Psychopathologist Demo 1999 & Crepitation Demo 199819th June 2023
Lumsk – Fremmede Toner20th June 2023
Label: Wormhole Death / Release date: 16th June 2023
I’m pretty sure Nargathrond is one of those creatures from Lord of the Rings that I vaguely know the name of and I’m fairly certain he doesn’t moonlight as a DJ, whatever his day-job. So, I know nothing about this presumed gentleman, nor have I ever really heard of Dark Synth. Apparently, there’s DJs involved and that’s a terrible start if you ask me. I presume Dark Synth to be the genre, but I’m gonna be honest here: I couldn’t find anything about this one-man project and his supposed three previous records online, and I assumed – without any evidence to go with it – that Dark Synth was what you’d think it would be. I bet you’re feeling really good about me guiding you along this trip right about now. Don’t worry, I spent quite a bit of time listening to a few Rate Your Music recommendations within the world of Dark Synth and it turns out I was right. It’s pretty much exactly what you think it is.
If you’re thinking that it’s cinematic and foreboding orchestral instrumentals mixed with semi-confused EDM, that is. Doing a mid-level dive (depth-wise) into the type of genres we’re dealing with when it comes to Killing Season, made me realize that I personally tend to enjoy individual songs, but I’ve yet to find an album that I genuinely consider good. Until now.
But it was a rough start. Having listened to Killing Season once, I felt entirely overwhelmed and confused for the first three tracks, before I settled and ended up really enjoying it. “First half sucks, second half’s great!”, that sort of feeling. Then I took some time off, listened to some other stuff and came back to it. Fuck me, this was unbelievable on the second playthrough!
The opener is haunting and creepy before it turns into oddly beautiful sci-fi and thus the movie-aspect is established from the get go. Which turns out to be apt, seeing as Mr. Nargathrond (hopefully not his real name as I’m struggling every single time I have to type it) appears to also be working in the film industry as a soundtrack producer and composer. There’s lots of cinematic stuff here and by and large it enriches the album and makes it really damn good, but I need to talk about track 3.
When you’re dealing with a potentially fantastic album, there will always be that hellish fork in the road. Yogi Berra said to take it, but I don’t know what that entails in reality so I have two choices: embrace the potential deal-breaker of a song and realize its charm and quirkiness before it eventually becomes my favourite track on the album, or make it my enemy. I would like to beat the snot out of this mess.
The first two tracks embrace horror movies and bouncy, melodic house music that makes you feel like you’re partaking in a goth dungeon party, so where does track 3 get off mixing in Backstreet Boys?! I dare you to listen to this song and not get boyband vibes. This one had me fuming from the first second and it’s one of the very few things that did not get saved by listening one more time. Track 3 is almost an album-killer, but it gets saved by the fact that the rest of the album is as close to flawless as you can get. The bouncy, yet foreboding vibe is carried on, but from track 7 and out, we’re swinging between euro-metal ala Rammstein, shoegaze and Metallica, all with a distinctive synth-touch that clearly is the sound of Nargathrond.
My initial impression was that the instrumental tracks were well made, intelligently placed, and that Nargathrond managed to mix influences whilst also retaining album flow in a way that was very impressive and impossible not to like. That feeling was only exacerbated by re-listening to the album. My problem was always with the non-instrumental tracks, especially seeing how the album closes out with intstrumental versions of tracks 3, 4 and 8. Why even have the original tracks? The vocals add nothing, 4 and 8 are decent on a re-listen, but they feel out of context and kill the instrumental drive, whilst it is shocking to discover how hard and downright cool the instrumental version of “Rivers of Blood” – the now infamous track 3 – actually is.
If this was a 10-track album where the three tracks containing vocals had been deleted, then we would probably be talking album-of-the-year contender. As it is, Killing Season is an outstanding effort that really should propel Nargathrond into the limelight, but it is not a perfect album.