Ten From the Tomb 7/08/19: Far from the body, far from Earth.

TEN FROM THE TOMB is a weekly feature in the form of a themed list devoted to grouping together albums of similar interest that I missed throughout the year 2019. These albums were overlooked for review for any number of reasons with the most common reason being constraint of time. I have a policy of covering 99% of everything I receive in some form, be it mini-review or full-feature, so don’t hesitate to send anything and everything my way.

Here I present a ten album sampler of dungeon synth and black metal albums from 2019. Consider it a very small look at how the atmospherics of both genres are still relevant in their continued underground transformations. Most of these albums made it here to Ten From the Tomb because I couldn’t manage the time for a long-form review or because I really didn’t have more than a paragraph or two worth of insight beyond banal description. If you’re not into the selection this week, relax! This’ll be back every 7 days with 10 more albums from different styles, genres, themes, etc.

Hey! Don’t dive in thinking this will all be shit just because I am not doing full reviews for these releases! I always have some quality control in mind and look for expressive, meaningful, or just damn heavy releases that hold value without gimmickry or bland plagiarism. This weeks picks come directly from a poll on PATREON where patrons vote on the sub-genre or subject of the list. Next week I’ll be covering requests directly from bands. Thank you! I am eternally grateful for the support of readers and appreciate the friendly and positive interactions I’ve had with all thus far. Think my opinions are trash and that I suck? Want to totally tell me off, bro? Click away and let’s all live more sensible lives full of meaningful interactions. I’m too old and bored with people to care.


Artist The Herbalists
Title [Type/Year] Swamp of the Drowned Masters [EP/2019]
Rating [3.5/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Recorded live between four keyboards this fourth tape from The Herbalists caught my ear because of its almost vintage Yamaha-esque synth sounds that should boil up as nostalgia for fans of early to mid-90’s video games. ‘Balancing on Kcor​-​Ridge Mountain’ (2018) was a bit more ‘fun’ and varied in a more subdued way, this however feels nicely raw and with an effective presence. I love the idea of a live dungeon synth recording and enjoy watching folks perform this type of music plus this album is essentially drive by a silent narrative of defending a natural habitat from an encroaching industrial civilization. It could all be a bit more closely structured but that is the joy of a live, perhaps improvised performance.


Artist Förgjord
Title [Type/Year] Ilmestykset [Full-length/2019]
 Rating [3.5/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

On their fourth full-length since forming in 1995 (and ramping up activity starting around 2001) this Finnish black metal act return for what is generally their most richly produced and adventurous release to date. Always taking the left hand path with their lycanthropic and sometimes symphonic black metal style the fellows responsible for ‘Ilmestykset’ focus on grand rhythms and almost avant-garde implementation that is both distinctly Finnish in its hellish coldness but also unwilling to simply rehash their neighbors in recreations of the blandness of the later second wave. Each song has an interesting rhythm, generally mid-pace with plenty of keyboards and distant raw black metal atmosphere. I might not be the most effective expert on this band but I for sure enjoyed this record.


Artist Erythrite Throne
Title [Type/Year] Eulogy For the Hangman [EP/2019]
 Rating [3.25/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

I’d say Erythrite Throne are on the more ambient, ethereal spectrum of dungeon synth and that’d make sense as prolific black metal/dungeon synth artist Wyrm tends on the ambient spectrum in all of his projects. The seventh full-length released by the project this year, I’m not entirely sure of the quality of all of his releases but I am aware that several of his releases are black metal in some aspect, usually a mixture of dungeon synth and dark metal with black metal influence on the vocal end. Seems like an effective symphonic metal artist in the works worth following.


Artist Golden Ashes
Title [Type/Year] Golden are the Ashes of The Restorer [Full-length/2019]
 Rating [3.5/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Golden Ashes is an impressive experimental project from Maurice De Jong who is perhaps best known for Gnaw Their Tongues. As it kicks off the idea appears to be a dungeon synth version of atmospheric black metal movements. This all seemed very average and uninteresting until I’d actually heard it and the layers of the music began to speak to me in tongues. ‘Golden are the Ashes of the Restorer’ is a pleasant, uplifting and deeply affected sort of shoe-gaze symphonic metal record that actually ends up being a very good focused listen. I think he could take this idea much further but taken as is, this was actually one of my favorite things De Jong has done in a while.


Artist Malfet
Title [Type/Year] The Way to Avalon [Full-length/2019]
 Rating [3.75/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Malfet‘s ‘The Way to Avalon’ is already one of the most striking dungeon synth (forest synth?) of the year so far for its effective harmonies and completely lush, evocative choice of synths. Think of a band like Shambless but without their extreme metal leanings, just the pure keyboard based work and you’re in the ballpark of what potential immersion lies within ‘The Way to Avalon’. Arthurian legends aren’t my area of expertise well, neither is dungeon synth for that matter, but I love the connection made between those two things for this piece. There is surely a bit of Jeremy Soule here if only because of the high fantasy subject matter and the call to adventure that characterizes its themes. Easily one of the most immersive dungeon synth variants I’ve come across in a long while, despite the use of natural sounds/field recordings.


Artist L’Acéphale
Title [Type/Year] L’Acéphale [Full-length/2019]
 Rating [3.25/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

A full ten years removed from their second full-length, and six years in the making, this self-titled debut from Portland, Oregon black metal act L’Acéphale feels particularly progressive as it plays. The years appear worth the effort today as ‘L’Acéphale’ manifests as a painstakingly detailed somewhat avant-garde black metal album full of folkish moments, noise experiments and generally curious flourishes. It all feels very on the verge, unhinged but never dangerous. Thrilled as I was by the packaging, style and such I didn’t end up going back to this record at all beyond a few listens.


Artist Francis Roberts
Title [Type/Year] Guardian Beast Sleeps [Full-length/2019]
 Rating [3.5/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

If you remember that proggy-Ghost-esque heavy rock band Old Man Wizard that I’d covered a while back here is one of its members and his self-named dungeon synth project. Well, is it dungeon synth? There is this 70’s prog influence running throughout ‘Guardian Beast Sleeps’ that is maybe more reminiscent of Goblin than Mortis, but it still feels like a fantasy synth record all the same. If you do happen to get the cassette I believe that version includes a brilliant cover of Haunt‘s “Luminous Eyes” including excellent vocals. Honestly it kinda outshines the rest of the material but this was nonetheless a fantastic effort throughout.


Title [Type/Year] The Eternal Dance at the Nucleus of Time [EP/2019]
 Rating [3.75/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

To really stir my mind out of disgust atmospheric black metal must go beyond the norm because the norm of the sub-genre is so flaccid, tired and beaten to a bloodless latex mush. Thankfully I’ve been gifted this fantastic EP from Germany atmospheric black metal project RRAAUMM which saw self-release this January and is coming to Ván Records soon. Hey don’t let me oversell it, this is a very subtle recording that feels a bit like deathrock in motion but has an atmoblack/doom feeling, something broken like Urfaust but not as characterized. The crossover between rock rhythms and glassy-eyed growling black metal is soft and lush but dark and disturbed at once, begging you to get close but swinging a knife if you look it in the eyes. Well worth a listen, I’d assume a full-length will follow soon enough.


Artist Spopielony
Title [Type/Year] Legendy [Full-length/2019]
 Rating [3.5/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Funeral Trance’s Site

Spopielony is a Polish dungeon synth artist enthralled with the hissing warmth of analog tapes and this comes as just some of the inspiration for his ‘Legendy’ full-length which has been lovingly set to tape by Funeral Trance. Think along the lines of Eldamar but far less repetitive. Tape decay, fantasy synth, cosmic horror, and what I’d consider classic 80’s rot all feature on ‘Legendy’ which at first appears as classic ambient-leaning dungeon synth but quickly shifts gears with each piece. For my own taste this was far too ambient and I’d have to find a quiet ‘middle of the night’ session to be able to rest with it. It is no doubt a special release and something I’d enjoyed immensely in the right situation.


Artist Flamen
Title [Type/Year] Furor Lunae [Full-length/2019]
 Rating [4.0/5.0] BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!

The first several weeks of listening to this debut release from Potenza, Italy medieval/melodic black metal masters Flamen were a true love affair. I was so enamored with it because I am such a huge fan of stuff like Obsequiae and this additionally echoed a bit of October Falls at certain points. That love affair turned out to be infatuation on some level as I’ve cooled a bit on the full listen over time, there are whispered vocal sections that are maddening at times and the whole affair could use some polishing. That said, any metal record has an issue or two and I generally found ‘Furor Lunae’ to be a glorious, spiritual experience that didn’t completely live up to how much I wanted to overspin and re-listen to it. A triumph regardless of my nitpicking.

Did I miss your favorite 2019 album? Send me an e-mail and tell me about it. It is always worthwhile to speak up for the lesser known stuff. Please remember you can contribute to my Patreon @ only $1 USD per month ($12 a year) to help keep me in front of the computer writing about metal. Thanks.

<strong>Help Support Grizzly Butts’ goals with a donation:</strong>

Please consider donating directly to site costs and project funding using PayPal.