Title: Journey of the Spirits
Rating: 4 / 5
Genre: Dungeon Synth
Foglord is a relatively new Dungeon Synth project from the United States, who in the span of just a couple of years has released three great full length albums. The first album New Realms and Forgotten Lands was lo-fi dark ambient with medieval and folk motifs, with the second release In the Essence of Astral Solitude showcasing an even stronger dark ambient influence. Both of these releases are quality albums that can easily hold their place in any ambient fan’s collection.
The newest album Journey of the Spirits takes Foglord’s style a step further. While Mortiis has always been an influence, this album truly embodies the feeling of the early Mortiis releases without sounding like a boring or cheap imitation. The use of brass and percussion to build up the songs is excellent and highly effective (listen to the ending of the intro song Dawn’s Embrace, or the excellent outro to the song Return of the Tree Spirit before the strings fade the song out). Both of the aforementioned songs demonstrate Foglord’s unique ability to create an epic feeling while still maintaining the airy atmosphere which gives the songs a dreamlike quality.
Just listen to a track such as A Woodland Tale and compare it with Foglord’s first album and you will truly get a sense of the composer’s progression as a songwriter. This is not meant as criticism for the earlier albums, but I feel the songs on Journey of the Spirits represent Foglord coming into form and manifesting in the way that completely captures the essence that the composer was reaching for since the beginning. The song marches forward with crystalline keys played in a baroque manner over simple flute melodies, with brass and what I believe is a mouth harp acting as percussion. This is possibly the most complex Foglord song to date, demonstrating the composer’s ability to write more technical material without losing focus on atmosphere.
There are subtle elements throughout the songs which further add to their quality. For example, the song Gazing into the Veil of Fog features the sound of howling wolves in the background. The wolves are not placed at random, and come into the song at just the right moment to properly add atmosphere, not to mention are mixed into the track at the correct volume so that they are not overbearing and drown out the synth. Foglord also mentioned on their Facebook page that the song Return of the Tree Spirit was inspired by an actual dream the composer had of a spirit which spoke to him through a tree in a forest. These may just be subtle elements, but the music is enhanced by their presence. These are songs with real inspiration and purpose; to enter a dream world where the listener ventures through an endless, unknown forest.
This is by far the most mature and enjoyable Foglord release to date. It has accompanied me through many hours of reading books on pagan history, mythology, and epic fantasy. Every fan of Dungeon Synth should give this release a listen, and keep a close eye on Foglord in the future, as it seems that the music is only improving with each release.