Some of my fascination with dungeon synth comes from how small of a genre it is. This may seem trivial at first, until one realizes that one can experience the rate of growth along with a genre that is blossoming. Unlike heavy metal, or pop, or even smaller genres like psych or trance, it is difficult to see genres in real-time. Every month I have been going to Bandcamp and listening to each of the newest arrivals. Every month the array of albums has been manageable since last visiting. This month was the first where things seemed to grow in numbers. What I have noticed, at least on Bandcamp, is the number of dungeon synth musicians is growing and the quality is getting better.
Kalmankantaja has been a favorite of mine ever since discovering their 4, 2014 full lengths by complete surprise. It should also be noted that Kalmankantaja is a black metal band from Finland and I was not prepared for them to show up during my monthly dungeon synth crawl. Metsäkalmisto II is a 20 minute EP of dark ambient music, which sort of shoots for the middle between dungeon synth and ethereal ambient. The tone of the keyboards is very similar to dungeon synth but the overall presentation is like a more accessible Neptune Towers. This (which band? Neptune Towers or Kalmankantaja?) band has been a recent favorite and their recent jump into the icy waters of dark ambient is a welcome treat.
Yes. Hell yes. Sequestered Keep is from Utah, and although the artist doesn’t come from fantastically majestic surroundings, they know how to take an immersive dive into classic dungeon synth landscapes. Regal and methodical, Sequestered Keep moves along at the pace of a royal procession, making its way over a foggy road. With high fantasy as its theme, The Land Beyond Dreams dives deep into hazy motifs and excels at ruminating in the subterranean.
What? A dungeon synth record devoted to the classic Advanced Dungeons and Dragons module Temple of Elemental Evil? Oh, the songs are chronologically ordered with the journey into the mega dungeon; starting at the wild coast and ending around the third level of the dungeon? Despite the music being fascinating to listen to, the level of dedication to their source material, and the idea that inspired dungeon synth as a whole, is perhaps the most charming thing about this record. I am ready to finish this dungeon because Lord knows I never finished it before.
Algiz Dawn is from New Zealand and, if I did not know any better, the only release from this artist could easily fit into the new age category. In fact, Askeladden seems entirely concerned with childhood memories and dreams that it forgets entirely about wizards and caves of evil. This fact gives Askeladden a unique place to stand in a landscape of black and white illustrations and people running around in costumes. The 4 NZD price for this record converts to about 2.75 USD, which seems reasonable for a short 4 track EP. If you want to fall asleep in a bed of flowers and remember home, this is a perfect place to do so.