Top 10 Dungeon Synth Releases of 2019 by The Dungeon In Deep Space

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!

In A Mythical Village Far Away, Whitewood Inn Accomodates Spectral Patrons On Chimerical Demo Release

In a fabled land, back in ancient times, a small group of battle-stricken warriors traverse the mountainous countryside in search for a new, safe place to call home. As they pass through foliage of trees and overgrown wild shrubs, the forest’s thick canopy has no mercy for the traveled path laid before them. However, in the distance, they see a small opening that may bestow hope and opportunity. As the small group of wounded warriors make their way to the opening, they come upon a gate to a small village, oddly situated in the middle of nowhere. Before they make their presence known, the gate opens and they are greeted, welcomed with open arms into a new mythical community hidden away from plain sight. The first large structure in sight is a wooded domicile, large in nature and well maintained. The sign in the front reads, “Welcome To Whitewood Inn”. This is the exact scenery that comes to mind when listening to the debut album by Whitewood Inn. It provides the necessary spectacle to drift back in medieval times and fantasize about a folkloric place full of seclusion and positive spirits. The eight tracks contained on this recording conceptualize a story of whimsical adventure and absolute somber vibes.

“Over The Mountains To Whitewood” starts with a lush, dreamy synth arrangement and sets a bleak atmosphere in this beautiful story where triumph ultimately reigns over tragedy. As depicted in my imagination, the wounded warriors have auspiciously made it to Whitewood and are greeted with open arms. However, does all appear as it seems? Is this mythical setting in the middle of nowhere too good to be true? Alluring orchestral parts complete this lead off track and will leave the listener craving more. Never fear, because “A Stranger In Whitewood” is an absolute companion piece to the first track! The haunting tone in the opening riff is amazing and is amplified by a simple (but effective) drum beat, audio voice samples and some all-around creepy vibes throughout. “Tales By The Hearth” opens with a crackling fire and a forest synth arrangement and features spots of ambient tones to add a layer of dismal texture. More audio voice samples can be heard but they are barely audible, adding to the mystique of the recording. Next up is “The Apothecary” and it’s a more uplifting tune, as if the warriors are traveling throughout the village and seeing all of the amenities that are available. The “Welcome To My Store…” narration is most suitable for the story of Whitewood and is my favorite part of this track. The synth arrangements in this song are more inline with traditional dungeon synth and makes for a very entertaining endeavor. “The Necromancer” has a very dark and dreary sound and contains more various styles of voice narrations. This song would fit right in on a fantasy-based movie soundtrack. “Sanctum Of The Fallen” commences with what sounds like the narration of a village priest or spiritual leader, as he provides some some sort of divine guidance over the members of the Whitewood village. The base of this track has an ambient structure with some ariose keyboard arrangements. “The Emerald” has a very mellow, yet ominous sound as the acoustic guitar cords creates a peaceful atmosphere. However, the backing keyboards forge an uneasy adjustment and provide a more desolate counteracting sound. This works out quite well and the song turns out to be one of the most eerie recordings on the album. The final track, “Villagers Gather In The Square” is another uplifting track that again features some well though out voice narrations, and excellent orchestral arrangements to intensify the dungeon synth parts. What an excellent way to end such a wondrous album, as our wanderers have finally found a trustworthy place to call home at the Whitewood Inn.

For a debut dungeon synth album, this is such an astonishing effort! From the songwriting, musical arrangements, and the amazing untold story that builds in the imagination, ‘Whitewood Inn’ checks all the blocks for a stellar album. I hope that we’ll be able to hear more from this artist in the very near future. Although I would love to hear a continuation of the mythical village and the ghost stories contained within, I’m sure branching out in other directions would be magnificent as well. Please support this brilliant up and coming dungeon synth artist and download ‘Whitewood Inn’ from the link below.

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Foal Projects Opulent Sounds On Fantasy Synth Debut Album, ‘Denu Of Wind’

This year has definitely been a resounding year for dungeon synth. Although there has been a resurgence of the genre within the past few years, the amount of artist and releases this year have been quite explosive. Even though the majority of these projects have leaned more toward DIY ventures, they’ve been crafted with extreme professionalism and a maturity not quite experienced in most other genres. Newcomer Foal is no exception. Although the sole musician of this outfit has previous recording experience with shoegaze, black metal, drone, & noise projects, the decision to release his debut dungeon synth craft known as ‘Denu Of Wind’ will be a pleasant surprise for dungeon synth fans. Although this five track album comes in at just under fifteen minutes, it’s some of the most brilliant fantasy synth that I’ve heard all year and it’s as if a seasoned dungeon synth artist laid the foundation for this recording.

“The Succulent Stream” begins with a beautiful and clean keyboard melody that is reminiscent of an early 90’s black metal album opener. About halfway through, the soulful sounds intertwine with densely layered keys that are toned just right to create a very atmospheric and euphoric dirge. “Goatmen Of The Fog” opens with the chirps of early morning birds and is soon followed by traditional dungeon synth keys. Alluring orchestrations follow suit and construct a buildup to a very cinematic ending that could be used in a fantasy-based movie soundtrack. “Moonlight Quest” contains some echo-like key arrangements that can easily put the listener in a state of reverie. With its dreamy patterns and trance inducing looping melodies, this is one of the stand out tracks on the album. “Tales Of A Ruined King” takes the listener back to medieval times when a kingdom in a distant land became disarrayed by malicious king and he was overtaken by a mutinous group of knights. The music has a luminous mix of forest synth and fantasy synth elements. The final track on the album is the astounding “Bells Of Lake Bled”. Although the melody in this track is a bit on the depressing side, it’s equally fascinating to the ears and imagination. As the tolling of the bells blaze on, I imagine a group of warriors returning to their kingdom, after suffering defeat. Although they’ve survived the ordeal, many of their comrades were lost and they now their kingdom faces an uncertain future.

Foal has written an admirable debut album in ‘Denu Of Wind’. The five tracks that are contained in this relatively short album are extremely well thought out and flow together perfectly as if they were put together in storyboard form for a soundtrack. Producing a well diverse musical output ranging from traditional dungeon synth, medieval ambient, forest & fantasy synth, Foal has released a debut that will surely garner multiple listens. This is one artist I will definitely be keeping my eye on and I recommend that you do the same. Show your support by downloading ‘Denu Of Wind’ from the link below.

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Varkâna Sets Loose The Spirit Of Darkness And Evil On Valiant Sophomore Album, ‘Ahrimanic Chamber’

In the ancient Persian religion of Zoroastrianism, there were twin spirits that ruled over good and evil. The spirit called Spenta Mainyu was known as the deity of truth, light and all living things, while Angra Mainyu was the evil spirit of deception and death. For thousands of years, these twin spirits fought on the earthly battleground for supremacy and ultimately Angra Mainyu morphed into the entity known as Ahriman. It is at this point where the demonic being became its most horrific form. On Varkâna’s latest album, ‘Ahrimanic Chamber’, sounds of cold and sovereign dungeon synth prevail and display an intense scene of epic bloodshed. Like a doomed enclosure full of impious pariahs, Varkâna makes use of intense keyboard tones, droning ambient textures, live drums and layered frightening resonance to produce moments of dreadful unforgettableness. These nine anthems dig deep into the soul and imagination of the listener and describe the incantations of the dark spirt that once was the Ahriman.

The albums first track, “A Graveyard Under Snow”, sets a very calming, atmospheric mood with its opulent keyboard drones and hazy dungeon-esque melodies. The underlying percussion softly beats a rhythmic pattern as if warriors are slowly marching to an ill-fated battlefield. “Ahrimanic Enlightenment” approaches with a lush synthesizer arrangement that provokes a supernatural mood in ethereal environment. Suddenly, harsher keyboard tones kick in as if providing the audial description to a death scene in a fantasy movie. As the song reaches its climax, dark ambient tones pave the way as if the final onslaught has left everyone lifeless. “Into The Chambers Of Ahriman I Walk” features a great drum track that is supplemented by a beautiful piano provision. This could very well be a perfect intro piece to a symphonic black metal song. However, halfway through the track, it morphs into a peaceful ambient interlude as if the protagonist in the story is anticipating the unexpected as he finally reaches the doorway of the chamber. The music then crescendo’s back into high gear and closes the song out just the way it started. “Lugubrious Ruins” start with droning, dungeon synthesized riffs and continues throughout the whole song with spots of higher pitched keyboards to add layers of dreariness to this already gloomy track. Since this one combines both elements of dungeon synth and dark ambient, it’s probably my favorite and most played song on the album. “Mist” has more of a fantasy/forest synth influence and is predominantly lighter in tone that most of the other tracks. However, it effectively sparks imaginative tales between Angra Mainyu and Spenta Mainyu as their endless battle to provoke good over evil (and Vice versa) rages on. “Old Man’s Tale” succeeds in puts the album back on track in a darker setting with off-kilter piano parts, steady tribal drum beats, and ghostly, droning pads to create a feeling of emptiness. Toward the end of the track, an elegant acoustic guitar riff is introduced and puts the overall sound of this track in another worldly dimension. “Rapture” is another radiant track that combines elements of dark ambient and retro wave sounds of 80’s horror cinema soundtracks. “Spirituality Deformed” has that traditional dungeon synth sound but with added elements of live drums and an unforgettable melody that seems to intensify until the last note of the song is played. The final track, “The Night Of The Hunter” continues down the path as the previous song, as the Ahriman bestows his evil legacy on his legions of followers and it’s chambers become the spiritual battleground for which good has no chance of survival. This track contains energetic keyboard arrangements, a bombastic drum track and ends with a droning tone that signifies the supreme reign of the Angra Mainyu.

Varkâna has auspiciously created a conceptual dungeon synth masterpiece based on the ancient Persian spirit of darkness and evil. The music does an excellent job of providing a soundtrack to this resounding storyline and crosses into dark ambient and even 80’s retro wave cinematic score. With a good balance of both light and darker sounding tunes, ‘Ahrimanic Chamber’ is an excellent dungeon synth album. I highly recommend Varkâna for fans of both dungeon synth and dark ambient so please show your support by downloading this amazing album at the link below.

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Machina Coeli Embraces Traditional Dungeon Synth Intonations To Invoke An Allusive Visionary Tale On ‘Lure Of The Forgotten Lake’

Machina Coeli is a legend in the dungeon synth community, having a lengthy career that has spanned over twenty years. Additionally, his visionary, audio art has garnered praise from other legendary and noteworthy acts such as Mortiis – which many consider to be the first to provide a mainstream outlet for the genre. Although only three albums have been released under this moniker, they are staple outings for the genre and easily cement Machina Coeli as one of the principle artists to make dungeon synth a rising form of music all over the world. The three epic anthems that make up ‘Lure Of The Forgotten Lake’ tell the tale of a masterful retaliation with the help of a set of secret scrolls that are sealed away in a chest at the bottom of the Forgotten Lake. With the aid of these scrolls, new and magical weapons can be conceived to help demolish those that are oblivious to the familiarity of righteousness. The evil that stands in the way of this protruding knowledge will surely suffer in the hands of defeat!

“Approaching The Forgotten Lake” contains the mysticism and production of traditional dungeon synth and with its positive sounding vibe, valiantly leads the effort to recover the scrolls from the Forgotten Lake. Layered keyboards, minimal field recordings and the use of choral chants are the focal points for this track and their collision produces a grand entrance for the album and sets the stage for the two mammoth tracks that follow. “Lure Of The Forgotten Lake” begins with a soft flowing stream sound that fades into the echoes of nature followed by a crescendo of tribal drums as if a battalion of knights and warriors stand lined up on a battlefield, ready to defend their kingdom to the death. As the drums continue to pulsate, luminous keys play a battle worthy melody and intensifies, signifying the approach to the Forgotten Lake to claim the abundance of magical findings that will propel them to victory. At around the five and a half minute mark, the music shifts to more of a medieval township melody, layered over a steady drum beat. The sound is uplifting and provides a positive spiritual tone, considering the task at hand. At the ten minute mark, samples of battle cries and yells can be heard, symbolizing another shift in musical direction, as well as the start of the mission to recover the lost scrolls. At around the fourteen minute mark, the climax of the song comes to an end and the melodies from the beginning of the track are now heard again, indicating the recovery from battle and the resumed search for the lost scrolls. “Search Of The Lost Scrolls” is a fourteen minute long inspiriting canticle that utilizes layered keys and delicate melodies to soothe the souls of those searching for the scrolls. The track moves into several minutes of exhilarating ambience with spots of water-like samples. This soon fades into more traditional sounding dungeon synth keyboard arrangements that echo with every key stroke. As the final section fades, the waters from a shoreline can be heard, along with the cries of a local owl as he looks on from above to the great warriors below, as they sift the chest of lost scrolls from the water. With their mission accomplished, it’s now time to create the new magical weapons that will solidify their kingdom forever!

Machina Coeli has pulled out all the stops with the exciting new story that is betrayed on ‘Lure Of The Forgotten Lake’. Although only containing three tracks, they create over thirty five minutes worth of music that is multifaceted when it comes to its musical direction. The traditional dungeon synth vibe is the gigantic under layer that is equally augmented by forest synth, fantasy synth, RPG sounds, and medieval ambient tones. This is not only a must have for your DS music collection, it’s also a necessity for the genre as a whole. Show your support for this legendary artist that has devoted over two decades of existence to the music that we love, and download ‘Lure Of The Forgotten Lake” from one of the links below.

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Vandalorum Soothes The Soul With Warm Vibes On Prodigious Conceptual album, ‘Flagellum Dei’

Atilla The Hun was one of the most revered leaders in the history of the world. He was greatly feared by his enemies and respected by the warriors that fought by his side. Although his unsuccessful surges into Rome, Persia and Constantinople (modern day Istanbul) brought moments of uncertainty, he subsequently invaded and decimated the northern areas of Italy and also the Balkans. What better way to immortalize this great figure and the culture of The Huns than by an atmospheric dungeon synth recording. ‘Flagellum Dei’ by Vandalorum presents a beautiful, conceptual album that is based in Dungeon synth, but also contains atmospheric field recordings, a good dose of percussion, and some twist and turns throughout. Although the overall musical output of ‘Flagellum Dei’ is calm and soothing, it portrays the story of harsh, war-time battles, when countries and territories were overtaken by great force. There is also a great cinematic sound quality to these tunes as well, as they could easily be part of a soundtrack that depicts action and adventure from medieval times.

“Death And Plunder” opens the album with a traditional dungeon synth sound and contains a backing drum track that brings out more emotions as the melody graces our ears in multiple layers. Next comes “Battle Of Chersonesus” and with its gloomy introduction and battle cry samples, depicts a scene of warriors preparing for battle. Although it has mostly an ambient feel to it, the last part of the song kicks into high gear as the dungeon synth sounds come to the forefront (along with more battle cry samples), putting the listener right in the heart of the battle. “Honoria’s Ring” starts with an alluring keyboard arrangement and contains an abundance of melody and empathy that matches perfectly with the lush field recording sounds throughout. “Mounted Archers Of The Steppe” is my favorite song on the album as it begins as a consoling ambient piece with perfectly matched added sounds and samples, as well as various instruments to broaden the scope of the arrangement. Throughout the song, you can feel it building into something exciting, as if the climactic ending of a battle is in near pursuit. Close to the end, the song erupts into a full-on rock arrangement. “Punishment” begins as a grim dark ambient recording and then fades into a cinematic dirge, with droning tones, layered with an echoed keyboard pattern. This is another standout track, as it is well written and performed near perfectly. “Wielding The Sword Of Mars” is a slow, ethereal song that summaries all of the style of the album into a single entity. From the ambient textures, dungeon synth melodies, to the intertwined drum patterns and superb writing, this song has all of the qualities necessary for repeated listens. “Hidden Burial Of The Chieftian” has a quirky dungeon-esque vibe, in which I can see Attila himself hanging out with his troops, enjoying a moment of downtime and festivities, after one of their great invasions. This song is a well-received surprise to the album, especially since it is mostly filled with ghostly and vivid tunes. The final track, “Atilla And Bleda” is a great arrangement in which I envision a gruesome showdown between the two brothers that resulted in the slaying of Bleda. Although historically there are several accounts for how this showdown commenced, the ending is undeniable and the creepy music (especially the monotone drum pattern) does it justice.

Vandalorum have created a monumental dungeon synth recording with ‘Flagellum Dei’. Combining the sounds of various genres of music with battle-like field recordings and an overall cinematic sound, this is an excellent recording and worthy of representing such a historical figure and leader in Atilla The Hun. Although Realm And Ritual will be releasing a physical version of ‘Flagellum Dei’ in the near future, it can be downloaded digitally now, at the link below. Vandalorum is an excellent up and coming dungeon synth artist that has proven he has what it takes to have longevity on the dungeon synth scene. Show your support and download this amazing album now.

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Interstellar Space – Special Halloween Review #2: Solus Woods – ‘All Hallows’ EP

For my second Halloween review, I’ll be checking out the latest from Solus Woods entitled, ‘All Hallows’. Just released several days ago, Solus Woods dives into the spooky sounds of the scariest night of the year and replenishes our senses with the shrills of horror films from yesteryear; and when I say yesteryear, I’m talking mid to late 80’s slasher flicks. Although these five tracks total at just under ten minutes, they pack quite a punch and would make for the perfect background noise while handing out candy to the trick o’ treaters that think their approach to your front door will scare you.

Lead off track, “A Lonesome Ghoul Rises From The Grave” could have easily been written as the into track for the Day Of The Dead soundtrack, as it conjure up the undead with its haunting ambient tones and mesmerizing keyboard arrangement. “The Death Omen Of A Radiant Boy” drones with the hiss and crackle of an old record, while celestial soundscapes resinate with power. The sounds of an eerie music box provide a sense of dread and torment and the scare factor is real. “In The House, A Sad Ghost Reflects On Life” contains bleak soundscapes, a discordant piano provision, and a grandfather clock that signifies that time is up for the lost souls that are held captive in the afterlife. “Wendigo” is an alluring ambient-style piece with lush soundscapes and contain a touch of special effects at the end to keep the arrangement interesting. The final track, “Beyond The Threshold, The Fiend Lurks” would be the perfect piece to play during the ending credits of a movie that contained a horrific ending. Although minimalistic with scorching synthesized tones, the sound is quite evil and the abrupt ending will leave you wanting more to listen to.

Solus Woods continues to outdo previous albums with each new one that is released. From the quality of writing, construction of the songs and overall product production, Solus Woods is quickly becoming one of my go-to bands for not only dungeon synth, but for dark ambient recordings as well. I highly recommend checking out and supporting this magnificent artist and downloading not only ‘All Hallows’, but the entire back catalog as well.

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