Arthel – Ancient Magic of the Forest [Canada, Dungeon Synth] (2020)


Serpent Swords Records | 11-21-20

This is wonderful. I have always enjoyed the nature of comfy synth even though the niche genre in the larger dungeon synth scene feels like boom that already has passed. Arthel is not a comfy synth artist though the music retains the same brightness and aesthetics just with a few key differences. First and perhaps most important is the embrace of fantasy aesthetics rather than non traditional imagery. While trains, pets, and cookie recipes have all made for fun albums, Ancient Magic of the Forest is just that; a record dedicated to the magic of the woods just cast in noble bright hues and very fitting to the fairy tale tone. It is getting late in the year and dungeon synth continues to put out wonderful records without a care for the calendar year.

Hammer Crime – MMXX [Canada, Black / Thrash / Punk] (2020)


Self Released | 10-16-20

Hammer Crime is strange and wonderful all at once. Resting at a confluence of black, thrash, punk, and groove metal, this Canadian band makes a demo that really just is an ugly brick thrown into your window. Now will I say all of this is refined and perfect? Absolutely not. Is it effective in its window smashing and ability to command attention? Yes. Look at all of this glass. From name, to sound, to just general vibe, Hammer Crime is delinquent in its behavior and probably shouldn’t be trusted around sharp objects or flammable materials.

DIM – Compendium III [Canada, Dungeon Synth / Medieval] (2020)


Self Released | 10-5-20

I can remember in 2017 when the first Compendium was released and I was flabbergasted at the quality of the work. DIM was truly monumental in its craft for medieval folk and fantasy ambient. I almost feel silly forgetting about this artist until someone told me about the third compendium and the addition of tapes for all three volumes. What I expected was another romp in the meadows of dungeon synth that was no more challenging than a light breeze carrying the smell of lilacs. What I got instead was a journey under the mountains with a release that is akin to quests in the underdark encountering strange nd mystical sounds of genres which lay dormant. If one would like to experience the journey in its full scope, the passage between the three compendiums is astounding with the third volume the most grand in its scope. Folk beats, new age tendencies, and electronic fetishes roil from dark caverns allows Compendium III to be a declarative statement on the future of medieval synth. I have no idea where this sound is going and I am keeping close to the composer as they lead me through the passages under the mountain.

Wistful Gardens – Hives Of The Hinterlands [Canada, Dungeon Synth] (2020)


Realm of Sleep | 9-7-20

“Buy Digital Discography $7.25 CAD or more (75% OFF)”. I have mentioned many times when talking to freinds who couldn care less, that Realm of Sleeps visual direction is perhaps one of its strongest selling points. Let us not forget that Realm of Sleep offers amazing lofi fantasy synth which inhabits the space between sleeping and waking but it is the uniform covers which really give the entire catalog an appeal. No longer are these disparate releases rather a cabal of dream artificers and nocturnal alchemists which craft tinctures of pleasantness and quiet nightmares. Wistful Gardens is another entry into the chapter of slumber with a record dedicated to bees which is as playful and odd as the label which has released the record. May they never stop being weird. Please make Tapes.

Sulfure – Neurotisme [Canada, Black] (2020)


Self Released | 8-15-20

I am excited beyond belief for this demo. Not only is it blistering black metal from Canada but it is also the debut demo from a elf released entity. These are all things which this site strives to showcase and Neurotisme could be the embodiment of this mission as it gallops on spectral horses to trample its listeners. Rather than let a sound run itsway through 3 or four tracks, Sulfure continues to confound its listeners with multiple tracks of snaking black metal that slithers its way through a dynamic landscapes of rot and ruin. This is a release that will live in memory if for nothing else than it is sure to haunt its listeners.

SCRIBA ÆTERNITATIS – Forgotten Chronicles [Canada, Dungeon Synth / Neocloassical] (2020)


Dark Age Productions | 8-7-20

I feel the Neoclassical tag differentiates dungeons synth from a style that is one that is ornate in its very structure. SCRIBA ÆTERNITATIS is born of a different family than other dungeon synth composers as their melodies and melodrama make up the very essence of the records. Forgotten Chronicles is less an album than it is a concert performed by a baron among some dark moor for an audience of nocturnal creatures. Its ostentatious design is befitting to a record that is grand in its scope yet limited to its production. This might be off putting for some people with its epic landscapes rendered in low resolution but if one gives it a chance, it is a unique and engaging record that welcomes you into its world. Step into a world where its soundtrack will take you to far away lands and into the darkest mines in search of whatever treasure you might seek.

Uilos – I: Dark Night Of The Soul [Canada, Dungeon Synth / Ambient] (2020)


So Called Hell | 9-18-20

“Named for star-like flowers found growing on graves around the Gate Of Silver during the journey into Gondolin, the project’s inaugural volume threads 37 minutes of mystic, mournful instrumentals into a shimmering saga of hidden hermits, enticing dragons, and headless knights.”

Even though I am writing this review, I would like to highlight successful attempts at enticing me to listen to records. I reviewed So Called Hell’s previous ritual ambient release and Ulios was next in the queue. I melted when seeing this line as it captures the middleground between high fantasy lore and morbid mysticism. Perhaps this is why I enjoyed Uilos so much as the album pitch crystallizes music that is a landscape of magical gloom with immersive ambient that pulls from the gods of Kosmische Musik as much as it does the heroes of dungeon synth. I: Dark Night Of The Soul is the purported first chapter of a series and if this is the sound of the beginning, I am almost paralyzed with anticipation which has me stuck in a world the is eternally dusk — illuminated only by fireflies and wandering ghosts.

Keys of Orthanc – Unfinished Conquests [Canada, Dungeon Synth] (2020)


Naturmacht Productions | 7-24-20

“While working on a new Lord of the Rings themed black metal album, “Unfinished Conquest” is a Dungeon Synth ode to all heroes who marched to, fought and died on glorious quests and adventures.” I enjoy when dungeon synth comes out of an intense desire to wade into the knee deep waters of atmosphere. Dungeon synth was birthed from black metal ans has since taken on a unique sound and presence in the musical world. While there are better examples of black metal and dungeon synth hybrids, Keys of Orthanc resides in the melodic side with almost no harsh qualities. Perhaps this is better as Unfinished Conquests boasts moody synth journeys through dark mountain passages with an album full of exploration of not just sound but spirit.

Sarin Bath – Sarin Bath [Canada, Black / Sludge] (2020)


Self Released | 7-20-20

With a name and cover like Sarin Bath, one is going to have ready themselves for distilled emotion in the form of black tar. Similar to bands like Thou and to a lesser extent Couch, Sarin Bath delivers a torrent of raw blackened sludge which unlike the two bands listed, comes without any filter of production. This is just the listener and the band in a room together and one of them is waving a knife. It may take a bit but after a some time spent in the depths of madness, this whole affair becomes oddly desirable.

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Execration Chamber – Cathedral Of Unbeing [Canada, Dungeon Synth] (2020)


Gondolin Records | 7-6-20

I would like to mention that the name and album title of this release sounds like an angular death metal demo rather than a dungeon synth release. It helps that Execration Chamber presents a suffocating brand of dungeon synth and Cathedral of Unbeing is an existential wasteland of dying thoughts and feelings. If dungeon synth was a civilization, Cathedral of Unbeing would be the scattered remnants of civilization striving for survival on the frontiers of desolation after the fall of humanity. This tone and approach to dungeon synth is refreshing even though it is post apocalyptic.