Top 10 Darksynth Albums (So Far)

Top 10 Darksynth Albums (So Far)

The pul­ver­iz­ing rhythms and ear-shred­ding riffs of Darksynth are among the most excit­ing sounds in mod­ern music. Hundreds of artists have con­trib­uted to the rap­id devel­op­ment of the genre since its ori­gins around 2012, and although there is plenty of great music in the style for fans to choose from, a hand­ful of releases stand tall above the oth­ers with their innov­at­ive pro­duc­tion tech­niques and riv­et­ing song compositions.

Darksynth has increas­ingly taken on influ­ences from Metal, EBM, and mod­ern EDM, and is argu­ably the most com­plete and well recog­nized sub­genre of Synthwave. This list focuses on the mod­ern, extreme evol­u­tion of the style, and there­fore excludes Synthwave artists like Cluster Buster, Volkor X, and Tommy ‘86 whose music aligned with dark Synthwave’s early his­tory but has been eclipsed in recent years by the genre’s rap­id and extreme styl­ist­ic pro­gres­sion. Alex and Tokyo Rose’s Akuma album was sim­il­arly not con­sidered for this list. Check out the art­icle Why Darksynth Deserves its Own Genre and listen to Preston Cram’s Darksynth playl­ist for more inform­a­tion and con­text on how music was selec­ted for this list.

This top 10 attempts to bal­ance innov­a­tion and influ­ence with over­all qual­ity, which means that older albums are giv­en extra weight, even if they feel out­dated by mod­ern stand­ards. The list is also lim­ited to full-length releases (sev­en tracks or more) and one album per artist.

These are the top 10 Darksynth albums

10. Shredder 1984 – Dystopian Future (2017)

Shredder 1984 – Dystopian Future (2017)

Combining old school Thrash and Death Metal with ‘80s video game soundtracks, inject­ing it with a dose of goth­ic hor­ror, and deliv­er­ing it with the elec­tron­ic touch of Darksynth, Shredder 1984 cre­ates music that is sim­ul­tan­eously hyper-nos­tal­gic and utterly mod­ern. Dystopian Future is the artist’s break­through release, pound­ing out con­cise Metalwave pieces that altern­ate between a music­al punch in the throat and immers­ive slabs of atmo­spher­ic, sci-fi horror.

9. Glitch Black – Death Spiral (2015)

Glitch Black – Death Spiral (2015)

Glitch Black is one of Darksynth’s most pro­lif­ic and earn­est cre­at­ors, and 2015’s Death Spiral stands out as the strongest entry in the artist’s large dis­co­graphy. Combining Synthwave and Darksynth with the older sounds of Aggrotech and Dark Electro, Glitch Black’s brand of sci-fi hor­ror is fre­quently backed by club-worthy rhythms and brightly melod­ic song­writ­ing. Tracks like “Death Spiral” and “Cenobite Party Bus” exem­pli­fy the artist’s unique style and are among the most vis­cer­al and excit­ing Darksynth tracks recor­ded to date.

8. DEADLIFE – Bionic Chrysalis (2017)

DEADLIFE – Bionic Chrysalis (2017)

Perhaps the most unique and recog­niz­able sound in mod­ern Darksynth belongs to Deadlife. Bionic Chrysalis has some of the deep­est melod­ic hooks of any record­ing on this list, and they’re com­ple­men­ted by groove-heavy rhythms, ten-ton drops, and a gently robot­ic female voice nar­rat­ing Deadlife’s cyber­punk-infused music­al vis­ion. Bionic Chrysalis ham­mers out 12 tracks of sat­is­fy­ingly gritty elec­tron­ic music, and strong entries like “Deviant” and “Remember” make it one of the most com­plete and mem­or­able Darksynth record­ings to date.

7. Carpenter Brut – Trilogy (2012–2015)

Carpenter Brut – Trilogy (2012-2015)

It’s true that Trilogy isn’t a full-length album, and there­fore tech­nic­ally doesn’t qual­i­fy for this list. However, the immense pop­ular­ity and influ­ence of Carpenter Brut’s first three EPs demand recog­ni­tion in any dis­cus­sion of top Darksynth releases, and so an excep­tion is made here. Along with Perturbator, Carpenter Brut is one of the two biggest names in Darksynth and a prin­cip­al pion­eer of the genre. Tracks like “Roller Mobster” and “Turbo Killer” are defin­it­ive examples of the Darksynth sound, though Carpenter Brut is unique for a will­ing­ness to include humor and altern­at­ive song­writ­ing approaches into the artist’s releases. Like many early cre­ations in the genre, these three EPs have not aged par­tic­u­larly well, though they remain crit­ic­al entries in Darksynth’s history.

6. Roborg – CyberCrime (2017)

Roborg – CyberCrime (2017)

Darksynth has evolved dra­mat­ic­ally in the past two to three years, and a second gen­er­a­tion of artists has emerged to pro­pel the style for­ward. These cre­at­ors often eclipse their pre­de­cessors in terms of the detail and com­plex­ity of their song­writ­ing, and few artists rep­res­ent this evol­u­tion of the music as much as Roborg. CyberCrime deliv­ers sev­er­al innov­at­ive and enga­ging mas­ter­works of the genre, and it exceeds almost all of its fore­bears in over­all qual­ity. From the thun­der­ous drop in the intro of “Midnight Murder” to the immensely detailed and ener­get­ic song­writ­ing of the title track, CyberCrime rep­res­ents a thrill­ing future for the Darksynth genre.

5. Dance With the Dead – The Shape (2016)

Dance With the Dead – The Shape (2016)

Fans can argue for days over the best Dance With The Dead album (there’s a very strong case for Near Dark) though early releases in the group’s dis­co­graphy now have as much or more in com­mon with tra­di­tion­al Synthwave as mod­ern Darksynth. The Shape is by far Dance With The Dead’s heav­iest, crunchi­est record­ing, and there­fore the most viable can­did­ate for this list. Fortunately, the album still retains the duo’s sig­na­ture brand of retro-themed atmo­spher­ic hor­ror and highly addict­ive melod­ic hooks. A healthy vari­ety of song styles fur­ther pushes this album to the top of the pile. No dis­cus­sion of the genre would be com­plete without a men­tion of Dance With The Dead, and The Shape is an excel­lent rep­res­ent­a­tion of Darksynth’s love affair with Metal music.

4. Mega Drive – 198XAD (2014)

Mega Drive – 198XAD (2014)

198XAD is a vir­tu­al des­cent into a bleak, dysto­pi­an future dom­in­ated by tech­no­logy and malevol­ent machinery. The cyber­punk-minded music reveals strong Industrial influ­ences, and it is one of the most immers­ive and ima­gin­at­ive Darksynth cre­ations to date. Many of the songs have already begun to show their age, though the album was a rev­el­a­tion at the time of its release, using gritty per­cus­sion and haunt­ing synth melod­ies to deliv­er a relent­lessly grim vis­ion that feels like it was ripped straight from an android’s night­mare. Darksynth has con­spicu­ously trended away from Mega Drive’s style of Cybersynth music, though 198XAD remains a corner­stone in the found­a­tion Synthwave’s dark side.

3. Dan Terminus – The Wrath of Code (2015)

Dan Terminus – The Wrath of Code (2015)

Taking the styl­ist­ic tem­plate built by Perturbator and Carpenter Brut and pla­cing a great­er emphas­is on sci­ence fic­tion themes, Dan Terminus’ first album is a ret­ro­fu­tur­ist­ic beast of Darksynth with an intro­spect­ive, mel­an­chol­ic edge. From the roar­ing assault of “Heavy Artillery” to the wist­ful sad­ness of “It’s Too Bad She Won’t Live,” The Wrath of Code is the soundtrack to the best sci­ence fic­tion hor­ror film nev­er made, and it remains a pil­lar of Darksynth’s sig­na­ture sound.

2. Fixions – Genocity (2017)

Fixions – Genocity (2017)

Though not as well-known as oth­er artists at the top of the Darksynth moun­tain, Fixions has been patiently and subtly ply­ing his craft for as long as any­one else in the genre. His unique brand of hor­ror synth hit a high point on the artist’s sixth release, Genocity. Massive dis­tor­tion and glitchy effects typi­fy this ven­ture into vir­tu­al ter­ror, and the album’s gen­er­ous track­list deliv­ers sear­ing rhythmic offer­ings like “Black Chrome Riot” along­side tra­gic­ally beau­ti­ful melod­ic gems like “Third Eye Implant.” Fixions is Darksynth’s best-kept secret, and Genocity is the artist’s most valu­able and inspired release to date.

Honorable Mentions

No top 10 list can rep­res­ent all the import­ant releases in a genre. Before reveal­ing the top Darksynth album, here are some artists and record­ings that were con­sidered for this list but ulti­mately didn’t make the cut.

Daniel Deluxe – Corruptor (2016)Daniel Deluxe – Corruptor (2016)

Electric Dragon – Covenant (2016)Electric Dragon – Covenant (2016)

Gost – Non Paradisi (2016)Gost – Non Paradisi (2016)

Gregorio Franco – The Dark Beyond (2017)
Gregorio Franco – The Dark Beyond (2017)

Hollywood Burns – Invaders (2018)

Hollywood Burns – Invaders (2018)

Master Boot Record – C:\>COPY*.*A:/V (2017)
Master Boot Record – C:\>COPY*.*A:/V (2017)

And the number one Darksynth album is …

1. Perturbator – The Uncanny Valley

Perturbator – The Uncanny Valley

Could there be any­one else at the top of this list? Perturbator has con­sist­ently been the driv­ing force behind the Darksynth genre, pion­eer­ing a darkened Synthwave sound on early releases like Night Driving Avenger and Terror 404 before evolving and push­ing deep­er into unex­plored music­al ter­rit­ory. Each release has seen heav­ier, grit­ti­er pro­duc­tion with more exper­i­ment­al com­pos­i­tions and a great­er emphas­is on rhythmic songwriting.

Although oth­er record­ings in Perturbator’s dis­co­graphy are sig­ni­fic­ant, The Uncanny Valley defin­it­ively pulled Perturbator’s music out­side the realm of tra­di­tion­al Synthwave while reveal­ing a great­er level of depth and soph­ist­ic­a­tion in the artist’s song com­pos­i­tions. Loaded with a hefty selec­tion of music ran­ging from driv­ing, thun­der­ous pieces like “The Cult of 2112” to intro­spect­ive vocal tracks like “Venger” fea­tur­ing Greta Link, the album is more than just a pretty face. It deliv­ers sub­stance along with its flashy style.

The Uncanny Valley is the arche­type of Darksynth music, and it has been emu­lated on numer­ous record­ings since its release in 2016. It is the god­fath­er of the mod­ern style, and it is the finest example of the genre to date.