23 Jan 2023 - Thorsten
Atmospheric Black Metal, Dungeon Synth | Altare Productions | Release date: 16 Jan 2023
I do not want to go as far as saying this will be Dungeon Synth’s Nevermind but in a just world it would surely be its Sunbather. Big statement? Yes, but sit back, enjoy the ride that one-man-project Wuodan’s Wunde from Austria is providing on this record and tell me afterwards whether I was wrong or not. Fire away, actually, because nothing can hit me here, down deep in the dungeons!
To make one thing clear about the comparison above – I am neither predicting that Es Glimmt Empor aus Ewger Nacht, the debut by Austrian project Wuodan’s Wunde, will be as successful as either of these two larger-than-their-genre records nor am I hinting at any form of trying to overly accessible in order to appeal to as many people as possible. Nevermind sparked the overall success of grunge and Sunbather was the reason that Blackgaze or Post-Black-Metal were featured on the feuilleton pages of many really famous magazines and newspapers worldwide – unfortunately I guess that Es Glimmt Empor aus Ewger Nacht (“It’s glowing upwards from eternal night”) will not have the same effect, but the record might be an icebreaker for many people that are already interested in music outside of the pop-realms. Even if they haven’t been listening to Dungeon Synth before – and now let me explain why:
Dungeon Synth has not got the best kind of reputation – totally undeservedly, if you ask me – of being nothing but pure Lo-Fi-mud without any ear for melody, something as dark as the waters of the Green River. Wuodan’s Wunde surely uses Dungeon Synth elements to develop this strong, dark whirlwind in the background but they are exactly that: The background. And on that canvas he uses elements from other genres to his advantages, some Black Metal blast beasts (sorry, some of the hellishly fast drums on this record are not blasts but steady beasts never bowing their heads once!), some wide-spread, nearly Post-Rock’ish passages and also some classic medieval soundscapes that embellish the Dungeon Synth motif a little bit more as this is often another clear element of said genre. With all these ingredients, it is not easy to to give the listener a clear melody but this artist is able to, listen to the last two minutes of the third track – you get several Synth passages here and slowly the last once comes up victorious and behind it there is this soft layer of white noise resembling eternal rain. Right between these two elements one can hear the spoken word passage by the artist which also makes way for two more separate synth line, one similar to a real violin, the other short and a bit like a flute. All of it is clearly audible and that surely makes for a remarkable mastering and mixing process done here.
When some of the guitar lines break through all the open, grainy spaces like standing next to a dream house on a post-apocalyptic beach, for example at the beginning of the fourth track, then one can hear the Black Metal roots of the artist which also shows in the dark screams which seem to reach out to us from beyond the veil of white noise. All tracks are simply numbered ”I.” to ”V.”, thus one doesn’t have to care about titles but can simply sit back and enjoy being pulled deeper and deeper into the world of Wuodan’s Wunde (“the Wound of Wodan” - a god in Richard Wagner’s The Ring of The Nibelung that is based on the Father of all Nordic gods, Odin). The concept behind the record was vibrantly clear to the artist even before he began writing at all, so, yes, there is a concept behind all of that noise and one element of it was to connect the world of the Nibelung with Dungeon Synth: another classic element of that genre which often picks up folk tales, classic sagas, legends and such content and transports them into this musical idea. When the artist comes up with another idea and another soundscape and more and more shifty sonics it might become too much if the mix of all of that wasn’t so good and adequate! Take the beginning of the final track as an example: a brilliant mix of medieval soundscapes, synth wave bass lines, harsh white noise and some mutterings very far back in the mix seems to be simply washed away when another synth-line suddenly accompanies a classic Black Metal melody but all of it is really still there under all the Black Metal furor which is then again being bullied out by the former Synthwave bass. Songwriting at its best in Dungeon-minor!
If there ever was need for a gateway-record into that kind of music, Wuodan’s Wunde and its debut might be it. Whether it will become as big as the aforementioned releases? One might doubt it. Would it be just if that happened? Surely! Album of the Year material right here, right now.