I’ve been a huge fan of dark ambient for quite some time now but this is the first time that I’ve had to put together a Top 10 list of my favorite albums of the year. If the truth were to be told, this could have easily been a Top 50 list as there were so many exceptional releases this year. Instead, I want to give props to the following 10 amazing albums that have impacted me in multiple ways. Although there were many more astonishing dark ambient albums that were released in 2019, these are the ones that (in my opinion) have set the standard for modern dark ambient.
10. God Body Disconnect – The Mist Between The Mirrors
What a way to start this top 10 list. Right from the opening field recordings and narrative remarks, I knew instantly this was going to be one of my go-to dark ambient albums! Themed around emotional subjects such as disappointment & isolation, this recording is as therapeutic as it is relaxing.
9. Xerxes The Dark – Tower Of Silence
Xerxes The Dark is in my top 5 favorite dark ambient recording artists of all time, but XTD didn’t make my list based on a biased decision. ‘Tower Of Silence’ is simply XTD’s best release to date and one of my most listened to albums this year. Every track is haunting and addictive and will give you the feeling of being trapped in a post-apocalyptic industrial wasteland.
8. Melanohelios – VII: Warmth Within Endless Emptiness
When it comes to space ambient, Melanohelios is one of the best in the business. On ‘VII: Warmth Within Endless Emptiness’, the drones are longer, chilling, and gives the sensation of relentless confinement on a doomed space mission. Seventy two minutes of vacuum filled incarceration will leave your senses void of all intelligible emotions.
7. Ruptured World – Archeoplanetary
I’m such a huge Ruptured World fan and the second album of the Planetary series, ‘Archeoplanetary’ is as good as they come. Whereas most Dark ambient recordings leave room for the listener to provide an imaginative scenario to match the music, Ruptured World prepare a captivating narration throughout the whole recording.
6. øjeRum – Without Blood The Sun Darkens
‘Without Blood The Sun Darkens’ is one of the most haunting and mesmerizing dark ambient albums I’ve ever heard. Consisting of a single, fifty nine minute track of repetitive and impassioned synths and pads, this song is about reflection and memory. This is still one of my favorite meditative albums to listen to.
5. Winterblood – Finsternis
‘Finsternis’ is a very enthralling and hypnotic work of art that will leave you in a trance-like state throughout the hour long recording. Winterblood is like a dark ambient accomplice to the black metal band Paysage D’hiver, as I receive the same type of ardent pleasure from both artists. This album is a MUST HAVE for any true fan of dark ambient.
4. Neraterræ – The Substance Of Perception
Alessio Antoni has summoned an all-star line up for his debut project Neraterræ and the result is the impeccable recording, ‘The Substance Of Perception’. Each track is sonically different, yet they are produced as a seamless dark entity that is fathoms above most others. I cannot wait to hear more from this amazing project!
3. Ager Sonus – Mithra
‘Mithra’ is probably the most musically diverse album in my top 10. Taking us back to Ancient Rome, Ager Sonus uses subtle stringed instruments and grandiose drones to create a vision of enchantment and fascination. I still listen to this album on a weekly basis and although it was released in March, it continues to grab my attention with each and every listen.
2. Monocube – Substratum
Monocube has to be the dark ambient sleeper artist of the year. With almost no attention drawn to this album prior to its release, I downloaded it solely based on the reputation of the Cyclic Law label lineup. One of the best decisions I made all year, as ‘Substratum’ is a mammoth of an album. The hollow – but frightening – drones will make you feel claustrophobic and uneasy and will leave you with a sense of uncontrollable anxiety. Although very minimal and austere, I tend to find new ambitious elements every time I listen to it.
1. Metatron Omega – Evangelikon
Metatron Omega is another one of my favorite dark ambient artists and anytime there is a new release available, it’s an instant purchase from me. ‘Evangelikon’ is a mastercraft in ritualistic dark ambient music with beautiful Gregorian-style chanting and unnerving drones. I listen to this album continually and it’s without a doubt my favorite dark ambient album of the year.