Published on Saturday, 29 October 2016 12:19
Album title: Dungeon Dirges
Release date: 23 September 2016
Label: Haftvad Records
01. Morbid Transmutation
02. Crypts Of Plague And Necromancy
03. Blood Incantations
04. Labyrinthine Black Corridors
Werwolfsblut is a mysterious black ambient artist of unknown origin. Their debut, Dungeon Dirges, has been released on Haftvad Records. Not reading the album blurb, I went into this one expecting something of the dungeon synth variety. As I was familiar with several dungeon synth acts on the Haftvad label. Yet, hopping into the music, I was immediately engulfed in a thick and almost overwhelming darkness. Dungeon Dirges is not for the faint of heart. This album is meant to drop you into the depths of some horrific dungeon in an old castle. A castle overtaken by fiends and ghouls.
While the music itself is doubtlessly black ambient, the concept falls more into the dungeon synth genre. Which is part of the reason I'd assumed it to be dungeon synth music. In all honesty there are elements here which touch on many different genres. At times we are confronted with ghastly figures, speaking to us in their guttural and distant howls. The entire album is built upon a foundation of deep distorted rumbling drone. This underbelly rarely lets up. The result sends the listener further and further into a state of fear and anxiety. There are distant screams cropping up occasionally, as some poor soul is being tortured, far deeper in the dungeon. Industrial noises add a sense of some modern torture devices being used all around. Hammering metal gives the impressions of a nearby forge, possibly being operated by the dungeon's prisoners.
The album is only four tracks. But, this is very fitting for the atmosphere that Werwolfsblut has envisioned. "Morbid Transmutation" only being four minutes long, is by far the shortest track on the album. This is a short, but poignant introduction to the album. The initial descent into the dungeon. The short introduction builds us a foundation. Immediately diving into the sounds of torture and despair, listeners should know what they are in for. As the album progresses through the next three tracks, we continue our tour of this hell-on-earth, this deep dank dungeon, from which only a lucky few will ever ascend. Sticking to the black ambient style, each track has its own qualities, but the majority of the album has a constant uniformity. This uniformity is surely based in the underlying drone work. The deep rumbling chaos, which builds such a devastating foundation. Upon this foundation, what we find are the ingredients to nightmares. Places inside our minds which we hope to never witness in reality.
Dungeon Dirges is a strong debut by Werwolfsblut. The black ambient style can often become a bit monotonous. For some, this may happen occasionally throughout a full listen of Dungeon Dirges. But, most listeners who can appreciate the black ambient style will find that Dungeon Dirges has many interesting sounds, voices, and textural layers to keep their imaginations churning out the horrors. Again, sticking to that black ambient style, this album doesn't have that crisp sound you may find on a label like Cryo Chamber. Instead the album is rough in places, adding to the smoky thickness of the atmosphere, and the filth of the dungeon setting.
This release is a full roll-out for Werwolfsblut. The cover-art is fitting to the album: a dark and distorted image of a medieval castle. Dungeon Dirges is released digitally, via Bandcamp, where you will also find two cassette versions. Having seen the deluxe edition, it seems that Haftvad Records spared no expense on the construction of this project. There is also a t-shirt available with the album cover displayed upon its front. Its nice to see smaller labels making every effort to build a full album release, with all the bells and whistles. Unlike what we see with many small labels which often deliver a quick and quiet digital release on Bandcamp, likely to be forgotten as quickly as it was manufactured.
Dungeon Dirges has a lot to offer, for the listener who is willing to have their senses drained over the hour of black ambient textures. There is definitely something here for fans of dark ambient who prefer the harsher side of things, like Yen Pox and Jarl. Dungeon synth fans may find a lot to love as well, especially in the medieval dungeon setting as well as the occasional uses of gritty sinister synth sounds. Yet this album will surely strike a nerve the most with fans of black ambient, death industrial, and power electronics. Fans who are already quite accustomed to a brutal sonic assault in their music, they should delight in Dungeon Dirges. This is a strong debut by Werwolfsblut and a sign of even greater things to come in the future most likely.
Written by: Michael