Thursday, April 12, 2012

On the Topic of Lifestyle

If this genre is to grow and define itself, and not live in the shadow of black metal and ambient music, how much emphasis needs to be put on being "true" to the genre? That emphasis on exclusivity seems to be what made black metal such a phenomenon, but on the flip side seems to be what made it such a trend of mimicry. Many of the black metal pioneers bemoaned what black metal evolved into, and I'm sure many of you reading this blog are disillusioned with that genre today, cherishing primarily the albums of the early 90's. What separated those artists from the thousands making black metal today is that they were extremely individualistic, carrying on the torch of genuine obscurity and originality. Today it's just a bunch of kids plugging the notes into a prescribed formula, staying true. So then is a trend what occurs when one emphasizes the orthodox aspects of a genre, or are those things separate, meaning that black metal died in trendiness and stagnation for another reason?

To rigidly proclaim what dungeon synth is and who plays it, as seems to be my primary goal in this blog, is very important to get recognition of this genre. However, I often wonder if that might be sowing the seeds for stagnation, assuming dungeon synth continues into the future. So what I wonder is whether dungeon synth might be inherently individualistic enough and unappealing to the mainstream enough that it might be able to avoid the pitfalls black metal fell into and still emphasize the "trueness" and exclusivity of its nature, thereby standing out and not getting re-engulphed into these larger genres from which it has possibly now emerged.

Perhaps dungeon synth is above all this jogging suit vs. corpse paint nonsense, in which case I'm probably at fault for bringing it up. But still, there's another interesting point, should there be concern for the imagery of the artists themselves? Mortiis obviously went above and beyond in this regard, and I expect his troll get-up set the tone for more listeners than just myself. Should dungeon synth artists unite in this regard, dressing up as fantasy characters perhaps? I can only imagine that would cause the genre to be the butt of many jokes for those who don't particularly have a taste for it. Perhaps the "look" of dungeon synth could be not showing one's face at all, like a god who is fully present in the world's creation and circumstances but never visible. Or perhaps it should be a "come as you are" sort of thing, treating the genre as a more respectable and detached art, like literature.

And that brings me to my next point. Should dungeon synth continue in the metal tradition of using fantastical, pagan, or blasphemous pseudonyms for the artists? It would seem a good way to show its metal roots and allegiances, however black metal is one of the primary genres that it should be looking to detach from. Should dungeon synth attempt to seem more mature and adult, avoiding the showiness that is so akin to modern entertainment? Could we even say that dungeon synth is more adult, considering that it has far less aggression but far more escapist tendencies. And then what of band t-shirts and merchandise and that sort of thing? Should dungeon synth be something one wears, openly and with pride, or is that "walking-billboard" mentality something that should be looked down upon as childish and too akin to the "hamburger culture" that many of these sorts of genres reject?

I've been asking a lot of questions here, and while I do have personal opinions, I don't think it's my role to dictate what direction I think this genre should go, however I also wish that it would be open to exploration, or else stagnation would seem inevitable. I think it all comes down to whether we would like this genre to become a lifestyle of some kind, and if so what that may be, or should it rather be a fantasy completely detached from day-to-day experience, only residing in the lone wanderings of our imagination? Or perhaps dungeon synth will remain obscure to the point that this question will never be relevant to the current time, which might not be such a bad thing either, as long as there are still a few isolated black wizards to carry and pass down the torch.

I would very much like to hear the thoughts that you various dungeon synth listeners might have on this topic.


  1. I agree with the writer on many points.
    My personal opinion on the matter of the future of dungeon synth as a genre is:
    If dungeon synth gets enough publicity and fans,not necessarily reaching the mainstream, the human greed will take over. If that happens, dungeon synth will become another mindless money-source.
    I don't know how, or if, we can keep dungeon synth at the state it is at the given moment; one of the last unexploited detachments from the "true" black metal, a completely underground, solitary and escapist form of music. Unfortunately, in these times, anything that is unique enough, becomes a slave to a brain-washed majority.
    Only thing left to do is to hope for dungeon synth to remain what it is now.

    -one of those isolated black wizards.

  2. I'm mostly attracted to the music because of the mysterious aesthetic behind it, I mean that's what it's all about isn't it? Ancient mysteries converted to sound is how I hear it; I think it should be enjoyed as a solitary thing, and I agree with the above comment on how anything that because mainstream loses its lustre like that.

  3. I, too, agree with many of Andrew's points. A very detailled catalogue of "questions". However I really doubt that dungeon synth ever will become "just another mainstream genre". The sound itself is so special that onyl few people can fully appreciate it. Sure - thanks (?) to the internet there has been a steady rise of interest in it but those who actually stay listening it are not the largest numbers, I suppose.

    I can only speak from my surrounding but each person I played some dungeon synth to said that he/she didn't get what I hear (and see in terms of imagination) in it, thinking of it as boring synth music.

    The aspect of "escaping" is what really makes it so special (at least to me) and 99% of the people I know choose completely other ways to escape to wherever.

    As for the merchandise and outfit/musician look aspect - the looks of a musician had never really played a role to me (ok, maybe in my metal starting days way back ;) ) and the times of me wearing band merch are long over. If a dungeon synth musician chooses to give himeself a special look (masks, costumes, whatever) or try to make some dollars with merchandise - why not. Each to his own and one is never forcd to buy a shirt.

  4. Mate, you worry far too much about genre as an abstract concept. What matters is the quality of the music that is made. Each will use different devices in their attempt to achieve what they wish to create. Some of these devices will use the expected forms and motifs of genre, and others will contravene them. It matters not, so long as they do it well and earnestly.