A hidden influence on neoambient


The movement that some are calling “neoambient” — a fusion of dark ambient, Conan soundtracks, and neofolk — generally arose out of the metal community. The classics of the genre converge on Lord Wind (Graveland), Burzum and Black Aria (Glenn Danzig). In addition, metal bands contributed to related forms of epic ambient, like Beherit (Electric Doom Synthesis) and Neptune Towers (Darkthrone). Newer entrants like Winglord and Hammemit explore different paths along similar directions.

But how do we trace the influences and evolution of this genre? Glenn Danzig (Misfits, Samhain, Danzig) launched a partial revolution in 1992 with his Conan-inspired Black Aria. Several years later, Burzum followed this with Daudi Baldrs and Hlidskjalf, both of which used Dead Can Dance-themed ancient world music to frame the epic nature of its compositions, giving it a feel not just of Conan-styled epic conflict, but of a cultural basis.

There’s another influence lurking just a few years before Danzig — affirmed by Rob Darken as an influence on his music in Lord Wind — which was the music of Clannad as used in the BBC series Robin of Sherwood:




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29 thoughts on “A hidden influence on neoambient”

  1. Ecafonous says:

    Clannad was (and still is) great music and has been a regular on rotation here for over 30 years (especially Legend and Magical Ring). I am not at all surprised with Rob Darken naming it as an influence.

  2. Laozi says:

    After reading this, I digitally obtained the album Legend (OST for Robin of Sherwood) by Clannad and definitely detect a legacy within that style. Especially on tracks like “Herne.” There are some female vocal parts that are reminiscent of Lisa Gerrard.

  3. Mythic Imagination says:

    What else exists in this style?

    Deathmetal.org needs to interview Robert Darken all ready.

    1. Laozi says:

      Wongraven and Nest are two I’m familiar with, though I have not researched as much as I should.

      It’s not necessarily Neofolk but the album Substrata by Norwegian artist Biosphere is a more electronic variation of Dark Ambient.

    2. We would like to, but so far he hasn’t been up for it. We’ll try again. He’s made some of the best music in the underground, not just Graveland but the enchanting Lord Wind.

      1. Mythic Imagination says:

        Has he ever given a reason?

  4. Laozi says:

    …and Wardruna (featuring Gaahl) has some pretty good stuff, as well.

    1. Should throw in Endura as well.

  5. Dionysus says:

    Is the Norwegian project Vàli in this category?

    Also, the finnish group Tenhi is too much of a neofolk band to fit into this category but I’d like to take the opportunity to recommend their work to anyone interested in this style and aesthetic.

  6. Bart says:

    I would like to see an article about how this supposedly new style “neoambient” differs structurally from stuff like Ataraxia, Arcana, Mortiis, etc.

    Btw, Clannad has influenced other stuff too: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ET1-6Bef9xU

    1. It seems that these bands lean more towards traditional music, while about half of each album from Arcana/Nox Arcana/etc are basically rock songs.

  7. Tarik says:

    this genre is called dungon synth nowadays

    1. trystero says:

      Which is the sort of name that handily kills interest. Like “I don’t want to hear another fucking dungeons and dragons synth side project”.

      1. Tarik says:

        kills your interest, but its never about you is it?

        1. trystero says:

          It doesn’t kill my interest…

          1. Tarik says:

            I would give you all my money to teach me to see through others’ eyes.

            1. woe says:

              I think it’s safe to say that if a food product has “poop” written on the packaging, no one’s going to eat it.

              1. Tarik says:

                you guys are such hipsters:D

            2. trystero says:

              Sure. Exit cave, meet people, done. Of course for this particular topic you only need to check out a metal forum or two so you don’t even have to go outside.

    2. veritas says:

      No it isn’t.
      Dungeon synth is something Mortiis made up, and Mortiis always sucked. The only people calling themselves “dungeon synth” are idiot bedroom black metallers who don’t know a damn thing about ambient.
      The bands mentioned in article above have nothing to do with this stupidity.

      1. Tarik says:

        “Mortiis always sucked” what a smart and well grounded comment.

        1. trystero says:

          Excuse me while I finish the last page of my scholarly thesis on why Mortiis, in fact, always sucked.

          1. Tarik says:

            Excuse me while I finish the last page of my scholarly thesis on why you are, in fact, an a grade hipster, and have no idea.

            1. thewaters says:

              Im a hipster!

  8. woe says:



    Vikernes going the Darken way. This will be good.

    He should have got Fenriz to do the vocals though.

    1. thewaters says:

      Im excited for this. I just listened to some of the samples anx it sounds promising

      1. Jim Nelson says:

        same here – I don’t want to jump the gun but wow!

  9. Bunny Hill says:

    Great…. Robin of Sheerwood was a fav show of mine back when I was wee lad in the mid 80’s… Hope Hawk the Slayer is mentioned next … Hahaha

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