any of these other artists. It seems that Veiled Monk is onto something good here, and we can hope that they continue to stick to this path, of course, with the added refinement that comes in working in a similar format for an extended period of time.
Read the full review here.

The Final Struggle: Darkness & Death Mix
A mix of dark ambient and death industrial music. The theme of this mix is a story of a dying planet, a protagonist at their wits end, the final struggle between life and death and ultimately defeat. The afterlife is enshrouded in turmoil and the final resting place of the soul is conjectured. This mix is at times serene with strong religiosity, and yet the mood and atmosphere is chaotic and constantly shifting, reflecting the final struggle in the before and after.
Listen to the mix here.

Please consider making a donation!

This Is Darkness has gone live with the help of friends and supporters. I have been disabled since 2015, due to a spinal injury. Any support that can be given is greatly appreciated. Donations will go toward the maintenance of this site as well as additional promotion to increase its reach and influence. You can help through the donate button below,  or follow this link to the This Is Darkness Patreon page here.

Thangorodrim – Gil-Estel – Review

Artist: Thangorodrim
Album: Gil-Estel
Release date: 16 August 2017
Label: Deivlforst Records

01. Into the Great Battle
02. Ancalagon
03. Vingilótë
04. By the Light of the Silmaril
05. Thangorodrim’s Ruin
06. Bonus: Gil-Estel (Seamless Mix – Whole Album)

The genre of dungeon synth has been steadily increasing in popularity over the last year or two. What started out in the early-mid 90s particularly with Mortiis, as well as a few other artists, many of whom came from the black metal scene, has in these recent years blossomed into a full-blown genre with a number of record labels dedicated to the style and many more solo artists self-releasing troves of lo-fi albums. From a listener’s perspective, entry to this genre at the moment can be quite dizzying and there have been more than a few articles from Bandcamp Daily, among others, that seek to give listeners an introduction to the genre.

As my interest in the genre has increased, I’ve found that the Deivlforst Records label stands out above the rest. The releases often come with limited edition physical media, cassettes and high quality digi-paks have been the norm, but they have recently delved into the vinyl format on their re-issue of Taur-nu-Fuin, also by Thangorodrim, which released simultaneously with this new album Gil-Estel.

Thangorodrim has been hailed as the best dungeon synth artist since Mortiis by more than a few fans and critics of the genre. I won’t make any definitive statement about this, but I can say that I enjoy his music as much as, if not more than, most other dungeon synth projects I’ve heard. I was quick to purchase a copy of that first vinyl, which I assume will sell out reasonably fast, even with it being released in an edition of 300 copies.

Gil-Estel is the fourth release by Thangorodrim since he entered the scene in 2016, and it is his second on Deivlforst Records. On all these releases Thangorodrim has strictly created music inspired by the lore of J.R.R. Tolkien. Each album has focused on a different topic, they are not to be seen as a succession of storyline, running continually from album to album. I will focus in this review only on the two recent releases on Deivlforst, because they are the two full-length releases. It seems worthwhile to cover a bit of Taur-nu-Fuin as it has just seen its vinyl release on the same day as the release of this new album Gil-Estel.

In the lore of J.R.R. Tolkien, Taur-nu-Fuin, a forest in Northern Dorthonion (or the whole of Dorthonion) was a dark and haunted place. It had been filled with horror after the defeated Sauron turned into a vampire and fled to these woods. For this reason, logically, the album Tuar-nu-Fuin had a significantly darker and more gloomy feel than Gil-Estel. The main exception to this being the final track, “Gwindor’s Rest” which had a greater sense of discovery and hope, due to the story surrounding Beleg meeting Gwindor who would help him to find Túrin. The music of Taur-nu-Fuin can be at times gloomy and atmospheric, at other times it can show the signs of conflict and adventure. Within the confines of dungeon synth, the album uses a decent variation of instrumentation from various synths to emulations of flutes, distant choral vocals and various types of drums.

Gil-Estel, in general, has a much more up-beat sound than Taur-nu-Fuin. There is often a sinister vibe to the music, but it rarely touches on those gloomy atmospherics that often arose throughout Taur-nu-Fuin. Considering the subject matter, this makes perfect sense, as Gil-Estel represents epic battles, the death of an enormous dragon and a journey on a marvelously crafted ship.

“Into the Great Battle” unsurprisingly drops us right into the midst of an epic battle, with sounds representing all the guts and glory to be expected within such a foray on Middle Earth. “Ancalagon” is one of the darker songs on the album. The track is named after one of the largest dragons to ever live on Middle Earth. We hear field recordings of winds rushing passed our ears as the great dragon soars through the skies. The final track of the album, “Thangorodrim’s Ruin” depicts the clashing of Ancalagon with Eärendil, who manages to defeat the dragon, casting him down upon the volcanic mountains, named Thangorodrim, totally destroying them in the process.

I have little knowledge of the lore of J.R.R. Tolkien, though I have read The Hobbit and The Children of Húrin and have always had a deep appreciation for Tolkien’s world and mythos building. I have really enjoyed the music of Thangorodrim, even though I knew nothing about the connections to various aspects of Tolkien’s lore. For those well-versed in this mythos I imagine the connections made by Thangorodrim will bring an even greater appreciation for his music. But, they are not necessary to find enjoyment here.

The mastering by Grimrik and the high quality physical release formats of this album provide a great reason to delve into Gil-Estel, as opposed to so many other dungeon synth albums that have been released recently. Adding to this the talents of the man behind Thangorodrim (who is still quite the mystery, only showing his painted face and devoid of social media profiles) this is really a great place to make a first delve into the dungeon synth genre. The only draw-back for me is that I do prefer my dungeon synth to have a consistently dark atmosphere, if one is in agreement with me, I would recommend starting with his previous album, Taur-nu-Fuin. For those already aware of this genre, I imagine you will also find as much to love about Gil-Estel as I have. Whenever I’m in the mood for some dungeon synth, I really can’t go wrong with Deivlforst releases and this one is no exception.

Written by: Michael Barnett

The Final Struggle – Darkness & Death Mix

A mix of dark ambient and death industrial music. The theme of this mix is a story of a dying planet, a protagonist at their wits end, the final struggle between life and death and ultimately defeat. The afterlife is enshrouded in turmoil and the final resting place of the soul is conjectured. This mix is at times serene with strong religiosity, and yet the mood and atmosphere is chaotic and constantly shifting, reflecting the final struggle in the before and after.
Checkout the full tracklist with links to each album at the bottom of this page!
(For some reason the mixcloud app leaves a ton of blank space after it, just scroll further down.)

01. 0:00:00 Shrine – The Night That Hell Broke Loose
02. 0:07:00 Sabled Sun – Black Void
03. 0:09:50 Anemone Tube – Suicidal Fantasy (Negation of Myth II)
04. 0:13:30 R|A|A|N – Arrival of the Sek
05. 0:17:30 Steel Hook Prostheses – The Medicus
06. 0:22:00 Council of Nine – I No Longer Hear You
07. 0:27:50 Svartsinn & Allseits – Falling Pt.2
08. 0:33:10 Climax Denial & Gnawed – He Is Himself Instead Of The Body He Touches
09. 0:39:10 Flowers For Bodysnatchers – Blood Trumpets And Nihilism
10. 0:44:50 The Vomit Arsonist – There Is Nothing Here
11. 0:49:50 Brighter Death Now – There Is Nothing Left In This World
12. 0:55:30 Fear-Modern-Man – Nightmare Death Syndrome
13. 1:01:20 Epiglottis – Her Fifth Visit – “Suicide Attempt”
14. 1:02:30 Spine – The Dying Process
15. 1:09:50 Xerxes The Dark – Departing Scene
16. 1:15:05 Hezaliel – A Death Without Reaction
17. 1:19:40 Yen Pox – Grief Ritual
18. 1:27:50 IRM – Closure V
19. 1:33:50 Paranoia Inducta – Sanctuary of Madness
20. 1:37:35 Anima Nostra – Solemn Majesty
21. 1:42:50 Phragments – The Fire Still Burns
22. 1:48:35 Randal Collier-Ford – Watching Eden Burn
23. 1:52:00 Inade – Abandoned Inferno
24. 1:57:00 Melek-Tha & Corona Barathri – Dark Heresy [The Edge of Darkness]
25. 2:03:35 Monocube – Drowned Sun
26. 2:07:45 Shibalba – Opening The Shadow Box
27. 2:14:00 VelgeNaturlig – The Hum
28. 2:16:15 Cities Last Broadcast – Cornerstone
29. 2:21:30 Theologian & Leila Abdul Rauf – Ziggurat

Veiled Monk – The Acolyte’s Burden – Review

Artist: Veiled Monk
Album: The Acolyte’s Burden
Release date: 16 August 2017
Label: Cephalopagus Records

01. Opening the Night Gate
02. Hall of the Wroth God
03. Subterra
04. The Acolyte’s Burden
05. Speak Death, and Enter

The Acolyte’s Burden is the debut album by Veiled Monk. The music falls somewhere in the realm of dark ambient between ritual and drone ambient styles. While this is his first project as Veiled Monk, the man behind the music has actually been creating music since 2007 under the Melankolia moniker. So the sounds presented on this album are not those of a amateur, the music is crafted with the precision of a master of his trade.

The music on The Acolyte’s Burden is quite varied in style. The opening track, “Opening The Night Gate” is an active form of ritual ambient, starting off quietly with a field recording of dripping water. The music slowly begins to build upon itself, adding further field recordings which paint a dark haunting atmosphere. A voice comes into the mix reciting a verse from some dark malevolent religious sect. Drones are present here but they are not the focus of the track.

The following track, “Hall of the Wroth God” takes us further down that path of ritual ambient. Drones burst through the silence in a bold manner and continue to rumble througout the track. Over the drones we have a variety of field recordings, some industrial noises others sounding like the whispers and gasps of demoniac entities. In the foreground is a chanting similar to some gregorian chants that we would here on raison d’etre or Metatron Omega albums.

The title track, “The Acolyte’s Burden” seems to be using an actual bass guitar to provide the rumbling foundations. Again, throughout the track we hear a plethora of disturbing sounds, seemingly all field recordings captured from some of the darkest and most cryptic places our world has to offer. The track is very subtle and forms a harsh, jarring contrast to the next and final track on the album.

“Speak Death, and Enter” could be described as a marriage between the sounds of Desiderii Marginis and Monocube. There are demoniac growls and chants, while simultaneously a horn like drone builds the background, giving it an almost peaceful feel, directly contrasted against the harsh field recorded sounds.

I don’t usually like to speak in detail on so many specific tracks of an album, and indeed I’ve covered all but one here. The track by track analysis seemed the best way to convey the vast differences and similarities playing off of one another on the album. The dark, haunting field recordings and demoniac voices are the main connectors across the album. Yet, aside from that, each track has a distinct character of its own. Needless to say, this will not be an album with which anyone should become bored. If you like ritual ambient, in any of its varied forms, be it Shibalba, Metatron Omega or those polar opposite types from the artists on Aural Hypnox label, there will be something here to catch your attention.

This is a well executed debut for the Veiled Monk project and a high point for the Cephalopagus label, run by the man behind Araphel. The album is released in the “name your price” format on Bandcamp, so there is really no excuse for not giving it a chance. I, for one, have listened to this album many, many times in the weeks preceding this review and haven’t even gotten close to being tired of it yet. While I’ve used the names of several other artists to convey the in words the sounds presented, I don’t feel that the music has really attempted to mimic, any of these other artists. It seems that Veiled Monk is onto something good here, and we can hope that they continue to stick to this path, of course, with the added refinement that comes in working in a similar format for an extended period of time.

Written by: Michael Barnett

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