Shelter-In-Place Dark Ambient & Dungeon Synth Playlist

We are living in dark times and whether we like it or not, we are witnessing a historical occasion that is effecting the whole world. Although many people still have to work, legions of the worlds population are under a strict shelter-in-place order. Not to make light of the situation, but what better time is there to check out some awesome artists that you may have never heard of before, or to revisit some newer albums that stand out amongst the others. These are some of my (current) favorite albums to listen to and I’m sharing them with you as a recommendation. Check out and support these amazing artists (and labels).

Recommended in Dark Ambient:

Recommended In Dungeon Synth (and beyond):

Execration Chamber Blend Cinematic Quality Score With Lo-Fi Dungeon Synth On The Intrepid ‘Cathedral Of Unbeing’

Is there a more perfect time to listen to Dungeon Synth than now? As we’re faced with the global pandemic known at COVID-19, many people are confined to their own homes in order to prevent the spread of the deadly virus – basically being imprisoned in their dungeon until it’s safe to – once again – interact with society. The mood just seems right to consume some lo-fi Dungeon Synth, to take you back to those Medieval days of malicious captivity. One artist that is an absolute fit during this trying time is Execration Chamber, and on ‘Cathedral Of Unbeing’ the infusion of cinematic composition and lo-fi Dungeon Synth is just what the doctor ordered to cure the ailments of solitude.

Monumental album opener, “The Lesser Felled” begins with the soaked sounds of a heavy rain field recording, followed by dense layers of keys that harmonize in a symphonic way. The sound is gloomy and mournful but played with a sense of hope and reason. As the song comes to a close, the sounds of heavy rainfall can be heard for one final time. “Gaunt, The Night” introduces bombastic percussive elements as if an anticipated Medieval battle is on the dawn of existence. The solo keys really standout as they are crisp and have the perfect tone to augment the background rhythm. “Buried In Time” has a bleak feeling to it, as it’s galloping cadence matches the simple beat that accompanies it throughout. At times, the keys become discordant as the sound becomes more harrowing. “The Great Purging Of Memories” sounds as if it could have been an intro to an early 90’s lo-fi black metal recording with its eerie tone and divergent arrangement. “A Hallowed End Of Passage” would be the perfect track to lead a garrison of warriors into battle. With its fast-paced, rhythmic patterns, this is just the motivation needed to carry out an assault on an enemy invasion. “Imminent Warfare” is a battle-ready anthem that features wondrous organ sounds and precision drum pulses that emit a culture of feudal decadence. “Crawling Tombs” is a dismal track that has components of lush textures and emphatic keys. The continuous pounding of the drum sounds as if the surviving warriors of a brutal battle are in sync, heading back to their kingdom to recover from their wounds. “Wept In Blood” is a dismal canticle with massively layered keyboard tones that are a vivid reminder of the tragedies that preceded times of peace. The final song on the album, “Dimly” is a sorrowful dirge filled with depressive sounding keyboards that perfectly compliment the emotional journey that this album has taken us.

‘Cathedral Of Unbeing’ is an incredible album that has that old-school Dungeon Synth vibe but with and an updated cinematic quality to it. It’s fantastic to see such a broad spectrum of musical sounds collide in an epic adventure with such a prosperous outcome. These tracks flow together so well and just like many other amazing Dungeon Synth recordings, they tell a valiant Medieval story of both victory and tragedy. I’m very much looking forward to hearing more adventurous tales from Execration Chamber, but in the meantime, please support this improbable artist by downloading ‘Cathedral Of Unbeing’ from the link below.

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The Gloomy Intonations On ‘Archana’s Tales’ By Archana, Forges An Ominous Feudal Presence

Imagine an endless journey where the spectacles of nature inhabit the majority of your adrenaline-filled stimulation. As you cross boundless and threatening topography, your preparedness for battle is like no other, but fortunately the paths of the unknown have brought little to no campaign, limiting the possibility for senseless bloodshed. However, along the way, the dim and gloomy passage has brought on a variety of other undiscovered aspects. Welcome to ‘Archana’s Tales’, the somber yet soothing soundtrack for an unknown expedition filled with the unexpected and unexplained.

Like a pack of travelers hiking gallantly through a field of dreams, “Archana’s Tales” bold keyboard arrangements are the perfect opening sounds to this album. As if the morning dawn has signaled for the time to press forward with this harrowing journey, the lush key tones play a Medieval pattern that remain promising and victorious. Although the overall vibe is calming, there are a lot of layers and elements to give it a broad, ethereal sound. “Decorated Blade” is a great forest synth track that is very dreamy and distant. However, don’t let that fool you from the plethora of synth activity that is happening, as there is a lot of melodies combining to make this a great track. “Wayward In The Brume” is a mournful piece, as the main keyboard arrangement sounds like a dirge played at an ancient funeral. “Fray” begins like an anthem played at a kingdoms’ gate upon the arrival of the king after being away for battle. Not straying from the main cords, it’s meant to signal the return of the ruler, and this short piece succeeds in fulfilling that objective. “Mother Moon” is full of harmony and melody right from the start and provides a sense of warmth while envisioning a journey that crosses over into darkness, slowly fading from dusk as the sun sets off in the distance. “Boreal Kingdom” is one of my favorite tracks on the album due to the discordant key arrangement and the droning synth tones in the background. The final track on the album, is the near fourteen minute long “The Hyetal Shore”. Starting with some simple keyboard tones and rain field recordings, this is just a simple precursor to this well-rounded and excellent track. At around the six minute mark, the pace picks up a bit and more key arrangements are added to give a symphonic sound. There is still that Medieval element to the overall feel to this recording but this track is wonderfully composed in several sections to give it that grandiose appeal. The final few minutes of the song closes out with the continuance of the rain and occasional thunder sound, with a nice keyboard texture that signifies that the end is near.

Archana has composed and produced a rather unique dungeon synth offering with ‘Archana’s Tales’. This is somber forest synth at its best. There is nothing fancy or extravagant on this release, as it’s not needed. Simple keyboard arrangements and minimal use of field recordings are all it takes to draw the listener in and keep them captivated for the duration of the recording. When the songwriting is that powerful, that is all that is needed. Show your support for this amazing artist and download ‘Archana’s Tales’ from the link below.

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Obsidian Towers Takes Us Back To Dark, Medieval Times On ‘The Call Of Black Majesty’

Although the gallant ways of Medieval times are behind us, we can thank the profusion of dungeon synth artists – that keep that spirit alive – by serenading us with the symphonic tones that are reminiscent of those valiant days. Even though there are many artists that step out and add modern innovations and twists to their craft, some tend to keep the vibe old school and that’s ok by me. One of those artists is Obsidian Towers. Gracing us with their debut EP of dark dungeon music, ‘The Call Of Black Majesty’ is an enigmatic offering of raw dungeon synth that is a compelling listen.

“The Call Of Black Majesty (Part I)” begins with a grand keyboard intro that sees heavy use of multiple notes played with a distorted element to give it that retro feel. This twelve plus minute track add layers of solo style keys that illuminate a glorious harmony that can be heard throughout. Irresistible as it is relentless, this track doesn’t let up from start to finish and would serve as a proper welcome home anthem for wounded warriors and knights returning to their kingdom after honoring their king in battle. The second and final track on this EP, “The Call Of Black Majesty (Part II)”, is an almost nine minute magnum opus that has the sound of victory. With much of the same premise of the first track – heavy lower keys combined with higher pitched keys playing a solo like canticle – the overall tone for this one is not as dark and doesn’t represent demise. Instead, it’s a call to order after a victory for the kingdom.

If ‘The Call Of Black Majesty’ is a proper introduction of the direction of Obsidian Towers, then they will be a force to be reckoned with in the dungeon synth community. Although, I fully support and love the innovation of expanding the dungeon synth sound, there is nothing better than that good ole Medieval vibe when listening to dungeon synth in the raw. Sometimes stepping out means stepping back and that’s exactly what Obsidian Towers has done on this EP. I highly recommend checking out this album and supporting this superb artist.

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Inoriand Finds A Comforting Balance Between Solitude And Frigid Winter Imagery On ‘A World Frozen’

When it comes to Dungeon/Winter Synth, Inoriand is easily one of my top 3 favorite artists. Their large collection of winter themed albums – almost exclusively on Eldest Gate Records – are as absorbing as they are beautifully written and 2019’s ‘Silence’, was my number one pick for dungeon/winter synth album of the year. That being said, I’m always eager to receive that email notification stating one of my most treasured artist has a new release. Once I learned that Inoriand’s latest effort, ‘A World Frozen’, consisted of just a single track with a playing time of nearly thirty nine minutes, I was beyond excited and could not wait to immerse myself in this new, icy cold musical journey. The results are astonishing and the fact that Inoriand can continued to release albums without repeating previous efforts, is a major accomplishment.

The albums only track, “A World Frozen” is like a massive expedition through the darkest & coldest season of the year in a vast, isolated land only inhabited by the occasion brave hyperborean natives and the natural replenishments they hunt for survival. At times, the conditions are peaceful, yet somewhat challenging and other times the blizzard-like circumstances make the terrain impossible to traverse. “A World Frozen” begins with a peaceful synth introduction as if the haze of the morning perpetual sunrise never existed. Random keys emit a radiance, like melting ice dripping it’s clear liquid onto the surfaces below. All seams peaceful as this scene carries on like a snapshot in time. Incandescent drones sway in and out of audio contention as if it’s in sync with the northern winds. At around the fifteen minute mark, the dripping sounds have all but faded and the droning tones shift to a slightly lower frequency, signifying a shift in temperature and and the possibility of much harsher conditions. At around the seventeen minute mark, an abrupt static sound channels the negative energy in the air, as a winter storm and arctic-like conditions are inbound. Twenty minutes in, and the oblique synth melodies are at their strongest. Multiple layers of keyboard sounds and tones are arranged in a manner that gives this austere atmosphere the soundtrack it deserves. The keyboard section at around the twenty eight minute mark is my favorite part on the album and features a few sounds that reminds me of the impeccable ‘Silence’ album. The final few minutes couldn’t be better, as this immeasurable album draws to a close. The mix of long, drawn out drones and high pitch sounds of single keyboard notes compose a wonderful melody, fading in unison with the winter sunlight.

Inoriand has done it yet again! ‘A World Frozen’ is an exceptional album that – for me – is already in contention for dungeon/winter synth album of the year. It boasts a very bold and mature sound, with excellent production. Additionally, I find that I can easily submerge myself into any world when listening to Inoriand, and for an artist to have that affect, is quite impressive. I highly recommend downloading this album, as well as checking out everything else on the Eldest Gate Records Bandcamp page. You will not be disappointed.

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Dungeon Synth Infused With Classical Arrangements Make For A Sacred Odyssey On The Debut Self-Titled Encloaked Offering

The explosion of the dungeon synth genre over the past few years has not only seen the introduction of countless artists, but also the infusion of other styles to add a particular creativity that keeps the music exciting and fresh. One of those artists that has a very impressive spin on the genre is Encloaked. Although not solely a dungeon synth artist, there is just enough of it incorporated to keep a stronghold with the brand, while maintaining a balance with a multifaceted blend of various other musical styles. Self-tilted debut album, ‘Encloaked’, is an effortless blend of dungeon synth, smooth fantasy vibes, classical piano arrangements, live instrumentation, and all around impeccable song writing.

Debonair album opener, “The Ramtops” is a fluid fantasy synth anthem with a great mix of piano and synth arrangements. Grandiose orchestrations will remind you of valiant medieval times, when kings ruled over vast lands, clustered villages and the privileged of the royal families that lived in the high castles. “Cobwebs And Secrets” is an alluring piano ballad with an occasional traditional dungeon synth run thrown in to add a twist of uniqueness. My favorite track on the album, “Always Winter”, starts with a chilling synthesizer tone and is soon joined by live drum beats and a dazzling guitar solo. This combination works amazingly well with the rest of the track and it ends too soon, in my opinion . It also has a very early 90’s gothic rock vibe and I could seriously listen to a whole album of this stuff. “Weary At The Inn” is a buoyant string arrangement that has an extremely cheerful vibe to it. At the total opposite end of the spectrum is the dark, piano piece, “Amongst The Roots”. The songwriting here is absolutely amazing and the mix of the synth undertones gives this track life beyond the darkness. The main piano track that is played over and over again is simply beautiful, and toward the end of the track, the addition of a synth solo gives this somber dirge a boost of illustrious melody. “Green Fire” is a sleek fantasy song with multiple layers of synth sounds that clash together in a wonderful pulsating rhythm. “Dance Of The Broken Branch” is a killer track of quirky cadence played with traditional dungeon synth sounds. I can imaging the jester of the Kings court putting on a performance for his royal audience, while a band of villagers play this track on man-made instruments. It represents fun times in days filled with mostly darkness. The final track on the album, “Light Beyond” begins with a spacey ambient sound, while various synth sounds form a fantasy-laden atmosphere. Multiple soundscapes take shape throughout the track as it finally draws to an end with the sounds of birds chirping, as to say the dawn of a new day is here.

Encloaked is a fascinating up-and-coming dungeon synth artist that sounds extremely comfortable playing classically influenced fantasy synth. There is a lot of variety on this album, which I love, and the production effort is noteworthy as well. As the highly impressive album art draws you in, the music will certainly grab ahold of you and keep you entertained. I highly recommend checking out and downloading ‘Encloaked’ from the link below.

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Lost Tales Evoke Fantasy Synth Vibes Of An Eccentric Nature On ‘An Old Wizard’s Secret’

Album art is a powerful thing. Its not just the eye-catching, spur-of-the-moment influencer for helping with making a decision on buying a particular album or not, but it also provokes the mind with setting a scene for the theme of the music and the direction the art takes our imaginations. In turn, this allows us to open up more freely to enjoy the musical journey that much more. The album cover for Lost Tales debut album, ‘An Old Wizard’s Secret’, is a mesmerizing piece of art that speaks in volumes of the despondent life of a wizard and the trials that he’s gone through just to make it out alive. Although probably finishing out his life as a desolate hermit, life has not always been this way. Musically, this fantasy synth adventure takes us on a daring adventure through various life events of the wizard, as he reflects on the good times and the bad. These six decadent tunes have an overall engaging and peaceful vibe and will leave you wanting more.

Brazen album opener, “Following One’s Singular Vision”, begins with a simple arrangement, soon followed by the delightful sounds of quirky dungeon synth effects that quickly shine a bright light on the theme of this amazing project. Moving in a totally different direction, “Defrocked; Expelled From The Academy” starts with a luminous jazzy sound that is serene and peaceful. The tones of winter synth keys come into play, as various melodic structure take turns conquering the open space. The deep bass effect gives this track a rich, unique quality and even has a bit of a middle eastern influence at times. “When What Was Loved Left This Plane” is a slow, melodic dirge, with a beautiful harmony keyboard part that is extremely unforgettable. I find myself humming this tune quite often and I easily imagine getting lost in a mystical forest and suddenly finding an oasis of enchantment, remaining enthralled with no sense of time or space. “Synthesizing The Reversal Of Death” continues the same musical theme as the previous track, as the soothing melodies draw you in, placing you in a relaxed state. When the main keyboard melody starts to play, an overwhelming sensation of being drawn to an era of magic and charm takes over. The layers of keyboard euphony hits the spot and succeeds in transitioning the listener back to ancient times. “The Opportunity To right Wrongs” is a wondrous dungeon synth effort with expeditious playing and excellent harmonizing with the slower keyboard parts. The standout solo arrangements are quite the delight and provide a magical moment for this song. The albums final track, “An Honor And A Blessing To Have Served The Court”, combines many different keyboard effects in a congenial effort that is full of grace and positive substance. The horn effects really standout and are the perfect addition to this final stance, as it adds balance to the album and closure to the overall theme of the wizards story and life.

Lost Tales is a prodigious artist that provides a considerable amount of balance to the dungeon synth genre. ‘An Old Wizard’s Secret’ is a wonderful debut effort and I love the direction of the music that is contained within. It’s a great balance of all of the elements that I love about dungeon synth music and although this hasn’t been officially released yet, I’m already looking forward to hearing more from this artist. You won’t be disappointed in this so I highly recommend downloading this as soon as it’s available or even pre-ordering it now. Mystic Timbre will also be doing a cassette release so keep you’re eyes peeled for that as well.

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