My first memory of Lichdom is a private message on Discord about pre-debut jitters. We are both members of the same community and we had our first release coming out in Autumn 2022. After a discussion in one of the public channels of the group, one of us contacted the other (I could look up who whas who, but some details are best left shrouded in myth) and our music kinship began. It turned out that Lichdom was faster than me in getting to release, so I was left on my own with my pre-debut jitters... and with the gem that is Foolish Quest to listen - and look up - to.

Presented as "an adventure for character levels 1-3", the description alone already hits the wonderful notes of tabletop RPG nostalgia in the keyboard of my soul. Music-wise, right from the first track Lichdom came across as a masterful storyteller with a terrific command of sombre moods. I admired his compositions that played on all the right tropes of Dungeon Synth: orchestral samples, moody organs, synth pads and bells, spooky FX... I admit, though, that at the beginning something was missing for me. Long Forgotten Halls and Descending by Torchlight are nuanced and compelling songs but, from the opening track, I was expecting further exciting lead melodies. However, once Dread Wightblade's energetic section started playing, everything clicked. Great narration, masterful control of mood, music that hits all the tropes, catchy melodies... I thought I had Lichdom figured out and that in 2023 I'd hear a sequel adventure for character levels 3-6. How wrong I was!

Fast forward to the winter solstice of 2022: I just dropped my debut and was already planning my second album, heavily influenced by the 2022 Winter Rush Challenge. The challenge required me to figure out a new workflow, so I bid my time and aimed at releasing what became The Last Embers of the Fire by June 2023. And, while I was figuring out how to approach that album, Lichdom dropped Midwinter, a breathtakingly gorgeous gem.

Reading the titles of Midwinter's songs still give me the goosebumps to this day, as it tells a story of a dying world, and endless night, and a lone wanderer crying to the heavens, unanswered. Being born in midwinter myself, the release seemed to talk to me directly, and the apocalyptic, almost eschatological story strongly resonates with the feelings of solitude and melancholy of my teenage years. The nuanced music delivered in full what the texts promised: soft, melancholic, comforting even in the face of cosmic doom... The album became a favorite right from the first listen. Sure, it was a departure from what I thought as "the Lichdom sound", as the compositions leaned more towards slow melodic pads and ambient soundscapes. But I chalked it up to the Winter Rush Challenge influence.

After that release, I got lost in the making of The Last Embers of the Fire. Coercing it into existence was exhausting but, in the process, I learned so much... In summer, after a couple of months of rest, with the publication of Golem Dreams it was like a dam broke in me, and between August and December 2023 I recorded more than two hours of music. Engrossed by my projects and by other personal events, I didn't plan on joining the other 2023 Dungeon Rush Challenges (even though I find them very inspiring. Maybe, one day I'll participate in one for good). However, the release of Visions in the Trees in early October didn't pass unnoticed.

It's a single, 12-minutes long track squarely in the ambient side of Dungeon Synth. It's nuanced, deep and full of details, and again it was nothing like the Lichdom I thought I had figured out. I admit it took me a while to wrap my head around Visions and, by then, I was longing for a full-length Lichdom release to see where he would bring his music next. Luckily, I didn't have to wait long since, in January 2024, before the publication of From Their Forgotten Tombs, Lichdom asked me if I wanted a sneak peek.

I was very glad to have this opportunity, and how I was blown away! Right from the first notes, I was struck by the evolution of the sonic palette: the soundscapes in From Their Forgotten Tombs are deep, rich, complex and enthralling, a terrific step up from Foolish Quest. In hindsight, it appeared clearly that the two 2023 Dungeon Rushes were not just divertissements, but strong releases (something which I always believed) that sit squarely in the journey Lichdom is creating with his music. But don't be fooled: From Their Forgotten Tombs features also majestic melodies on top of the rich, evolving soundscapes. Plus, Lichdom's strenght as a storyteller comes back to hint at a multifaceted, nuanced tale that encourages the listeners to look inside themselves to divine its meaning. Finally, I had always admired anyone writing effective music with a running time longer than 6-7 minutes (and doing that while avoiding droney or tuneless songs is an even bigger feat). In this light, To Look Once More Upon My Kingdom is a terrific masterpiece crowning an already stellar release. In conclusion, I found From Their Forgotten Tombs to be a majestic and compelling album, one that will stay with me for a long time.

The release of From Their Forgotten Tombs drove me back to the beginning of Lichdom's journey: listening again to Foolish Quest, I see it in a completely different light. The songs less focused on melodies were the seeds that sprouted the subsequent EPs and albums, whereas the melody-driven ones provide variation and contrast (besides showing Lichdom's skills and range). If I had to describe Lichdom's music now, I'd say that he managed to create an ineffable marriage between rich, complex soundscapes and melancholic tunes that speak directly to the soul.

Revisiting Foolish Quest leads me back to where the article started: I feel privileged to have met Lichdom at the beginning of our journey into Dungeon Synth, and to still be able to share the road with him. While I celebrate with him the release of From Their Forgotten Tombs I can't help but to look forward to the wonderful places he'll visit next.

Two side notes before closing. The release date of From Their Forgotten Tombs is very particular, and it's shared with another project very dear to my heart.

Nightmare Architecture is the second installment of what I think is "the Nightmare series" by The Eternal Returns. I deeply admire their multifaceted and genre-defying approach to music, that is expressed in full in their longer releases. The Nightmare series is a more light-hearted and accessible entry point to their discography, and I hope to hear more chapters down the road. As a side note, I had the privilege of collaborating to one track of the album, and I hope you'll enjoy the blending of the elements of these two projects.

Finally, I want to express my gratitude to Lichdom for his support in starting this "DS journal". Without his approval and encouragement, I would have lacked the courage to undertake this quest of my own. Shoutout also to everyone who shared kind words about the first installment about Bruna - Desolazione Rurale.

ᚼᛁᛆᚱᛐᛆᚿᛋ, January 2024, revised February 2024