America’s first dungeon synth festival took place earlier this year in Worcester, Massachusetts. Called Northeast Dungeon Siege, the festival was three nights of dungeon synth producers conjuring their music in a live setting. There wasn’t a drum kit for miles. Just keyboards, laptops, amps, candles, cloaks, and sundry other occult bric-a-brac. Mortiis headlined the second night, as part of his first US tour. Every night the Raven, a small almost-dive bar, was packed if not sold out. Elves played Moogs; Skull-faced wizards conjured Tartaran depths with stacked Casios; the bar transmogrified into a subterranean gothic dance club. Suffice to say, the festival was, much to the surprise of many, a smash success.
Ingsmith, of the project Guild of Lore, wasn’t able to make it all the way across the country for NEDS. He talks about how he had to watch the action unfold via his friends’ live feeds. “I had probably only watched a couple hours into the first day when I had the idea for doing something similar here on the West coast,” says Ingsmith. “I messaged Josh [Pratt, one of the organizers behind Northeast Dungeon Siege] who offered his blessing in creating another chapter of the Siege and continued to message other DS friends about the idea to gauge whether there was any interest in doing it. Long story short: I began organizing in April of this year and haven’t looked back.”
Dungeon Siege West takes place next weekend, November 15th – 17th, at the Highline in Seattle. Ingsmith says: “I wanted to take the spirit of Northeast Dungeon Siege and do something by DS fans for DS fans. More as an addition to the scene and a positive affirmation of the genre’s foothold among so many other related genres. The Dungeon Synth community is very different in respects to other genres of music. Even as it continues to grow in popularity each day, the camaraderie of fans across the world is akin to a close-knit family . . . The ultimate goal of the festival is to provide a fantastic and unforgettable experience.”
Those of you who are on the fence about going may want to hop off into the Land of Hell Yes I’m Going! and quickly. Ingsmith warns: Tickets are going fast, but are still available through the Dungeon Siege West website. We have weekend passes as well as single day passes, which will be available up to the first day of Siege or the time when all are sold out. Last minute people may try their luck at the doors, but we highly recommend purchasing in advance!”
If you’re a dungeon synth initiate, you know the festival line-up looms stacked and promising. For those of you less familiar, but intrigued, Ingsmith has curated the following playlist.
But first . . . “I personally would like to thank each and every artist and fan who have shown their support for this festival!” Ingsmith says. “It wouldn’t be happening without all of you! I was recently asked if it was okay to ‘dress up’ for the event. We definitely encourage the idea of fantasy/medieval costumes being worn throughout the festival. As many of the artists bring these elements to the stage, it would no doubt enhance the atmosphere to have audience participation. The Highline is an amazing vegan venue and we are extremely gracious to have them host the Siege! Supporting them by ordering from their menu and drinking some of their hand crafted cocktails is most appreciated! Most of all, support the hard working artists, labels and gaming coordinators who made this happen! We will see you at the Siege!”
“Sombre Arcane are a Dungeon Synth duo who are trailblazing new paths in the genre. Hailed as one of the best live DS acts on the planet, the wizard Phranick and the bard Naginah put on a spectacular show filled with magic. Incorporating live medieval instruments into bombastic orchestral arrangements, their sound is immediately recognizable and unforgettable! After opening for Mortiis at the Northeast Dungeon Siege festival, the group has since loaded up their cart and set out across the country for a tour that will end up in Seattle for Dungeon Siege West!”
“Pumpkin Witch are the Lords of Halloween in the realm of Dungeon Synth. Three frightening entities with pumpkins for heads whose identities remain a mystery even today after their first appearance on bandcamp in 2017. Together they create a ghastly lo-fi soundtrack to entrance their victims into unspeakable nightmares. The band has been carefully documented and studied by many around the world. But none is more famous than the unfortunate Mr. C! His journals have provided a wealth of information on the phenomena as well as a glimpse into the absolutely terrifying nature of the Pumpkin Witch. His whereabouts however are currently unknown…”
Casket of Dreams
“From the outset of over twenty years ago, Casket of Dreams has remained obscured by the years between their first, now-legendary, 1998 album and their cryptic resurgence all these years later. Then, they were pioneers of a genre that barely existed: dark ambient, medieval dark ambient, and now, ‘dungeon synth.’ Resurfacing this year under the banners of the highly regarded DS labels Ancient Meadow and Dungeons Deep Records, COD brings a show-stopping blend of both the new and the old forms of the genre!”
Guild Of Lore
“Guild Of Lore embraces and embodies the heart of escapism. Creating soundscapes built around fantastic and far away worlds, the addition of written lore and artwork have served to attract many a wayfarer since 2018. While immersion continues to be a key factor throughout all of the Guild’s endeavors, the inspiration drawn from the likes of The Elder Scrolls and Dungeons & Dragons is undeniable. Whether it be trudging the snow laden lands of ‘Winterstead’ or navigating under the full moonlight of an ‘Autumn Macabre.’There is always something intriguing and relatable for any enthusiast of the fantasy genres!”
“Diplodocus is yet another project who is spearheading the path of the Dungeon Synth genre into new territory. Aptly labeled as ‘Dino Synth’ this colossal beast pulls inspiration from dungeon synth classics, as well as antiquated portrayals of dinosaurs through comics, silent film and children’s books of the past. Skillfully transporting listeners into a literal Land Of The Lost, the balance between b-film aesthetic and modern jurassic composition is impeccable. Already at the top of the Bandcamp bestsellers the mighty Diplo has amassed a world-wide following since it stomped onto the scene last August! 100% unique and 100% badass!”
“Armed with Moogs and Mellotrons, the mad synth scientist Francis Roberts is one of the few Dungeon Synth artist’s hellbent on re-kindling the age of analog. Bringing a full force sonic attack to his listeners’ ears, this is one man who will keep you on your toes! Sometimes tranquil and mesmerizing. Sometimes shot from the catacombs into space for an epic opus of grand proportions. But always entertaining and always unexpected! Francis Roberts is a rare gem who will be sharing the stage with his brother in analog FVRFVR at this year’s Siege! Prepare for a journey into the unknown!”
“The works of author Ursula K. Le Guin have inspired many a DS project. But the Colorado-based Fogweaver have taken Le Guin’s themes and put them to music in such a harmonious fashion! It’s as if the artist had literally been to Earthsea and came back with songs from this fantastic land. Ebbing and flowing with an ever constant presence of magic. Fogweaver’s ability to transport his listeners far and away from Earthly reality is astounding! A highly atmospheric and highly anticipated act for this year’s festival!”