Written by: Ancient Hand
Eidolon: an idealized person or thing/a specter or phantom.
Given the occult and ghostly existence of the dungeon synth/ dark ambient project Old Tower, it is easy to assume the latter definition is the intended use of the word in the context of this album title. However, the incredible popularity of this project makes both definitions worthy of inspection. The final idealized proclamation/person, or the final specter? I would argue a combination of these is the most fitting way to interpret the title. The final idealized specter, whose records are resold on Discogs for insane upmarket values returns with a new full length, and this comes after the conclusion of the “Grim Alchemy” trilogy, a series of EPs that I was a massive fan of. My favorite dungeon synth material ever is easily the first EP in the trilogy, Drachenblut.
In terms of full lengths, this release is a follow-up to 2018’s Stellary Wisdom, an album that is my least favorite Old Tower material. Now, after releasing my least favorite and favorite material back to back, how does this new Old Tower record stack up?
If you, much like the ravens lurking outside our drafty Scriptorium, are on the hunt for something new and shiny, I'm happy to present an alternative from our standard fare. Today on the docket: a healthy platter of horror-tinged gothic dungeon synth, conjured from the mind behind the (equally stellar) Order of the Wolf. In this newfound context outside the underground black metal sphere, he goes by Spectral Child. Moribund Kingdom is the first haunted creation of this alter ego, and will see a 2020 cassette release from Akashic Envoy.
I like to think of Spectral Child's Moribund Kingdom as an alternate soundtrack to the horror-themed action games that (only partially, I swear) defined my adolescence. While it certainly isn't a sonic match to, say, the grossly high-octane riffage of the equally high-octane Painkiller series, the mood is similar. Consistently menacing, in a word. Frightening in a sincere sense--like if the more intense moments of the soundtrack to Amnesia were distilled and reproduced in synth-based form. That comparison, again, is a bit of a stretch, but the fact remains: there is something about Spectral Child that feels intrinsically attached to the world of video games wherein a lone protagonist braves a world designed exclusively to confound and cause harm.
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!