Nocturnal Vampyric Bewitchment

Azathoth's Dream

Pennsylvania's AZATHOTH'S DREAM show that the Keystone State is more than just chocolate, shitty sports fans and steel mills.
February 1, 2024

It makes a lot of sense that bands that dabbled with the darkness and misery of black metal would be attracted to the bands of the 1980's 4AD label.  Bands like DEAD CAN DANCE, CLAN OF XYMOX and THIS MORTAL COIL often flirted with the same topics that later, post-Satanic black metal bands did as well.  A feeling of distant and cold alienation envelopes both genres, and a near suicidal desire to end it all weaves a toxic thread through the haunted vocals and gentle keys of 4AD, as well as the brutal swath of tremolo picked guitar and screeches of the latter.  In other words, they are like the bread and butter of a sordid, mold-encrusted sonic sandwich.  Pennsylvania trve-kvlt'ers AZATHOTH'S DREAM attempt to bring the two together on their latest release "Nocturnal Vampyric Bewitchment."

Dungeon synth seems like one of the more disingenuous sub-genres of a sub-culture that is obsessed with sub-genres.  And, while AZATHOTH'S DREAM embraces the label, they seem to use it more as a dramatic bridge between their passages of old school black metal than any real attempt at smashing the two together. "At the Moor" features some synth strings lurking underneath a sludgy, doom-inspired single-stringed riff before exploding in a fury of blackened chords and high-pitched screeches, often buried in the back of the mix.  The keys, do indeed, give the album a haunted house appeal; however, there are cases where it sounds like they were an after-thought in the mix.

Mastermind L. Azathoth is a master of dissonance.  On "At the Moor" the guitars are gloriously out of tune, and this carries over, to a lesser extent to "Extinguish the Light," a dark, repetitive mid-tempo blaster of Satanic power, with an over the top, fist-pumping chorus drenched in keys. "Ritual Exsanguination" fully embraces the ethos of dungeon synth, a three-minute exploration of the keyboard.  It sounds like what you'd hear coming from the bowels of a medieval castle, coffins slowly opening in anticipation of the setting sun.

"Winter Dawn" opens with a blast-beated flurry of guitars and synth and then falls into another slightly out-of-tune, dissonant doom-laden melody.  L. Azathoth screeches painfully and unintelligible over the blackened cacophony. Necroblaster's drums seethe just on this side of absolute chaos, but are firmly entrenched in the organic reality of pain.  It's a very analog feeling record, and this is meant in the best sense of the word.  Much of this is due to the recording, and AZATHOTH'S DREAM's deliberate use of the dungeon synths.  Last song "Phantasm" incorporates all of these elements together to close out the journey.

Like wandering the halls of a Transylvanian castle a thousand years ago, "Nocturnal Vampyric Bewitchment" is a cold, dark, exploration of the undead.  Drenched in the atmosphere of holding a candle up under one's chin in the darkest of nights, it might not be the goriest of records, but it is one that does what it sets out to do: to strike fear in the hearts of man.  With a more tempered approach to the synth as part of their atmosphere, and some beefed-up production, AZATHOTH'S DREAM could be at the forefront of the small, but powerful, dungeon synth community.


5 / 10









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"Nocturnal Vampyric Bewitchment" Track-listing:
  1. Malignant Faith
  2. Insatiable Sanguine Thirst
  3. The Grave
  4. The Moor
  5. Extinguish the Light
  6. Ritual Exsanguination
  7. A Millennia Perished
  8. Winter Dawn
  9. Phantasm
Azathoth's Dream Lineup:

L. Azathoth- Everything

Necroblaster- Drums

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