Tag: Dungeon Synth (Page 2 of 3)

La Tredicesima Luna – Il Sentiero degli Dei – Review

Artist: La Tredicesima Luna
Album title: Il Sentiero degli Dei
Release date: 13 October 2017
Label: Lighten Up Sounds

01. Parte I – Fuochi sotto le stelle /
Tra due mondi
02. Parte II- Energie ancestrali /
La luce dorata dell’aurora

Matteo Brusa, of the Lombardy region of Italy, has been putting in a lot of work over recent years, building up his name as a dungeon synth artist under the moniker Medhelan. His last major release, Fall of the Horned Serpent, on the Deivlforst label, brought him into the mainstream of the quickly growing dungeon synth community. Now Brusa takes his music in a different direction, and appropriately under a different name.

La Tredicesima Luna is his new project which creates music that falls under the dark ambient genre as opposed to his Medhelan releases which are a bit of a mix, but for the most part classified as dungeon synth. La Tredicesima Luna doesn’t necessarily follow the current trends of dark ambient. His sounds reach back to an older era, closer to the beginnings of the genre (even if this was a decade or so after the actual beginning of the genre). On Il Sentiero degli Dei, Brusa seems to have drawn a lot of inspiration from Burzum and the other early black metal acts, when they were first testing the waters of the dark ambient genre in short spurts on their otherwise black metal albums.

This connection to the black metal/dark ambient cross-overs seems the most obvious in the second track, “Parte II – Energie ancestrali / La luce dorata dell’aurora”. This track has significant similarities to the final track of the Filosofem album by Burzum, “Gebrechlichkeit II”. It follows a similar chord progression using a similar sounding synth sample. This shouldn’t be a surprise as many artists, particularly of the dungeon synth variety, are quick to point toward Burzum as one of their main influences. Furthermore, many well respected artists in that genre have gone so far as to include Burzum covers on their albums.

But, don’t get me wrong about this comparison. Brusa is certainly not looking to just reproduce something that Burzum did roughly 25 years ago. Instead he takes this style as a foundational element and builds onto it with his own ideas to create something that is arguably much more interesting and innovative than was done by Burzum or his black metal contemporaries.

Particularly the opening track of Il Sentiero degli Dei brings forth brilliant soundscapes of drones and meandering synth which are complemented by manipulated field recordings. “Parte I – Fuochi sotto le stelle / Tra due mondi” conjures aural images of deep dark forests, filled with all the creatures that one might manifest in a nightmare. There is a consistently dark otherworldly presence emanating from those most haunted and daemonic shadow regions of the Earth and its other conjoined realms.

The opener gives us a clear and distinct sense of our surroundings, while the other half, “Energie ancestrali / La luce dorata dell’aurora” gives us plenty of space to brood and meditate upon these dark wonders that we have previously conjured. While the track moves on in a rather static manner for its almost fifteen minute length, it is a testament to the skills and vision of Brusa, that it never manages to feel stagnant or redundant.

The release of this album in an ultra-limited edition of 50 professionally duplicated grey cassettes through the Lighten Up Sounds label/distro means that die-hard fans of Medhelan will likely sweep these copies up in a matter of hours/days. This edition will almost surely become a highly sought out physical release over the coming months/years.

Brusa has done what I’ve been hoping to see over the last few years since discovering Medhelan. He’s severed the tie of Medhelan between his dark ambient and dungeon synth output and created an entity for the sole purpose of dark ambient releases. As he moves further into the depths of this cataclysm it’s likely that an already polished sound will be even further refined on future releases. We might be seeing the beginnings here of a big deal within dark ambient circles. Brusa has already proven capable of this feat in the dungeon synth community.

Written by: Michael Barnett

Erang – The First Age – Review

Artist: Erang
Album: The First Age
Release date: 15 September 2017
Label: Self-released

01. 1986
02. The Last Journey of Louis Leroy
03. All Kings Must Die
04. Everything is a Lie
05. Escape of the Lonely Madman
06. Hunt in the Wasteland
07. A Footprint in the Sand of Time
08. Birth of a Shadow
09. La Nuit Noire
10. Through the Darkness of Future’s Past
11. Every Day is the Same
12. Unmasking the Dead Oracle
13. The Underwater Kingdom’s Rebirth
14. Back to the First Age

Five years ago, Erang released Tome I. It was certainly a solid addition to the growing number of like-minded fantasy ambient projects emerging on the Bandcamp platform, but its creator had a much grander vision in mind. Over a dozen releases down the road finds a fully realized musical guide to The Land of Five Seasons, complete with developed characters, places and lore. The First Age comes as both a cross section of the musical development of Erang, but also as a means of tying together a spellbinding dungeon synth narrative.

“Diary of Louis Leron, year 1986… I’ve finally found the last tome, three days ago. The book was exactly what it was supposed to be… They are waiting for me now.” The album’s opening monologue emphasizes the importance of The First Age as a culmination… a definitive enlightenment about the nature of The Kingdom of Erang and its coexistence with our own world. The album’s Bandcamp page provides some clues, allowing listeners to connect the dots as they listen.

After these words, “1986” soon divulges into nostalgic overload, playing every opening track in the discography of Erang in reverse from latest to earliest. While this may translate better for long-time fans, this introduction sets up some of the unique stylistic combinations this album implements. “The Last Journey of Louis Leroy” exemplifies this perfectly with its mixture of medieval and futuristic textures, bridging the gap between Erang’s ventures into synth-wave and his dungeon synth roots with surprisingly natural results.

While there’s still plenty of straightforward dungeon synth tracks on The First Age, their sound has an immensity not commonly heard in this style. “All Kings Must Die” and “Everything is a Lie” feature fleshed out percussion arrangements, expertly layered moving lines and swelling production, inflating its minimalist tendencies to cinematic proportions. Even so, “a Footprint on the Sand of Time” and “Every Day is the Same” still utilize ethereal beauty akin to tabletop role-playing games, maintaining its DIY aesthetic while elaborating on its sonic potential.

While “Escape of the Lonely Madman” reintroduces a recurring character in Erang’s kingdom, “The Underwater Kingdom’s Rebirth” sheds light on a mysterious realm within The Land of Five Seasons. The former’s adventurous tom-tom rhythm and heralding fanfare perfectly encapsulate a foreshadowed event Erang has alluded to throughout his discography, while the latter’s nautical dreariness gives listeners new perspective on The Underwater Kingdom. These world-building songs maintain their musical integrity as Erang uses his songwriting chops to bring his brainchild to life, but the more stand alone tracks are no less noteworthy.
Erang takes contained concepts as opportunities to show off more of his technical facility and atmospheric soundscape construction. “Hunt in the Wasteland” features a triumphant melody at its center under a highly syncopated rhythm structure, but “La Nuit Noire” solidifies itself as the most technical song heard so far in Erang’s discography through neoclassical piano arpeggios. By contrast, “Birth of a Shadow” and “Through the Darkness of Future’s Past” construct spacious landscapes of shimmering tones and dower drones.

Such a diverse array of auras lends The First Age to a wealth of synthetic sounds, which makes each track as unique as any of the others Erang has amassed over his impressive history. “Unmasking the Dead Oracle” encapsulates this pervading skill by using a relatively recognizable dungeon synth template to not only create a memorable song, but also to introduce a new and influential character in Erang’s musical odyssey. In fact, the closing song “Back to the First Age” stands out for being the most old-school dungeon synth cut from the record because every other track on the album treads a singular path in terms of arrangement, production and instrumentation.

Erang has claimed numerous times that this latest album marks the beginning of a time of silence regarding his musical endeavors, and he couldn’t have released a better send off. Even without taking into account the quantum leap it took musically, its narrative encapsulates what has made this project one of the most enduring and beloved in modern dungeon synth.

“‘The Circle is now complete, said the magician…’ ‘this is not a Circle, replied the Dead Oracle… this is a Line…’” this overarching dialogue sums up the significance of The First Age as a simultaneous completion and continuation of Erang’s musical journey. It opens as many doors as it closes — begging for further exploration in The Land of Five Seasons as much as it calls the listener to rest in epiphanic fascination.

Written by: Maxwell Heilman

Medhelan – Ticinum Insubria – Review

Artist: Medhelan
Album: Ticinum Insubria
Release date: 25 February 2015, Re-release 2017 on Cassette
Label: Self-released

01. Il Viaggio Di Belloveso (Bellovesus’ Journey)
02. Il Ramo Delle Streghe (the Witches’ Marsh)
03. La Luna E Il Fiume (The Moon and the River)
05. Nemeton
05. Epona
06. Oltre il Cerchio del Tempo (Beyond the Circle of Time)
07. Alba Insubre
08. Belisama
09. Terra Di Nebbia (Land of Mists)
10. Gli Spiriti Del Bosco (Spirits of the Woods)
11. An Thon
12. Samonios
13. Ticinum Insubria
Note: Track 06 is only available on the cassette version.

Matteo Brusa, the man behind Medhelan, has been slowly solidifying himself as a force within the dungeon synth and dark ambient genres over the last few years. While Brusa’s first release only came about in 2015, we shall see that the lead up to these releases have been years in the making. Medhelan is, at this point, most well known for his strictly dungeon synth albums. But, what first attracted me to his sounds was the combination, on several albums, of dungeon synth with dark ambient. Medhelan seems to have quite a good grasp on the spirit and formulae behind both of these genres, and his ability to casually meander between the two is noteworthy.

Ticinum Insubria, the album in question for today’s review, was actually the first full length effort by Medhelan, releasing in early 2015. Ticinum Insubria would be the first of his pairings of dark ambient and dungeon synth. That year would also see the release of his EP, The Minstrel’s Fireplace Tales, which is strictly dungeon synth. Later that year, he released Nocturnal Wanderings, as the title makes obvious, its an album that is perfect for those late-night hours of insomnia, when the mind is floating between the realms of consciousness and slumber. By October of 2015, Medhelan released A Crown of Ice and Stone, a split with winter synth master Elador. This was my introduction to Medhelan, as I’m a huge Elador fan. Though these releases were well enough received, 2016 would be the year that brought the name Medhelan to the “mainstream” of the dungeon synth genre. In July of 2016 Brusa released the album Fall of the Horned Serpent on Deivlforst Records. Anyone with a cursory knowledge of the present dungeon synth scene should be very familiar with Deivlforst Records. This album took his work in the dungeon synth genre to the next level, finding universal praise for his efforts among the dungeon synth scene, and quickly selling out the digipak version of the release.

The cassette release of Ticinum Insubria, in 2017, gives us reason to travel back to the roots of Brusa’s musical compositions. Ticinum Insubria was actually written and recorded in 2007-2008, but it wouldn’t find its way to the public for almost a decade. This release is a brilliant example of how the genres of dark ambient and dungeon synth can mingle in perfect harmony, given the correct artist at the helm.

While the album certainly leans more in the direction of dungeon synth than it does dark ambient, there are enough cross-over elements to warrant labeling it as both. Even if the dark ambient elements often lie dormant in the background, I truly believe this is the sort of album, if there ever were one, that could attract a number of dark ambient followers to the cause of dungeon synth.

The opening track “Il Viaggio di Belloveso” (Bellovesus’ Journey) begins with field recordings of what sounds like a distant storm or maybe an incoming army. The synth slowly enters the mix in the form of a gentle drone. As the track unfolds percussion leads us into a combination of synth and guitar arrangements that give the feel of an adventure just beginning, which is portraying the start of the journey of Bellovesus. Bellovesus was a legendary Gallic king. Bellovesus, around the time of 600 BCE, invaded northern Italia during the reign of Tarquinius Priscus (616BCE-579BCE), the 5th king of the original Roman kingdom, which would soon afterward fall, being replaced by the Roman Republic, that legendary political order which would survival until its ultimate demise at the hands of Julius Caesar and his heir Octavianus (Augustus).

This opening track gives us a very specific time and place, we know exactly what, where and when to have in mind as the rest of the album proceeds. After this first track, most of what follows focuses more on the depiction of moods and landscapes rather than continuing with any specific narrative. We are able to imagine the places encountered by Bellovesus and his army as he makes his way south into the Italian peninsula. We can feel the emotional effects of his journey, some times serene and reflective, other times nefarious and bellicose.

“La Luna e il Fiume” (The Moon and the River) is a track that brilliantly showcases the dark ambient/dungeon synth crossover capabilities of Medhelan. A great rumbling field recording sets the foundation and mood, while various synth sounds are used to build a narrative atop this base. Again, the track is most definitely dungeon synth, but the use of dark ambient elements, by way of the field recording and a slowly moving violin-like synth/drone element, deliberately work together with the other synths to form a track which is full-bodied and highly atmospheric as well as entertaining.

“Oltre il Cerchio del Tempo” (Beyond the Circle of Time), the track exclusive to the cassette release, is one of the more relaxing and reserved compositions on the album. It features subtle percussion and a repetitive synth arrangement which come together to give the listener the feeling of relaxing in a deep lush forest, watching the birds soar above, as a babbling brook meanders through the thick of the forest. The track title gives us the idea that Medhelan may intend for this to be a time for thinking of more lofty concepts, the greater meaning of life, our place and role within the galaxy, etc.

The 2017 cassette release of Ticinum Insubria was self-released by Medhelan. Yet, the craftsmanship of the release meets or exceeds that of most dark ambient and dungeon synth tape labels. The cassette itself is beautifully presented in white with a sticker on both sides which perfectly captures the Gallic elements of the release. The cover of the j-card features alternate artwork and a logo created by Dan Capp, an artist well-known and revered within the dungeon synth community for his work on the majority of the Deivlforst releases as well as many of the later releases of Burzum to name a few. The j-card folds-out to reveal a larger logo and the following text, which helps the listener to better understand the theme of the album.

Inspired by history, folklore and Celtic roots of the Ticino Valley, in northern Italy, “Ticinum Insubria” is meant as a journey through natural landscapes of woods, marshlands, rivers and plains, following trails of historical events, painting pictures of ancient times and legendary places, evoking pagan deities and forgotten rituals, or searching for the witches, tree spirits and mythical creatures of old folk tales.

As I’ve already mentioned, this is the perfect release for dark ambient fans that have been looking for a good introduction to the quickly growing genre of dungeon-synth. There are many branches of the genre that deviate from those introduced by Mortiis back in the early 90s. This is but one of those branches, yet it is surely a highlight amongst its peers.

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 archive.org 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 atriumcarceri.com.”

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.

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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

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

Vond – Green Eyed Demon – Retro Review

Artist: Vond
Album: Green Eyed Demon
Original release date: 1997
Re-release date: 10 January 2017
Original label: Cybertzara
Re-release label: Funeral Industries

01. My Dying Day
02. Living Among the Remains of Dead People
03. Satan at My Back
04. To the Dreamer Dead and the Dreamer Dying
05. Hell Starts Now

Green Eyed Demon is the third and final album by Vond, a side project of Mortiis. These three albums were created from 1994 through 1998. Green Eyed Demon was initially released on the Cybertzara label. Now, almost 20 years later, Mortiis has re-released this album through his own label, Omnipresence.

Many of our readers should be very familiar with Mortiis. Several of his Era 1 albums were released through the late, legendary Cold Meat Industry, which was the launch pad for many of the forefathers of the dark ambient scene. The main project of Mortiis started as what is now called dungeon synth. He would later transition into dark wave / goth rock / goth metal or whatever other classification would best describe his varied sounds. But the lesser known side-project Vond, is the one which would be best suited to fans of the dark ambient genre. Vond may not in every aspect fall perfectly into the framework of traditional dark ambient, but it is probably the closest genre to this music.

The album Green Eyed Monster consists almost exclusively of the manipulation and layering of cinematic samples. Throughout the album, Vond sets the foundation for each track with a blend of dense industrial soundscapes and noises. This is industrial in the literal sense of the word, not the genre. We can hear machinery humming, the crashing and hammering of metal, steam releasing through valves. On top of this foundation Vond pieces together a plethora of samples of various cinematics.

The opening track, “My Dying Day”, focuses on descriptions of the early use of the electric chair in the United States prison system. The samples of a narrator describe the procedure in minute detail. Occasionally intertwined with these samples are Gregorian chants, which add a sort of perverse beauty to the composition. All this is placed on top of a thick foundation of industrial noises, which easily brings to mind early works of raison d’être, with particular similarities to the album Within the Depths of Silence and Phormations. As both artists were on the Cold Meat Industry roster during this period, it isn’t hard to imagine that they were likely borrowing a bit of inspiration from one another. Though I should make it clear that these similarities are not nearly enough to warrant calling one or the other a follower or copycat of the other’s style.

The following track, “Living Among the Remains of Dead People”, incorporates large portions of an old film, which appears to be of a documentary format, though it is actually a horror film posing as documentary footage. The story follows the demented and evil deeds of a psychopath by the name of Ezra Cobb. The narrative explains the progression of Cobb’s mental collapse from his initial attempts to cope with the death of his mother through his later acts of grave-robbing and necrophilia. Along with the narrative, Vond layers in samples of the man screaming “mother!” and other sound clips which add to the immersion for the listener.

My favorite track from the album, “To the Dreamer Dead and the Dreamer Dying”, takes us closer to the sounds of Era I Mortiis than much of the other output on  the Vond albums. There is much more prevalent use of the synthesizer on this track. Initially, we can hear a wind instrument, later it shifts to a sound which comes closer to a bass guitar that eventually is treated with distortion. As the track progresses the synth work moves into territory that would be very fitting on some soundtrack to a film, which is obviously a natural choice here, on an album that is full of cinematic samples. Aside from the synthesizer, Vond incorporates a variety of cinematic samples which seem to take us into some of the worst sagas of Christian history.

Green Eyed Demon has been given an impressive re-release. While it doesn’t appear that there was any re-mastering done, the physical copies of this album will be a delight to the avid collector. Through Mortiis‘ web-store there is finally an official digital copy of the album. A limited edition LP is presented in several different variations, including: black, blue, testpress, and there are even some copies of the original 1997 pressing available. The album is also released for the first time on CD in an A5 digipak.

For long-time fans of Mortiis, there will be nothing new here aside from the beautifully crafted re-release editions. But, for newer fans, just recently discovering his older phases and side-projects, Green Eyed Demon, as well as the other Vond albums, should be a delightful discovery. Vond definitely shows off a side of Mortiis’ talents that should be highly attractive to fans of dark ambient music. Its gritty production is a reminder of the old days of the dark ambient genre, back before everything could be done with a computer and midi controller. It’s also a reminder of the varied nature of Mortiis‘ interests. I would love to see these old albums draw enough attention to maybe get Mortiis to consider opening the vaults of Vond for one more chapter.

Written by: Michael Barnett

Frozen In Time: Weekly News 4 July 2017

There are a ton of new releases this week. Probably half of which are lesser known projects released in the ‘name your price’ format. So it’s a perfect time to branch out and find some new music to complement your summer. I’ll be separating these releases into two categories: the first will be the usual dark ambient releases, the second will be ‘On the Periphery’ releases which aren’t particularly dark ambient but I have deemed them to be of interest to dark ambient listeners. I’d love to hear your feedback on the latter, so I can get a gauge of how interesting these things are to This Is Darkness’ readers. As a friendly reminder, there is a Patreon account now for This Is Darkness and we could really use any support that our dedicated readers could offer. You can become a patron here. I hope everyone in the northern hemisphere is having a great summer, and those of you down south… I’m jealous!

Music Videos

Josco & Spheruleus – New Video for “Samila”
Check out the full album, available for pre-orders here.

New Releases & Preorders

A Bleeding Star – New Single Released (Digital Only)
“Hex’d Complex to tell ‘Vhat’s Spinnin’ ‘Round My Head​.​.​.​So Here’s How It Sounds Instead” is the latest track by A Bleeding Star whom appears to be releasing weekly tracks at this point. “name your price” so give it a try!

Alio Die & Aglaia – New Album
“Since the late 80s, Stefano Musso has recorded deep, evocative experimental ambient & electro-acoustic soundscapes under the name Alio Die.
His music is a shadowy, cavernous, intensely detailed fusion of acoustical elements, step-and-repeat sample treatments, sparse, echoing percussion, and deep, atmospheric sound design, textural passages..by the music’s vague, entropic formlessness.”

b°tong – Two New Albums Available For Preorder (Reverse Alignment – CD/Digital)
Reverse Alignment says about the project, “Since getting to know Chris Sigdell from a distance in 2010, sending the label a promo copy of The Great Disintegrator, and onwards recognising the release of his project b°tong ‎ through labels such as Attenuation Circuit, Greytone and Silken Tofu, we met up in the flesh in 2016. Since then the label invited him to master last years releases from Ajna, Valanx and Dronny Darko and now releases his project b°tong’s two new albums Monastic and The Long Journey.

Haft Teppeh – New Album Streaming On Bandcamp (Stream Only)
Yume is the debut album by Haft Teppeh. Haft Teppeh says of the project, “Dark ambient for those addicted to the dreamworld. Influences from Kammarheit, Atrium Carceri, Raison d’etre, Axis of Perdition”

Halgrath – New Single Released
“Air Meditation” “In the Mountain valley you can feel the wind of southern sea… here, above the world all your thoughts are opened for memorizing previous lives, where you was someone else. You know the depts of disappointment, you’ve been in most crytical troubles.
Now you know, that sun light is setting you free from the old pain and opens the gate for the new air.”

IMPERIVM LVCIFERI – New Album Release (Deivlforst – CD/Digital)
Imperivm Lvciferi is the debut release by this mysterious dark/drone ambient project which could be most closely compared to the 90s project, Neptune Towers. It’s quite an interesting album, find out more about it on my review here.

Leonard Donat – New Album Released (Blackjack Illuminist Records – CD/Cassette/Digital)
Deer Traps is a nice blend of meditative drones, neo-classical, and dark ambient.

Of Flesh & Mashines – New Single Released (Digital Only)
“Deprivation” is a nice blend of classical piano and dark ambient leaning experimental sounds. Its a truly interesting and unique track, released on Bandcamp as “name your price”, so give it a try!

Rapoon – New Live Sleep Album Released
Disambiguation (sleepy dreamy nighty snoozy) is part of Rapoon’s performance at Avantgarde Festival Schiphorst from June of 2017.

TUSEN AR UNDER JORDsandhavens genklang – LP [Verlautbarung]
Despite the perhaps obvious nod and reference to some of Muslimgauze’s more atmospheric excursions this new work of Tusen Ar Under Jord holds a different character, like the one of a lone wandering explorer setting up his recording equipment a little wherever necessary. The grainy picture is still at hand but focus has turned to spiritual elevation instead of grey introspection. Tablas churn, smokescreens come and go, as the carpets are rolled out on the shifting sands. Total recommendation! In thick disco sleeve with contemporary packaging.

Unexplained Sounds Group – New Compilation Released (Digital Only)
“Frontiers: the limit of knowledge or the most advanced achievement in a particular field, or an outer limit in a field of endeavor, especially one in which the opportunities for research and development have not been exploited. Difficult to say when, in the musical aesthetics field, we can apply that definition. Certainly it’s always an arbitrary and limited choice. By all means I tried to collect a group of musicians and sound designers who make a great effort into stretching the electronic and electro-acoustic music possibilities, searching for new expression paths, mostly indifferent to music trends. They come from Sweden, US, Canada, Italy, France, Japan, Belgium, Scotland, Germany, and some of them are well known to the Unexplained Sounds network followers. Others are recent discoveries from the underground experimental electronic scene. All united by the same passion to explore the frontiers of unknown and possible musics.”

News ‘On The Periphery’ 

.cut feat. Gibet – New EP Released (attenuation circuit – Digital Only)
3 is thhe latest release on the attenuation circuit label. The sounds here are a bit experimental, but certainly dark and brooding. “name your price” on Bandcamp.

Cosmic Canyon – New Single Released (The Eagle Stone Collective – Digital Only)
“Droning 28948” is a three track single which delves into styles like drone/ambient/dark-ambient/americana just to name a few. There should definitely be some things to enjoy about this from fans of dark ambient, though I wouldn’t fully place it in that category. “name your price” so it can’t hurt to give it a try!

Effluvium & Blood Tower – New Split EP Released
This split is a nice combination of genres. There are obvious influences from dark ambient, dungeon synth, black metal & neo-classical featured on this album. The digital album is available now on their bandcamp site for only $1 and they will be selling any remaining CDs there as well, if they do not sell out on the Effluvium summer tour.

THE HOLY CIRCLE – New Music Video
“Paris” (Dir. Danielle Damico)
Official Video for Baltimore synthpop/shoegaze trio THE HOLY CIRCLE. Directed by DANIELLE DAMICO. Buy the physical of their new album on Annihilvs Power Electronix here. Or you can preview and purchase the digital album here.

Toàn – Preorders Available For New Album (eilean rec. – CD/Digital)
Toàn is a French electronic musician based in Britain. As a beatmaker, he has produced several albums mixing jazz and hip hop influences under the pseudonym of Qiwu Selftet. Toàn is now focuses on freer musical forms, close to ambient and modern classical.
Without using any synths, Histós Lusis is entirely composed by samples found on old records, live instruments and field recordings.

Tunguska Electronic Music Society – New Compilation Released (Digital Only)
You will find on this release a wide range of sounds like ambient/dark-ambient/chill-out/downtempo all of which make for a nice relaxing experience. Released as “name your price” is it’s a good time to get to know this label. “The community named “Tunguska Electronic Music Society” was created by several musicians and composers on the threshold of centenary of the Tunguska phenomenal catastrophe, in order to capture the public attention to such an extraordinary event.
The musical component in the work of community is the melodious instrumental and electronic music.”

Other News

The APPARITIONS series of performances by M. Kardinal & Monocube has released two videos of their last performance here. Using analog equipment to produce audio and visual art which complement one another M. Kardinal & Monocube have created a very interesting and creative series of A/V experiences. Check back to this page often to see more of their work as it becomes available.
There will be an upcoming performance @ Spektrum in Berlin on 07/07/17.

Flowers For Bodysnatchers has taken part in the latest horror short from CryptTV. The Thing In The Apartment: Chapter II stars Ashlynn Yennie and Michael Marinaccio. Music is produced by Flowers For Bodysnatchers. Cinematography by Oliver Young. Produced by Jon Judelson. Special creature effects by Vincent Guastini. Written and directed by John William Ross. You can see the first chapter of this short here.

Annihilvs Power Electronix – Latest Newsletter
Keep up to date on the latest happenings with APEX. They’ve recently started moving in high gear and have a lot of announcements for upcoming releases and live shows. Read the newsletter here.

This Is Darkness Week In Review

A Lovecraftian Video Game
This is the first game review on This Is Darkness. Conarium is available on PC, Xbox One and PS4. Conarium doesn’t rely so heavily on the Lovecraft lore that players unfamiliar with his work would feel lost. The developers did a good job of building relevant Lovecraft references into the story in a way that felt natural. However, as a huge fan of H.P. Lovecraft and having read just about every story he’s written or revised at this point, I found the more subtle references to his works really added to my enjoyment of and immersion in the game. With this in mind, I would highly recommend Conarium to any gamers that enjoy reasonably complicated puzzle games and have a true passion for the works of H.P. Lovecraft. There are enough adventure elements and varied locations to hold the interest of those of us whom grow bored reasonably quickly without constantly stimulating content. It really seems that Zoetrope took all their experience with their previous games and built upon it, bringing their work closer to perfection. Instead of diving into some unknown game style, a habit of many companies, which often leaves their inexperience obvious for all to see, and can ultimately destroy the immersion and render the game-play lacking in depth, cohesion and/or playability. I hope to see more similarly styled games from Zoetrope in the future. They are certainly on the right track.
Check out the full review here.

IMPERIVM LVCIFERI is, unsurprisingly, another brilliant success for Deivlforst Records. Yet one more solid piece of work to add to their already illustrious catalog of releases. In just a few years they have solidified their position at the forefront among dungeon synth labels and they seem to subtly underline continuously that they are not limited to this genre alone, but instead occasionally make side-steps to other genres, while picking only very interesting albums for these. With IMPERIVM LVCIFERI Deivlforst again continue to slowly expand outside the confines of dungeon synth. Their fan-base is likely to grow even further with this release. As the label continues progressing into another year of existence, divining what will come next proves ever more complicated, but definitely makes us eager to hear.
Read the full review here.

Vladimír Hirsch – Scripta Soli
Vladimír Hirsch is certainly a man of many hats. His musical interests and ventures are almost too many to count. Yet, when he sets his mind to focus strictly upon dark ambient, he proves to be one of the greats. Scripta Soli is able to stand confidently along side some of the most memorable albums of the genre. His array of techniques and styles make Scripta Soli an attractive release for those just discovering the genre as well as those whom followed it for decades. Any discerning fan of the genre certainly needs to experience this release, there should be very few fans to view this release in a negative light.
Read the full review here.

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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.

IMPERIVM LVCIFERI – Self Titled – Review

Release date: 1 July 2017
Label: Deivlforst Records

01. Lvcifer’s Fall
02. Regency of Chaos

IMPERIVM LVCIFERI is the latest release on Deivlforst Records. IMPERIVM LVCIFERI is a bit of an oddity because the identities of the album’s creators have been concealed, it is only said that they are both already on Deivlforst. So the music is forced to speak for itself, without any preconceived notions about the musicians’ history or progression being considered. The second odd thing about this release is that it falls firmly into the style of old-school analog dark/drone ambient. While the majority of releases on Deivlforst are squarely rooted in dungeon synth, IMPERIVM LVCIFERI paves a wholly different path for the label. We have previously seen Die Mauern Der Nacht by Grimrik and Songs from the Fyrgen by Wolcensmen, both of which veered from the path of dungeon synth. This is the third out of some 28 releases to diverge from the dungeon synth (and black metal in the case of Arath) roots. Maybe this is a hint at the future direction of the label, expanding further into other genres.

The mention of black metal above does give us a bit of direction in comparing this with the other releases on Deivlforst, as well as other releases in the history of these related genres. Most dungeon synth music can find its roots in black metal and in a round-about way, this latest release by IMPERIVM LVCIFERI also finds some connections to those black metal roots. IMPERIVM LVCIFERI have taken a lot of inspiration from the two decades old releases by Neptune Towers on Moonfog Productions, back in 1994 and 1995. Neptune Towers was the side-project of Fenriz of Darkthrone and Isengard fame. These two releases, Caravans To Empire Algol and Transmissions From Empire Algol, took Neptune Towers into some deep space astral synth territory. The music had its occasional hints of something like dungeon synth arising during certain moments. There were also some hints of their black metal roots in some of the distorted guitar based drones used on the albums. But the main focus of Neptune Towers was on their analog drone-work which slowly morphed and evolved over the roughly 40 minute length of each album.

Getting into the specifics of the IMPERIVM LVCIFERI project, we can find music that honors those old Neptune Towers albums. The self-titled debut IMPERIVM LVCIFERI takes that basis of deep space astral synth and molds it into a more terrestrial creation. The sounds take on the feel of ritualistic ambient, while the actual sound sculpting itself mainly comes from a single KORG MS-20 mini analog synthesizer – the instrument was sent across Europe to be used by both artists. These ritual sounds, as the project’s name would imply, are focused on invoking the spirit and visions of the dark lord Himself, Lucifer. Since the music is only prepared with an analog synthesizer, we must allow the imagery, track titles and a bit of creativity to help us understand the thematics. There aren’t vocals or field recordings present to spoon-feed listeners the story of the fall and underworldly reign of Lucifer.

The album is exactly forty minutes in length and it is split evenly into two tracks: “Lvcifer’s Fall” and “Regency of Chaos”. While as a whole the album is highly secretive, and specifically avoids naming its actual creators, we are given a few small hints about the origins. “Lvcifer’s Fall” was recorded by The Left Hand Path in Germany with the assistance of an analog Roland TB-303 clone and “Regency of Chaos” was recorded by The Observing Eye in Italy with the assistance of various noise generators. Any further information about the project’s origins has been withheld. Maybe they will be revealed in time, or maybe Deivlforst will opt to keep this musical collaboration enshrouded in its current level of secrecy.

“Lvcifer’s Fall” is quite lively in its execution. It immediately delves into some high tempo and high attack synth which slowly evolves over the first eight minutes. If we are using the theme of the fall of Lucifer as the basis for these sounds, this section seems to be part of that initial confrontation which would lead to the removal of Lucifer from heaven. By the nine minute mark, the sounds slow considerably. As if the confrontation has ended and Lucifer is now facing the prospect of His descent from the heavens. The intensity gently increases as we move toward the end of the track, which seems to symbolize the actual fall itself.

The second half of the album, “Regency of Chaos” starts off much more subtely than “Lvcifer’s Fall”. The atmosphere begins in a quiet, somber setting. The synthesizer moves at a slow tempo, allowing the sounds to gently increase in their intensity as the track progresses. By ten minutes into “Regency of Chaos” the music has risen to its high-mark. That same gentle bassy foundation is still present, but other sounds have come into the fold. This progression seems to symbolize Lucifer’s first moments in the underworld, when His kingdom was not yet fully realized. But as the track progresses, so too does Lucifer’s vision of His new kingdom. By the close of the album, there are disturbing sounds, which almost seem to represent those infernal depths, soundscapes wrought in the bowels of Hell itself.

As is usually the case with Deivlforst releases, the packaging (6-panel digipack CD) is sure to be of the highest quality. Grimrik has mixed and mastered the album, as well as edited the artist photos. As any fan of Deivlforst knows, Grimrik never disappoints when it comes to his (post-)production standards and execution. The talented artist Will Helm contributes the simple yet gorgeous cover art, depicting the pentagram behind a snake coiled around a sword, which is adorned with a crown, surely representing the rule of Lucifer. The package is arranged into its ultimate layout by none other than Dan Capp, renowned for his previous Deivlforst work as well as his work with black metal legend Burzum, among others. As the album will be manufactured in an ultra-limited edition of only fifty copies, die-hard Deivlforst fans should move very quickly to secure their copy. The release will likely sell-out in a very short time-frame.

IMPERIVM LVCIFERI is, unsurprisingly, another brilliant success for Deivlforst Records. Yet one more solid piece of work to add to their already illustrious catalog of releases. In just a few years they have solidified their position at the forefront among dungeon synth labels and they seem to subtly underline continuously that they are not limited to this genre alone, but instead occasionally make side-steps to other genres, while picking only very interesting albums for these. With IMPERIVM LVCIFERI Deivlforst again continue to slowly expand outside the confines of dungeon synth. Their fan-base is likely to grow even further with this release. As the label continues progressing into another year of existence, divining what will come next proves ever more complicated, but definitely makes us eager to hear.

Written by: Michael Barnett

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