The magic and imagination of late 90s dungeon synth is what brings us to our offering for today; a 2LP and digital release courtesy of our friends at Dunkelheit in Germany. This is the re-release of Forgotten Pathways’ cult classic Shrouded In Mystery.
From Bandcamp: “The dark and haunting magic of this classic Dungeon Synth gem will entrance your soul and lead you on forgotten pathways through misty woods, to hidden places of the past and trap you in times long gone by.”
Somewhere between classic dungeon synth elements and outside-the-dungeon thinking is where we find ourselves with this release. Herein the artist utilizes perhaps a bit more of an electronic drum beat than most dungeon synth classics. The beat could be somewhat compared to somber circus or medieval music but with a unique production and synth sounds. It’s meant to be intimate; thus the name dungeon synth. But part of the reason Shrouded In Mystery is such a classic dungeon synth release is that it goes slightly beyond the fire-lit cellars and pits and into the woods and fog-caressed mountains. Tracks like “Wuduaelfen” (“wood elves”) appropriately reflect the likes of solitary walks in obscure areas of the woods under overcast skies. Other tracks like, “Dyfed,” have more of a renaissance, medieval demo feel. According to an interview with the web zine Barbarian Skull (see link below), the artist recorded the original demo on “a cheap synthesizer, one of those that have about 100 on-board sounds.” Well, Shrouded in Mystery is one of those cases where the character of an album is actually enhanced by the simplest of setups.
Having originally been issued nearly 20 years ago, I’ll go so far as to say that Shrouded in Mystery was even a bit ahead of it’s time. Tracks like “Darkened/In Caverns Deep” venture ever so slightly outside of the “dungeon synth” realm but maintain the primitive-like character. How can a dungeon synth album be both ahead of its time and be true to dungeon synth form? You’ll just have to hear it. But the aforementioned track, at least musically sounds like a very early Pre-“Faith” Cure demo. “Outro, (Battle Of Bravellir)” sounds just as the title implies… like a cry for battle with the build up of the drum beat and synth hits. Again I stress the fact that the simple set up of the artist maintains for us the feel that brought our interest in dungeon synth back in the late 90s. “Beowolf Stadt” is pure magic and an up-beat multi-layered track sounding as a pre-battle call.
Shrouded In Mystery is available in a double vinyl edition plus poster, limited to 300 copies. It is also available as a digital download. Surely the vinyl format will give this classic dungeon synth release the character that it really deserves. It includes the original track list from the 1998 demo in addition to unreleased bonus tracks from the late 90s. Special thanks to Dunkelheit for the re-release of this album that reaches beyond the dungeons and forests and reminds us of the magic and imagination of the late 90s.