Very few genres have the ability to encapsulate the deepest parts of someone’s imagination. One genre that can accomplish this task is dungeon synth. Dungeon synth has an undeniably imaginative quality, which allows a plethora of emotions and images to stir up in the listener. What makes the genre even more special is the diverse amount of sounds and atmospheres created by artists. Thanks to these characteristics, dungeon synth has become one of my favorite genres of all time.
Dungeon synth is filled to the brim with incredible works, but there are bound to be ones that fans prefer more than others. In an effort to get to know us better and show our musical tastes, Lupaus and I decided to showcase our top ten favorite dungeon synth albums. This blog will cover my personal picks.
Onoskelis is a Brazilian dungeon synth project spearheaded by Ruth Belliarth. As of now, Ruth has released two demos and one single under this project’s name. While her other works are great, The Hecate Prophecies in your Cold Throne is the apex of her discography. Not only does this release contain majestic melodies, but each song has its own wondrous charm. Every time I hear this demo, I get a clear and euphoric picture of my childhood––when I discovered the wonderful world of dungeon synth.
Favorite Tracks: “Hierarchic Battle of Pagan Storm” and “Ishtar’s Journey up the Stars.”
Finland is home to many great artists, but one that does not get enough love is Arthame. Arthame was a dungeon synth project by an individual that is only known as Striga. Arthame has merely one release under its wing: Fiendish Symphonies. Fiendish Symphonies contains five songs about the land, Arthame––a fictional world made by Striga. An eerie, yet mesmerizing aura lies within the echoing melodies of each track. Also, Striga provides sinister spoken word vocals on two songs––“Chapter II: Päällä ristin mustat linnut” and “Chapter IV: Noitavaltias.” While it is difficult to understand what he is saying, ultimately it does not matter because Striga’s haunting vocals are enough to pull the listener further into this world that he has created.
Favorite Tracks: “Chapter II: Päällä ristin mustat linnut” and “Chapter IV: Noitavaltias.”
Greysleeve is a U.S. dungeon synth project. Songs of Melancholy is a compilation of demos that the artist recorded from August to November 2020. As the name and album cover suggests, this record presents melancholic dungeon synth inspired by the genre’s old-school acts. While many dungeon synth projects can generate a depressive sound, very few can match the level of emotion on this compilation. An intense sorrow resonates in the notes of each song. While these notes tend to repeat themselves, the songs are short and never overstay their welcome. Despite the great melancholy of this record, there lies a sense of beauty within the emotive music. As a result, the album has a desolate and contemplative atmosphere. Even though I have listened to this album multiple times, I still find myself being lost in thought when the beautiful sorrow of Greysleeve’s music enters my ears.
Favorite Tracks: “I,” “III,” “VII,” and “VIII.”
Mournlord was a dungeon synth project created by the Swedish musician, Karl Beckmann. If my research is correct, Reconquering Our Kingdom is the only release of this short-lived project. The album consists of two tracks, which take the listener on a journey through dark and medieval battlefields. The first song contains majestic notes that progress in an epic and dynamic manner. Then, the final song utilizes dreamy and sorrowful melodies to conclude the demo. The major highlight of these songs is the deep and theatrical voice that Karl uses to narrate the story of Reconquering Our Kingdom.
Favorite Tracks: All of them 😉
Ur Pale is a Polish dungeon synth project. Thematically, Ur Pale is about the seaward dreams of the project’s founder. Musically, the artist channels his dreams into truly captivating music. All of Ur Pale’s albums are fantastic, but Water Tombs & Crimson Horizons displays some of the artist’s finest work. As epic notes glisten each song with gloriousness, the listener is slowly lulled into dreams of adventures across grand seas. Not to mention, there is a diverse range of sounds here, such as the typical dungeon synth keys, neoclassical elements, and medieval-styled acoustics. These aspects allow the record to have an excellent degree of variety.
Favorite Tracks: “Ice Rapiers,” “Zephyre Palace,” and “Calypso’s Farewell.”
When I want to be fully immersed in a world of medieval fantasy, I can always count on the U.S. dungeon synth artist, Sequestered Keep. Sequestered Keep is spearheaded by the mastermind behind Fief. When listening to Sequestered Keep, the listener can easily notice the similarities that this project has with Fief (e.g. a medieval atmosphere, and the use of keyboards to imitate older instruments). However, Sequestered Keep’s music is powerful in its own right. The Vale of Ruined Towers is a prime example of this statement because there is a sublime tranquility in each track. For example, the multi-layered keys on “Ancient Flames of Hope Again Burn” brings forth a beautiful serenity. Meanwhile, the epic and soaring melodies of “In Mighty Vastland Dreams” fills me with a sense of gentle bliss.
Favorite Tracks: “Ancient Flames of Hope Again Burn,” “In Mighty Vastland Dreams,” and “When Ageless Dragons Blink Awake.”
Vampyrism is a common theme in dungeon synth and its metallic sibling, black metal. This is understandable because there are a vast number of stories, myths, and other works of art that cover vampyres. With help from these works, dungeon synth and black metal artists can create incredible music based on these fascinating creatures. Out of all the vampyric dungeon synth artists that I have discovered so far, Lamentation is one of the best projects from the genre. With the help of black metal imagery, intriguing song titles, and a gothic atmosphere, this Greek project is able to conjure eerie and mystical music. As ShadowKingdom Comes To My Sight is one of Lamentation’s final releases and, in my opinion, it is their best material. Haunting vocals, sounds of raging wind and thunder, and howling wolves accompany the musicians’ dreamy soundscapes. As a result, the listener is lulled into a Stygian world, which seems lost in the past.
Favorite Tracks: “As Twilight Marks My Path,” “Night Fell Upon The Woods,” and “Hear The Distant Roar Of The Upcoming Storm.”
Some of the most powerful dungeon synth has the ability to evoke the listener’s deepest emotions and spark their vivid imagination. For me, Depressive Silence is very successful at accomplishing this task. There is a large sense of escapism in the grand and emotive melodies of this German project. Though all of their material is incredible, I find myself going back to Depressive Silence’s third demo––Mourning––the most. Thanks to the dynamic notes of each song, Mourning comes off as a journey. Within this journey, the listener experiences the sorrow of the world and the depths of their dreams through Depressive Silence’s bewitching music.
Favorite Tracks: “Forest of Eternity,” “Depths of the Oceans,” and “Dreams.”
I have already spoken about my neverending love of Lord Wolf’s music in my review for their demo, Darklands of Hate. So, I will keep this section brief. Darklands of Hate presents an unforgettable descent into vampyric dreams. By utilizing melodies––which have a mesmerizing beauty and deep melancholy––Lord Wolf displays some of the most imaginative music of all time. With incredible songs, like “The Night of the Enthroned Wolf” and “Nocturnal Years Spell the Bloodthrone,” the project’s music rivals the greatest dungeon synth artists from both their time and our modern era.
Favorite Tracks: “The Ravendusk Up the Crypt Forever (Intro),” “The Night of the Enthroned Wolf,” and “Nocturnal Years Spell the Bloodthrone.”
Die Verbannten Kinder Evas is an Austrian dungeon synth/neoclassical project. Most notably, one of the project’s primary members is Richard Lederer. If that name does not sound familiar, then you probably know him better as Protector (from the black metal band, Summoning). In Die Verbannten Kinder Evas, Richard joins forces with his sister––Julia Lederer––to create something truly special. Come Heavy Sleep is the project’s second full-length album, and it is easily their best work. The songs on this record have such a profound beauty, it is difficult for me to describe the music with words. If I had to sum up Die Verbannten Kinder Evas’ craft on this album, I would describe it as lush soundscapes that will touch the deepest parts of your soul. Each song is enwrapped with an intense array of emotions, such as sorrow, serenity, love, longing, and misery. The best parts of Come Heavy Sleep are Richard and Julia’s vocals. Both artists are talented singers and “Come Heavy Sleep,” “Misery,” and “Waters of Wide Agony” are prime testaments of this. When singing alone, Richard and Julia perfectly encapsulate the tone of a song. However, when they sing together, the duo brings an undying splendor that––in my opinion––no dungeon synth artist can replicate.
Favorite Tracks: “Come Heavy Sleep,” “Misery,” and “Waters of Wide Agony.”
As stated previously, dungeon synth is filled with amazing albums. However, these records mean the most to me. So, I hope you enjoy them! After reading my list, please take a look at Lupaus’s favorite albums if you have not done so already. He is a connoisseur of modern dungeon synth, and will most likely show something that you will like.