Exclamavit – In the Shadow of a Citadel (Review)

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Title: In the Shadow of a Citadel

Artist: Exclamavit

Rating: 3.5 / 5

Genre: Dungeon Synth / Medieval Ambient

Year: 2013

Country: USA

Label: Swampkult Productions

Links: https://exclamavit.bandcamp.com/album/in-the-shadow-of-a-citadel

Exclamavit is a project that immediately caught my attention, and like many other great albums I found myself buying it before I even managed to get half way through the album upon first listen. Exclamavit is a synthesized medieval ambient project that could easily be defined as Dungeon Synth as well, although the production is very clear and clean compared to other projects that play a similar style. The album begins with Fealty and Reverence, and excellent harp based song with folk percussion and great sounding piano melodies. This song sets the atmosphere for the entire album, bringing the listener into an old monastery in the dark ages. The second song, A Blade To Herald An Age, is by far my favorite track from Exclamavit. The track begins with droning synths and deep strings, with the effects of a blade being tempered and drawn. As the brass section comes in, the song slowly builds up tension and presence, before being accompanied by timpani drums and a dark main melody. This is an extremely strong sounding song, and conjures up images of a mythical blade being forged for a hero. This track has all of the elements that first drew me to the Dungeon Synth genre to begin with.

There really is not any filler on this album, and each track carries it’s own unique qualities. The harp and wind instrument melodies on The Fear of Beasts are very memorable and remain in my head for days at a time. A Pilgrimage Through the Fog features a great sounding mouth harp, and actually gives the feeling of a walk through a murky forest by lantern light, surrounded by fog and the unknown. Esoteric Banners Upon the Stone features some great distant whispering vocals, which for the most part are unintelligible (a trick that could only enhance a song if used in a few genres of music, Dungeon Synth being one of them). As the album ends with A Monastic Vision, we are again transported back to a feeling similar to that of the start of the album, this time with the imagery of a procession of monks disappearing into the mysteries of the past through chanting, strings, and harpsichord sounds.

Exclamavit is described as by the sole mastermind behind the project Elan O’Neil as “a contemporary soundtrack to an ancient age”, and it achieves just that. This album has become a personal favorite of mine for this style of music, and I deeply regret that the project has only produced 24 minutes of music in their discography thus far. I sincerely hope we will hear more from Exclamavit in the future.