Thangorodrim (Interview)

Thangorodrim is one of the most mysterious and impressive artists in Dungeon Synth today. While I was initially impressed with the Era I Mortiis worship of ‘Towers of the Teeth’, his latest album ‘Taur-nu-Fuin’ is one of the strongest Dungeon Synth releases to date. In this interview I speak with the mastermind behind Thangorodrim about his project, which will shed some light on this dark corridor of the Dungeon…

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  •  Greetings! Thanks for taking the time to answer this interview with Barbarian Skull! Please take this time to provide us with the history of Thangorodrim! 
A short history, so far. What began as a pure, unapologetic Mortiis worship (perilously close to the boundaries of plagiarism in many unreleased rough tracks, I must admit) a number of years ago has become  – at least I hope – it’s own entity.
  • Your project is one of the most mysterious in the modern Dungeon Synth scene. Can you comment more on the importance of anonymity with certain music projects? 
I think a breath of obscurity – whether simply utilizing a pseudonym, going so far as to eschew any notion of transparency in true identity, or opting for something in between – can go a long way in working with the music to draw out the sense of wonder we try to achieve, the sense of things hidden and arcane; the magic of lost secrets. In a genre that generally holds the memory and the traditions of the old paths almost sacred, maybe adopting this staple of anonymity (along with other traditions concerning subject matter and visual aesthetics), lends an air of authenticity to the music. Is it necessary? Probably not. Can it help to conjure that particular school of magic we seek? I think so.
  • While Tolkien is a very popular theme in metal and Dungeon Synth, Thangorodrim proudly flies the Tolkien banner and performs music with confidence that would certainly have made Tolkien himself proud. Why do you feel that this style of music is so appropriate for conveying the world of JRR Tolkien?
I could go on for pages and pages unashamedly worshiping Tolkien, but I’ll spare you such a long-winded spilling of guts and abridge. In all my years of constant and ravenous consumption of all things fantasy, I’ve yet to encounter a world that inspires wonder as Tolkien’s does. I don’t expect that I ever will. Maybe it’s because I cut my teeth on The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion. Maybe it’s the special setting of the fantasy world he brought to life. Maybe it’s that within his fully realized world, across the mountains and plains, bleak expanses of blasted earth, forests and lakes, islands and seas, mighty kingdoms and remote lamplit taverns, each richly woven through with their own peoples, histories, and secret lores, we are gifted with the perfect backdrop for his masterful tales; tales of wonder, courage, battle, triumph, loss, despair, hope and magic. Maybe it also serves as a perfect backdrop for this style of music because these are the images and themes we so often seek to evoke through it. It comes down to this. For many, this is a fantasy-driven genre, and Tolkien is the master of fantasy.
  • Thangorodrim’s music has evolved quite a bit. While the first two releases focused on a Mortiis Era I sound (reaching it’s peak at Towers of the Teeth), your latest release seems to have taken a direction all it’s own. Was this progression natural or intentional?
Tough question, this. I still take the sprawling grandeur of Era I Mortiis as my guide. There will never be anything quite like it. Therein, however, also lies something of a problem. Thangorodrim-as-Mortiis-worship was all well and good, but I soon realized that it’s just not possible to match his true mastery over the style he pioneered. With this understanding, Thangorodrim’s journey into its own sound (though still admittedly heavily Mortiis influenced) feels natural and honest.
  • What Dungeon Synth artists (or artists in general) inspired you the most with Thangorodrim’s musical direction? Is there any direct link between Thangorodrim and second wave black metal?
To me, traditional dungeon synth will always be an echo of second wave black metal. Black metal bands and the progenitors to dungeon synth shared much; not only musically, thematically, and visually, but also in the way of members, consumers, record labels, etc. They were once – and it could be argued that they still are – of the same circle.  I believe that link of kinship should be remembered.
  • Please tell us more about the creation of Taur-nu-Fuin. Many fans consider this to be one of the best Dungeon Synth releases in the modern scene, and even in the history of the genre (based on comments I’ve read online). How would you respond to this feedback? 
I am beyond honored to find Taur-nu-Fuin mentioned among some of the great releases of this year. To see my release even mentioned beside mighty works like Medhelan’s new offering, music from Grimrik, and the simply perfect split between Murgrind and Elffor is incredibly rewarding. Seeing pictures of Taur-nu-Fuin in physical collections next to Født til å Herske is something I never expected. I’m not worthy.
  •  Taur-nu-Fuin was also released on both tape and CD simultaneously by the two most active labels in the modern scene, Out of Season and Deivlforst Records. How did this record deal come about? How has the album sold so far?
I worked with Out of Season for the cassette release of Towers of the Teeth, and I am continually impressed with the quality of their service and product as a label. The agreement for Out of Season to release Taur-nu-Fuin was in place quite a while before Deivlforst Records approached me with an interest in releasing a Grimrik-remastered version of the album on CD. These two great labels agreed to work together on this release, with Out of Season providing the album on cassette and Deivlforst providing it on CD. This allowed me to work with my two favorite (and arguable the best) labels in the scene at the same time. I couldn’t have imagined for a better situation for the release.
  • Can you tell us more about any upcoming Thangorodrim releases? How do you feel about the future of Thangorodrim considering the immense response received from Taur-nu-Fuin?
By the time this interview is published, I expect that two unseen Thangorodrim tracks (not “new” in the strictest sense, but written alongside “Narchost” and “Carchost” during Towers of the Teeth) can be found on a newly-released Tolkien-inspired compilation.
In the realm of truly new music, I am currently hard at work on the follow-up to Taur-nu-Fuin. I won’t reveal too much, but will say that the album is to be based on the final battle between Eärendil and Ancalagon, which marked the end of the War of Wrath, the Great War of the Valar, elves, men, and dwarves against the dark forces of Morgoth in the First Age. I can’t say for sure when I will be finished or what the release will look like, but I’m very proud of what I have so far.
  • Thanks again for answering this interview with Barbarian Skull! Any last words are yours. 
I thank Barbarian Skull for the honor of this interview. Forever walk the old paths.