Review Summary: An epic journey that borders on soundtrack rather than dungeon synth.
Categorized under "dungeon synth", Doors to the Battlefields of Ertbe
is actually more of a soundtrack in the making. You see, contrary to many dungeon synth releases that you might have heard, this is much more majestic, bombastic, and for what it's worth, more professional. Its creator seems to draw inspiration from the likes of Basil Poledouris and Howard Shore, as well as Sword and Sorcery films, such as Conan
. Therefore, the outcome is much more expansive and creative than your usual DS, which might alienate some purists, but hopefully entice some new listeners who aren't very familiar with the genre.
Right from the start, the album draws you into a magical world with its cover art that brings to mind Summoning and the eerie opening track, that conveys a The Lord of the Rings
feeling. The transition to Bascinet, Hauberk and Flamberge
, meanwhile, reveals another important aspect: dynamics. You can listen to tracks slowly building up to a dramatic moment, which, in turn, makes the album highly engaging, a vital ingredient for every DS record. Overall, this is a relaxing experience, as most tracks seem to weave a web of forests, enchanted artifacts, abandoned forts, and a feeling that something is round the corner. Also, this album seems to complete Castle Zagyx's turn into a more symphonic sound; one that creates a highly evocative experience with a palpable heroic feeling. Due to its big orchestral sound with forceful percussion and brass instruments, it bears no similarity to medieval DS acts like Fief or Sequestered Keep. However, that doesn't mean that it lacks memorable moments or melodies; which brings us to one of the two drawbacks on here.
Castle Zagyx, consciously or subconsciously, has created something really close to his influences, to the point where some of the melodies feel too familiar. For example, "An Army of Skeletons and Ghasts" sounds as if it's taken right out of Conan
, and there are moments that point too much towards The Lord of the Rings
. In addition, a couple more energetic songs could have made the album slightly more engaging, especially considering that its theme is war. Nevertheless, those deficiencies do not reduce significantly the overall experience or the fact that this is an excellent alternative for when you want a quick fix of Middle-earth.