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 Posted:   Jan 21, 2022 - 1:49 PM   
 By:   losher22   (Member)

Normally Dungeon Synth (DS) wouldn't belong anywhere near a film score message board, with the exception of Basil Poledouris's "Conan the Barbarian" being one of the largest influences of this remote sub-sub-genre of ambient music. But I've created this thread as a branch-off of the "Now Playing - METAL EDITION" one, inspired by Josh Mitchell and Sean Nethery. May it bring everyone knowledge of this very small pocket of wondrous music, or better yet, inspiration to check out some dungeon synth music, artists, or see what others may be listening to!

Notes: I'm all about the CD. No digital, with extremely rare exception. Dungeon synth is almost all about the cassette tape or the vinyl. So the difficulty is obtaining dungeon synth CDs (due to so few being produced), and in continuing to wish for tiny, mostly independent music labels to actual press these releases to CD. Hmm...reminds me sometimes of film scores....! So the below suggestions for albums are references to existing CDs that can be obtained. I have intentionally not suggested any albums that are digital-, cassette-, or vinyl-only. The list would be vastly different if that was the case. So the below only represents a point of view of dungeon synth from purely a CD acquisition standpoint.

Another note: Far and away, the primary platform for dungeon synth artists to share their music, and in most cases to purchase CDs and merch, is Bandcamp. I have found Bandcamp to be a wondrous app for both procurement and listening --- highly recommended! For that reason, I'm choosing not to include links to everything listed below, this time only - a huge majority can be found, linked, or referenced on Bandcamp. And for dungeon synth CD seeking for those out-of-stock or out-of-print releases: Discogs, almost exclusively. Only the most popular of DS releases will one find on eBay, in my experience, though some are available in small metal music distros and the like.

 
 Posted:   Jan 21, 2022 - 1:54 PM   
 By:   losher22   (Member)

So, all that in mind, here we go! Here's my thoughts and suggestions to start with. Following the initial posts, I'll be using this thread to share news on new tantalizing releases, but also what I'm currently listening to. I encourage others to do the same, and am very excited about this! Thanks again to Josh and Sean!

My Brain's Subtypes / Classifications of Dungeon Synth ----

Subtype: Ambient, melodic, mysterious, and otherworldly; typically not much percussion, focus on atmosphere.
Suggested Artists: Depressive Silence, Fogweaver, Secret Stairways
Suggested Albums ---
Colossus - Colossus (Grime Stone)
Gelure - The Candlelight Tomes (Northern Silence)
Foglord / Fog Castle / Fogweaver - In the Kingdom of Fog (Out of Season)
Keys to Oneiria - Worlds Between (Wizard-Discs)
Malfet - The Way to Avalon (Pacific Threnodies)
Secret Stairways - Enchantment of the Ring (Cold Dungeon Offerings)
Spell of Unseeing - Weaving Light & Shadow (Northern Silence)

Subtype: Darker ambient, foreboding, sometimes oppressive, a wide range of different artists, but still a heavy focus on atmosphere.
Suggested Artists: Dark Ages, Draped in Shadows, Old Tower
Suggested Albums:
Dark Ages - A Chronicle of the Plague (Elegy)
Old Tower - Tales of the Mad Moon (Hospital)
Throne of Knowledge - The Awakening (Uralte Herrschaft)
Werendia - Werendia / Folkvandringen / Urheimat (Black Death)
Xasthur / Casket of Dreams - The Hallucination Tunnels (Appalachian Noise)

Subtype: Folkish, very melodic, sometimes incorporates world or medieval instruments, chanting, etc.; think of listening in a forest.
Suggested Artists: Archana, Fief, Hole Dweller, Malfet, Old Wizard
Suggested Albums:
Fief - I/II/III/IV (Out of Season)
Hillsfar - Jewel of the Moonsea (Out of Season)
Hole Dweller - Flies the Coop (Foreign Sounds)
Malfet - The Way to Avalon (Pacific Threnodies)
Old Wizard - Old Wizard I & II (Northern Silence)

Subtype: Lo-fi, synth-heavy, sometimes retro-sounding, occasionally closely akin to video game soundtracks.
Suggested Artists: Coniferous Myst, Hole Dweller, Quest Master
Suggested Albums:
Book of Skelos - Magickal Atavism (Out of Season)
Hole Dweller - Flies the Coop (Foreign Sounds)
Serpent's Isle - Serpent's Isle (Out of Season)
Valor - La Lune Noire (Dark Age)

Subtype: Completely synth-driven, think Berlin school keyboards, artists like Tangerine Dream, or space ambient music.
Suggested Artists: Arthuros, Fvrfvr, Casket of Dreams
Suggested Albums:
Arthuros - Goddess (Out of Season)
Depressive Silence - Mourning (Unborn)
Oublieth - Mournelance (Sepulchral)
Shau - Voyager (Skaventhrone)

Subtype: Winter ambient. Sometimes lo-fi, synth-heavy, keyboard-driven, typically incredibly atmospheric and sometimes very minimalistic.
Suggested Artists: Inoriand, Ornatorpet, Waeltaja.
Suggested Albums:
Aindulmedir - The Lunar Lexicon (Hypnogoga Press)
Forlorn Kingdom - Alpine Black Magick (self-released)
Isegrimm - Eislandsaga (Naturmacht)
Waeltaja - The Frozen Kingdom (Garavluth)

Subtype: Modern / traditional, "conventional" dungeon synth. Think "Conan the Barbarian" either minimized or maximized stylistically. May include soaring melodies, medieval calls-to-arms, triumphant passages, and militaristic percussion, or just may incorporate numerous elements of this and any of the aforementioned subtypes. This will be the type that I think will initially appeal to some film score fans!
Suggested Artists: early Mortiis, Wongraven, Elffor, Murgrind, Thangorodrim
Suggested Albums:
Ingvarr - The Hopeless Resistance of Emberdrin's Army (Non Possi Mori)
Landstrykar - A Walk Amidst the Cairns (self-released)
Murgrind - The Fallen Kingdom (Uralte Herrschaft)
Old Sorcery - Realms of Magickal Sorrow (Garavluth)
Sequestered Keep - The Vale of Ruined Towers (Dark Age)
Thangorodrim - Gil-Estel (Out of Season)

 
 Posted:   Jan 21, 2022 - 2:02 PM   
 By:   losher22   (Member)

New Release: VORVADOSS / MAGIC FIND - UTTERANCES AND ARCANA

Just ordered this one the other day from Out of Season. Definitely sounds like it belongs in the realm of the ambient, atmospheric, otherworldly, and mysterious! It's a compilation of demo / tape releases from two artists, Vorvadoss and Magic Find, on two CDs.

https://outofseason.bandcamp.com/album/utterances-and-arcana

 
 Posted:   Jan 21, 2022 - 6:15 PM   
 By:   Josh   (Member)

Thanks for starting this thread and sharing your thoughts and recommendations, losher22! I'm looking forward to going through your list and seeking out those I've not yet acquired on CD.

I also pre-ordered that VORVADOSS / MAGIC FIND split, and it shipped earlier this week. I'll report back after giving it a spin or two.

NP: Not dungeon synth per se, but a major influence on many ds artists: SUMMONING ~ Dol Guldur (1997)

 
 Posted:   Jan 22, 2022 - 1:41 PM   
 By:   losher22   (Member)

NP: Not dungeon synth per se, but a major influence on many ds artists: SUMMONING ~ Dol Guldur (1997)

Oh, I would argue that Summoning, along with a few other albums from the likes of Wongraven, Neptune Towers, and certainly Mortiis, were the seeds of creation of dungeon synth. And completely agreed, Summoning is perhaps the strongest influence on modern DS for sure.

I’m very familiar with Summoning’s music, having previously owned a few albums of theirs up until “Oath Bound.” But for some reason, I just couldn’t get into the music. I found that I love the more black metal parts and the dungeon synth parts separately, but not together. My falling out with Summoning probably directly led to me missing the resurgence of dungeon synth in the last few years. But I’ve definitely taken strides to catch up, haha. I still tend to enjoy the more ambient, or non-metal perhaps, forms of modern DS, rather than modern Summoning torchbearers like Emyn Muil, Dwarrowdelf, and Caladan Brood, for example.

Really looking forward to hearing your thoughts on Varvadoss / Magic Find, and everything else!

 
 Posted:   Jan 26, 2022 - 7:01 PM   
 By:   losher22   (Member)

KALAMEET - The Everlasting Prairie Winters

Desolate and strangely tranquil winter synth. Despite veering a bit into both dark ambient and folk territories briefly, this album is excellent at portraying exactly the world it purports to given its title. Reminds of more primitive Vinterriket with sparse dungeon synth instrumentation and melodies. Excellent soundtrack as I read Lovecraft’s “Mountains of Madness.”

https://kalameet1.bandcamp.com/album/the-everlasting-prairie-winters

 
 Posted:   Jan 27, 2022 - 12:46 PM   
 By:   Sean Nethery   (Member)

Very helpful, losher! Thanks for putting this together.

Gives me a better frame for looking into these things, which I will happily do on bandcamp to start.

I'm going to being with folkish and the Berlin school influenced subgroup, more my speed right now.

One note, it's Raiders on the Moonsea, not Jewels, by Hillsfar. After I couldn't find it, caught that thanks to Josh's ref. in the metal thread, which I checked just now before I ran away crying like a little baby from the onslaught of black/death metal*! wink


*Which is in no way an insult to the genres - just like Plankton said in the SpongeBob SquarePants movie, "His chops are too righteous! The helmets can't handle this level of rock and roll!"

 
 Posted:   Jan 27, 2022 - 1:10 PM   
 By:   losher22   (Member)

Very helpful, losher! Thanks for putting this together.

Gives me a better frame for looking into these things, which I will happily do on bandcamp to start.

I'm going to being with folkish and the Berlin school influenced subgroup, more my speed right now.

One note, it's Raiders on the Moonsea, not Jewels, by Hillsfar. After I couldn't find it, caught that thanks to Josh's ref. in the metal thread, which I checked just now before I ran away crying like a little baby from the onslaught of black/death metal*! wink

*Which is in no way an insult to the genres - just like Plankton said in the SpongeBob SquarePants movie, "His chops are too righteous! The helmets can't handle this level of rock and roll!"


You're welcome, my friend, happy to help! In those two areas, might I suggest Fief (I/II/III/IV) and Oublieth (Mournelance) respectively? Happy to read your thoughts if you care to share later on. smile

Regarding Hillsfar, "Jewel of the Moonsea" is their first album, from 2020. "Raiders on the Moonsea" is their second, released last year. smile I just barely prefer their debut! And yep, to each their own on the extreme metal stuff. The savage beast is soothed with many different styles, haha!

 
 Posted:   Jan 27, 2022 - 1:14 PM   
 By:   Sean Nethery   (Member)

I'm actually listening to Fief I right this very minute!

I like it, it's like a combination of medieval/renaissance music and minimalism.

I'll keep posting over time (hopefully not too much time) as I make time for this....

PS I never got into Dungeons and Dragons or other tabletop RPGs, and have only played Magic the Gathering a handful of times.

But I've enjoyed listening to music made to accompany campaigns, like Midnight Syndicate's official D & D album.

This stuff would work even better it seems to me playing during a gathering of companions!

 
 Posted:   Jan 27, 2022 - 1:20 PM   
 By:   Sean Nethery   (Member)

Thanks for the correction on Jewels - it's not available digitally it looks like, so I'll start with Raiders....

After Fief and Oublieth, that is....

 
 Posted:   Jan 28, 2022 - 7:33 AM   
 By:   losher22   (Member)

I'm actually listening to Fief I right this very minute!

I like it, it's like a combination of medieval/renaissance music and minimalism.

I'll keep posting over time (hopefully not too much time) as I make time for this....

PS I never got into Dungeons and Dragons or other tabletop RPGs, and have only played Magic the Gathering a handful of times.

But I've enjoyed listening to music made to accompany campaigns, like Midnight Syndicate's official D & D album.

This stuff would work even better it seems to me playing during a gathering of companions!


Surprisingly, I couldn't get into Midnight Syndicate for some reason. Just found it very average. I think I'll have to give it another shot at some point, so thanks for the reminder.

If you're really digging Fief, I also very strongly recommend Malfet...similar but more on the tranquil/ambient side. And if you play D&D, you might find that the modern/traditional artists & albums I listed above are perfect for gaming sessions. Many of them are a great mix of calm/ambient and boisterous/triumphant. With lots in between!

 
 Posted:   Jan 28, 2022 - 5:04 PM   
 By:   losher22   (Member)

WAELTAJA - Northland Wanderer

Though the concept of this album appears to be autumn, musically this is powerful winter synth, much like a vast majority of the artist’s back catalogue. 2020’s “The Frozen Kingdom” is probably my favorite, but even after first listen, “Northland Wanderer” isn’t far behind. It’s a glorious and beautiful layering of soft synth motes and tones, sometimes with light percussion, and interestingly interspersed with synthwave backdrop in some parts. The latter is a new approach for Waeltaja, one I hope they continue to incorporate. This album deserves one being sequestered and at full attention for proper absorption. Excellent!

https://waeltaja.bandcamp.com/album/northland-wanderer

 
 Posted:   Jan 31, 2022 - 8:25 AM   
 By:   losher22   (Member)

EVIGVALD - Verbundenheit

This is the 2019 dungeon synth style debut from Thorkraft of Sieghetnar fame. HUGE fan of Sieghetnar here, I've collected nearly all his albums over the years, loving his mixing of black metal and ambient synth passages (think of a more gentle, for the most part vocal-less, and transcendent old-school Burzum). So upon the creation of Evigvald (English "Eternally"), I was excited to see his foray into dungeon synth, interestingly before I even knew of the tag "dungeon synth." And it does not disappoint. The site where the CD is sold, Kristallblut, lists Verbundenheit (English "Connectedness") as having "beautiful dungeon synth landscapes with a lot of [Middle Age] instruments" and recommended for fans of Fief, Elexier, and Vindkaldr. Apt description, though I would classify the music as Fief, but more reserved, less jaunty, and more meditative. Very relaxing and charming. An excellent album.

http://www.kristallblutrecords.com/shop/sites/ger/catalog.php?cat=4&startat=0&artnbr=2521&reload=2&lang=en



 
 Posted:   Jan 31, 2022 - 9:04 AM   
 By:   losher22   (Member)

WAELTAJA - WLTJ

From early 2020, the predecessor to "The Frozen Kingdom," and very much in the same aural camp as that excellent release. Cold, introspective, winter synth. Where this Waeltaja album differs from those that follow, however, is that there's seven tracks instead of just 2-3. The jury's still out on whether or not that affects the album's cohesion. For now, it's easy to enjoy any of Waeltaja's material, and this is no exception.

https://waeltaja.bandcamp.com/album/wltj

 
 Posted:   Feb 3, 2022 - 8:00 PM   
 By:   losher22   (Member)

VORVADOSS / MAGIC FIND - Utterances and Arcana

What a strange and varied journey! This is dungeon synth, sure, but the two artists’ contributions to this double disc set are quite diverse even among themselves.

Vorvadoss immediately reminds me of the dungeon synth one would hear in their dreams. It’s very stylized, dreary, and eclectic, lo-fi, and just plain weird. Many elements can be heard here, from spoken word (which I despise), samples (which I love), occasional percussion, and repeating melodies that are hypnotic yet just feel “off” (in a good way). By far my favorite track is the 14-minute conclusion, “Drifting Through the Necrosphere.” It’s so good and enveloping that it overshadows the rest of Vorvadoss’s disc.

Magic Find is, well, the stuff of confused nightmares. What immediately came to mind here was that this is the dungeon synth one would hear in Silent Hill. It’s even more lo-fi, drenched with reverb and enigma, dissonant, and sometimes uncomfortable to listen to. Distant voices and noises cower in the background, while the foreground is just filled with beguiling, repeating swells of noisy convergence. It’s the type of uncomfortability that is somehow resolutely addicting despite being kind of disturbing. This is about as far from dungeon synth as traditional dungeon synth can be, I think, and is all the better for it. Were Magic Find not to be paired with Vorvadoss, I would have expected Magic Find’s disc to be on a dark ambient or noise label like Cold Spring.

I will be giving the double disc set another listen, for sure, because I feel there’s much more to be absorbed here than on first listen. Bravo, Out of Season - this is a good one!!

https://outofseason.bandcamp.com/album/utterances-and-arcana

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 3, 2022 - 9:40 PM   
 By:   betenoir   (Member)

This thread and the music should inspire some Mr. Dogbelle videos. Go for it, Doggie!

 
 Posted:   Feb 8, 2022 - 11:48 AM   
 By:   losher22   (Member)

MEDHELAN - The Minstrel's Fireplace Tales

Fantastic. Just absolutely fantastic. The only issue is its short length (less than 30 minutes). Prior to this, the only Medhelan material I'd heard is 2020's "Nocturnal Wanderings," which I found to be more dark ambient than dungeon synth; great nonetheless, but "The Minstrel's Fireplace Tales" is different: full-on dungeon synth. It's gloriously catchy, jubilantly melodic, and just puts a smile on my face. For whatever reason, it *really* reminds me of an alternate soundtrack to the Gauntlet: Dark Legacy video game; not sure if it's the timbre of the synth, the oh-so-slightly dulled percussion, or the rousing tunes. In the dungeon synth musical realm, I'd liken it to older Uruk-Hai, or more recently Hillsfar or Ingvarr. Regardless, excellent, and worth seeking out even in the digital realm. I was lucky enough to locate CD #12 (out of 20!) from a seller on Discogs. And so happy for that I am!

https://medhelan.bandcamp.com/album/the-minstrels-fireplace-tales

 
 Posted:   Feb 8, 2022 - 3:37 PM   
 By:   Sean Nethery   (Member)

Ok, my head's exploding!

So many different kinds of music I want to sample, so little time. (Especially since so much of my listening is connected with my job in radio.)

But keep the suggestions coming, Losher - these kinds of threads are the main reason I come to this board.

Though today is John Williams - 90th b'days do not come around often (well, by definition!).

 
 Posted:   Feb 8, 2022 - 8:47 PM   
 By:   losher22   (Member)

Ok, my head's exploding!

So many different kinds of music I want to sample, so little time. (Especially since so much of my listening is connected with my job in radio.)

But keep the suggestions coming, Losher - these kinds of threads are the main reason I come to this board.

Though today is John Williams - 90th b'days do not come around often (well, by definition!).


Wonderful that you’re returning here when you can, my friend! Thank you! And I apologize for you having so little time. I’m hoping the little narratives/reviews at least help illuminate which ones to prioritize first. But if you happen to find an artist or album you really love, even if you haven’t dug into many more, I’d be more than happy to suggest other artists/albums in the same vein. At least then you wouldn’t have to worry about drowning in complete diversity, haha! If that helps. smile

Like I said though, thanks for visiting and reading. I enjoy hearing feedback even more than I like posting!

Edit: Oh yes, Williams’s 90th. Hoping to spin several classics of his tomorrow!!

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 10, 2022 - 1:56 AM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

I'm vaguely familiar with the term 'dungeon synth', but I don't believe I've ever explored it properly. I do like darkwave, which is an offshoot of synthwave (with Carpenter Brut as perhaps its biggest proponent), but I have a feeling dungeon synth is more hardcore metal, or something else altogether. I'll set aside some time soon and listen to the clips posted here.

 
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