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top10 2018 synthsceneSynth Scene in 2018 turned out to be super interesting. Many good records have been released with high quality sound, cool material and various tunes. Therefore the choice of the ten best releases was more difficult than usually in this part of the dark scene. Many popular majors pleased their listeners with the release of their album, but not all Synth fans were always satisfied. In general the Synth scene at the moment is the most progressing and liveliest of all the branches of the dark scene. Many musicians have learned how to create or rather repeat the high-quality sound of their popular and famous colleagues, so it’s already difficult to amaze people with multi-layered dense sound, high-quality synths and other features. Therefore young projects were looking for their own sound to stand out and the old time-tested bands use their recognizable sound.

But not only. This year it has become popular to create super bands consisting of famous musicians. Such projects appeared, of course, also in the past, but this year it was clearly noticeable. But it did not always went well. In fact none of these projects was included in my personal top 10. But the invitation of vocalists and other musicians has worked before and is working till now. If you look at the separate styles of the Synth scene, you can clearly see that the Synth Pop feels very comfortable and numerous, however recently many young projects play Synth Pop with Indie genres, creating a whole separate scene on the border with dark scene and indie music.

Future Pop in 2018 had suddenly revived and not only because of the old projects that have released albums, but also a lot of young bands, which are not less good, than their famous predecessors. Electro Pop is going deeper and deeper into the Indie scene. Rare projects a kind of Future Perfect give out releases, but not this year. Electro Clash is in hibernation for more than a year. And moreover this year the old known Electro Clash projects released material in completely different genres, so I’m afraid that this genre begins to stagnate if not more. About the Synth Rock I will say several words below.

Covered genres: Synth Pop, Future Pop, Electro Pop, Electro Clash, Synth Rock

10. The Anix – ‘Shadow_Movement’ (Synth Rock | USA, FiXT)

Recently on the scene of Electronic Rock bands the vast majority of projects moved from typical sound with a middle way between the Electronic and Rock components in the direction close to Alternative, Rock and Metal. Therefore the release on the scene of an album such as the new creation THE ANIX is rare and is noticed immediately. This work is the sixth full-length album in the discography of the Americans and in fact is a classic sound of Synth Rock with periodic use of Synth Wave elements that is quite normal for the FiXT label. A good atmospheric Synth Rock with hits, a harmonious combination of Rock and guitar component shows very well how to properly use guitars in Synth music without spoiling everything. It should be said that most of the album was already released as singles, so many lovers of the Synth scene had a blurred impression precisely because they had already heard half of the album before the official release. However this does not negate the fact that the full-length work turned out to be of high quality, interesting and deserving its position in Top10 of the Synth Scene of the year 2018.

09. Ashbury Heights – ‘The Victorian Wallflowers’ (Synth Pop | Sweden, Out of Line)

The Swedish project amazed all the Synth lovers into a middle of 00s with its debut album and has since then entered the list of popular and proved Synth projects. The recognizable sound, popular hits, the charismatic vocals of Anders and always changing female vocalists created an atmosphere that was significant for ASHBURY HEIGHTS. After three years of break the Swedish musicians returned to the scene with another vocalist and new material, which became sweeter, more Pop oriented and not as ornate as on previous albums. Someone can call such a softened sound commercial, but the hits have not gone. Some songs might easily appear in the music charts of 80s. A three-year break made good to the project, because the album turned out to be filled with potential hits more, than the previous album. ASHBURY HEIGHTS took the 9th place in my personal top of the best albums of the year and the song ‘Science’ is settled in my playlist for a long time. And as far as I know not only mine.

08. M.I.N.E. – ‘Unexpected Truth Within’ (Synth Pop | Germany, Oblivion)

In 2016 the vocalist Marcus Meyn of the German Synth Pop icon of the Synth scene, CAMOUFLAGE, decided to create a new project, in which he essentially continued the same work that he did in CAMOUFLAGE. Just more crystal and with modern sound. In 2018 the debut album of the project M.I.N.E was released. Marcus has kept everything: excellent vocals, outstanding composing, slight sock influences, very high-quality and competent pure Synth sound. The album also has a few hits. In one word, good work for lovers of old Synth music. There is nothing new on the album, but old music was made very good and professional, so this creation turned out to be only 8th in the top.

07. Solar Fake – ‘You Win. Who Cares?’ (Synth Pop, Gothic Electro | Germany, Out of Line)

The Sven Friedrich’s project SOLAR FAKE was formed in the middle of the 00s as a kind of electronic incarnation of his Rock bands ZERAPHINE and DREADFUL SHADOWS. Sven immediately found his sound, which he still uses and became one of popular modern Synth projects, skilfully manoeuvring between Dance Synth melodies and romantic Gothic opuses. Sven’s vocals are recognizable and known. The album ‘Your Win, Who Cares?’ is already the fifth in the discography of the German duo. Each album had a couple of hits, but all the albums were pretty monotonous. New creation is also made in the same style as all the previous works, but the melodic, catchy compositions turned out better than before. The album is easily absorbed without weak tracks and half of the songs are made with powerful drive and energy, which will be especially felt on the performances. The album was released in different versions: first bonus CD included acoustic versions of the songs and the second bonus is about the remixes from colleagues in different genres, which added multicity. Among the remixers are IN STRICT CONFIDENCE, PATENBRIGADE: WOLFF, MR.KITTY and OST + FRONT.

06. Black Nail Cabaret – ‘Pseudopop’ (Dark Synth, Electro Pop | Hungary, Dichronaut Records)

This is the fourth album of the Hungarian project BLACK NAIL CABARET. The musicians call their genre Synth Noir. The project was formed in Hungary in 2008 and is based at the moment in London. From the first album the musicians make very non-standard Synth music with dark aesthetics, experimental sound sketches and very charismatic female vocals. Such a presentation of material with mentioned above concept and musical components does not imply super hits, does not attract a large amount of fans and even push away some, but still the project is relatively popular. The new work in the opinion of the musicians themselves has no musical framework and is made in its own style. This style maybe is mentioned in the album title. In some ways they are right. Here it is possible to find both Electro Pop sound and Ambient after sound, pieces of Indie Pop, Synth Pop fragments, Synth Goth parts and segments of Minimal Synth. Separately it may seem to be very chaotic and scattered, but the Hungarians managed to put those parts together and create a very powerful album close to a masterpiece, which not everyone will understand.

05. Helalyn Flowers – ‘Nyctophilia’ (Synth Rock | Italy, Alfa Matrix)

The fifth work of an Italian project HELALYN FLOWERS according to tradition was released on the Belgian label Alfa Matrix. After the debut their music reminds more and more the clones of themselves, but with less hits and more monotony. On the latest releases hits and energy disappeared. The new album was interesting, but did not cause any excitement before listening. But after it several songs were settled in my head and the overall sound became much more various. And the most important thing is that hits came back. Drive and energy also returned and it was not always possible to sit quietly while listening to the album, but to dance. The new album is made in the genre of Synth Rock with a vivid electronic component and guitar parts, which overshadowed everything else. Good strong work of the Italians, who have already become an important part of Alfa Matrix and Synth Rock genre in general. The album was expanded by bonus remixes on the second CD from music colleagues and done by themselves. Remixes are mostly made in electronic music styles without guitars, so the second part will be interesting more to fans of electronic music. In any case the album turned out great and memorable.

04. Blume – ‘Ashes’ (Future Pop, Synth Pop | Italy, WTII Records)

Other Italian electronic project in my top 10 list is called BLUME and was created in 2008. From the first demo Italians attracted Synth fans with a melancholic Synth Pop, great vocals and romantic atmosphere. Their first two albums became accepted and loved by many Synth listeners, the songs became frequent guests of radio broadcasts and some even appeared in DJ sets. Therefore many of BLUME fans expected new melancholy and melodiousness from the Italians. However the new album turned out to be a little bit different. Melancholy and romantic atmosphere remained, but the rhythm and aggression of the Future Pop were added, which slightly pushed away the fans of the classic Synth Pop. But the project only won from this genre change. The album is made in the middle way sound of the Synth Pop and Future Pop genres, taking the best features of both styles. Beautiful vocals and melancholic mood are followed by rhythmic power and after the usual slow songs dance thrillers follow comparable to SOLITARY EXPERIMENTS and [: SITD:]. It is difficult to call such sound modern, but also not to characterize it as old-school. The album with such local metamorphosis did not lose at, but only gained. Gained diversity, gained versatility and hits. Very powerful work of the Italian project, that continues to keep the height for themselves and other projects. This release has no disadvantages. But such a high level might become a disadvantage of the next release. Will see how the Italians will surprise us in the future.

03. Tobias Bernstrup – ‘Technophobic’ (Electro Pop, Synth Pop, New Wave | Sweden, Tonight Records)

Tobias Bernstrup was born in Swedish city of Gothenburg and since the end of the 90s has been creating music in various genres of Synth, Electronic and Indie music. His new work has become the sixth full-length album. And this work turned out to be at least better than the previous two, if not the best in the discography of the Swedish artist. The sugary melodies of New Wave and Electro Pop are interspersed with sweet Synth Pop and Italo Disco elements and Tobias’ great vocals. The album has bright hits, melodic slow songs, an interesting collaboration and a cover version of the ACE OF BASE song. An excellent album of the shocking Swedish guy is enlarged by electronic remixes from the genres of Retro Wave music, Italo Disco and other electronic and synthetic music. Oh, yes, and one of the remixes was done by COVENANT. This album for sure will be included in playlists of Synth music lovers for a long time.

02. Neuroticfish – ‘Antidoron’ (Future Pop | Germany, Non Ordinary Records)

The new work of the old and popular project of Future Pop begins with two slow atmospheric compositions, therefore, the first impression of the new creation after three years of waiting turned out to be twofold. Slow things sound great, but a whole album in this style would be boring to listen to. However, after those tracks everything slowly but surely flows into the usual rhythmic sound. Hits are also there, which is important. Good material in its own style, which is from time to time oscillated by those slow compositions, which took half of the album. It seems like this atmospheric and melancholic tracks became the main point of the album. If they were not emotional, then this album would be in the top of disappointments. This is the thin line between two extreme points. The rhythmic songs are made is the classic sound of NEUROTICFISH, so old fans will be satisfied also. Every synth scene fan will find something interesting on this great new album of Germans.

01. Mental Discipline – ‘Past Forward’ (Future Pop, Synth Pop | Russia, skyQode)

Six years after the release of a powerful debut, several singles, EPs, reissues and remix releases the Russian project MENTAL DISCIPLINE returns with a new album, which is also not exactly new. Part of the full-length album consists of revisited and rearranged old unreleased and demo tracks, in which only the melody remained, but the lyrics, sound, vocals and general construction were changed. The new work was at least as good as the previous one and often even better. And if guest vocalists sang in the debut on every track, half of the new material was performed by Alexander himself. However, there were some star guests including NAMNAMBULU, ASHBURY HEIGHTS, LIGHTS OF EUPHORIA, SYNAPSYCHE, BABYLONIA, 64 ROCKETS and already participating in the first release PULCHER FEMINA.

Each guest project brought into the sound not only the voice of their vocalist, but also their own atmosphere and music, so the album turned out similar to the Best-of compilation and not just of one project, but several, and in this case it is a compliment, not a reproach. Catchy melodies, harmony between the musical and vocal components, the hit songs from which you want to dance, the variety of vocals and the excellent quality sound raised this album to the first place in my personal top of the Synth scene for the year. The album is very competent, skilful and high-quality combination of Future Pop and Synth Pop genres.


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