Top 10 Dungeon Synth / Synth Releases Of 2020

What an amazing year for Dungeon Synth (and other underground synth-based genres). This year has exploded with some of the most absorbing musical ventures my ears have been privileged to hearing. Whether it’s the grimness of Vampyric Dungeon Synth, the obscurity of Comfy Synth or the enlightenment of Berlin School dark synthwave, I embrace all of these sub-genres with the hopes of finding the most amazing music possible. Although there were hundred (possibly thousands) of Synth-based releases over the past twelve months, this is a list of my 10 favorite albums of the aforementioned sub-genres. I hope you enjoy…what I’ve been enjoying!

10. Moss Golem – Of Witches Blood And Angel Tears

https://serpentsswordrecords.bandcamp.com/album/of-witches-blood-and-angel-tears

What better way to get things started than with a dose of Uncomfy Synth! Moss Golem may be categorized by some as Comfy Synth but this is light years from it. It’s more like a menagerie of darkened dungeon synth arrangements with colossal black metal screams and I absolutely love it. Of the small handful of releases by Moss Golem this year, ‘Of Witches Blood And Angel Tears’ is my favorite.

9. Wooded Memory – My Secret Horror

https://woodedmemory.bandcamp.com/album/my-secret-horror

‘My Secret Horror’ caught me by surprise this year, as I wasn’t expecting it to be so amazing. Don’t get me wrong, 2019’s ‘The Lost Stories’ was great, but this one is so much better. From the illustrious arrangements to the phenomenal production, I’ve really enjoyed this album and it, accordingly, deserves a spot on my Top 10 list.

8. Erang – Imagination Never Fails

https://erang.bandcamp.com/album/imagination-never-fails

Erang takes us on a mythical journey like no other! From brooding musical-like tracks and symphonic marvels, to traditional dungeon synth and synthwave, Erang leaves no stone unturned and is one of the most ingenious synth artists out today. ‘Imagination Never Fails’ is an addictive listen and I revisit this one quite often.

7. Borg – Woodland

https://borg.bandcamp.com/album/woodland

Borg is as quirky as they are talented and this modern day Medieval-style music with analog instruments (and numerous unconventional undertones) is to be taken seriously. ‘Woodland’ is a fantastic album and showcases their capability for idiosyncratic arrangements, as well as more serious sounding tunes that may have well fit in on some cult spaghetti western films. Absolutely amazing!

6. Guild Of Lore – Autumn Bohollow

https://guildoflore.bandcamp.com/album/autumn-bohollow

Guild Of Lore is the real deal! The hybrid combination of cinematic elements and dungeon synth makes this one of the most unique albums of the year. The production and arrangements are perfect and the writing will leave listeners (and possibly other artists) in awe of the amazing talents that spew from within. If you’ve not heard this album, you’re definitely missing out!

5. Abholos – Whispers From The Dark Sea

https://serpentsswordrecords.bandcamp.com/album/whispers-from-the-dark-sea

Abholos is one of my favorite Dungeon Synth projects and I look forward to these release than perhaps most other artists. The fusion of retro-style synth arrangements and maritime soundscapes is exactly what I love to listen to and not many others excel at it more than Abholos. ‘Whispers From The Dark Sea” is my most listened to Abholos album and one of my favorite releases of 2020.

4. Lurk – From The Depths Of Y’ha-nthlei

https://lurkmusick.bandcamp.com/album/from-the-depths-of-yha-nthlei

I knew after being just two minutes in to this album that it was going to end up on my Dungeon Synth AOTY Top 10. The crystal clear production makes it possible to enjoy the outstanding music, soundscapes and samples that grace this behemoth of an album. From start to finish, this album rips and I cannot wait for the next dose of Lurk to come about!

3. Jenn Taiga – Plight

https://jenntaiga.bandcamp.com/album/plight

I listen to this album at least once a week. I mean it’s that good and just puts me in a zone that almost no other album can do. Consisting of two tracks that are nearly forty three minutes long, there is definitely enough time to drift off into another world that depicts a scene of sonic beauty. Heavily influenced by Berlin School and progressive space rock, this enchantment of a recording should be on everyone’s playlist by now!

2. Mystica Visio – Mystica Visio

https://mysticavisio.bandcamp.com/album/mystica-visio

‘Mystica Visio’ is probably one of the best albums (of any genre) that I’ve heard this year. Gustavo Jobim is an award-winning musician that decided to try his hand at Dungeon Synth this year and I couldn’t be happier about that decision. Not only is this an amazing album, but the track “Spell Of Entrapment” is probably my song of the year for this genre. This album is an absolute must for your collection!

1. Varkâna – Cosmic Terror

https://varkana.bandcamp.com/album/cosmic-terror

Varkâna’s ‘Cosmic Terror’ was released in May of this year and its still one of my most played albums. This Lovecraftian-themed endeavor features some of the most meaningful tracks I’ve ever heard, and the emotional output is only topped by the amazing musicianship, pristine song arrangements and writing. All of these elements combined have made this my Dungeon Synth / Synth album of the year for 2020.

‘Voices Of The Ainur’ Is A Podcast That Showcases The Best In Dungeon Synth, Dark Ambient, The Obscure, And Beyond

It’s rare to find a podcast that properly showcases the mystical wonders of Dungeon Synth, placating matters of Dark Ambient and the arcane obscurities within the realms of synth music. However, ‘Voices Of The Ainur’ just may be the premier podcast that embodies the spirit of these genres in a supremely engaging platform.

Commencing in October of this year, ‘Voices Of The Ainur’ produces high-quality episodes of the music that we love on a weekly basis. Each episode is around an hour long and features multi-genres of music in some of the most fluid mixes I’ve heard. Best of all, no talk, no interruptions, and all music! Additionally, each episode has its on mini-site with visionary photos, quotes and the playlist (with Bandcamp links) for the artists that is featured. Although this podcast was recently brought to my attention, it’s already my “go-to” platform for getting a weekly dose of the genres that I love.

In summary, ‘Voices Of The Ainur’ is a supremely composed podcast that demands to be heard. I know that we all have our favorite platforms for listening to music, whether it’s by digital download, streaming media, or physical platforms, but if you’re like me and still enjoy great podcasts, then you must check out ‘Voices Of The Ainur’. Not only is the music great, but the possible exposure to new artists makes it that much better. I’ve included the link for Apple Podcast below, but ‘Voices Of The Ainur’ is available on at least fifteen podcast platforms. The links to those can be found on the main web site (also below). Please give this awesome podcast a listen and enjoy!

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Links:

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/voices-of-the-ainur/id1534862806

https://www.voicesoftheainur.com/

https://www.facebook.com/VoicesOfTheAinur

https://twitter.com/oftheainur?s=21

Fusing Dungeon Synth And Gladiatorial Pulses, Haunted Realm’s ‘Songs From The Deep Halls’ Delivers Ominous Anthems For The Masses

Over the past few years, I’ve become thoroughly impressed with the resilience of the Dungeon Synth genre and the community that it’s cultivated. From the magnitude of artists and constant releases to the incorporation of other genres and soundscapes to facilitate a sub-culture all of its own. I’m most intrigued when an artist delivers a wide variety of music, yet stays true to the boundaries of the genre itself. One of those artists is Haunted Realm. With varying musical ventures from release to release, it’s always a surprise to see what’s in store the moment you press play. For ‘Songs From The Deep Halls’, we get a daring Dungeon Synth adventure full of tribal-like rhythms and momentous arrangements, but there is also influences from other synth sub-genres as well, making this a spectacular thirty five minute journey through a fanatical, medieval kingdom.

“Masters Of Mountains” commenced with a slow but steady tribal beat that sounds like the prelude to a death march. After a few bars, a beautiful synth arrangement is introduced, emitting a somber-like dirge to remember. Layers of synth effects and flute notes increase the intensity of this track as it builds up to a glorious finale. The final minute is all worth it, as a smooth and droning synth lead takes over and provides a spectacular harmony to close out the track. “Sons Of Iron And War” begins with several layers of percussive beats and rhythms and it will have you nodding your head or tapping your foot before the first synth note is even played. Deep synth tones sway in and out of the mix as other instrumental effects are engaged to create an ominous result. “Subterranean Throne” starts with a deep tonal modulation that is soon met with slowly played percussive sounds. Another slow building track, malevolent and droning keys are injected to conclude a grim consequence, but they are used sparingly. Synthwave effects are used as well, providing another dimension of sound for this superlative output . “Dominions Of Stone” starts with a moderately paced percussive sound and restrained dungeon synth melodies slowly begin to increase. There are an abundance of sound effects used in this track and they are placed in just the right spots to sound tasteful and very pleasing to the ear. “March Of The Dwarven Legions” is another satisfying track of the highest order with its low-end drum beats, droning ambience, and very dark appeal. The massive horn sounds make this a grandiose affair with a soundtrack-like quality, that would fit perfectly in any Fantasy Adventure film. The final track on the album, is “Eternal Quest”. Most of this track is a bleak, space ambient experience, loaded with cosmic effects that will blast you off into the outermost reaches of the universe. However, it completely changes in the last few minutes and catapults into a darkwave anthem with an illustrious keyboard arrangement and pulsating drum beat. The melody in this part is so beautiful and is worth listening to over and over again. I couldn’t think of a better track to end this amazing album.

Haunted Realm crushed it with this release as this is some of the finest Dungeon Synth I’ve heard in a while and although it doesn’t have an over-the-top fantasy synth sound, the minimalistic efforts really shine through as if this could be a full-on motion picture soundtrack. The steady but agonizing percussive elements are top level and the final track alone makes the whole album seem that much better. If you’ve not heard ‘Songs From The Deep Halls’ yet, I cannot recommend this enough. Please check it out (and download it) from the link below.

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Links:

https://thehauntedrealm.bandcamp.com/album/songs-from-the-deep-halls

Slime Golem Presents ‘The Short But Touching Tale Of Slime Golem’ Through Mystifying Sounds That Traverse Dungeon Synth, Retro Synthwave & Crypt Hop

Slime Golem have firmly solidified their place in the Dungeon Synth arena with the quirky but horrifying new release entitled, ‘The Short But Touching Tale Of Slime Golem’. Combining unconventional effects, ambient textures, traditional dungeon synth vibes and and a horror-themed story, Slime Golem checks all the necessary blocks to make their debut effort a fulfilling and entertaining endeavor. Let’s take a closer look into these unique, nightmarish anthems and reveal what makes this album so special.

Twisted album opener, “Swamp Crawling (A Golem Out Of Clay Emerges From The Banks Of The Ulkah River)” blends whimsical sound effects and melodic keyboards to deliver a spaghetti western-like theme song, but with a slight dungeon synth overtone. “You Have Summoned The Slime Golem! (Master In Awe Of His Creation)” is a sly little piece that features silky synth tones followed by drum & bass rhythms that give this track a grimacing sound. There are plenty of retro synth moments on display here to keep this short track dynamic and interesting. “The Bestowing Of Emet (…Such Is Your Task)”, is another retro sounding keyboard affair filled with layers of rolling synth modulations that increase as the song continues along. As the effects become more disturbing, it’s almost as if it’s part of a soundtrack for an 80’s horror movie. “Forest Walk (Observing Life Itself For The First Time)” is a somber track that is filled with depressing keyboard chops and fascinating sound effects that are almost contradictory, but seem to fit together rather well. “Hands Of Mud And Blood (A Horrid Act Committed)” is a groovy little piece that combines a maniacal synth lead with eccentric effects that are straight out of a dark comedy horror show. However, the merger of the two sounds provides a solid dungeon synth track of epic proportions, with a tad bit of drum & bass included. “The Golem Wept (A Unique Experience Of Sadness And Self-Awareness)” is an atmospheric track with layers of soothing synths played in a somber arrangement. The lead keys have an awesome retro appeal, which makes this one of my favorite tracks on the album. “I Am Appalled By The Human-Like Form! (Golem Turns Into Its Maker)” is a dark track that isn’t as layered as previous tracks but that doesn’t make it any less diabolical. The inclusion of drum & bass really puts this one over the top and all of the instruments synchronize perfectly to form a mind-melding dirge. “What Piece Of Work Is Man To Need A Lesser Being For Slave? (Golem Escapes)” is another bleak experience field with gloomy keyboard melodies and haunting ambience. The layers increase in the middle of the song and then slowly fade toward the end, but keep their majestic appeal throughout. “Prima Materia (Return To The Green And Slimy Vastitude)” has a slight sinister appeal to it, but it’s not full-on ominous, as the bizarre synth affects add a bit of dark satire, even though the keyboard leads are thick and epic. The final track on this dark and quirky album is “Unbinding (The Creature Knows Peace)”. The main synth synth lead is melodic and dreamy, while the background provides a retro darkwave sound, sending this album to another dimension when it comes to mood and genre-blending. The introspective ambience in the background flows with haunting dynamics as it augments all of the harmony provided by the other instrumentation. This not only create an effective outro for this unique little horror story, but also solidifies this amazing artist as a great songwriter.

I am thoroughly impressed by this debut outing from Slime Golem. Not only is the music amazing and genre defying, but the story that it represents is magical and can be easily identified within these wonderful song arrangements. I’m really looking forward to the see what the future holds for this artist and the incredible stories that will possibly be told through the magic of the music are sure to be extraordinary. If you’ve not heard ‘The Short But Touching Tale Of Slime Golem’, look no further than the link below and give this masterful album a listen. I can’t recommend this one enough so please download it now.

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Links:

https://wyrmlodge.bandcamp.com/album/the-short-but-touching-tale-of-slime-golem

Velvety Synth Leads And Ghoulish Compositions Prevail On Ancient Sword’s ‘Ars Antiqua’

Darkness descending on ominous Dungeon Synth music with a soundtrack-like quality is one of the key elements that I’ve come to love with this genre of music. It’s those artists that continue to push the boundary of songwriting and sound quality without giving up the general aesthetics of the genre is what makes recordings like these sound so great. In this matter, I’m referring to ‘Ars Antiqua’ by Ancient Sword. Featuring eight mesmerizing tracks of elemental Dungeon Synth, this is a beautiful recording of the highest nature.

“Descending The Darkpath” is the perfect album opener with dismal field recordings and evil synth effects to perfectly place the listener in the mood for a harrowing experience. “Hermit’s Dream” begins with a soothing keyboard tone that is soon followed by a clean synth lead that is easy to follow and will have the listener humming the same tune right away. The orchestral elements add a refreshing light to this track as well. “Alabard Song” kicks things off in high gear with a haunting rhythm and portentous drum beats. As layers of synths continue to seep in, it’s obvious that this is a standout track on the album. “A Crowd Of Shades Flitting By Dark Waters” starts as a peculiar synthwave track with bizarre tones and intricate keyboard fills. Around the halfway mark, additional keyboard fills make their presence known as this outlandish track suddenly fades off in the distance. “King’s Farewell” is another sinister sounding track that features many keyboard effects that will please fans of both Medieval Dungeon Synth and retro synthwave as well. The multiple layers of lead synth tracks seems to broaden the spectrum for this song and it takes a beautiful turn toward an orchestral piece toward the end. “Chrysopoeia” features a harmonious keyboard lead that is soon synchronized with swaying synth drones that together, create a wondrous melody that is catchy and memorable. “Night Wanderer” begins with a brooding sound that borders malevolence more than it does the pleasantries of harmonious tones. With soft, percussive sounds and layers of droning synths, this is not only one of the darkest tracks on the album, but it’s also rich in natural composition with a striking arrangement as well. The final track on the album, “Mythical Twilight”, is a somber arrangement with fascinating keyboard tones and layers of congenial synth leads that play out like a magical orchestration until the very end.

Ancient Sword has created an enchanting experience with ‘Ars Antiqua’. Although these eight tracks provide thirty two minutes of listening pleasure, each song is well crafted and diverse in its own right. From ominous tones and sinister sounds to beautiful orchestrations, this album is well diverse and should please fans of all types of synth music in general. I highly recommend checking out this album from the link below and I’m eager to see what this artist has to offer in the very near future.

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Links:

https://ancientsword.bandcamp.com/releases

Isolation And Nature Collide On Grimloch’s Esoteric And Terse EP, ‘Return To The Wild’

Sometimes fate takes you to a remote location in nature that rarely see interaction with mankind. Those are the environmental settings that have a lasting impression on many enthusiasts that rely on the beauties of the countryside for artistic influence. Some are fortunate to live by these landscapes and have access to these types of wondrous sceneries. That’s exactly the case for Grimloch and the purity of the music that is presented on ‘Return To The Wild’. Leaning heavy on the surroundings of the lonely environment with a conservative approach to instrumental and production integration, Grimloch prepares a unique take on Dungeon Synth that combines modest folk influences across seven short and extraordinary tunes.

The delicate keys of “Rapid Forge (Introduction)” play an irregular pattern as if someone is becoming familiar with a strange new land for the first time. Smooth and slightly distorted chops add a brightness and sense of happiness to the situation, as the ‘Return To The Wild’ commences. The arrangement on “Mirkwood Forest” may seem random at first, but is intricately woven with the allure of nature and it’s haunting calmness allows for this layered and rhythmic tune to sound complex and appealing. “Farewell Rose” is a beautiful forest synth piece that contains several tracks of various instruments that seamlessly play a thoughtful and sedative tune. “Druid Sunrise” is another complex piece that is methodically layered with various sounds that remain harmonious throughout. In keeping with the true fashion of this recording, the track suddenly ends, just as you’re starting to get enthralled in its mysticism. “The Orb” has a traditional Dungeon Synth vibe with some ethereal tones and perfectly fitting echo effects that make this a standout track. “Velox Spiritus” is a very short but dreamy synth piece that has a peculiar reverb effect, giving it a huge sound. The final song on this obscure offering is “A Beautiful Birth”. Not only is it the longest song on the album – just over two minutes in length – it’s also the most adaptable, as it contains soothing drone synths, haunting keyboard leads and eerie soundscapes. Toward the end of the track, there is even a low-end drone to close things out.

Grimloch is certainly a unique and arcane artist. Drawing a majority of his influences from hidden landscapes and remote, desolate settings, the power of this esoteric recording is quite fascinating. Although these seven tracks take up only eight minutes of playing time, every second is utilized to the max and not a moment is wasted. ‘Return To The Wild’ is a charming piece of work and is worth checking out. If you like your Dungeon Synth tracks short & sweet, with a variety of minimalistic instrumentation, I recommend checking out Grimloch’s complete discography, which is available for “name your price”. However, the direct link for ‘Return To The Wild’ is available below.

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Links:

https://grimloch.bandcamp.com/album/return-to-the-wild

Thorgnyr Delivers A Conceptual Piece On The Revolution Of Life Called, ‘Cycles’

As Dungeon Synth continues to grow in thematic expression, I’ve come to the conclusion that no subject matter is off limits at this point and anything that can arouse the emotions is worthy of a conceptual album in this ever-so-impressive genre. Although there are many noteworthy artists that have burst onto the scene to deliver their brand of medieval synth music, one that has been rather impressive as of late is Thorgnyr. On the extraordinary sophomore effort called ‘Cycles’, Thorgnyr releases four long-form tracks that conceptualize a day in the revolution of life (in general). With the help of Icelandic folklore, mythical creatures and ghost stories, these four tracks emerge as a solid story with varied influences and the outcome is outstanding.

On the opening track, “Dusk”, beautifully suppressed synths are woven into a Medieval melody that lay the ground work for this breathtaking ten and a half minute long track. After a short refrain, layers of background synths are added to thicken the sound. At around the three minute mark, synth leads orchestrate a discordant – but necessary pattern – that harmonizes well with the original melody of the music. Soon afterwards, percussive patterns are introduced, solidifying this track in the right evening time mood and preparing the listener for further enchantments that represents the other phases in this cycle. The next track is the grimly composed, “Night”. Starting with just a single keyboard melody and briskly bridging in backup sounds that are daring and bold, this track perfectly describes the title in the dark, brooding music that unfolds across nearly ten minutes of playing time. Deep, thunderous keyboards play modulating sounds that are haunting and spirit evoking. About halfway through, a quirky keyboard arrangement makes its way into the mix, as if representing the awakening of nocturnal creatures, as they stir through the land in search for food and festivities. “Dawn” begins with a loud, shrieking keyboard tone that is definitely in the Dungeon Synth tradition. As the awakening of a new day emerges, warm keyboard melodies pleasantly mix synth leads, creating a warm and inviting sound. This sound maintains a relatively quick pace for the first six minutes or so, then the track takes a sharp turn with different keyboard effect. The keyboard leads really shine throughout this whole track and they rarely let up, except on occasion to bring in more layers of synths and percussion patterns. The final track on the album is the best ten minute long, “Day”. Commencing with a high-pitched keyboard arrangement that matches the relaxing elements of nature as the day unfolds, breathing life into everting into existence. A couple of minutes in, distorted synths provide the backdrop to the enlightened melodies and gives this track an immense sound, as this album comes full circle. Again, the percussion elements add a nice layer of crunch to the track and gives it’s a grandiose feeling.

With having such a short career in the Dungeon Synth genre thus far, Thorgnyr continues to deliver the goods and proves that’s they are in it for the long haul. With just two albums under their belts – ‘Depths’ from March and ‘Cycles’ from April, Thorgnyr sounds like they’ve been delivering the ancient message for much longer than that. ‘Cycles’ is a really impressive release and one that I plan on listening to for sometime to come. Please support this amazing artist and download ‘Cycles’ from the link below.

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Links:

https://thorgnyr.bandcamp.com/album/cycles

Pastoral Refrains Cater To The Gentle Side Of Nature On Alloch Nathir’s ‘The Emerald Grotto’

Nature is the essence of many aspects of life. Whether good or evil, the crux of its attributes supplies endless amounts of viable resources in order to create an unfathomable sense of inspiration for music. From placid elements that relate to the morning dawn, peaceful wilderness and the natural formations of the land to dark & eerie forests, storms & gray skies and desolate terrain, music can take on these exact same forms and emit either a somber or malevolent side. Alloch Nathir’s ‘The Emerald Grotto’ takes the best of both worlds and combines them into a soothing and melodic style of forest/fantasy synth that will have the listener bonding with all elements of nature. Within these eight tracks, the listener will be summoned deep into the forest to a mystical cave that will transcend an ordinary forest floor into an unprecedented hidden treasure.

“Tome Of The Mercurial Font” fades in like a soft, flowing stream, deep in the heart of a secluded forest. Majestic strings pluck a simple but melodic tune to entice the mood. At once, harmonious sounds are brought in to create a peaceful environment, abundant with life. Subtle keys in the background induce feelings of tranquility and enlightenment. “Lost In The Wooded Labyrinth” takes us further down the stream where the currents are stronger and the exalted beauty is matched by sovereign string arrangements. The constant chirps of birds signifies a particularly sheltered environment where the scenery has the upper hand on any unforeseen visitors. Faint synth effects can be heard, but are distinct enough to create a balance between forest and fantasy synth. “Embraced By Dawn’s Gentle Grace” exemplifies all of the core qualities of a great dungeon synth track; slightly upbeat keys, great fills that don’t stop throughout the majority of the track, as well as the delicate warbles of the local inhabitants. Although this is a fairly short track, it exemplifies the content of this album as a whole and really stands out as a memorable piece. “Beyond The Traveled Trail” is a fast paced anthem that features a groovy percussion part that maintains a rhythmic stance throughout. The muffled synth lead is a whimsical nod to somber isolation, yet has an encouraging tone. “The Conjurer’s Cauldron” begins with an aggressive, deep sounding synth tone that plays opposite to a staggering lead part that is reminiscent of a suppressed horn. The polyrhythmic percussion melody is outstanding and fits in perfectly. “Reflections In A Windshorn Mist” continues with the vigorous fantasy synth elements and will have the listener drifting off into the heart of the forest, in search of inner peace and expansion. The final minute of this song changes directions slightly with a solo synth work that is bold and slightly passive. “The Pearl In The Cavern Pool” is my favorite song on the album. It starts with a reticent rain shower field recording and is soon followed by a restrained synth arrangement that has a beautiful melody, but is cold and dark at the same time. The final track on the album, “The Emerald Grotto” is a bleak offering that would be perfect for a hazy autumnal morning, just before the season changes to winter. Although nature’s intonations are absent from this track, it’s apparent that deep inside the hidden cavern, all is lost from the outside world. This is a trance inducing offering that blends droning keyboard effects with harmonic leads that find a delicate balance between repetition and beauty. I can’t think of a better track than this one to end such an amazing album.

Alloch Nathir uses the beauty of nature as well as the mystifying sounds of forest and fantasy synth to deliver an exceptional album that is worthy of multiple listens and will probably be a staple in my DS playlist for a long time to come. Although clocking in at just twenty five minute in length, every bit of this time is used superbly and the field recordings are just about flawless. If delicate synth music riddled with the sounds of nature is your thing, then I can not recommend ‘The Emerald Grotto’ enough. Support this amazing artist and download this incredible album from the link below. You’ll not be disappointed.

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Links:

https://allochnathir.bandcamp.com/

Mocking The Overuse Of Sub-genres, Moss Golem Defies Style Classification With The Perverse ‘The Woods Of Galdura’ Release

Dungeon Synth sure has come a long way, especially over the last few years. Not only has it grown immensely in popularity but it has garnered a slew of new sub-genres in which artists can hone their craft to a setting more suitable for them. After all, the harsh tones of Medieval-themed synth music – typically meant to motivate and inspire bloodshed and battle as war rages on between ancient kingdoms or mythical creatures – is quite different from the tranquility of music that makes you feel all warm and snuggly inside. Now enter Moss Golem, the insidious new-ish project by Davey Sasahara created to be the antipode to one of Dungeon Synth’s most popular (and ever growing) sub-genre’s, Comfy Synth. Although releasing a debut EP in February called ‘The House That Granda Built’, the March release of ‘The Woods Of Galdura’ sees a full release of idiosyncratic Dungeon Synth tunes with menacing black metal vocals that are sure to turn heads and provide plenty of discomfort. Well, if that’s the case, then mission accomplished!

The perfect example of all of the aforementioned, is the lead off track, “I”. Beginning with the soothing textures of layered synths in an intimate setting to provide the feeling of relaxation and comfort, Moss Golem reels the listener in to a false world. After a few minutes, this cushy setting fades out into a moment of silence. Slowly, bizarre and jovial synths emerge with harsh, black metal vocals, defying the cozy setting depicted in the first half of the track. “II” continues the menacing escapade as a brief ambient moment is met with evil vocals and turbulent horn effects. Pounding bass pulses contribute to the heinous intonations as Moss Golem continue to push the boundaries of synth music. On “III”, grim synths pave the way to enlightenment, just to be decimated once again by bitter vocals. This time, the music is almost dirge-like, while the vocals are like a cry out of pain and suffering. The fantasy synth sounds of “IV” are abruptly cut short, as the bewildering vocals once again shine a darkening light and prove the mordancy of Moss Golem’s existence. The grandiose elements of “V” are persistent with the classic aspects of a cinematic black metal interlude that has stood the test of time. However, instead of leading into a blazing black metal riff, Moss Golem leads the listener down a path of mortifying Dungeon Synth like no other. The melodic keys on “VI” are memorable and picturesque of a harmonious time, however when the vocals start, oblivion sets in and a dark reality is soon realized. “VII” begins with a retro, synth wave vibe and is soon joined with elements of forest synth effects and of course, the harsh vocals. Rich piano textures and rigid cries begin the contingent track, “VIII”. Beautiful orchestrations are added about halfway through for a more euphonious effect. Track “IX” has to be my favorite on this album for several reason. First, I appreciate the industrial soundscapes in the beginning to show a different side of the Moss Golem sound. The synths are arranged in a canorous pattern that also makes this an enjoyable listen. Lastly, the Crypt Hop elements toward the end are insane! Not just in the beats, but also with the fact that the heavily distorted black metal rap, just feels so right. “X” is an excellent track as well, as it’s ironically fitting. It closes the album just as it started, calm and soothing, even after listening to nine tracks of exasperating Dungeon Synth.

Moss Golem have released two outstanding albums this year and both have succeeded in confronting the culture of desiring to have a title to fit into a certain category. ‘The Woods Of Galdura’ kills any trends previous built upon the Dungeon Synth genre and dares to be categorized in a single style. If you’re a fan of Dungeon Synth and Black Metal and are curious about the meshing of genres, then look no further than Moss Golem and the latest effort, ‘The Woods Of Galdura’. Click on the link below and download this exceptional album and support this innovative artist!

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Links:

https://serpentsswordrecords.bandcamp.com/album/the-woods-of-galdura

Glomstriden Arrange Mournful Compositions On Halcyonic Debut Album, ‘The Faded Kingdom’

Dungeon Synth is such a fine art form! There are so many directions in which the music and subject matter takes the listener these days that it’s inconceivable to think that it was once mainly associated with just the primitive side of medieval aesthetics. No matter what version of Dungeon Synth I’m listening to, I love the fact that I can close my eyes and meander into a mystical world in which the artist has sent me. Glomstriden is another excellent Dungeon Synth artist that successfully envisions an esoteric place with just the sounds of powerful and beautifully written electronic music. The songs on ‘The Faded Kingdom’ are melancholic yet elegant, dreamy yet energetic, and tell a compelling story of a scorned and defeated kingdom that has more fight than finish! Whereas most people have written this particular kingdom off as being conquered and left alone, there are still some loyal villagers willing to go to battle to save the only place they’ve ever called home.

“Eternal Lord Of The Forest” begins with a gentle melody that has a gloomy and sorrowful tone to it then layers of encouraging keyboard effects continue to build, creating a warm and inviting sound. Never loosing sight of the original melody, soft drum beats are introduced around the halfway mark to show an upbeat side to this track. The depressing sounds of “Miatig” provoke a feeling of forlorn abandonment. When the layers of reverberating key tones are added, a sense of coldness fills the air as this dark harmony continues its addictive tone throughout the track. “Faru A Feorland” has a grandiose cinematic introduction with multiple synth sounds that are arranged in an eloquent manner. I love when the layers dissipate into a single keyboard chop and then slowly builds back up again. The lead keyboard effects toward the end of the track are some of the best licks on the album and make this one of my favorite tracks as well. “Unyielding Mountains Of Mourning” is a slow brooding track that gives the sensation of a bleak sunlight barely breaking through the thick morning fog high on the mountainside. Even as dawn fades to day, there is no change in brightness as it remains eerily cold and dark. Droning keyboard tones provide a chilling background while an ethereal lead part steals the show for the majority of the track. “March Into Eternity” is the exact opposite of the last track as it is energetic and full of ambition. After a lead off keyboard into, a fast-paced drum part is added, giving meaningful life to this track and subsequently representing the positive nature of the villagers that are willing to stand up and fight for their kingdom. The final track on the album, “Land Of Dead Heroes” sets a quick pace right from the very beginning, with galloping drum beats and majestic keyboard parts that sound confident and radiant, as if ‘The Faded Kingdom’ is still around and moving forward in a productive direction. The synth arrangement on this track has a very medieval sound to it yet ends the album on a very cheerful and luminous note.

I really love this album by Glomstriden and appreciate how it starts dark and gloomy and ends cheerful and full of hope – as if it’s telling the complete story of ‘The Faded Kingdom’ and relying on the listener to fill in the blanks with the details. I’m definitely looking forward to hearing more work from this artist, as the music, songwriting, and production is top-notch for this genre. I highly recommend checking out ‘The Faded Kingdom’ so please click on the link below and add this album to your collection.

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Links:

https://glomstriden.bandcamp.com/releases