Dimlight’s latest release A Symphony of Horrors forms the final entry in the triple album bundle Kingdom of Horrors, following the albums Kingdom of Horrors and Realm of Tragedy (both of which were released October 2018). Kingdom of Horrors was an album in Dimlight’s usual style of Gothic Symphonic Death Metal featuring deep guttural growls (Peter Invoker) alongside powerful female vocals (Mora Hecate), and Realm of Tragedy was a more contemplative Post-Rock instrumental album - a deviation from the band’s usual style.
A Symphony of Horrors is also different from Dimlight’s usual material. Instrumental and cinematic, it was written to accompany their table top roleplaying board game ‘Secrets of Irkala Kar’. There is also a paperback novella as part of the bundle- ‘Bowels of Madness’, which gives a more thorough exploration of the triple album’s concept. The multimedia nature of the triple album bundle is highly unusual, and holds great appeal for those who like to immerse themselves into fantasy realms; allowing the concept to be understood in plenty of depth. The 3 distinct styles of the albums also give the listener a variety of music to explore the concept with.
In contrast to the previous instalments of the triple album, the aptly titled A Symphony of Horrors could easily be the soundtrack to a dark fantasy horror movie. It is sure to create a sense of atmosphere and immersion when used as a soundtrack for the board game.
Although Dimlight have a strong symphonic element on most of their albums, it is clear that orchestrator Apostolis has really had a chance to showcase his talents in creating ominous and threatening soundscapes here. In many places it invokes the same feelings of unsettlement one might get from listening to a Dark Ambient album. This is nicely balanced out by passages of more purposeful, fantastical sounding instrumentation, such as on ‘Horror Unfurls Its Wings’. These sections are more akin to music used in the climax of a dark fantasy adventure film- no less tense but more bombastic, gothic and dramatic than dissonant and quietly eerie. In this way, the album is pleasantly dynamic - subtle, quiet sections are intermixed with more powerful, rousing sections. There is even one contrastingly peaceful sounding passage - the first section of ‘The Black Soul of Irkala Kar’, which sounds almost uplifting and provides a brief respite from the sustained tension of the rest of the album.
A Symphony of Horrors features an effective array of choral arrangements including deep monastic chanting, middle-eastern inspired female vocals, eerie distant soprano vocals, and plenty of ambient sustained notes which blend with the instrumentation to create a haunting soundscape. There is also a particularly unsettling descending choral slide on ‘Basaltic Towers of Silence’ which creates a sense of falling and impending doom as it drops from mid-range to bass, growing louder at the same time.
The strings are another notable feature of this album, often dissonant and wavering, with occasional spine-chilling pizzicato, as on the first track ‘The Solace in Death’s Dreams’. The percussion is also rather compelling: tribal drum patterns, foreboding marching drumming, to the explosive, crashing offbeat drums on ‘Crawling Through Despair’s Battle’ which are reminiscent of fireworks or gunfire. The album finishes on a dark but triumphant note with ascending strings and pounding drums, bringing the saga to an end just as dramatically as it was introduced.
Completing Dimlight's trilogy with a stunningly unique and intense album. Would recommend A Symphony of Horrors for fans of: Rhapsody of Fire (specifically their darker and more orchestral songs such as ‘Reign of Terror’), Haggard, Therion and Epica who want something more foreboding and atmospheric.