Written by: The Administrator
There is nothing, methinks, like a journey into unfamiliar genre tags to kick off the new year. Onfang's bandcamp page lists "comfy synth, faery synth, fantasy synth, and forest synth," and while I have dabbled in synth-y waters, these particular microgenres represent a whole new world. The appropriately entitled Sugar Jar--digitally released in August of 2022, and pending a January 20th release on cassette via Fiadh Productions--serves as the perfect introduction.
Sugar Jar is, simply put, an absolute delight. It contains a brief five tracks; the listening experience is more akin to enjoying a well-portioned confectionary rather than conducting a Bruce Bogtrotter-esque exercise in gluttony. Although certainly sitting in an arena that overlaps comfortably with more traditional dungeon synth, Onfang demonstrates a uniquely intrinsic sweetness that feels homey and familiar rather than overtly saccharine or sappy. The atmosphere might very well suit rose-cheeked cherubs, but when closing my eyes, I can imagine a Hansel and Gretel styled gingerbread house, albeit inhabited by a kindly and supportive faery godmother rather than, y'know, a murderous witch.
Guest Post by: Ria Wigley
1. Old Nick
If there’s one thing that defines the microgenre of Vampyric Black Metal other than lyrics and imagery about vampires, it is flamboyant, dare I say CAMP riffs, a big focus on atmospheric synths, and absurd song titles. No band exemplifies this better than Old Nick. In fact, the 16-bit inspired keyboard sounds were almost too silly for me to really enjoy this band upon first listen, but after giving it more time I quickly grew to love it. There is an inherent silliness to the obsessive adherence to a particular aesthetic that most vampire media portray, even when it still manages to be coldly sinister and atmospheric at the same time, and Old Nick is the perfect musical representation of that. If you were hoping for second wave worship with some more gothic elements...well this isn’t that, it’s much better. Plus, who doesn’t love song titles like "Blood, Blood, Blood, Blood, Blood" or "Spooky Wicker Basket 1994 (Yes, a witch!)"
Recommended album: A New Generation of Vampiric Conspiracies
Almost a year ago, Desolation Plains' fantastic Sword of Hailstorm was drafted into service as the focal point for our inaugural INTO THE DUNGEON column. Due exclusively to, well, my own laziness, this proved to be the only entry in said series. In retrospect, that's a damn shame, considering how many stellar exemplars of the genre I checked out exclusively on the basis of really fuckin' enjoying Sword of Hailstorm. I listen to it frequently to this day.
Needless to say, I'm pleased and honored to present here today a new track from Desolation Plains' forthcoming Kingdomfall. Check it out below! As always, we'll meet ye on the other side.
Written by: Blackie Skulless
Since the debut demo Krønike I in 2020, Dødskvad were a band I’ve found quite intriguing. Crafting a clear sense for death metal in a very non-traditional fashion, these Norwegians brought forth a nasty taste of history and mythology coated in synths, blackened feel, and unsettling production. Now, they’ve followed this up with another treat simply titled Krønike II. In some ways it’s a clearer vision, more of what came before, but there’s certainly a brighter element of focus.
By that, I mean this second onslaught of harsh and unlovable tunes seems to have a better idea of what it wants to be. Things progressively get a lot doomier, as the passages themselves slow down, with sharp percussion and bouncy bass popping through the surface to take precedence. Percussion is really big across the board, more so than before. Considering the synth overlaying and galloping rhythms aren’t going anywhere, this manages to pack so much into four songs.
Written by: The Administrator
Alright. Maybe this is far too narrow a reference, but if even a single reader knows what the hell I'm talking about, its a reference worth making. Bear with me here, folks.
When I was a small child, I was obsessed with (and mortified by) anything remotely spooky. Luckily, the era of my childhood produced a glut of scary-but-for-kids material, and so, in my dogged quest to be able to gaze upon the terrifying visage of Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark without a subsequent week of feverish nightmares, I sought out and made my parents read/perform such classics as In A Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories. The titular tale features an entirely plotless exploration of a dark, dark house, starting with the exterior and moving ever inwards--through the dark, dark hall, up the dark, dark stairs, into the dark, dark closet, and so on. There is, notably, no story. There is only movement through the environment. Despite its inherent silliness, this is one of the first pieces of art that truly stuck with me, and I strongly suspect that has to do with the sense of implicit suspense and unknowing. The author knows what is at the end of this dark, dark narrative, but I didn't, and I had it within my power to close the book and never come back. But of course that was never an option. Any artist who dabbles in the crossroads of fear and curiosity knows this well.
Anyways, enough of that. Let's get to the dark, dark music, shall we?
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that wakes us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry.