As I've said in the introduction, Dungeon Synth emerged in the early 1990s. While this genre is connected to Ambient music and orchestral, this genre developed a more minimalist approach. This style is extremely visual and every track has its color, like the soundtrack of a movie but without any visual. Synthesizers are the key instrument of this genre, but it can also include vocals samples, acoustic guitars and for most modern projects: noises, clicks and pads...
This genre is considered rather obscure, considering it wasn't much promoted at its early days, relying on cassette mostly for a long time; but it allowed to have beautiful artworks that are a true part of the music and the genre, like a portal to the music. Many Dungeon Synth album covers from the first wave are black&white artworks featuring castles, lands, moons or knights & sorcerers, mostly anything fantasy and that evokes quiet, cold or dark places.
Dungeon Synth finds itself often mixed with Black Metal influences, both of those genres having a lo-fi sonic aesthetic, underground production, and a visual style very close to each other.
If you want to start getting into Dungeon Synth, I would advise first to listen to the most influential cult and classical albums, it's not a "must-listen" list but it's a good base of albums to pick. An entry-level selection of the most popular and appreciated projects are listed below. Most of them aren't easily discoverable on Spotify, however, you'll have Youtube links for each album.
Considered by many as the most cult album of Dungeon Synth, Depressive Silence II, later called Mourning, is the second and last full-length album from German duo Depressive Silence. For a total of 36 minutes, it's a very calm and eerie album, layers of synths give an aura to the album far from what the title suggests. Like an exploration through a lonely castle in the mountains during a full moon night, this album is a great choice for background listening during D&D (Dungeons and Dragons) sessions for instance.
Norwegian artist Mortiis is known as the earliest Dungeon Synth artist, and his second project "Født Til Å Herske" (Born to rule) offers a near full hour of majestic orchestral synths. While it's quite repetitive, the albums flow just like a river, every melody is meticulously crafted by this artist. Much darker than Depressive Silence, Mortiis is clearly the cold face of Dungeon Synth
Artic and repetitive, Jääportit's 1999 album is a well-crafted mix of Dark Ambient and Dungeon Synth. While the Dark Ambient part is quite discrete and not as dark as other projects, the album evokes cold and frost-torn castles. Kauan Koskematon"(Long Untouched) must be listened to on its own, whilst doing nothing/procrastinating, to appreciate every aspect of the music.
Don't get fooled by the cover of this album, it is not a dark and shadowy album, not at all. Caduceus instead plays a very pleasant, joyful and bright melody through the album. Perfectly nailing the melodies of villages in RPG's, this album breaks the usual codes of making dark and obscure music. Clearly worth the listen
Remaster of the third demo of Henri Sorvali project, The Sleeping Green puts the bar very high in terms of writing and emotions. This demo, far from the ambiance of the two first demos (still clearly worth the listen for the avantgardism) features a full orchestral ambiance full of details and that must be listened without doing anything to enjoy it fully.
French artist Erang is considered as the greatest contemporary Dungeon Synth artist, and it's no wonder why. In this album, there's such a vast variety of sounds and ambiances it's a huge universe opening up in 1h. Go blind on this album, it is seriously majestic and even emotional sometimes.
Yes, you read that correctly : Dungeon Synth & Rap. But beware, it's not common rap either, this tape is extremely lo-fi and the synth influences, as well as the voices are drowned in the dark hiss of the tape. But still, this anonymous Ukrainian project features a very interesting combination. And with collaborations with Devilish Trio, this project is promising
What's that, a Halloween synth project ? Yes it is, this anonymous (again) American project tells a story of a terrifying Pumpkin Witch haunting the plains and cities (and more, but I don't want to spoil). It's dark, raw and noisy but it's a great album, this melody of each track gives an eerie and creepy vibe to it. Not terrifying, but truly haunting.