Have you ever listened to an album and thought “Why isn’t everyone talking about this?” As a reviewer, I run into that a lot. I hear an album that blows me away yet I can find very few people talking about it online. It’s baffling that such amazing releases get ignored yet at the same time it’s sadly not because there is so much stuff we must sift through to get to the good stuff. Such is the case with Faery Ring’s latest album Leech and Wort. It’s not the prettiest album cover, it’s not overly spectacular or flashy but the music, oh the music! I heard a couple of things about the album a few months back and put it on the list. I listened to it and immediately bumped it up. I listened to it over and over, enthralled by the music, trying to find a way to review the album and give it justice at the same time. Each time I listened, I asked myself “Why isn’t everyone in all the dungeon synth groups talking about this? Surely this is one of those albums that should have everyone talking.” Yet it seemed to pass into the shadows. Hopefully a review will help it back into the spot light where it belongs.
The album, as I said before, isn’t the flashiest looking album I’ve ever seen but upon listening to the music, the cover didn’t matter. Once you begin listening to the very natural sounding atmosphere, the slightly mischievous and whimsical melodies, and the broodingly sinister shadow the cover isn’t going to be the thing bringing you back. The music is enthralling, it’s hypnotic. The music is full of fantasy elements yet they grounded, more grounded than most fantasy synth. The music is raw, taking a less cinematic and orchestral approach to the sound. I liked that a lot. It sets itself apart that way. Faery Ring reminds me of the old Dungeon and Dragons books by RA Salvatore. I don’t really know why but I have an urge to go back and reread them as I listened to Leech and Wort. Perhaps it’s something about the no frills, no high fantasy outlook they both shared.
Leech and Wort itself is a continuation of the stories found in other Faery Ring albums, each of them further advancing the tale and scope of the fantasy. Each album has opened the world up just a little more, opening our eyes to a new fantasy world. In my humble opinion, I think stories and albums like these can be the future of dungeon synth. I love stories and albums inspired by Tolkien, Lovecraft, and all the rest but I love the original fantasy even more. I love music like Erang and Faery Ring for their ability to tell brand new stories with their music. Original stories told through this kind music enrich the genre of fantasy literature and the genre of dungeon synth. I want to see more of it!
The music has an air of folklore around it as well. It’s not so obvious as projects like Argonath or Medhelan but it’s still there. Like the faeries of folklore, the sounds are hidden and natural. Instead of focusing on the great knights and their heroic tales, Faery Ring sheds a light on the doings of the forest, the rivers, the hills. Nature. It doesn’t have the same noble, epic sound as the others but it has its own glory.
The music itself doesn’t combine a lot of instruments together, keeping it to a few to make sure the sound is natural and honest. I’ve used the word natural to describe the album a lot, but mostly that’s because I can’t quite find a better word. There’s not a lot of pure synth sound on the album, it’s mostly comprised of wind instruments and percussion. Together they create a very intimate, very organic atmosphere.
This is the kind of atmosphere, the kind of mood, that I crave when I listen to dungeon synth. I love the dank and brooding sounds of the dungeon but every once in a while, we all need to get out there and dance with the faeries under the eaves of the forest. Faery Ring offers us that kind of experience. Again, I don’t know how this release isn’t the first thing on people’s lips because it really should be. It’s not Tolkien, it’s not Lovecraft, it’s not Conan the Barbarian, it’s Faery Ring. The music soft of exists in its own little world where the trolls and the faeries and the hedge wizards practice their herblore with the disruptive presence of mankind. If you haven’t heard of Faery Ring or Leech and Wort, consider this your wake-up call. If you have heard of them, it’s time to jump back into that realm and relax and be at peace again.
Highlights: Plague Talisman, Marshmarriage, Cloudspyre
For Fans Of: Erang, Goblintropp, Hedge Wizard
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- Plague Talisman
- Crushed Mugwort Blossom
- Woodland Shrine With Posies
Leech and Wort was released independently through Bandcamp on February 18th, 2017
Physical release to be coming soon from Hollow Myths*