This has been a fantastic year for dungeon synth! More artists, more releases, and a more diversified range of sounds being infused to keep things as interesting as ever. Even with the successful DIY approach of many artist, more micro-labels have surfaced with physical releases/distribution and even merchandise. That all being said, coming up with a top 10 list out of what seemed like a million dungeon synth releases this year was extremely difficult. However, I decided to keep it simple and resorted to the albums that I continue to listen to on a daily or weekly basis. Whether you agree or not, I hope you enjoy my top 10 dungeon synth releases of 2019!
10. Varkâna – Ahrimanic Chambers
Varkâna’s conceptual album based on the death spirit known as Angra Mainyu, is extremely dark and has a chilling mix of droning dungeon synth keys, live drums on several tracks and ambient undertones throughout. Top quality work on this excellent album and a well deserved entry in my top 10 list.
9. Borg – The Triumph Of Spring
Borg’s ‘The Triumph Of Spring’ is probably the black sheep of my list. It’s strange, quirky, unique and full of harmonized (what sounds like) kazoo solo’s, but I find myself returning to this album quite often. The entertainment value is extremely high and the music is as close as you’ll get to comedic, medieval music. It may not be for everyone but I absolutely love this!
8. Wayfarer – Ata Amutar
Wayfarer create a very unique brand of dungeon synth. The songs are very long, constructed as if they could be part of a fantasy movie soundtrack, and yet they are all very different and flow together so well. Although there are a few uplifting parts, most of the vibe on this recording is bleak in nature. For those that like background music while you’re working, studying, sleeping, etc., then this superb album may be right up your alley.
7. Solus Woods – The Wanderer
Solus Ritual is so much more that your average dungeon synth artist. Leaning less on medieval aesthetics and more on ritualistic ambience, Solus Ritual is in a class of its own. Although I reviewed two other amazing albums by this artist earlier this year, “The Wanderer” is the album that stands out as the shining gem in the discography for me.
6. Dungeontroll – Labyrinth Of The Golden Princess
Dungeontroll have released four albums this year and “Labyrinth Of The Golden Princess” is hands down the best offering of the four. The music is amazing fantasy synth, with a touch of melancholy and somber expressions . Additionally, the untold story behind the concept is one that manifested with me from the very beginning.
5. Aufhocker – False Confessions
This could very well be the soundtrack to your worst nightmare! Although, not a nightmare filled with bludgeoning horror, but one filled with eerie visions and mystic, abandoned places! This is very well crafted and is surprisingly not as one dimensional as you would expect from an album containing eighty minutes worth of music! Of the ten Aufhocker albums that were released in 2019, this magnum opus is my absolute favorite!
4. Blue-Ghost – Coral Sea
Although the musical components are true to dungeon synth, the story is based around Naval battles in the Pacific that occurred during WWII. The music is depressive and somber and probably accurately represents the emotional state of the sailors back in those times. Absolutely genius!!
3. Nameless King – Sovereignless Souls
This was the third release of the year by Nameless King and its an outright monster! The crystal clear production allows the multiple layers of keys & synths to take the spotlight and the result is one of the most majestic sounding DS releases of the year. The songwriting is spectacular and I can easily imagine a life in medieval times every time I listen to this magnificent recording!
2. Immateriæ – Leere
Immateriæ successfully uses dungeon synth fundamentals to an advantage by creating a retro-style space exploration ambient album. This is something new, fresh and unlike anything else I’ve ever heard in this genre. Four tracks and nearly thirty minutes of spacey dungeon synth is exactly what I needed to hear at the time of its release and I’ve not stopped listening to it since.
1. Inoriand – Silence
Inoriand’s ‘Silence’ was released in May of this year and I’ve not stopped bragging about it since then. Ethereal and dreamy, this cold, winter synth masterpiece evokes the feeling of dread and isolation but not necessarily in a negative way. With ‘Silence’ I imagine being stuck alone in a fire-lit cabin on a winters mountainside with no contact to the outside world. Such an incredible & amazing album and my top pick for dungeon synth album of the year!