Trogool – Beyond the River Skai

Whine enough, and ye shall receive what you want. At Archaic Triad, we have long requested dungeon synth bands that venture further afield than the majority, acts that explore literary and thematic elements beyond the RPG/Fantasy worlds. Trogool does pretty much exactly that. The highly professional full-length CDr Beyond the River Skai draws its inspiration from the writings of H.P. Lovecraft and Lord Dunsany. Further highlighting the idiosyncratic nature of this release’s theme is the fact that it is Lovecraft’s Dream Cycle works, rather than the Chthulhu Mythos/cosmic horror stories, that have served as main influence.

The music deviates less from the dungeon synth formula, though it is very well crafted. “Lo-fi” is not a word to associate with Trogool. The VSTs are pretty much top notch, at times though not always approximating actual orchestral instruments really well. There is a certain DAW sequencer-ish stiffness hidden somewhere in most of the songs, even if tracks like “Seven Hundred Steps” manage to avoid this almost completely through unorthodox and experimental arrangements. It should also be added that some instruments, especially certain percussion and bells/chimes, are extremely beautiful and organic, and add a good deal of life to the overall production.

It must be said that many melodies retain the quasi-medieval air common to dungeon synth, meaning that elves and men armed with broad swords sometimes feel closer at hand than opium infused journeys through the Dreamlands, or the doings of Dunsany’s fictional deities. That may be a matter of interpretation, though, and I have yet to sit down with a copy of The Gods of Pegāna while playing this album.

Each track is meticulously arranged, has a very distinct flavor, and a metric ton of quality instruments working together to build intricate melodies and moods. “Wharves of Porphyry” uses beautiful keys, wood wind and choirs to construct a mix between “typical” dungeon synth, orchestral soundtrack music and what really must be described as classical art music. “Their Thrones for the Spider to Spin on” goes extremely dramatic, and often sounds like an updated version of some of the darker tracks off of Crypt of the Wizard. The closing track “Lands Behind the East” is dreamy and ethereal, though always with very concrete instruments and virtually no ambient notes. Each track has, once again, its own unique character.

It is heartening to see that the budding dungeon synth scene keeps developing, while retaining a basic sense of identity. Creating atmospheric synthesizer from your home dungeon is an activity with almost limitless possibilities, and Trogool is very much proof of that. The album is still available physically, with a nicely illustrated A5 cover, or as a decently priced download.

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