If you want to find good music, look for something from Ireland. Seriously, so much of the music that I’ve found there has been phenomenal. Sure there are some mind-numbing things there but that happens everywhere. Since I began really looking, most of my favorite bands or artist have been from there. Even in dungeon synth this is true. Look at Argonath and Nan Morlith, two projects I’ve already covered for Dungeon Synth Appreciation Month, both are from Ireland and both, in my humble opinion, are some of the most unique that I’ve found in my search. The same holds true for Deathbard, the newest project that I’ve found and can’t get enough of. There is a wealth of material out there for Deathbard, it’s one of those “new album out nearly every month” kind of projects that has managed to make each release interesting. My favorite has, by far, been “The City in the Caves.” Why? Let’s find out.
Despite my love for the epic fantasy that is Lord of the Rings, I love generic, elves, goblins, and dwarves kind of fantasy. The kind that has looks of substance but not as much depth as a Lord of the Rings. It’s not mindless fantasy, nor is it groundbreaking stuff. It’s just good, fun fantasy. The best I can think of is the RA Salvatore books, the Drizzt stuff. Everyone knows who that is right? And no one would put it on the level of Tolkien but it’s still a good read. That’s kind of the narrative I found myself in with The City in the Caves. The album is set in a fantasy world that doesn’t have the rich history and depth but has some great diversity and excitement.
Each song on the album kind acts as the level of this underground city, each is a layer further from the surface, and as result the music becomes more ethereal, more alien. The music is ethereal and atmospheric the further down into the city you go. Each song reveals a new layer of this world, new places and people and things. The beginning of the album is light and lyrical, almost in a forest synth kind of way; I wouldn’t call it playful but it does have a mischievous quality to it. As the music progress the music becomes darker and more dungeon like. As the album moves forward and we, the listener-protagonist, descend further into the city; we are exposed more and more to the nature of this civilization and the darker it becomes. It’s by no means evil, even at the very end of the album the music is martial and warlike but there is no sinister element. Another feeling I got was that the further we, again the listener-protagonist, were more accepted into this culture until we ourselves have become indistinguishable from it. By the end of the album the music isn’t so alien like, it’s more mundane but still holds a lifelike beauty.
Deathbard has a lot to offer when it comes to variety. They have enough albums out to satisfy any fan of dungeon synth. The quality of the music, though charming and light, is fairly lo fi. Don’t let that scare you off though, not everything that’s lo fi has to be dark and gloomy and dreary. Deathbard is fun and easy to listen to, when faced with the question “What should I listen to?” Deathbard is never the wrong answer.
Listen and support the music!