LordLovidicus2uzczgj I feel like it wouldn’t be appropriate to write a piece about Erang without talking about his American counterpart, Lord Lovidicus!   Apparently, the dude behind Lord Lovidicus is a mysterious fellow known simply as…Crow. Crow (who hails from the forsaken mountains of Idaho) also has another project called Jotun, but that’s not really dungeon synth so we’re not going to get into that here.   Anyway, I don’t know too much about dungeon synth, but from what I can tell there are basically two styles (in my opinion): “old-school” and “neo”.   The old-school dungeon synth style (OSDS) is essentially an emulation of the original pioneers and explorers of the genre, such as (era I) Mortiis, Wongraven, Burzum’s ambient shit, (earlier) Lord Wind, cheesy 1990s black metal intros and outros, etc.   Neo-dungeon synth, on the other hand, certainly draws heavily from OSDS, but has also been heavily inspired by video game and movie soundtracks.   However, I would argue that it’s this core essence of OSDS that’s still present in the overall atmosphere, style, and presentation that keeps it from just being a wannabe Diablo or World of Warcraft soundtrack. For example, just go onto Youtube and look up “epic rpg music” or whatever and you’ll see what I mean. It’s either overblown, overly-cinematic and distracting (if you’re using it as background music for tabletop RPGing), or it’s like a sad piano piece that sounds like it’s from a JRPG.   While those aren’t necessarily inherently bad characteristics, it’s not dungeon synth.   I feel like the Dungeon Synth blog actually offers a pretty accurate, concise description of what dungeon synth is.
You can read Part 1 of this series here, and Part 3 here.  

Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that at least in my own mind, Erang and Lord Lovidicus are duel emperors of the “neo-dungeon synth” scene.  Below, I’m going to explore my favorite LL albums, and hopefully you’ll check them out too if they seem like something you’d enjoy!
Forgotten Ruins (2013)
Much like the case with Erang, I’m not into a lot of Lord Lovidicus’ earlier stuff (everything from “Windbuchen” (2009) to “Autumnal Winds of Yore” (2013)).   However, shit finally got real for Mr. Lovidicus when released this album.   I feel like all of his stuff before was just kind of amateurish and cheesy (similar to Erang’s stuff before “Another World, Another Time”(2013)), but for whatever reason the quality finally got kicked into high gear and he was able to really tap into the essence of truly great dungeon synth for this album.   What we get on this release are two tracks, each almost 30 minutes in length!  Definitely a departure from his earlier works.
The first track, “The Mountain Stronghold Shrouded in Fog and Shadow”, starts off typically enough, with a sort of “tiptoeing through the mysterious evil temple” vibe, complete with an ominous synth melody, majestic, vaguely annoying horn leads (more on those later), and a gong.   However, the song really turns into something special around 12:10, which I feel like is the moment when Lord Lovidicus’ music finally transforms into elite dungeon synth.   My imagination really takes off here, as the music, crowned with a killer lead melody, really becomes cinematic, evocative, and inspiring.   There’s still an atmosphere of ominous foreboding, but the feeling is now more melancholy and introspective.   Then, BOOM! 18:45!!  The spell is broken! With a triumphant, glorious lead melody, it’s as if the adventurers are witnessing something truly spectacular, like they’ve just found some dragon’s treasure trove (see the album cover) or have accidentally stumbled upon a mysterious cult in the middle of an elaborate, grand ritual.   Then it goes back into the melody from 12:10 and blah blah you get the idea.   This was the first Lord Lovidicus song that really got my attention and made me want to listen to more of his stuff.
 The second track, “Scaling the Crevasses of Fyrelight Cave”, isn’t quite as good as the first one, but it’s still very well-done and great RPG background music.   As the song title implies, this is perfect for exploring some dark dungeon crypt from a 1980s D&D module.   Kind of a similar vibe to the first track.
Overall, I believe that up to this point, this album is wayyy better than anything LL had released before.   A milestone in the discography!
Kyndill og Stein (2013)

This album sounds quite similar to “Forgotten Ruins”, except this time around he opted for nine shorter tracks.   It’s on this album too that LL takes some departures from the typical “dungeon exploration” vibe and starts to include other emotions and atmospheres (this progression also foreshadows how much of a departure stylistically his next album will be from his older stuff).   One of the best examples of this is the song “Fog of the Autumnal Forest”.   All the usual LL instrumentation is there (ominous synth atmospherics, that slightly annoying synth horn lead, the percussion), but this time around we also are treated to a beautiful, haunting grand piano that’s introduced at about a minute in and really takes the music to the next level.  As I was saying before about “neo-dungeon synth”, this is a great example of it!  It’s still definitely dungeon synth, but has also begun to forge its own path in terms of experimentation and incorporating other instrumentation and moods that would sound out of place on an old Mortiis record.   I don’t know if at this time Erang’s music was beginning to be an influence or not, but I would say this stuff sounds like a mix between the two, as around this time Erang’s stuff was arguably the most “neo” of neo-dungeon synth (in terms of experimentation and originality).   Other songs that stand out to me are “Majestic Temple of Engraved Fluorspar Crystals” (which kind of reminds me of the music for Zeal in Chrono Trigger) and “Trudging Beneath the Snow Covered Trees”.   The more I listen to this album, the more these songs seem like they would go well with a video game.Wandervogel des Waldes (2014)

One of my favorite dungeon synth albums of all time!   However, it’s far from perfect:
1.   It takes a few songs to really hit its stride.
2.   I don’t really like the Franz Schubert cover.
3,   I’m not really feeling the cover art compared to some of the earlier albums.
4.   I don’t like it when the percussion emulates a “real” drum kit (like around 5:00 in “The Necromantic Stronghold”, for example, and are all over his entire discography for that matter), which happens on several of the first few tracks.
5.   I still don’t like that synthesized horn that he uses all the time.   I don’t know why it bothers me, I guess to me it just sounds kind of “cheap” or slightly out of place.   It just doesn’t sound right, especially on this release where everything else sounds great!

BUT, it’s the three tracks on the second half of this release (starting with “A Hall of Trees”) that I was the most impressed with, and it really makes up for the first half.  Don’t get me wrong, the first half is still pretty good!  It’s got some cool melodies and atmospherics, plus I really dig the harpsichord and other new effects that made their debut on this album.   However, the second half is where the true strength of this album lies.   It’s actually about halfway through the fifth track, “Naught but Seas and Rains” that the album begins to transform, around the 4:00 mark.   The change in sound and tone seems to almost give a preview of what’s to come in terms of style and atmosphere (and overall quality) on the following tracks–   “Hall of Trees”, “The Mead Hearth”, and “The Overgrown Belfry”, all being brilliantly executed and LL’s best songs to date.   Absolutely genius stuff.   “Waldervogel”‘s not too bad either, but not quite as good as the others.

Also, with this album the sound quality has also really improved drastically compared to his earlier material.   The orchestral synthesized strings sound amazing.    I also really love that he scaled back that mildly annoying, cheap-sounding synth horn that I keep talking about (it still pops up every now and then, and is prominent in a few of the songs (such as “Mithril Mines” or “Icebound”).  It’s obvious with this release that LL’s music has drifted even further away from the old-school dungeon synth style, similar to Erang’s “experimental” latest album, “We Are the Past”, which also came out around the same time.

Overall, this album is as creative, evocative, and inspiring to the imagination as anything else out there within the genre.   I still have a tough time making up my mind as to whether or not this was the best dungeon synth album of 2014 (so far it’s between either this or Erang’s “Within the Land of My Imagination I am the Only God”).   I can’t wait to see what Crow has in store for us in the near future!!

Listen and support Lord Lovidicus’ music: https://lordlovidicus.bandcamp.com/
Keep updated about Lord Lovidicus: https://www.facebook.com/LordLovidicus
Lord Lovidicus’ Youtube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/CrowHavenBM
Mithrim Records: http://mithrimrecords.bandcamp.com/