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Last Active 01-24-22 10:44 pm
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01.07.22 Dungeon Synth 2021 12.16.21 arf's mixed bag 2020/21 edition
12.06.21 Wait a sec - same album art ?!?

Dungeon Synth 2021

I've listened to quite some dungeon synth last year, and perhaps it's appropriate to share some tips and directions for a fellow adventurer who doesn't know where to start. Here's a list of some dungeon synth releases of 2021 which I deem worthy of checking out. They're in no particular order, though the ones at the very top I'd count as my favourites. There's probably many more releases I've missed too.
The Candlelight Tomes

I would say this is my favourite dungeon synth release of 2021. Betting on a symphonic sound, it brings a somber atmosphere to study old tomes to. Just like the album cover promises.
Style: Neoclassical / Old school
À l'Ombre du Royaume en Cendres

Brings top-notch Berlin school ambiance with use of analog synths and somehow blends it also with comparably quality melody lines typical of the other side of fantasy synth music, the old school dungeon synth.
Style: Berlin school / Old school
3Sombre Arcane

Whoever says dungeon synth is boring or that all tracks sound the same, hasn't heard this album. Each track here brings something new, but it still remains part of the same adventure.
Style: All of them
4Castle Zagyx
Doors to the Battlefields of Ertbe

Very intricately composed, actually feels more like a classic fantasy movie soundtrack than another dungeon synth album. Clearly inspired by Basil Poledouris and Howard Shore.
Style: Neoclassical
5Wallachian Cobwebs
Night Sobbed a Potion Diseased

Vampyric dungeon synth, this one is all about forlorn nocturne ambiance, which it accomplishes with dense droning synths. However, it doesn't forget to also deliver equally strong dark enchanting melodies to match.
Style: Drone
Nimueh's Gift

For valiant knights setting on a quest. What sets this one apart from most other medieval-themed dungeon synth releases, however, is its strong basslines and beat that emulates, well, medieval-style drums.
Style: Medieval
7Fen Walker
Fare Thee Well Battle Winds

Continuing the heavily beat-driven variety of fantasy synth music, this is Fen Walker's 5th release already. It's perhaps not as dark as the last two, but it goes even harder, appropriate to its martial theme.
Style: Barbarian / Berlin school
The Holy Crag

One of the two releases by DIM in 2021, and I like this one better. DIM experiments with a bit more ambiental songwriting while keeping to the medieval sound, and imo it's a great success.
Style: Ambient / Medieval
Compendium Reliquiae

The other of DIM's releases is more in line wiht his previous material. Nothing special to note here if you're familiar with his style: perhaps the most organic sounding medieval-themed dungeon synth.
Style: Medieval

Great folkish sounding dungeon synth from Finland that pays tribute to the local folk legends. Is this even still dungeon synth, or does it cross into the dark folk territory already?
Style: Medieval / Finnish folk

Thematically inspired by Clark Ashton Smith of American Weird Fiction movement, and sonically similar to early Jim Kirkwood. Mysterious atmosphere is the focus here, but it also goes hard occasionally when it gets moving.
Style: Berlin school
The Colony

Perhaps it's a bit of a stretch to include this in dungeon synth? It's a cosmic horror synth concept album accompanied by a story of an exploration mission on an alien planet gone horribly wrong.
Style: Berlin school
Return of the Ancients

True to the roots, with a lot of windy synths, wind samples, spoken word samples, and old school style hooks.
Style: Old school
The Fortress of Kruglach

Gnoll's offering this year is another album of a bit more active sword-and-sorcery synth, akin to what Basil Poledouris wrote for Conan. However, I'd say his previous releases were even stronger. (I should probably listen to more HDK releases.)
Style: Barbarian
15Jim Kirkwood
Narnia​-​Magic from the Dawn of Time

Apparently, Jim Kirkwood is back to making music. He still has it in the ambiance department, though I must say the raw energy on his music from early 90s is a bit subdued. He has also re-recorded (and added new content) to two of his classic albums last year. Warning: this release is LONG (over 2 hours) (but doesn't feel that long once you are listening to it.)
Style: Berlin school

Elffor's dungeon synth release of 2021. Organ and choirs at times give it a medieval feel, but not in the usual folksy medieval adventure way. Very dark and brooding atmosphere.
Style: Old school
17Guild of Lore
The Spine Of Night

Written for the animated dark fantasy movie of the same name (which I haven't watched yet, but seems to be an 80s style rotoscoped fantasy slasher, something for fans of Heavy Metal). I would say it delivers.
Style: Winter / Barbarian
Raiders on the Moonsea

Fantasy adventure. There's both epic melodies and sombre ambiance on this one.
Style: Neoclassical
19Quest Master
The Twelve Temples

Reminiscent of old school video game scores, played on old school synths.
Style: Old School

More than just a novelty spooky version of christmas songs, it's actually quite well done on its own.
Style: Horror / Christmas
Eerie Emanations

Eerie synth music in the style of 80s horror movies, the style pioneered by John Carpenter.
Style: Horror

Very ancient sounding, perfect for exploring forgotten ruins. (Technically a remake of an earlier HDK cassette release)
Style: Ambient
Vers la Montagne Noire

Cimerion - Vers la Montagne Noire
Dark and yet warm. Another one for lovers of Berlin school pads.
Style: Berlin school

Calm and peaceful, with an underwater sound. Also, turtles.
Style: Medieval / Ambient
Ysopet 1er

Inspired by castles of France.
Style: Medieval
26Tales Under The Oak
The Toad King

I like the swampy sound on this.
Style: Medieval
Call to Arms

Epic and martial, listen to this one at max volume.
Style: Barbarian
A Walk Amidst The Cairns

This one sounds like those 19th century paintings of mountains.
Style: Neoclassical
29Hideous Gomphidius
Spell of the Mycomancer

FUNGUS! It's funny, mushrooms don't make a sound (or do they?), yet the dank drones on this sound extremely fungal.
Style: Drone
30Water Nymph
Heroic Pond of Love

Uplifting and warm, and pushing the boundaries how much beat you can have in your dungeon synth. I quite like the theme and atmosphere on this, but tunes could be a bit better written.
Style: Comfy / Heroic

Style: Comfy
32Frost-Rimed Iron
The Fire of Conquest

(suggested by manosg)
I missed this one but after listening to it twice I think it just should be added - it's both epic sounding and minimalist, hits that sweet spot. You don't need much to get the atmosphere across if you know the sounds to use & can write good tunes.
Style: Barbarian
33Draconic Regicide

(later addition)
By the same artist also behind Fogweaver, the new project Draconic Regicide is even more ambiental, and much darker in tone. Composed of two almost-20-minute tracks, both structured as long slow crescendos, from ominous dark ambient into epic dungeon synth. Would certainly be on this list had I known of it earlier.
Style: Ambient
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