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08.31.23 2023 digs w/ garas12.30.22 Bests of 2022 with garas
09.29.22 garas's 5th sputversary: things I've le 05.04.22 I need more "disco beat black metal"
01.09.22 1000 soundoffs milestone12.17.21 Grump's 2021
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01.21.21 Grump + the 2k ratings and double 666 p01.07.21 PENTAGRAM - in depth
12.16.20 Grump's cassette / vinyl additions to c12.08.20 Grump's 2020 part II
12.04.20 Grump's 202011.18.20 Getting into dungeon synth?
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Black Metal and Dungeon Synth 2021

I filtered my ratings to present the ones you SHOULD check. This time I merged the best BM jams into my yearly list, so hopefully more of you can find something interesting from the menu.
When the Darkness Comes

This is really good stuff. A great blend of dungeon synth and Summoning-worship black metal, inspired by... the Harry Potter franchise. The album flows really nicely, the riffs are spot on, and the synths are gorgeous.
2Ancient Mastery
Chapter One: Across The Mountains Of ...

Cheesy and riffs hard. I'm a simple man, I don't ask much more.
3Vampyric Tyrant
Das Schwert Der Sterne

[traditional second-wave]
1: Second wave worship done right. 2: Black metal album cover done right.

[dungeon synth]
It was a bit forgettable for me, but this is a very easy listen, "entry-level" dungeon synth album.
5A Compendium of Curiosities
The Resting Place of Dreams

[chiptune dungeon synth]
A very pleasant chiptune dungeon synth album. I kinda sensed both old-school and neo-medieval elements in this album too, which is a great thing.
Mastvrbations Malveillantes

[industrial/black metal]
This is among the most diabolical and horrifying albums I've ever heard - like an audible anxiety attack. Madly sinister and noisy atmosphere... but from the very similar elements what elevated Paysage d'Hiver or Darkspace to a legendary status. But this is FAR more terrifying.
Forbidden Lost Lore

[dungeon synth]
Finally something noteworthy greatness. Built on sonical atmosphere of the old-school and hints of medieval melodies - eactly what I like in dungeon synth. This also reminded me a bit to the soundtrack of Gothic (my favourite RPG of all time), so the additional nostalgia factor also had an impact why did I like this.
8Null (USA)

[folk metal/atmoblack]
Extremly long (110+ minutes!), yet consistently awesome atmoblack release. The production is outstanding, especially since we're talking about a one-man band. I loved the very melodic riffing style (which is sometimes steps pretty much into the viking metal territory), the tons of neo-folk infulences and instrumental sections, and the epic dungeon synth elements. Hiraeth masterfully blends these elements together, and the result is a charming and most enjoyable atmo-folk black metal album.
[highly recommended]

[second wave]
Very cool debut EP. A trvely old-school sound, and cold atmosphere - I'm curious what comes next.
10Castle Zagyx
Doors to the Battlefields of Ertbe

[neo-classical / dungeon synth]
This is just incredibly good.
[highly recommended]
Demo I

[dungeon synth - very old-school sound!]
A dungeon synth album which embodies exactly what I do love in dungeon synth. Very well done.
Unohdan Sinut

Good to see the classic old fashioned black metal spirit in action. A most impressive debut album from Qw�len hailing from Finland. Punkish elements combined with the good ol' black madness of the '90s resulted a really crushing album, and I fell in love with this material almost instantly. Bonus points for the really sinister throat killer vocals - most perfect combination to the instrumentals.
13Conqueror's Mourn
No More for the Battletrance

[dungeon synth]
Dungeon (synth?) music, especially focusing on real instruments and various samples. Through the modified/stretched/whatever sounds this project's mastermind managed to present an exciting and very unique product. Personally No More for the Balltetrance meant a very refreshing listening experience even though it contains melancholic tunes most of the time. A very nice farewell album.

Solid, and somewhat "standard" black metal album, but sometimes all you need is a consistently good album. The combination of Darkthrone and Horna type of riffage was most pleasant. "Morkthrone" rules.
15Embryonic Slumber
In Worship Our Blood Is Buried

One of the best cosmic/atmoblack releases of the year. The album runs at the slowest pace possible from a black metal album (but there are some blast beat sections, don't worry). Most interestingly the album is built upon the droney space ambient sections instead of the riffs, so it feels like every other element is just immersed into that. Next to the gorgeous droney synth sounds, the additional little instruments as tinklers and tribal drums also had a great impact in creating the album's thick atmosphere. I need more!!
16Mare Cognitum
Solar Paroxysm

Nice space-black album. I wish the synths would be more dominant, but for example the blackgazey vibes from "Luminous Accretion" were a very cool surprise and I enjoyed it a lot. It was a refreshing listen, and I'm glad we have modern BM bands like Mare Cognitum.
Heros (An ascension in 4 chapters)

[dungeon synth]
Pretty good, and really massive dungeon synth album (9 songs, and like the half of them are over 15 mintes long). A slowly flowing, meditating and operates mostly with the old-school sound palette. The longer songs get a bit repetitive after a while in my opinion, maybe cutting a few mintes down on them could have been better. A relaxing listen nonetheless.
18Concubia Nocte

[dungeon synth/black metal]
I love every moment of this EP: starts with an old-school dungeon synth song, and turns into a fantastically well-flowing second wave BM worship. Shame they split-up according to Metallum.
The Castle Above The Mist

[dungeon synth]
Slowly flowing, grim and melancholic and most importantly: unique. Wydraddear's debut is something else, a dungeon synth album which built covered itself with an atmosphere I haven't heard before, and built it from old-school-ish sounds. It's not easy to capture what is it exactly by words, you have to experience it by yourself.
20Gnipahalan / Evilfeast

Raw atmoblack 2021 edition. Previously, I never heard about Gnipahalan eariler, but in this split I think I have a good reason to find out more. Evilfeast presented another fantastic and majestic piece with strong riffs and splendid atmosphere. (Please release a new LP already!)
Passages of the Endless Quest

[dungeon synth]
Droney soundscapes and bits of Berlin-school electronics: I really like this branch of dungeon synth. Finally some original sounds, and the result could work well as a soundtrack for an RPG videogame (very garascore!). I didn't like the mastering, because everything was unnecessarily quiet for some reason - but on higher volumes this sounds very-very good.
22Kekht Arakh
Pale Swordsman

[black metal]
Albums like this are the highest reward for the dwellers of the underground. I haven't heard a classic old-fashioned black metal/ambient release quite a long time. It has everything I love: the eerie melancholy, the contrastinc romanticism, the endless love for the sound of the early '90s, and of course: the riffs.
I'm really loving this.
[highly recommended] Potential AOTY?
Condemned to Wander

Elffor is still unstoppable. The atmoblack overlord delivers constantly excellent material year by year, and Condemned to Wander is no exception. Riffs cold as ice, epic and cinematic synth-driven melodies: I was instantly sold.
24Paysage d'Hiver

[lo-fi black metal]
Harsh and wintry, but Project:Paysage took a bit different direction where Wintherr's most most punkiest riffs (early Carpathian Forest influences?) have been covered by freezing cold and thick snow.
25DIM (CA)
Compendium Reliquiae

[medieval ambient]
The classic medieval spirit is still present: relaxing medieval ambience with hints of melancholy. Thank you everything, Dim.
Frozen Grimoire

[winter synth]
Slow, icy and chramingly beautiful. Kyvon's debut is a gorgeous piece, which builds upon the classic winter synth sounds, and adds a melancholic atmosphere which I really enjoy.

[medieval ambient/folk]
Gorgeous album. A perfectly relaxing and interesting neo-folk/medieval ambient album which combines nordic folk with a living and charming atmosphere. Unique work, and great concept.
28Dream Division
Legend Of Lizard Lake

[dungeon synth/darkwave]
Your soundtrack for a casual dungeon-dwelling AD&D campaign is here.
Black Metal Finland

[black metal]
A noteworthy debut, which was an excellent background music-material, where the old-school vibes and the wintry atmosphere triumphs. It reminded me quite a lot to Selvhat-type of DSBM through a very specific melancholic and cold feeling, whick hooked me instantly. It offers nothing groundbreaking - it is "just" a very-well crafted black metal release. Sometimes that's what I need!
Dy'th Requiem for the Serpent Telepath

More and more synths, violins and the usual crazy Esoctrilihum madness. Quite long but very rewarding riff-storms and mystical atmosphere. Also this might be the best album art of the year.
Eternal Hails

[old-school proto-doom / blackened heavy metal]
Other than the expected "doomthrone" riffs, Eternal Hails turned out something really new. The Norwegian duo put together a very exciting old-school metal record, and induced some unexpected elements into their sound (bits of clean guitars and SYNTHS for example). But of course: riffs which will be remembered eternally.
32Lord of Pagathorn
Age of Curse

[melodic black metal]
Another great band from Finland. Tight riffing and a good time, in the vein of the faster branch of the genre - I sensed some Immortal and perhaps (the less folky) Havukruunu in here, which is nice.
33Impaled Nazarene
Eight Headed Serpent

One of their better ones. They more or less turned back to their more grind-ish sound - and because of that, the album runs on reeeeeally high speed. Good studio quality (the drums sounds really tight!), and tons of riffs = I'm satisfied.
34Vile Haint
Ol' Hatchie Haint

[lo-fi black metal]
It was pretty cool! The (kinda) lo-fi production generated a thick atmosphere, and I really enjoyed the riffs as well - I believe some of the more experimental Mayhem albums were impactful influences for this band. However, personally I found the vocals way too oppressive in the mix, which was quite tiring after a while. They should have cut back from the volume and there was no need for this kind of enourmous reverb as well. All in all it was great, an impressive debut.
35Criptadel / Toadlickers

[dungeon synth]
Finally, one of my favourite dungeon synth acts is back! Exactly those vibes I really hoped for, the same satisfying "underground" music with goblins and trolls! 5/5 barf at the end of the title track. But too short!
By the Waters of Awakening

[synth-driven atmoblack]
A very relaxing atmoblack journey to the unknown lands. The Tolkien-inspired Firenholt's debut is massively synth-driven, has a gorgeous, uplifting and magical atmosphere, with bits of Summoning and Caladan Brood-worship.
[highly recommended]

Cold as the Siberian winter, a very cool Paysage "clone". Very enjoyable album, where the combination of ice cold riffs, the well programmed drums and the shrieks recreates a very similar atmosphere to Paysage d'Hiverr's classic demos/albums.

[dungeon synth / Berlin-school electronics]
Very good Berlin-school-inspired dungeon synth piece. It reminded me of the golden days of Jim Kirkwood, but with a different atmosphere (influenced by the American Weird Fiction movement). Very-well produced record, and if you're looking for gorgeous synth sounds - then it is for you.
À l'Ombre du Royaume en Cendres

[dungeon synth / bits of drone]
Finally, this album delivers that specific feeling I fell in love with dungeon synth! The beautifully flowing, mystical soundscapes, eerie drones and an icy and cobwebby atmosphere...! I literally got the goosebumps.
[highly recommended]

[(mostly) black metal]
Hoest has released this and pretty much nobody noticed it... but they should! I don't mind compilation albums if they are [this] good. I was especially sold by the fantastic acoustic version of "Nattestid ser porten vid I" which was gorgeous like any song from Ulver's Kveldssanger (minus the vocals). The cover songs were pretty damn solid as well, just as Hoest's own songs. Very good album, only the variety within elevates this to the same level of the best Taake releases.

I dig this exotic / Eastern take, and in general this album has an interesting atmosphere. Raw and angry and has surprisingly cool bass lines. The stunning artwork caught my interest, and I'm glad I stayed for a complete listen. (The second half riffs especially hard.)

I was a bit sceptical at first, but after a few songs in it became clear: this slaps! Slumbery atmoblack with a quite post-black edge, and builds up a dark atmosphere. The 5. song was the album's absolute pinnacle, but generally it is enjoyable all the way through. A bit less reverb could have been good (I personally think it was a little bit too much from the "bathroom-effect"). Also this has the creepiest album cover of the year.
43Warmoon Lord

Warmoon Lord/Lord Vrajitor effortlessly made yet another atmoblack masterpiece, like it's nothing. Trve '90s worship both in style and in production. LOTS of synths and the finest riffs you can find... probably the best atmoblack album in 2021.
[highly recommended!]
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