Tuesday, May 2, 2017

90's Canon

There are a lot of new people coming to the genre these days, and things have changed a lot since I started this blog.  It might be easy for new listeners to overlook the foundational albums of the 90's, and I think it will be useful to list them out.  This is meant to be a sort of essential roots list.  If you feel something equally influential is missing, please comment.

These are all pure dungeon synth except Summoning, which will be the only exception.  Summoning is integral to the foundation of this music.


Mortiis - The Song of a Long Forgotten Ghost (1993)
Mortiis - Født til å herske (1994)
Mortiis - Ånden som gjorde opprør (1995)
Mortiis - Keiser av en dimension ukjent (1995)
Mortiis - Crypt of the Wizard (1996)
Mortiis - The Stargate (1999)
Fata Morgana - Fata Morgana (1995)
Cintecele Diavolui - The Devil's Songs (1996)

Burzum - Dauði Baldrs (1997)
Burzum - Hliðskjálf (1999)

Wongraven - Fjelltronen (1999)

Summoning - Minas Morgul (1995)
Summoning - Dol Guldur (1997)
Summoning - Nightshade Forests (1997)
Summoning - Stronghold (1999)


  1. Maybe it should also include Vond's Selvmord?

    1. It was on there initially, along with The Dark River. I decided to take them off the list because, even though they are undoubtedly dungeon synth, the fact that the concept is so thoroughly rooted in reality makes them a bit less important to the foundation of the genre. I think for an album to be MOST ESSENTIAL it should be the "complete package," y'know? I just don't feel the Vond albums are quite as important to the foundation of dungeon synth as these other albums here. Though I might reconsider that, it's a hard call.

  2. Crypt of the Wizard, The Stargate, and Burzum & Summoning's albums listed can all be found on Google Play. Just to cut out some searching. Haven't checked any other sites. It also has redub albums for Mortiis'.

  3. Are you only including pre-2000 references? Or just establishing the genre foundation bands/releases?
    Did you listen to or consider Profanum's "Profanum Aeternum" (1997)? It has got some of the best Dungeon Synth epic and majestic passages and "Musaeum Esotericum" (2000) is
    totally a must!
    The 2 first releases from Grabesmond (1995/97) might also be interesting!
    Thou Shalt Suffer's "Somnium" (2000) is absolute bliss!
    Vinterriket is a staple of the genre!
    Penitent's Melancholia (1996) has got some of the Medieval / Neoclassic vibe but might be too Martial for some!
    Don't know if Neptune Towers (1994/95) from Darkthrone's Fenriz should fit in this category because it's more Spacey Synth than Dungeon Synth! :D

    1. I used to curate a list of albums I considered to be "pure dungeon synth." I deleted it from this blog awhile ago for a number of reasons, but it was fortunately kept online here: https://bellerophonticsycamore.wordpress.com/list-of-dungeon-synth-albums/

      This list I'm working on right now is just meant to be the most important foundational works, for people who are new to the genre and might come from different backgrounds than black metal.

      Actually I don't think I've heard Profanum before, or at least I don't remember. Listening now though, sounds cool, reminds me of Limbonic Art which is a band I love. Summoning is the only non-pure exception for this list however, since their influence on the genre is critical.

      Grabesmond is great, loved their work for a long time. Actually, "In Schwindendem Licht" should perhaps be on this list. I'll add it for now, but I'm not sure if it was well-known enough to be very influential. Thanks for mentioning!

      Penitent seems very interesting, will need to listen closely. However I think even if it is technically dungeon synth, I don't think its influence on the genre was anywhere near the other albums listed here.

      The rest of those, Thou Shalt Suffer, Vinterriket, Neptune Towers, I firmly determined back in the day are NOT dungeon synth. I think DS is a very specific sound, and those albums fall into other categories. "Somnium" - neoclassical, Neptune Towers - electronic/krautrock/Berlin school/etc, Vinterriket - dark ambient/(winter synth, if you accept that new category)

  4. Thanks man, gonna give it all a good listen.

  5. Your archival work on the genre of dungeon synth is legendary and thanks for your effort and patience.

    I think the debut album by Blut Aus Nord "Ultima Thulee" has some dungeon synth elements as well.

  6. Just discovered this site. Awesome job! I´ve been on a dungeon synth binge for a few weeks now but I only know I guess the classic stuff. Any recommendations?


    1. Thanks, glad you like it despite it being inactive for so long. I'd recommend the Dungeon Synth Archives youtube channel for finding new stuff these days, seems like they're always uploading something cool, often old stuff I haven't even heard. As far as specific albums I'd recommend, there are so many I wouldn't even know where to begin, but one album I've come to love lately that I haven't reviewed yet is Lunar Womb - The Sleeping Green.

  7. I have been following this blog for years, and discovered a ton of great music. You have to mention the track Tomhet off of Burzum's Hvis Lyset Tar Oss. This might be the singular greatest track in the genre.

    1. I agree Tomhet is incredible and foundational, but I didn't include it because I'm only listing full albums in this case and the rest of Hvis lyset tar oss has relatively little to do with dungeon synth. Hvis lyset tar oss is of course a masterpiece though, essential listening for dungeon synth fans no doubt, but I think the fact that he made complete albums of the dungeon vision calls for us, as proponents of DS as an independent genre, to distinguish and separate those works from his more fragmentary complements to a black metal concept.

      I'm glad you've enjoyed the blog. Sorry I don't post much anymore, but I'm hoping to change that!

  8. Hi from Italy my friend!
    Enjoy this DS release from my label:
    A big hug!