Nov 21, 2021

Grimdor - The Shadow of the Past (2020)

Genre: Dungeon Synth / Black Metal
Location: Germany / USA
Release date: 01.11.2020
Label: Out of Season
Listen: Youtube
Website: Instagram

There have been numerous small releases in Grimdor's short lifetime so far, and it seems that there's always more material coming from them, either under the Grimdor moniker or through their side projects. The band has a fairly respected and well-known mark in the dungeon synth scene, as their physical copies get sold out faster than the speed of sound wherever they appear, and their keen interest in the Tolkien universe shines through every aspect of their music. Without a full length release yet (something we really really need), they have achieved this status by frequently releasing demos or EPs, often quite short in duration.

The Shadow of the Past, apart from the legendary piece in The Lord of the Rings soundtrack, marks the boundary between the black metal and dungeon synth inclined parts of Grimdor's discography. It rounds up their first three EPs (The Lonely Mountain, Stone of the Hapless and The Chamber of Mazarbul) and a couple of other tracks, mostly comprised of lo-fi raw black metal with a dusty sound, while after this collection, they have been exercising more stripped down dungeon synth in 2021, with a lot of wonderful mini-albums. 

Big variations undergo this compilation, featuring Grimdor's strongpoints as well as more average fillers. For example, "Death of Glaurung", "Morgul Blades" and "The Chamber of Mazarbul" are really fine quality of ferocious raw black metal. The band experiments with a short doom / depressive black metal piece in "Deer's Leap", and you can swear you must have heard "Scimitar" or "Battle at Cirith Ungol" somewhere in the past, lost in a Norwegian basement during never released Gorgoroth rehearsals. On the other hand, "The Lonely Mountain" has some dubious clean vocals, slightly referring to epic heavy / doom metal singing but not with a huge success, and the longer drone-ish "Battle at the Bridge of Khazad-dûm", while a fan favourite, didn't manage to persuade me.

When Grimdor goes into dungeon synth, they shine. "Mount Gundabad" is wondrous, the eerie essence of "Ringwrath" conveys in just a minute and the introduction or "Black Storm", are beautiful songs for background roleplaying games all over. A track like "The Black Thorn of Brethil!" could be skipped, while "Stone of the Hapless" is great, and right after that, "The Red Eye of Sauron", also released as a single, is one of the best if not the best pieces in this compilation. The Shadow of the Past collects all of their work until then so that you don't have to go into each one by one, but it doesn't leave out some of the band's weaker moments.

And that doesn't change anyone's mind. Me included, as the rest of the people who follow them, purely for the great aesthetics and honest underground spirit, would support and buy anything Grimdor puts out. I'm always glad to see new tracks from them and 2021 has been especially good for that. The Shadow of the Past is a must for dungeon synth lovers, fantasy enthusiasts and lo-fi fanatics alike, yet you should also definitely check out what they have been doing after that. Since the band decided to put their discography on a ridiculous discount a short while back, I decided to grab it all and have a few dedicated listening sessions, and The Shadow of the Past concludes only the first part. Off to listen to "Mirkwood Forest" and "Bombadil" again.

1. Untitled (single)
2. Bombadil (single)
3. Black Storm
4. Repulse the Orcs
5. Death of Glaurung
6. The Black Thorn of Brethil!
7. Deer's Leap
8. Stone of the Hapless
9. The Red Eye of Sauron
10. Mirkwood Forest (Intro)
11. Morgul Blades
12. The Lonely Mountain
13. Ringwrath (single)
14. The Chamber of Mazarbul
15. Battle at Cirith Ungol
16. Scimitar
17. Mount Gundabad
18. Battle at the Bridge of Khazad-dûm (single)
19. The Lonely Mountain (alternate version)

Damage: 3.5/5 [Great]

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