Double Review: Sequestered Keep

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Two reviews in one post? You’d better believe it! 

Before I delve into the crypts I must preface this double review with two points. Firstly, the reason this post will contain two reviews is that both albums are from the same artist and were both released last month (August 2015) and secondly, I know the bare minimum possible about this genre to make this work. What I do know about dungeon synth was procured from the Masterlord’s excellent introduction to the genre back in March, I suggest checking out that article to get a thorough grounding on what the principal tenets of the style entails. Since having my curiosity piqued earlier this year I hadn’t really continued to investigate the genre much further; it’s not exactly something that I feel would be conducive to driving around at work bashing the steering wheel and headbanging along to. However, after seeing how high castles ranked on the very cool list posted here late last week, I thought it would be a good time to explore the vaults.

Sequestered Keep from Salt Lake City (Utah) dropped two albums last month, the first titled The Fortress In The Timeless Fog, and the second titled Mournful Mystic Night. While both come from the same artist, each album has a fairly different feel. Fortress having a comparatively upbeat medieval theme while Mournful Mystic Night offering a more subdued ambient style. While I do suggest starting the album from the first track, I’m going to embed the track which may lure those pitiful serfs  noble allies burdened with childish impatience time constraints beyond the drawbridge.

 

As I mentioned above, this album is reasonably different from the second. The Fortress In The Timeless Fog invokes a sense of medieval atmosphere to me; this is likely due to the incorporation of more prominent melodies and transient percussive elements. While there are still additions of ambience, such as the icy squalls on “The Wind That Chills the Mountain’s Stone” and the clanging swords on “Aeon-Silent Crypt of Battle-Felled Souls: Spectral Echoes of War”, they tend to lurk behind the primary visage. In case it wasn’t already apparent to you, these songs are graced with titles that conjure more mood and depth than an entire Soulfly album worth of lyrics. Some of the tracks on here would make the perfect soundtrack to an epic video game in a battle-stricken landscape, or if you’re anything like me and have no time to indulge in such recreation due to the responsibilities of being a grown-arse man, you’ll be doing mundane chores while your mind quests away from the drudgery of routine to times of yore.

 

On to the second release, Mournful Mystic Night. After the relatively benign introductory track “The Nightwood’s Spectral Silence”, this album opens up into amazing funereal ambience, with each of the four following tracks conveying a deep and beautiful sorrow. This emotional heft is not achieved by over-the-top hymnal orchestra movements but through breathy mournful sighs adorned with delicate, yet deliberate cascades of keys. The compositions having the ability to pierce the shield of consciousness, not in an overt dramatised manner but rather with a graceful demure presence. By the time the peaceful and contemplative title track has ended and the third track (“Dying in the Glow of the Cold Moon Medieval”) begins, my mind is looking out of a window toward a forest, watching as rain gently falls on a serene timeless landscape. When the last track ends however, I realise I am merely looking at my unkempt lawn through the kitchen window having left the tap running and I’m brought back to the banality of modern life.

While the music on these albums may not be composed organically, it almost never feels plastic. There is the charm of character and sentiment, which although cold and forlorn, is no less tangible than the inverse senses, warmth and security. Now while I don’t think I’m in the position to judge these albums relative to their contemporaries, I am going to say that if their goal is to transport you spatially and/or temporally, they achieve this easily, provided your mind is willing to travel.

Head over to Sequestered Keep’s bandcamp page and give these albums a try.

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