Disorder from El Salvador: Rock Stars and Corruption

El Salvador is one of those places that evokes images of amazing nature, beautiful beaches and blue sea. The country also is home to a metal scene, slowly turning its attention outward to the wide world that has been conquered by metal music. Disorder is one of those bands for certain. And Jorge Montesino (M.Q.) loves to tell about his music.

El Salvador may be depicted as a paradise, but up until 1992 the country was racked by a raging civil war. This has been the theme for Disorders lyrics for a long time. The country is still reeling from that period and crime rates are still particularly high. This has an impact on the music that is made in the country.

Like many other countries south of the states, metal music has found a place and expression in El Salvador. For some bands the story of their country can be found in their music. Disorder has been telling that story for years as we’ll find.

Hi, could you first of kindly introduce yourself to the readers.

[M.Q.] Hello this is M.Q. Speaking in charge of the chaotic chords and vomits on this band, thanks for the interest in us and for the interview. Drums are handled by V.K. And that’s it, a two member’s band.

Which bands really shaped your interest in this sort of music and how did you get started in this?

[M.Q.] I got started listening to metal in the early 90s with the 80s heavy and thrash metal bands and then with the 90s traditional death metal bands. There are many bands that influenced me in the very beginning but to mention one of the more important ones is Deceased from USA and of course for the music but also for the passion King Fowley has after all these years and keep playing live and creating music it is just inspiring for me.

Disorder band-boss M.Q. (vocals, guitar, bass)
Disorder band-boss M.Q. (vocals, guitar, bass)

Disorder has been in existence for a good 22 years. Can you tell a bit about the history of the band? How did you get to the point you are at now.

[M.Q.] Well I started to make music for this band alone around 1992/1993, after that I looked for other people to get a live line-up, it was very primitive in that era, no internet, no money to get good music gear but I managed to release a demo and an album independently by the hands of PUS Records, supposedly my first label. Around early 2000’s things went bad with the other members, they tried to kick me out and get the name of band so then I decided to end it in late 2002. We parted ways and at that point I immediately started to work on a new band, named Spiritual Demise. Later it changed name to Conceived by Hate. From 2002 to 2010 I constantly got emails or people asking about DISORDER if there were still CDs or Tapes available and so forth… I saw there was still a lot of interest in the band and in 2011 I decided to bring it back to life as a studio project, as a two member band and that’s it.

I’m very interested in your lyrical matter, I understand your theme is mostly the history of El Salvador. Many people are probably not too familiar with that. Could you elaborate a bit on that, give us some general background?

[M.Q.] Well, at the beginning there was a strong necessity to talk about that window of the civil war. I always try to be natural when composing music and writing lyrics, maybe in the 90s I was very interested in those topics but now time changed and the reality of our country is different. In a way I think some lyrics are still tagged to the civil war but now talking about the effects caused by the end of war, our country is bounded by a lot of violence and at a certain point I think we are used to it and learn how to live with it and go on. Unfortunately this country is trapped in a sea of corruption, mafia, social discrimination, political bullshit and lack of opportunities for most of people.

It’s quite difficult to measure it but I think that most of people are used to see or hear about violent deaths in the country. It’s the daily news here so I think we are used to it so I guess this could translate to the fact that in terms of metal music the extreme genres are more popular in the underground. Maybe because it helps to release that energy or like a catharsis. If we talk about the level of corruption in governments and all the bullshit on political parties, this could translate to the sense of anger on the compositions of younger bands. We can include hardcore and punk bands. There is a lack of trust in all that bullshit and a lot of anger to be released, because of frustration about injustice and the lack of opportunities for people to grow and have a decent life.

So for sure, all these situations translate to having more aggressive music from the local bands and I may say in bands of the whole region of Central America, than scenes you find in other countries that have higher life standards. I was hearing a short interview from a Venezuelan band I like and may work with in the future on my label that the reason why Colombia had the Ultrametal legacy, was because of the level of chaos that was present in that society. That boiling society vomited all that aggressive music called Ultrametal, that’s the legacy Colombia has in underground metal and this guy mentioned this because there is such a similar chaos now happening in Venezuela. That situation is generating new bands who vomit out such evil, blasphemous and aggressive metal. So in general Latin America countries are struggling with all this political bullshit, which causes low life standards which in turn create such level of aggression in the music.

If someone finds himself in El Salvador and in need of some metal music, what are places to go?

[M.Q.] Ten years ago, there were some big stores where you could find metal albums to buy. Most of them were run by people just for making money and I think they were not real metalheads. Since downloads started from the internet all those stores closed, so right now there are no big stores selling metal. People started to purchase directly from internet and there are some people that purchase from internet to resell locally, using virtual webstores as Facebook fan pages. Maybe you can count on your fingers the amount of online stores like the one I have for Morbid Skull Records that sell locally and internationally.

I think the reason for the lack of record stores is that you will not make money out of it. Or if you do make some money, is not so worth it in comparison to the time and efforts you will have to invest on doing it. So now it’s more like doing it for the passion and not for the money. I think there’ll be little people doing that in the next few years.

Disorder drummer V.K.
Disorder drummer V.K.

So, you’ve got plenty of other projects going on (as in bands). Which ones are you working on currently and how do you decide if material you write is suitable for one or the other project?

[M.Q.] Yes, in this decade I started to be involved in many bands and also the label (Morbid Skull Records) again. I just think and do it naturally, but try to keep certain separation in terms of music composition so that each band has something different and may be interesting from a different point of view. I think the process never stop for each band or project it is a constant situation on which you can get inspired and create riffs or lyrical topics that fit one of them so I constantly work in all projects but always try to focus in 2 or 1 to get them finished soon.

How do you guys work on material for Disorder now as a two-piece? What is the writing/recording process like for you and who has what role in this process?

[M.Q.] As mentioned before I reactivated this band back in 2011 as a solo project and at the start V.K., who is also the drummer of Morbid Stench and Conceived by Hate, helped me to record the drums for ‘En El Rio Del Olvido’ (2014). After that I decided the he joins the band as permanent member. The writing process generally starts by putting together the music structure and then the lyrics, when song is ready I get a raw mix with basic drum machine and send it to V.K. And when he is ready we record the drums and that’s it.

Your lyrics are in Spanish, this makes it for many listeners hard to figure them out (those in the Anglophone countries). Was it a conscious choice not to go for English? Or the other way around to go for Spanish and why?

[M.Q.] At the starts I wrote mostly songs in Spanish and a few in English. Since Spanish is my native language I decided to keep it like that, I know it would be hard for the band to get some people interested in Anglophone countries, but I just wanted to keep it native on the lyrics side. Also when I reactivated it I already had other projects where I was singing in English so I kept it in Spanish just to be different from the other projects and keep it interesting to me.

You’ve recently released the album ‘Fuego Negro’. A daunting bit of death metal, with pounding energy and wild thrashing passages a bit of an Entombed like death’n’roll vibe (to me at least). Can you tell us a bit about this album, how it came to be and what story are you telling on this one.

[M.Q.] Yes, it was released on April 21st by Symbol of Domination and Morbid Skull Records, I am thinking about releasing it on tape format on my label soon. Well, I have been working on this album for maybe 2 years and my intention was to make it full of speed and aggression. Not complex structures, just in your face attitude. In the lyrics you find songs talking about one of the cancers of society in Latin America, which are the religious shepherds and congregations that just drain people’s salaries to live like kings. I also talked about the current violent environment we have in our country and how justice and governments are rotten to the core by corruption and the mafia and there are other topics maybe related to personal beliefs.

So what is ‘Fuego Negro’?

[M.Q.] Fuego Negro means Black Fire in English and in my personal point of view is that inner energy that make you see far beyond the written reality, a motivation to improve your strength and move forward while you be on this plane.

I understand that Disorder is currently a studio project. This album however, to me feels like the sort of record that could prompt a crowd to burst into radical frenzy and insane moshing. Do you have thoughts about taking it onto the road?

[M.Q.] Yes reactivated it as a studio project because I do not have enough time to bring it on the road. I also agree these songs have a lot of energy and will be interesting and exciting to play them live but unfortunately it’s very difficult to find the correct people to play with. I really like to be humble when doing this, I mean I do this because I need it in my life. Anything I get back for it, good or bad, is unexpected. Some people just start or join a band as a hobby or to be part of a movement or even to get attention.

My philosophy is to work on this from the shadows and I just hate people that have that rock star attitude and shit like that in their head. I cannot deal with that in a band, so I am kind of tired about that and maybe that is why I find difficult to bring this band onto the road, but who knows…maybe in the near future. So currently I am just working on the promotion of this album and the composition of the new stuff.

What song do you feel most exemplifies the sound and spirit of Disorder and why?

[M.Q.] I like all of them, I mean if I do not like a song then I do not include it in a release. I think the song ‘Fuego Negro’ represents my personal vision and life within the last decade.

Your album came to me through a Bangladeshi promo agency, released by a Russian label (Symbol of Domination Prod.). You’ve recently done a split too with a Swedish band. How did this all come to pass? Regarding the current day metal scene, you guys seem to be extraordinarily international.

[M.Q.] I think that is an effect of the efforts I have been putting on the promotion of my bands. Now with my label’s releases also, I invest a lot of time in that and it seems to work! Today with the internet you can get in touch with a lot of people and bands very easy, cheap and fast. With Morbid Skull Labels I started to get more communication with emerging bands and Total Inferno from Sweden was one of them. We had good connection in terms of what we are doing in metal so the ideas just came out from out of the blue. That became the split ‘Ina Etuti Asbu’ was released on 7”s and a tape version by Deathgasm Records (USA) and Morbid Skull Records (El Salvador) in 2016, there was no big negotiation or shit like that, it was just released by a group a good friends.

You’re also releasing the album on Morbid Skull, your own record label. Can you tell a bit more about that?

[M.Q.]Yes it was also released on my label with help of Symbol of Domination because I like also to have enough copies to be distributed by myself. I always had in my mind this idea or dream to have my own label to release my music. Back in the early 90s my first label was called PUS Records and I released a couple of tape and CD-R demos for Disorder called ‘Voces de la Tumba’ but I just quit the idea for some time. Then around 2012 I think I decided to try it again but this time with better quality on the releases and it has been like 5 years now. At the beginning my plan was just to release my own band’s music, but with time I included bands that I like and more important that are handled by people I think are easy to deal with, no fucking rock stars!

You’ve been active in many bands, how did the metal scene in El Salvador get started? Which bands from your country really count as the more influential corner stone acts and why?

[M.Q.] Well I have been active since the early 90s as a band, I am not sure my point of view is the best one to answer accurately this question but will try. I think in the 80s there were few bands trying to make metal music, but it was more heavy metal and maybe influenced by the US glam scene. The real extreme metal scene I think started in the early 90s. I remember there were not so many bands playing, because it was hard to have the money to purchase instruments. Also maybe you knew a few guys that liked this music, but not all of them had instrument to play with. The first concerts were also organized within that era and has been growing until now. Today I think there are more bands and people involved but too much metal without soul; too much fashion and less passion.

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You could think it sounds egocentric, but it’s the true; I have never been influenced by a local band in my life. I do try to respect all of them, I think this is because in the early beginning I did not have the “connections” to get the help or promotions other bands had so I felt a lack of support. I just focused on doing my thing and literally did not listen too much to what other bands were doing. I also wanted to try to keep my sound natural and “original” to myself. I mean I did not wanted to be influenced by other local bands because I wanted to create my own sound and do the things my way. So I respect the efforts most bands made, but I try to keep isolated in a way. Nowadays this is more related to the lack of time. But I can say that I have been influenced by the classic 80s traditional heavy metal, 90s traditional death metal and for bands like Deceased and Dissection because of the level of compromise they put in their music/art. I feel I might have started a legacy here myself.

So what is the scene like in El Salvador, what styles are most popular, where are the centres of the scene and how big is it. Which bands do you think matter and which bands from El Salvador should everyone be checking out?

[M.Q.] Unfortunately I do not have too much free time to go to concerts anymore, because of the Label and the bands but like I said I see more people involved and that’s a good thing. Also as well as they come, they go also in few years. I mean I do not see many bands lasting 5 or 10 years so it seems like they give up quick and do not have a clear persistency in what they are doing. I think there are many people focussed on the fashion in how they look rather than how they sound. If the music they put out is not really honest and with an own identity, then I think that is one factor why this scene is not boiling like in the South.

There is a lack of passion and honesty in the efforts. Some promoters say they support the scene by doing shows, but the reality is that they do it to earn money but none of them had even purchased a damn $3 patch in the period of more than 20 years! So I think it’s a lot of hypocrisy, but is normal in a way in humans. In general the metal scene in El Salvador has for sure grown, but lacks of quality in the released formats. Many go for the cheap way of CD-Rs and do not take the risks as few others. I have lost a lot of money doing these and in all my releases, but I do not care because earning money out of this is for sure not my vision or goal. Also extreme genres are well received here, anything from thrash, death and black metal, you can check Conceived by Hate, Disorder, Morbid Stench and Antares Death! I’m also involved in a band named Witchgoat, which plays thrash/black and is recording a debut album. Look out for the new albums of the other bands too!

If you had to say what things are typical about metal from El Salvador, what would it be? What really is part of the vibe of your country?

[M.Q.] Maybe always dealing with the extreme sounds.

What future plans does Disorder have now? What happens now the album is out?

[M.Q.] Well my plan is to continue to promote this album and since I feel the inspiration and motivation to start working on the coming one.

IF you had to compare Disorder to a type of food, a dish if you will, what would it be and why?

[M.Q.] Really hard question, a seafood cocktail with a LOT of hot chili to make you sweat hahaha.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

[M.Q.] Thanks a lot for this interview and interest in the band and also to those that invest time in reading it, cheers from HellSalvador!

 

 

 

Underground Sounds: Grima – Tales of the Enchanted Woods

Label: Naturmacht Productions
Band: Grima
Origin: Russia

With their debut album ‘Devotion To Lord’ the band Grima definitely left an impression. Lord was not anything Christian though, it was nature in its full glory that this atmospheric black metal band worships. Now they return with their second full length ‘Tales of the Enchanted Woods’. I’d like to point out that I recommended their record as the best of the year this far for 2016 in the Weirdo Canyon Dispatch, the daily Roadburn zine.

The studio project by Morbius and Vilhelm hails from Krasnoyarsk, which is in the heart of Siberia. Krasnoyarsk is not a hovel in the snow, but a city with almost a million inhabitants. The city was a  center for the gulags and even in Tsarist times was a place where dissenters were sent to. It says a lot about the sort of place this must be, though there’s little to go on regarding Grima.

To start with this album, maybe start with the cover that immediately offers  a particularly fairy tale like design and folkloristic vibe. The album kicks of with the grand ‘The Sentry Peak’, which really works as a brief intro to the album, lining up the second song ‘The Moon and its Shadows’, which is a pleasure to behold. Atmospheric and powerful, this record fits right into the Norse nature-loving movement of the black metal genre.

The sound is tempered, let go only in minimal waves when most effective. The build-up reminds me a bit of Downfall of Nur, one of my favorite bands. It sounds like there’s even an accordeon present, but it’s probably the synths. Those help with the fairy-tale/eastern vibe of the record, giving a moment of respite and evoking images of strange towns with hospitable folk playing music around the fire.

The band really knows how to be theatrical, without sounding cheesy. The synths are everywhere to add to the overal experience, to paint the sound in many colors. The vocals are varied two, which gives you the feeling that this band is much bigger than just the two members. Noteworthy is the track ‘Never Get Off The Trail’, where we hear a deep shoegaze influence and even some postrocky soundscaping on the following ‘The Grief’. As a listener, it is as if the song bares its essence to you. It shows it’s inner magical stream of music. Excellent black metal enriched with a sense of the magical and unknown of the forest.

Grima succeeds in probably making one of the most amazing black metal albums of the year, but also a journey into nature where the true beauty of an untamed land shines through. The balanced production and the rich sonic textures offer a much bigger production than you’d imagine. I sincerely hope this album gets the recognition it deserves. It shouldn’t be lumped into the ‘archaic folk’ metal  category, much like other great music from Russia. This seems to receive little interest from the western press. This album embodies the magic that black metal music always has had for me. It embraces nature in the way only a specific branch of the genre does. A joy to listen to, while true to the genre.

 

Looking For An Answer – Dios Carne

Label: Willowtip Records
Band: Looking For An Answer
Origin: Spain

Looking For An Answer still gives you headaches

Many people will look at you with a baffled expression if you say you like grindcore. Well, it’s something special I suppose and not everyone will understand or like it. That goes for most of the stuff I write about on this blog, it’s weird music. So now I’m going to write about one of my favorite grindcore bands.f

The first time I experience a grindcore show I just didn’t know what to do with it, untill a Mike Alexander van Putrescence explained it to me. One of the first bands I enjoyed then was Looking For an Answer. This Spanish band produces some highly political grindcore with a sharp edge and has been doing so since 1999. ‘Dios Carne’ is their latest effort.

‘Dios Carne’ is a rolling, thundering keg of fury, unleashed in 14 typical short bursts of hatred. Opener ‘Deflagración’ is the longest track of the album, clocking right at 4 minutes and 17 seconds. The doom and gloom intro sets the tone for the world view the band wishes to convey on their fourth full length. The songs actually have a bit of a sludge element worked into them. Slow and steady, sticky and heavy, those are terms that aptly describe the music of Looking For An Answer.

That heavy swampy sound is a particular element on this album, the muddled sound represent the drag of society, its futile, complexities and horrors. Looking For An Answer makes that tangible in the chasm of despair that their record sounds like. Ofcourse, there’s also the blistering, all destroying grindcore tracks. Setting fire to the world on ‘Apoteosis’ or the creeping ‘Demiurgo’, the sound of war is here.

Grindcore is still very relevant when we adress the atrocities of our world. Looking For An Answer offers the answer to what that should sound like.

Reading of Books #28

Another edition of my book bit, with a lot of new books read. R.A. Salvatore is very present with the last two trilogies of Drizzt, Paul Stanley from Kiss and Duff McKagan from Guns’n’Roses. Totally not geek + music geek edition.

Books!

R.A. Salvatore – The Companion Codex (Night of the Hunter, Rise of the King, Vengeance of the Iron Dwarf)

source: Goodreads.com

In this series of books, we pick up the dark road that the party of heroes seemed to have ahead of them in the inbetween book ‘The Companions’. Drizzt is reunited with his Catti-Bri, his friends Bruenor, Regis and Wulfgar. It seems however, that war is brewing everywhere and the Orcs are marching with support of the drow. The Silver Marches are besieged by the thousands and cities fall. The dwarves are locked in their underground citadels and no one seems to be able to push them forward. That changes when Bruenor Battlehammer picks up his plight as king among dwarfs. When he starts listening to the whispers of the old dwarven gods and the counsel of his friends and fellow Dwarf kings.

In the most desperate situations the united dwarfs of the Forgotten Realms find their brightest moment. They unearth their greatest treasures after millennia. It is not an easy fight though and much will be lot and much must be sacrificed to get there. In these novels, the world turns a bit more dark and grim and many mechanisms seem to be at work. The wheels are turning and Drizzt and the companions of the hall find themselves in the middle of it all, but also in the middle of their own turmoil and demons. Salvatore creates the profound story that looks at a world, where good and evil are not such simple concepts anymore. What is war if one loses all that holds value? What is a war if you forget the values that you fight for?

Paul Stanley – Face the Music: A Life Exposed

source: goodreads.com

Paul Stanley has always been the most mysterious member of Kiss. His biography is one of the most anticipated ones among fans of the band. The singer has always been a bit of a puzzle for most people, but in this biography he is very open about himself. Even though at times it isn’t pretty and some band experiences come out, he manages to touch his readers. Paul Stanley is the first Kiss member to write a biography that leaves him standing as a victor in the end. The book is also not as filled with spite and dislike. I can’t say that for the other ones by Kiss members and that is a pleasant thing to be sure.

Paul Stanley describes his life from his early days onward. Being born with only one ear intact (and working), turns out to be the source of most angst and insecurity in his life. It’s the red threat through his whole carreer and experiences. Reading this, it outshines even all the fame and fortune. Everything related to the ear problems seems to be key in his development. The surgery to reconstruct it, the way he positions himself on the stage and in the end how he starts working for a childrens organisation. Sure, there’s the necessary amount of rock’n’roll extravagance going on as well. You’ll get some good stories about the women, sustance abuse (of others, since Stanley never really was the crazy one on that front) and quite some Gene Simmons. Pauls story is touching and captivating, never free of a good critical look at himself, but at times blissfully unaware of his own being and impression. A joyful read for sure.

R.A. Salvatore – Homecoming (Archmage, Maestro, Hero)

That was the respons I got from mr. Salvatore himself about my earlier thoughts on the series. Now, I did get here and after 33 books I was fearful for quite a few pages that all would end horribly in tears. For the characters, but also for me since after all this time I had become quite attached to the figures in the book. This whole series has the vibe of an endgame. Things are getting serious in here and that makes for some really daunting reads. Some surprising developments and character innovations take place and we all somehow get them together for a final push.

source: goodreads.com

We find Mithril Hall at peace for once, but things are always stirring in the Forgotten Realms. The drow in Menzoberranzan have not finished with their prodigal son. Internal power struggles literally open the gates to hell and demons flood into the realm. They happen to be causing more havoc to the drow themselves than to their enemies. The primordial under Gauntlgrym stirs and Yvonnel the Eternal is reborn. Facing these great enemies are our heroes; Drizzt, Catti-bri and Bruenor. Their other two friends are on a quest of their own, where Regis and Wulfgar will find great challenges and old companions on their road. Artemis Entreri and Jarlaxl site with the heroes…  but things get really interesting when a runaway archmage joins them and a very important priestess of Lolth. But what if your real enemy is within your own mind?

There’s a promise of more to come though. This is good, because I love these books. Unfortunately, mister Salvatore has announced he will not answer any questions on the matter for now.

Duff McKagan – It’s So Easy (And Other Lies)

source: goodreads.com

I’ve never really been a fan of Guns’n’Roses, but when I heard their bass player talk on the Danko Jones podcast about his book. I knew I had to read it. Duff McKagan is the epitome of cool, the laid back voice, the self awareness and self depricating jokes… In his book he is telling the world his story including all the stupid decisions, bad choices and all about the rampant drug and alcohol abuse that brought him to his knees and made him rise up again a new man. The book starts with the McKagan of now. He is walking out of the backdoor of his house during his daughters birthday party and finding two kids making out. He goes through a mental checklist of drugs, sex, alcohol and other things… it’s a funny opener and shows how comfortable McKagan is in writing about himself. Then the good stuff starts.

Duff McKagan is a Seattle-born musician. People sometimes forget that he was in a bunch of bands in the past. It’s good to get some info on that too with his early bands. Also a near death experience at an early eage seems to have contributed to his personality. The writing style is casual, almost off handed as if things just emerge and happened, but sometimes we get back to the internal monologue from the start. Especially when bad things happen. A rock’n’roll book with drugs and alcohol has a lot of grief in it. McKagan never makes light of that. He is funny when he talks about himself, jovial when it concerns weird things that happened to a bunch of guys and cordial when he writes about problems in the band. He always seems  to have the right tone for all situations, never goes down avenues of boring thoughts and just keeps this easy to read. One of the best rock’n’roll bio’s I’ve seen this far.

Forgotten words: lost languages

On this years Kilkim Žaibu festival I saw the group Romowe Rikoito play live and it touched a nerve in me. Almost with tears in my eyes I listened to their captivating folk songs. I would like to talk a bit about that here.

Last words

Language, it’s a peculiar thing and often too easily put aside as something irrelevant. Language is a tool, we use almost daily in a peculiar manner and it is shaped by the peculiarities of our daily lives. I never reallly realized the importance of language, I have to say, untill later in my life, after I read a peculiar story.

In a school book, not sue for which subject, I read about a place called Sakhalin. A peninsula on the far side of Russia, At some point in time, I think it was around the year 1900, researchers went there to meet the last speakers of a regional language. They recorded these speakers on wax rolls (that was the thing way before records).  So there was some form of preservation, but a while later those last speakers had all passed and at that point we call a language extinct. Peculiar, is it not?

The disappearance of a people

There’s something so incredibly sad to me about that story. There were people there, with a language, culture and history. With the end of their language all of that is gone, it has passed away with the last words. When a language dies, a bit of our humanity dies… that’s the way I see it. No one remembers the words and the lives of those people.

It seems like something from the past, but even in Europe languages die. The Livonian language has about 10 speakers left they estimate. Tsakonian (a Greek dialect) is almost gone and Prussian (an old Baltic language) only exists because some stubborn ethnic Prussians try to revive it. One Saami language will probably be extinct as well in 50 years (Pite Saami has 20-40 speakers left). Outside of Europe, the Yaghan language of the most southern part of Chile has one speaker left, who is 89. The language is an isolated form, so nothing will be left soon. There’s a few more examples and luckily most are documented now… Still, something ends.

Our words are very precious, they are shaped by the way we live and how we interact in our culture and part of the world. Our language is our testament to whoever comes after. I think we should cherish it more. English is great, I write in that language to reach more people. But that shouldn’t become our only tongue. We’ve lost so much already of who we are.

So no language is better than the other, but every language is owned by the people who speak it.  It’s a part of you, of who you are and where you come from. That matters.

This is in no way intended to support any political agenda’s. 

Underground Sounds: Slegest – Vidsyn

Label: Dark Essence Records
Band: Slegest
Origin: Norway

Slegest

I found out about Slegest, thanks to the Cult Never Dies: The Megazine book by Dayal Patterson. I read about the multi-instrumentalist Stig Ese Eliassen, who played in Vreid before. He now does Slegest, combinging ’70’s hardrock, thrash and black metal into a unique sound.

Like many people making extreme music, Eliassen is a guy with a history. A person with conflict and a need to expres that. This is where Slegest is born from and now growing into an entity that hopefully will play live soon. The lyrics are in Norwegian, but the sound had a universal quality to it I think. The album was received well so time to share it with the world.

Dirty black’n’roll from Norway

The cover is immediatelly different, catching the attention without being anything special. Then there’s the opening riff of ‘I fortida sitt lyss’. Catchy, driven and timeless, this is music that alway works. A little like the crustpunk albums of Darkthrone, catchy bit dirty. It’s an interesting contrast, the catchy music with the gritty vocals. That gives it a dark edge and a real rock’n’roll feel. It’s got that underground edge, but also a great mix and production. Slegest doesn’t rely on grimy distortion to cover up anything, it’s a band that really knows how to deliver a great tune.

Specially on a gloomy track like ‘komfortabelt nommen midtvekes’ the formula of Slegest works. With a wicked grin, you listen to the chugging riffwork, the playful guitar loops and the trollish (yes, I used that word) vocals. This record is great stuff to listen to in the car, the clean production, the energy, it all falls into place. Would this record benefit from clean vocals? I think it would lose it’s dark shine without, I enjoy the punky, raw but still slick sound. It really fits into the tradition somewhere between Skambankt and Abbath.

I love this album by Slegest, the dirty Norwegian biker sound should appeal to a broad audience. If Speedfest was still around, this is a band that should play there. This album totally rocks.

Underground Sounds: Falls of Rauros – Vigilance Perennial

Label: Bindrune/Nordvis
Origin: United States
Band: Falls of Rauros

The band Falls of Rauros has a lot going for them. Firstly, their name is  a Tolkien reference, which always resonates with me. Secondly, their music rates as black/folk metal on various sites (though you can disagree on the terminology, I think it covers their sound well). Also they’re politically charged, citing anarchism as a theme.

This all would not even be necessary, for the Appalachian folk wink in their sound puts them on par with Panopticon and do I love that band. This is the fourth album by the group from Portland in the States, following ‘Believe In No Coming Shore’ from 2014. Artwise, the band takes a move away from their more nature depicting covers with something a bit more fantastic. Also good to have some new material, after all the re-releases ofcourse.

On opener ‘White Granite’,  you immediately hear the combination of beautiful melodies, maybe almost a bit of stadium rock, with scorching vocals. The constantly walk the thin line between beauty and grimness, somehow very akin to nature in that sense. This is not a bad thing though, because the band completely in a natural way finds their path through the different sounds and builds layers upon layers of riffs and expressions to create their specific brand of black metal. There’s  a densely emotional side to songs like ‘Warm Quiet Centuries of Rains’, something truly soothing.

Album highlight is, I think, the track ‘Arrow & Kiln’. It shows Falls on their more heavy end. More massive and cohesive than the rest of the album and therefor in 12 minutes being the song that exemplifies the album. It contains all the strong sides of the band in one go. Great stuff!

On final track ‘Impermanence Streakt Through Marble’ the band completely lets go of the black metal and trickling folky tunes, acoustic play and shoegazy meanderings lead the song forward. When the music gets some more weight after two minutes, this still feels like a beautiful postrock tune, evoking a certain sadness. Vocals come on a bit later, but for me those were not even needed (though they do give the song some body).

Bucovania: Romania remembers the past

Romania often gets less credit than it deserves, but the country has a wealth of history and a pretty intense and intriguing metal scene. Many interesting sounds come from that neck of the woods, and one of them is the band named Bucovina. A thriving folk metal project with a distinct flavor to it.

Bucovina is also a region of the country, which the band is named after.In the east of Europe, Romania often gets lumped in with other countries as part of the Eastern block. That’s a shame, since the country definitely has a history of its own. The region called Bucovina is part of that but due to history’s unfolding events, it is now part of Ukraine.

Florin “Crivăţ” Ţibu is the man behind the group. Crivat was willing to answer some questions over email, which took quite some time due to various reasons. I’m glad to say that he really gives a lot of information.

Originally published on Echoes & Dust

Bucovina

Could you kindly introduce yourself and tell what your role is in the band?

Hi there, I am Crivat, I play guitar and vocals in Bucovina and I am the mastermind that put everything together.

How did you guys get into metal?

They say that it’s metal that finds you, not the other way around, haha. Each of us, back in the day, happened to listen to the right song and meet the right people. Honestly, it’s almost impossible to describe what exactly got us into metal, but we’re ever so glad it happened. On the other hand, what KEEPS us into metal is the fact that we really enjoy what we do.

How did Bucovina get started? What were your inspirations, both musical as well as thematic?

I started the band after I went to college, with the bass player from the bands I had back in highschool. I’d say that the biggest thing that made me want to have a band and write music was Vintersorg’s first CD, the Hedniskhjartad EP. I was struck when I had listened to it for the first time and felt like there are things that needed to be said through music I could write.

The first Bucovina tracks were mixture of viking/norse/pagan/call-it-what-you-like and black metal, even though it was obvious since that early stage that we might not fall that easily into just one category. Then things evolved, yet we’re still dealing with a lot of influences, most likely because we have different backgrounds.

As for the lyrics, they go from nature, philosophy, old lore and magic, to more mundane themes, but they all relate in one way or another to whatever purpose human existence has in the universe, and how the noblest goal is to be able to understand at least minute fractions of all that existed, exists or will exist.

You combine a folkish sound with metal. What is the reason or motivation you chose to go this way with your music?

Again, it was music choosing us; and we’re lucky for this, because we don’t feel like „hey, let’s write a song like X, or Y, or Z.” In my book, what we are doing is proper neofolklore because we just don’t pick up traditional songs and add distorted guitars and heavy/black metal sounds. Most of the songs start as mere tunes I hum and record using whatever tool I happen to have at hand, and it’s the smartphone almost all the time.

Then, as I get home or to the studio, I grab a guitar and replicate the tune. Most of the time it turns out into a part that is useable or even an entire song theme. Sometimes it’s just useless crap 🙂 In a way, it’s like the peasants of old, who went out into the fields to work the land or to hunt, and they would sing. That’s why I say that we’re doing is actual modern folklore.

In the past bands that work with national/historical themes have often been criticized for or linked to the far right. How do you feel about this and has Bucovina had to face such issues?

Well, I guess there will always be people who feel like they MUST add some of their improperly-founded opinion to the game. Likewise, there will always be people who feel that the NEED to feel offended by one thing or another. Our paths crossed several times and, what can I say, I pity these folks. Instead of trying to see what lays beyond what they BELIEVE things are, they prefer to stir up shit and call bands names, put words in their mouths and so on. Thankfully, we know better and make do and mend.

We simply like Romania and would love to see it fare better these days, and leave a nicer place to live for our kids. We never agreed with the political views of the guy who owned the label that released our first album, and that’s why we put an end to the collaboration. The fact that we dealt with a label that was perceived as being a spearhead in the NS direction affected us in the early years, but through hard work we managed to shake off that burden.

Bucovina is named after a region. Can you explain the choice of name and the significance of the region? I understand that half of Bucovina is part of Ukraine, is that a cause for tension?

Indeed, Bucovina is a region in the north of the country, with its northern half beyond the Ukrainian border. We went for this name because I and Luparul, the other guy playing guitars and vocals, are from Bucovina and wanted to do something for that amazing part of the world.

Well, tension I wouldn’t call it. It’s more like regret, regret for a past where the Soviet Union used to rule that part of Europe and when the western countries left the entire East Block go fuck itself under Soviet dominion.

Honestly, I believe that the wounds of the aggressive Soviet regime will never heal, and this is so fucking disheartening. Nevertheless, I do believe that it’s worth not forgetting the errors of the past and passing a rich heritage to our offspring.

What are the themes and subjects in your music? Can you tell us more about them, since little is known about Romanion paganism, history and so on in this part of the world (and I’m most interested in these).

Well, it would take years to tell you about Romanian lore. We have stories and legends that seem like they could go hand in hand with whatever fiction masterpiece modern history produced, and we are slowly showcasing them in our songs, albeit in a rather laconic way.

Mostly it’s about the relationship between man and nature, and how certain gifted individuals rise above the human condition to become better integrated with the forces that govern the universe. From merely abandoning yourself in contemplation of a sunset in Bucovina’s mountains, to traveling through vales and woods, to the high plains where horses roam by the hundreds, from the secluded small villages where magic is still a part of everyday life, to the everyday thoughts, aspirations and fears, we’re one with them.

Is there in any way a mission or message that you try to convey with Bucovina?

Of course there is, and maybe this is why our albums are rather short. They simply seem to end when we feel like we said what needed to be said in a certain moment. There is no bullshit on any of our albums, and I do hope we keep it that way despite people way they’d enjoy longer albums. If we will have a lengthier message to pass on, you bet your asses that the album carrying it will be longer.

The main message, although it’s not that easy to understand by everyone from the first spin, is that people would do better to try and be who they really are deep inside, while also trying to make the world a better place. Life is too short for crap, and it can end quite abruptly in a thousand ways, so trying to understand as much as possible from the universe almost sounds like a must.

We are a part of nature, whether we like it or not, and despite the fact that some religions are trying to hijack and downplay the message. We often describe our music as being “Of mountains and magic,” and at times, it just couldn’t be any closer to the truth. We like the nature and the magic way it can still oppose the dumbness of the people who think they are the supreme being. We, as a species, may be cool, indeed, but we’re definitely not the icing on the cake 😉

 What can you tell about your last album ‘Nestramutat’, which came out in 2015? What is the story you are telling on this record?

The name of the album could be translated to “Unswerving,” and it speaks about how certain individuals with a strong spirit cannot be broken or changed. In a way, it’s like nature/the planet itself: you fuck with it, it will fuck you up in ways that are far worse, and then there is nothing you can do about that. It’s just the fact that you can’t mess with the planet/universe and get away with it.

Or, speaking about people who are so dear to someone that their memory lives on and on even though they have been dead for a long time. A lot of things change, but some don’t. The latest album is about the latter.

What was the recording and writing process like? Does every band member have a specific role in it?

It’s so fucked up that it almost pains me to remember doing the last two albums. We are so chaotic and so reckless that I keep wondering how do we make it. The truth is that we are incredibly lucky to work with Dan Swano for mixing and mastering.

The guy is a genius and a gigantic name in metal and prog, and even though we’re not even able yet to tap into a tenth of his true potential, he gets the job done where other would simply fail or deliver mediocre results.

I’ve learned a ton from him and keep doing so each time I get to talk to him. Also, Dan is an amazing person and we get along very well; and I have to thank him for his patience, too. We are independent so we don’t have a production crew, so sometimes, things are friggin’ difficult and downright nasty, but we always manage to pull through.

As for the studio work, another round of thanks go to Maanu, our former keyboard player. He’s the conductor of the National Opera choir and his duties and schedule prevent him from touring with us, so we had to part ways. Even so, we’re still in excellent terms, he even has a set of keys to our studio. He helps us with tracking when I am not able to, and we’re also writing some choir parts together. As for roles, everybody is taking care of their own stuff.

Lately, Dan Swano became quite busy and with us not having a very clear schedule of how a new album should progress, things are becoming a bit harder. Nevertheless, we worked with Martin Buchwalter, the drummer of Perzonal War, who is also a studio producer, and the first results – the Asteapta-ma Dincolo (de Moarte) single turned out great. We’ll see  what the future brings…

Currently you’re self-releasing your music. What prompted that choice? What is the story with the label Lupii Daciei?

It was a lousy choice we made without fully understanding that the fellow with whom we were dealing (a chap from an obscure label that had signed us) was more interested in pursuing his dumb neo-nazi racist shit than he was in metal. We are a bit nationalist, but not in a way that relates to such political crap.

We disliked (and still do) the direction things were heading for, because we’re not fighting a fucking racial war here. We don’t hate Jews, black people, the Slavs, we don’t believe in Aryan ideology, race purity, untermensch and all the crap. We don’t need any Heil Hitler and swastikas in our music to find a purpose for what we are doing.

We realized that the label’s purpose was in no way close to our expectations so we called it a day. If anything, I could be mad at ourselves for making the deal in the first place, but young people DO make mistakes, ain’t that true?

As for releases, yes, we are a completely independent band and we plan to stay that way. We’re doing just fine, as it looks like being true to yourself and not write music just to have another track on the upcoming CD pays off. We have the money we need to produce top-notch digipacks, we have our own studio and bus, we can afford mixtering by Dan Swano, also do our own booking and merch.

We can deal for small endorsement deals ourselves, but we’re in no hunger for gear, because we are able to buy what we need and plan to not sell out for the sake of some guitars or other stuff. We CAN manage our own shit. Why would we change that?

Hire some fuck who only thinks about money? Why, it doesn’t make any sense. We are also making our own deals for shows abroad and we enjoy touring on our own efforts. We already toured in Brazil in 2016 and booked nice festivals in Germany this year, with more gigs coming up in Poland, UK, the Czech Republic and more. We are extending our operations, for lack of a better word.

What is the Romanian metal scene like currently? What bands do you think are worth checking out?

Still, the Romanian metal scene is a fairly young one. Before 1989, the Communist regime did not take good of rock and whatever metal people made then, so we can say that we’re a bit behind schedule. Nevertheless, I do perceive some sort of crystallization, with some bands understanding the need of good production, good and – if possible – original sound (even though being completely original is rather impossible).

Without being too stiff, I’d say that we are far too busy trying to make things right here (in the band) to have the time to analyze what exactly is going on around. People have better gear, have learned more about music and some of them are really putting up serious efforts to make it as big as possible.

The Romanian metal scene may be a rather small one but certain things are not different from any other part of the world. We do need people with money to put up records companies and distribution networks, we do need support from the public, and no –  nobody becomes a star overnight. We’ve spent like 15 years of sacrifice and hard work until results started to show up the way we wanted. Making good metal is hard. As it ever was.

We do have certain interesting bands, such as Dor de Duh, Hteththemeth, Adamo Caduco (though it’s not metal). Also you could check out Ashaena’s new release, Implant pentru Refuz, Asemic, Bucium or Dara.

Can you tell a bit about the history of metal in Romania? Which bands got it started and when?

There were some feeble metal acts before 1989, but it all started in a rather primitive way after the Revolution, with a mixture of punk, thrash and hardcore-ish bands which are no longer active. We were so hungry for rock back in the day that we enjoyed everything and everything seemed like a godsend for the masses.

Unfortunately I haven’t dedicated time to becoming a metal historian for the scene, therefore it’s impossible for me to speak about this subject. I’d rather say we’re still in the “history in the making” stage.

In 2015 there was the fire in a nightclub in Bucharest that has not only shaken the metal scene, but Romania as a whole. In what way did it affect Bucovina?

The blaze at Club Colectiv put an untimely end to the life of one of our best friends, Adrian Rugina. He was not only a great guy, but also one of the best show producers in the country, having worked with the likes of Metallica and Madonna and everything in between. He played drums in Bucium, a folk-rock band we toured with, with whom we released albums together and was a true friend.

He died after returning to the burning club several times and saving other guys, and he became a national hero. Sad to see that people forget way too easily about guys like Rugina. We don’t; both me and Mishu, the drummer, have his name tattooed on our bodies and we wrote a song to his memory. Eventually, the song became the Asteapta-ma dincolo (de moarte) single and we even shot a video for that particular song. Adi goes with us wherever we may roam, he’s not alone and neither are we. He just lives on inside our hearts.

Other thing that changed in Romania after the blaze was that the number of people who can attend a show is now much smaller. Safety, laws, shit like this. In a way it’s better and safer, that’s true, but when you can no longer host 400 people in a place that can handle these guys, things are nasty; and this is because of some small inconvenient stipulated by the law. I do hope things will be better in the future as far as this goes. We have even done two shows back to back in the same place to have all the guys who wanted to see us play well and happy.

What future plans do you guys have as a band?

We are working on a new album for 2018, a special show for the end of 2017, but I can’t tell you more details about this one, at least not now 😉 We intend to dedicate more time to playing shows in Europe and become more professional. Also, new videos are being worked on, albeit in the planning phase, so far. Expect to see us more in Europe in 217 and 2018, with a big South American tour in 2019.

Please use the space here to add anything you feel should be mentioned.

We do feel that we are part of a new wave of bands that managed to raise their heads independently and without having someone pumping money to make us grow. The fact that we are an independent act has its pros and cons, of course, and maybe, when the time is right and the deal is fair, we’ll even take that step to sign a deal with a big production company. Until then, we’re working our asses out to deserve that fair deal. Otherwise, we’re doing fine, and that’s why we’ll keep on delivering fine metal to our fans.

 

Dungeon Synth: bedroom dreaming

Dungeon synth is probably not something you’ve heard of if you are anywhere near the cool kids. If things like Dungeons & Dragons, books like Lord of the Rings and other nerdy things are an instant ‘turn back’ for you, you probably should now as well. Unless there’s inside you an unappreciated geek with a liking for black metal and classical folksy, dreamy music. Perhaps this is more for you.

This article is highly speculative, based on what I’ve read and perceived as dungeon synth. Reading about it, I found out there was really very little concrete mentioning and attention for the phenomenon, so it’s merely an attempt to create a basis of a description.

What is the charm of Dungeon Synth?

Are you someone who thinks back with remorse to those oldschool dungeon crawler video games and RPG’s? You might really be into dungeon synth.Dungeon synth is much a hidden genre, a special gem only for those who seek it. A great quote describing it by Tiwaz from band Gvasdnahr:

I kind of think of dungeon synth as a lone, ancient castle, hidden in a dark desolate corner in the shadow of black metal. Only a few knows it’s there. And out of those few who dares to enter, only a few is capable of finding it’s treasure.

Tracing its roots, its boundaries and offspins is noteworthy hard because of this. The dark tower is an image born out of dreams and fantasy, it’s why I titled this article bedroom dreaming. Much dungeon synth probably never left bedrooms of D&D loving, black metal spinning people.

Dungeon synth has been mocked nad misunderstood a lot. This picture probably illustrates the narrow view of its broadness, its fans and its artfulness. It also holds some truths about the genre. Mortiis is pretty much the Sabbath of the genre. Its roots are very steeped in black metal and there’s a lot of atmosphere and geeky themes to it. But those are things I love. So I’m just trying to convey that

As the quote above says, it’s a very hidden corner of the music world, hardly understood by people who haven’t travelled there on their own. What I mean by travelling there, is either through ambient, soundtracks, game tunes or black metal, but preferably a combination, you come to like, appreciate or even love this sound. It’s not an easy starting point. Not that dungeon synth is complex stuff, but its appeal is rather narrow.

“The door of the tower swings open… A breeze of undisturbed air escapes and the darkness beckons as much as it repels you. The unknown awaits in the dark. What do you do?”

This sort of lines always give me that shiver. If it doesn’t do that for you, return to the tavern and just stay there, you common NPC.

What is Dungeon Synth?

Dungeon synth can be a lot of things and a lot of things aren’t dungeon synth. Dungeon synth, has been described as the ‘pinnacle of basement music dorkery’ by the kind people at Toilet Ov Hell. They also describe it beautifully in the following passage, as a style that is inspired by the mystery and awe of high fantasy or dark dungeons as you explore them in role playing games. Oh, and it doesn’t get you any chicks (though that article was probably published early in the wave of the geek as hot, so it might be different). So what is it like? Let’s look at some cases that might make up what it is.

Theme

It really seems that J.R.R. Tolkien finally has a genre dedicated to him. But not completely, the themes of dungeon synth are… dungeons! But more generally it’s fantasy, though I think it could very well fit in science fiction themes too. It relies on repetition and works great as a sort of background music. Knights, dragons, but also unspoilt nature work pretty well. In it’s origins there’s also the black metal aesthetic, so that is still present now and then and probably shaped the dungeon aspect. As we know, the early black metallers were quite a bunch of geeks and most released records that are the foundation of dungeon synth (like dungeon synth god Varg).
This is not the limit for dungeon synth. Specially in its original form it could embody any theme. Nowadays more realistic themes are often put in the dark ambient category though.

Sound

The nicest way to describe the range of sounds is to go from old DOS video games to something akin to dark ambient or a completely stripped down version of a musical piece with just synths. There’s quit some room for other additions though. Vocals, instruments and effects are all more than welcome in the dungeon synth style.

It’s often very much ‘out there’ music, as in it doesn’t feel like a part of the daily world. I’m switching to a more ‘experiential’ description here. The music is a way of evoking feelings, imagery and situations that are ‘different’. This can be done with film score like tapestries of sound, but it can also be more ambient or more folky.

Roots

The roots of Dungeon Synth are hard to trace, but think synthesizers, atmosphere and black metal. Think of folk meeting black metal in a more movie/game-like setting. So the clearest way to say this is to put its roots somewhere in the early black metal scene in Norway. Inspired by the evocative sounds of their bands, some artists started to search for that sound in synths. Think Jean Michel Jarre, think filk, think Vangelis, think soundtracks to video games. Oh… and Burzum. No Clean Singing definitely puts the roots of the style in black metal. Mortiis is often considered fundamental.

Origins of Dungeon synth

There’s different readings of how dungeon Synth came to be. One would cite black metal as the main driver, the other would focus on the film scores. It’s hard to tell, but what can be told is that there’s a definite wish to bring something to life in the music. The name of Tolkien gets mentioned pretty much anywhere when it concerns dungeon synth.

Norway

Mortiis is generally considered to be the founder of the genre or atleast the first moving in that direction, particularly with ‘Født til å Herske’. The former Emperor member really made a carreer out of Dungeon synth and probably is the most familiar face and master of the genre. Originally he started out with four projects in this direction, which seem to have converged into Mortiis later: Mortiis, Vond, Cintecele Diavolui, and Fata Morgana.
Burzum did some synth albums, of which ‘Hliðskjálf’ to me is the best, while Vikernes was in prison. His influence on the genre is much more profound and the track ‘”Rundgang um die transzendentale Säule der Singularität’ is key listening (on the ‘Filosofem’ album).

Around that time Satyr (Satyricon) did an album with Wongraven, a keyboard based medieval project. Fenriz from Darkthrone contributed with Neptune Towers. Though there’s probably some more influential artists to the dungeon synth genre, these black metal-known faces helped propell it into the world.

Austria/Germany

A part that can’t be overlooked when it comes to the roots of the genre is the follow-up the genre had in Austria. The band Summoning, known for their atmospheric Tolkien-inspired black metal is definitely a massive catalyst for the genre thanks to their synth heavy sound. Directly linked to this group is the act Pazuzu, who’ve definitely left an impact on what has become. German act Depressive Silence should also be mentioned for their pioneering work in the genre and possibly its connection to the DSBM genre later. There’s a logic to the German connection. Dark music, synths and such you see in the kraut movement already, which was moving into realms of fantasy and mystery. Acts like Bethlehem embraced the depressive side. Gothmog ‘s ‘Medival Journeys’ is considered a key work in the genre.

Edit: Two names that I have to add to that are those of Grimrik and Murgrind, two current dungeon synth artists from Germany, who have released influential records. You will find their work linked at the bottom with suggestions for listenig.

Other origins

Looking at early releases in the genre, it’s clear that countries that adopted black metal were quick to sprout dungeon synth acts. Greece (Erevos), France (Moevot), Sweden, Finland, England, the Netherlands and ofcourse the United States (Cernunnos Woods) soon sprouted their own acts. Russia has given the genre a spin of its own and it seems to be one of the most active scenes out there. To really put your finger on origin stories is hard, because dungeon synth by its essence is a hobby project, it’s bedroom dreaming at best and much stuff might have never come out.

Games

Dungeon synth now

As a genre, dungeon synth is rather limited in what directions it can move in. Experimental acts like Trollmann av Ildtoppberg (check them here) get lost in a drone/doom environment, where others slide back into minimal black metal or simply ambient. A noteworthy act for me is Fief, who seem to have found a more lighthearted sound away from the oppressive, dark dungeon sound.  Til Det Bergens Skyggene is another remarkable act, who’ve veered into experimental electronics in the ’70s it seems. This list of records really gives a good feel of the scope of the genre.

So Dungeon Synth hasn’t got that much room to grow or develop. On the other hand, acces to things like bandcamp or other free sharing services does allow for the genre to really become an online phenomenon. It is clear from my explorations that lovers of the genre, to which I like to subscribe, are a global group. Listeners in the direct region of the artists might not be enough to sustain production, but the global reach of internet makes it possible for this to really become a thing. The 5th edition of Dungeons & Dragons is probably a great help as well.

Some very productive acts, that seem to thrive in this day and age:

Рабор

This Russian act has really captured an audience with their combination of synth and Slavic folk tunes. The fact that everything is in Russian ofcourse adds a flavor of mystery to the whole thing. Even their merch comes with hand-painted cards and traditional dolls. That sort of immersion is what makes this genre tick. The folk parts are mellowed down in the mix, which makes it easy to acces.

Sequestered Keep

This act from Utah in the US is one of the most insanely productive ones out there. The music of Sequestered Keep is simple, catchy and melodic. Though it works for fantasy, it seems to have more roots in the real world, maybe referring the lost magic that our lands had before the industrialization and such. This depends on which of the many records you listen to ofcourse.

Ranseur

I wasn’t sure about including Ranseur from New Jersey at first. The sound here is much more 8-bit oriented, simple and functions more as an ambiance sound when gaming. It really fits the bill as a soundtrack. Molding that out of padding drums, noise and synths is a craft, the artwork is also something quite special. The idea of this record is Goblins playing and dancing. I get that.

Elric

Another interesting adition is Elric from the United Kingdom. Elric is a character from the Michael Moorcock books. I’ve not read them, but I get how personal and direct inspiration can be. Swooping synths are the soundtrack for that inspiration in the work of Elric. It’s strangely minimalist, but doing exactly what it needs to; create that aura of the fantastic (but remaining warm).

Barak Tor

Greek artist Barak Tor is one of the more polished acts and sounds much closer to an actual soundtrack on this album of barbarian dungeon synth. It demonstrates how far you can push it when it comes to quality with this music. Though I’m personally a fan of more simple and dark sounds, this is a pleasant intro to the genre and good soundtrack to roll dice to.

Nazgal Dracul

What if you add to the game sounds, that remind me of Final Fantasy to be honest, some proper beats. This Norwegian act is as diverse as it gets in the genre and well worth a listen. I like the black and white artwork a lot.

Mystic Towers

Well, this is a lot of purple, but the whole look and feel of the work by Mystic Towers evokes images of early day D&D game play and adventure modules. The slow pace and long tracks make for a fine soundtrack for things that take time, like reading.

Erang

Erang from France is to me one of the current day high rollers in the genre with sublime quality, top class production and an expensive thematic reach. Their recent ‘Anti-Future’ even delves into the blossoming synthwave movement of Perturbator and Gost. Still, their sword and sorcery stuff rules.

Grimrik

German artist Grimrik is staying close to the Burzum-esque sounds of dungeon synth with his ‘Eisreich’ album. A release from 2014, but a great introduction to the music genre. Grimrik also runs the Deivlfrost Label.

Murgrind

Collaborator of Grimrik, with a series of fantasy inspired releases that maintain a black metal feeling to it. Music to completely submerge into, to forget yourself for a little while. The production is really good and creates an almost filmic effect.