Review: Straegor – ‘Crypt Of The Baleful’ (dungeon synth)

We go now to the UK for some dungeon synth from the “misty hills of Northern England.” Straegor brings us their six-song release, ‘Crypt Of The Baleful’.

It only takes just over a minute into the first track, “Defiantly Ancient” to understand that this act is doing far more than the “dungeon synth” label really allows. As the release begins with this track, there appears to be the obvious old-school dungeon synth inspiration from the likes of Mortiis – in terms of instrumentation and composition. But then, a minute into it, Straegor brings some metal guitar which is done tastefully..not overdone throughout the track.

“Vale Of Veils”, the second track makes some great use of the harpsichord sound making the track a bit reminiscent of old medieval chamber concerts. This track also bears more of a ‘soundtrack’-type atmosphere as we can see it accompanying a somber, mysterious journey of a wandering main character. Less structure and predictability in this track…. but then, the entire release is pretty devoid of predictability. But “Vale Of Veils” in particular has a pretty exceptional composition structure to it… Pure feeling and atmosphere..

That uniqueness in composition carries over into the subsequent track, “Venturing Forth”, which starts with a rudimentary Blood Lord-style key hit and then morphs into another story-like atmosphere. We’re not going to go through all of the tracks but this one needed to be addressed. The last track, however, ends really well like a bookend; majestic and uplifting. Where we began with “somber”, we now end with “triumphant.” There are some nice and notable key changes along with the atmospheric shift herein.

Here’s the thing about this album. Straegor takes the listener on unexpected twists and turns both in terms of instrumentation and composition. There’s a great balance for those old school dungeon synth fans who like their traditional sounds and those who like to step outside the predictable and structured path, so to speak. I’m looking forward to where Straegor takes us for their next offering.

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