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Darksynth is a subgenre of Synthwave music primarily influenced by sci-fi and horror film soundtracks, video games, and other forms of mature media from the 1980s.[1] Led by artists like Perturbator, Carpenter Brut, and GosT, this newer style of music incorporates bass heavy electro, metal, and industrial influences as well as faster tempos, and gained massive success within the Synthwave fandom. Additionally, many in the Darksynth scene have backgrounds in metal music and have transitioned that heaviness to the Synthwave sound. Over the past decade or so, Darksynth has become one of the most popular new styles of the expanding and splintering Synthwave scene.[2]

History & Background[edit]

Darksynth first emerged in the early 2010s as a result of Synthwave artists deviating from the genre's traditional aesthetic and instead taking a darker approach to retro synthesizer-based electronic music.[3] The genre's early pioneers abandoned Synthwave's themes surrounding romanticized 80's pop culture and retrofuturism, and transitioned to more mature themes of the 80's like horror films, ultra-violent video games, action movies, Heavy metal music, and Cyberpunk.[4] [5] The original sound of Darksynth pioneered by artists such as Perturbator, Mega Drive and Dance With The Dead was very similar to Synthwave's signature style, but as the genre progressed and new artists such as GosT and Carpenter Brut emerged, it would begin to follow a much more aggressive sonic direction and take influences from other musical genres and themes.[1][6] Additionally, darksynth artists such as Hollywood Burns are greatly influenced by cinematic and orchestral elements as well. [7]

The audience and fanbase of Darksynth has grown rapidly in recent years due to its appearance in various forms of media and its internet following, having spawned communities on platforms such as Reddit[8], YouTube[9], and Discord[10]. Its danceability, heaviness, and increasing similarities to contemporary EDM[1] have also been crowd-pleasing at live shows and DJ sets. This combines with the feelings of nostalgia frequently associated with Synthwave and various influences from metal, industrial and EBM to create a what many consider to be a very unique and appealing style of electronic music.

Characteristics & Aesthetic[edit]

Darksynth was originally quite similar to traditional Synthwave in both sound design and composition, particularly in the early 2010s when it first emerged. It primarily featured analog synths, pluck-style synth basses, and gated reverb drums, much like its parent genre[11], but with a greater focus on the bass elements of the song as well as minor scales. It often incorporated samples of memorable quotes from popular 1980's horror, action, and pulp science fiction movies interspersed with the music in order to evoke a greater sense of nostalgia in the listener.

Just as artwork is an integral part of Synthwave's aesthetic and culture, Darksynth has been the same way. The subgenre's characteristics were shown heavily in the artwork of early Darksynth releases such as Perturbator's Terror 404 and Cluster Buster's Maniac 1980, focusing mainly on horror and Cyberpunk films of the 80's. (Darksynth that has continued to reference golden-age horror and slasher flicks in the modern day has earned the nickname "slasherwave.")

With the release of albums like GosT's Skull, Mega Drive's 198XAD, and Carpenter Brut's EP I during the mid-2010's, Darksynth began to adopt a heavier and more aggressive sound infuenced by metal and industrial music as well as some elements of EDM. With this sound came a focus on faster tempos, heavy drums ranging from dubstep-influenced to metal-influenced, and heavily distorted electric guitar basslines, the latter of which has come to be known as one of Darksynth's signature sounds. The new style has also taken its metal and industrial influences to its artwork, with many releases now including gore, cultist and Satanic imagery, and other themes often seen on the cover art of 1980's metal albums. [1]

Over the course of recent years, Darksynth has also increasingly incorporated elements from various styles of electronic dance music in its sound design and composition.[1] These primarily include electro-house and dubstep, but have more recently taken influence from genres like house, techno, and even drum & bass. Many listeners, producers, and other figures in the Darksynth scene believe this trend will continue in the coming years.

In The Media[edit]

With the release of Devolver Digital's popular video game Hotline Miami in 2012, and its sequel Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number in 2015, their Synthwave-backed soundtracks launched the genre into the eyes and ears of countless players and was integral in Synthwave's success over the rest of the decade.[12] Darksynth was affected in the same way, with artists like Perturbator, Carpenter Brut and Mega Drive featured on the soundtracks of both games. The intensity and atmosphere of Darksynth made an effective soundtrack to the violent, fast-paced gameplay of the Hotline Miami games, and the genre continued to be used in games such as The Game Bakers' Furi in 2016 and Adult Swim's DeSync in 2017, both of which released their soundtracks in tandem with the games themselves.[13] This both led players to the soundtracks and led listeners to the games.

While other forms of Synthwave (or at least music inspired by the genre and its aesthetic) have been featured in trailers like Marvel's Thor: Ragnarok in 2017 and in full-length films like Nicolas Winding Refn's Drive in 2012, Darksynth specifically has been largely absent from media outside of video games (although some of Kavinsky's work on the Drive soundtrack could arguably be considered Darksynth).[13] However, the genre continues to take inspiration from movie soundtracks such as Blade Runner or Tron, and especially from the works of John Carpenter.

List of Notable Artists (listed alphabetically)[edit]

  • 3FORCE
  • Absolute Valentine
  • ALEX
  • Battlejuice
  • Carbon Killer
  • Carpenter Brut
  • Cluster Buster
  • Dance With The Dead
  • Danger
  • Daniel Deluxe
  • Dan Terminus
  • Das Mörtal
  • Dav Dralleon
  • Donbor
  • DreamReaper
  • Dreddd
  • Dynatron
  • Elay Arson
  • Electric Dragon
  • Elevn
  • Emmett Brown
  • FacexHugger
  • Fixions
  • Funeral Director
  • Gadgetor
  • Glitch Black
  • GosT
  • Gregorio Franco
  • Grimlin
  • Hexenkraft
  • Hollywood Burns
  • Hubrid
  • Irving Force
  • Isidor
  • Judge Bitch
  • Kavinsky
  • Kick Puncher
  • King Stephen
  • Lazerpunk
  • Leslie No/Nayoko
  • Masked
  • Master Boot Record
  • Mega Drive
  • Megahit
  • Meteor
  • Microchip Terror
  • Midnight Danger
  • Misanthropix
  • Moonraccoon
  • Neoslave
  • Occams Laser
  • Powercyan
  • Powernerd
  • Perturbator
  • Protector 101
  • Quixotic
  • Raydar
  • Reznyck
  • Roborg
  • Shredder 1984
  • Street Cleaner
  • SurgeryHead
  • The Encounter
  • Terrordyne
  • Terrortron
  • Timestalker
  • Tommy '86
  • Turboslash
  • Vector Seven
  • VHS Glitch
  • Volkor X
  • Vulta
  • We Are Magonia
  • Xetrovoid


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 https://ironskullet.com/2018/05/14/why-darksynth-deserves-its-own-genre/
  2. https://synthwave.fandom.com/wiki/Darksynth CC-BY-SA icon.svg Material was copied from this source, which is available under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license.
  3. Guy, The ‘80s (2019-09-02). "Top 10 Synthwave Artists You Need to Know". edm.com. Retrieved 2020-02-08.
  4. Skullet, Iron (2018-03-01). "What is Synthwave? 2018 Edition". Iron Skullet. Retrieved 2020-01-31.
  5. Hogue, Adam (2018-07-26). "Synth Happens: Triangle Forest embraces the electronic sounds of yesterday's future". Providence Monthly. Retrieved 2020-02-08.
  6. Treppel, Jeff (2016-05-02). "Synthwave Overlord Perturbator Is the Real Neon Icon". Vice. Retrieved 2020-02-08.
  7. Owen, Tom (2018-04-11). "[Exclusive] Stream "Invaders," the Cinematic Darksynth Debut Album From Hollywood Burns". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved 2020-02-08.
  8. "r/DarkSynth". reddit. Retrieved 2020-01-31.
  9. "- YouTube". www.youtube.com. Retrieved 2020-01-31.
  10. "Join the DarkSynth Discord Server!". Discord. Retrieved 2020-01-31.
  11. "Synthwave", Wikipedia, 2020-01-17, retrieved 2020-01-31
  12. "To what extent was Hotline Miami responsible for the popularization of synthwave music?". ResetEra. Retrieved 2020-01-31.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Iwaniuk, Phil (2017-10-04). "How synthwave music inspired games to explore a past that never existed". PC Gamer. Retrieved 2020-01-31.

Additional sources added[edit]

This article "Darksynth" is from Wikipedia. The list of its authors can be seen in its historical and/or the page Edithistory:Darksynth. Articles copied from Draft Namespace on Wikipedia could be seen on the Draft Namespace of Wikipedia and not main one.

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