Synthia is a multi-genre electronic project from Cheltenham in the UK. I first came across Synthia earlier this year while cruising the Twitter-verse for something new to listen to. Synthia has released a three singles and two full-lengths this year. Talk about busy! I’ll be reviewing their second full-length entitled “First of Us.”

The cover of “First of Us” features some pixel art of an android that is very reminiscent of early 1990s SNES visuals. The android appears to be making some kind of vogue pose amidst a backdrop of a 1980s motif of pastel colored lasers. If Isaac Asimov and Olivia Newton John decided to collaborate on artwork together it would probably look something like this. I quite enjoy it.

Musically, I find “First of Us” to be fascinating. It is very…unique. I’m not sure whether this is a function of the production method that was used to create these songs or what. “First of Us” has an airy grit to it that make little ghosts come out of the speakers on my stereo. This is probably because many of the sounds on this album sit within the 1kHz to 5kHz range (or higher).

There are elements of Synthwave that show up in Synthia’s work but I also think that it has a more postmodern feel to it. I think this is a function of how it is musically arranged. “First of Us” wasn’t produced to sound like it came from 1980s despite having some similar sounds which intersect with that era. A lot of the drums sound like an Oberheim DX which are undoubtedly 80s sounding, but the low end sounds more modern on most of the tracks. The only exception I found to this was in the song “Lucid” which has a more traditional Synthwave tone to it. Even then, I feel like “Lucid” has more in common with music that would’ve been written on the YM2612 for the Megadrive rather than a song that might show up on “Miami Vice.” The pads that Synthia use to create space feel confined in a way that reminds me of pop from the early 1990s. The mids in this recording are akin to late 90s. There’s also an early 2000s EDM feel to aspects of “First of Us” giving it a crunchy bitcrushed sound.

Overall, “First of Us” is like a mash up between 90s video game/chiptune music, Synthwave, and something else. I can’t put my finger on it. After listening to it several times over the last week it really grew on me. I think if you’re feeling adventurous and want to listen to something completely different than the norm, Synthia is worth checking out. I really enjoyed the hell out of this one once I got to know it.

RECOMMENDED FOR: People looking for something a little different, fans of Chiptune, Synthwave, and EDM might find something to love here.

Stand-out tracks: “Darkwave,” “Transistor,” “Lucid,” and “Slasher” (ARE YOU NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD UNDER THERE–LIKE ALL BLOODY VEINS AND PUS?).

Album Color Profile: #6666FF

Elay Arson is the synth metal project of Daniel David Larson and Devin Harrison. I first became aware of them back in 2017 with the release of their album “Rites of the Damned.” “Dusk Incarnate” is their latest album, featuring twelve tracks of synth metal goodness. It was released in early February. “Dusk Incarnate” has not only helped to solidify Elay Arson’s presence in the Synthwave community but it has also helped to propel them to new heights outside of it. The stunning cover art work is by the illustrious Mizucat who’s done more than her fair share of work for the community over the last few years.

“Dusk Incarnate” is a concept album that leans hard into showing how heavy metal and synthwave can work together. If I had to explain this in an analogy, where Cradle of Filth combines the music of Hammer Horror with Black Metal, Elay Arson combines Carpenter Brut with Industrial Metal. While most of the songs on “Dusk Incarnate” comfortably combine both styles together, some are were written to highlight one aspect of Elay Arson’s personality. “Highway Machine Gun Fight,” for instance, sounds much more industrial influenced, whereas “Switchblades” is more of a traditional dark synth track. From the get-go “Dusk Incarnate” opens up with an 80s style dialogue scrawl that talks about an EMP weapon in the body of a sexbot. If she explodes it’s all over for Megacity.

In general, “Dusk Incarnate” is a very fresh sounding album. There’s a good deal of variation here. I can tell that a lot of attention was given to the overall arrangement of the tracks. The implementation of live drums on this album was a big surprise. I feel that it adds humanity to the music. It’s really hard for me to pick a favorite moment on the album, there are so many high points. As somebody who has a lot of nostalgia for the sound Cradle of Filth had on “Total Fucking Darkness,” I think “EMP Blast” stands out a lot to me. It has a similar dingy atmosphere that sounds romantic to my ears. I love it. “Killer Intent” is by far my favorite track to feature vocalist Megan McDuffee. This is a really polished song with outstanding lyrics. I think that this song can stand on its own two legs against big boys like Perturbator and Carpenter Brut. The first time I heard it, I was absolutely blown away. If you haven’t listened to “Dusk Incarnate” yet, start there.

My favorite track off of “Dusk Incarnate” is “Laser Castle.” It has a solemn postpunk tone to it that feels just right within the context of the rest of the album. It’s an absolute delight to hear Nova and the Ghost return on this track. Additionally, there was something about the way the lyrics were arranged to fit the music that really connected with me:

“As you turn your gaze
Your facade begins to fade
You can’t let your people
See you crying that way.”

Daniel Larson is an absolute songsmith. His greatest strength lies in his willingness to show his vulnerability. Delivering this message through Nova’s voice only reconfirms this willingness. I love when artists do this type of thing, which one of the reasons “Laser Castle” stands out so much.

Overall, “Dusk Incarnate” is a fantastic album that does everything correctly while breaking all of the rules. This isn’t metal. This isn’t synthwave. It’s something else entirely. Call it synthmetal or metalwave—all I know is that I like it. I can’t wait to hear what Elay Arson does next.

RECOMMENDED FOR: Fans of Synthwave, Fans of Metal, Fans of Music.

Stand-out tracks: “Laser Castle,” “Killer Intent,” “Switchblades,” “EMP Blast,” and “Cocaine Nightmare.”

Album Color Profile: #FFCCFF

You can find everything Elay Arson at

“BLEEDING WOUNDS UNEXPLAINED” is the latest “album” by nostalgic synthpunker(s) The Warhorse. It features ten microsongs with a total run time of about ten minutes. You read that right, The Warhorse produced a ten minute full-length album.

The cover of “BLEEDING WOUNDS UNEXPLAINED” is a pastiche of depthless post-postmodern insanity. There’s a very 1970s looking photograph of an ambiguously small person (who I’m assuming is a child) standing on the bottom left. This little creep is dressed in a clown suit, but apparently mom made him put on windbreaker. After all, Halloween is cold in the midwest. To be honest, you would think that the windbreaker would clash with the clown suit’s vibe but it actually works. Behind the little person is a house, a station wagon thing, and a basketball hoop. There’s also something strange happening on the far right side of the cover, I can’t tell if it’s a grill, a UFO (GRILL-FO), or something else. The photograph is framed by some very 80s looking wallpaper stained with who knows what. There are also some remnants of wrapping paper in the bottom right.

If I had to identify what The Warhorse sounds like I’d say it’s a mix of System of a Down, Psychostick, 1980s punk, vaporwave, and early 2000s grindcore. The audio fidelity of “BLEEDING WOUNDS UNEXPLAINED” is as you would expect: it sounds like it was recorded (with love) in a wet basement cellar somewhere in the midwest. As mentioned before, this album features microsongs that cut out all of the fat. Instead of meandering about, The Warhorse zeroes in only on what makes a song catchy. They don’t care about algorithmically engineered five second intros—they don’t have time for it. What’s left is a single verse and a chorus, and then the song ends. It reminds me of old commercial jingles—“Remote Control Dad” and “Balloonmaker” are indicative of this.

Micro song writing isn’t exactly a new concept. Aside from commercial jingles popularized between 1955-1995, the grindcore scene that Carcass (“Festerday”) and Napalm Death (“You Suffer”) came out produced a lot of this sort of thing in the 80s. Earache Records also released the shortest album ever with a total runtime of about a minute thirty back in 2012.

What makes “BLEEDING WOUNDS UNEXPLAINED” so goddamn bloody brilliant is that it is openly declaring war on social media culture by mocking it. The Warhorse is basically saying, “ya’ll motherfuckers are just going to scroll up on my music anyway, so this is all you’re getting.” As a thought experiment the idea of the ten minute album would seem crazy to me. But in execution, it absolutely works. With a whopping 40,000 songs being added to Spotify every single goddamn day something has to give. I mean—let’s do the math: 40,000 songs a day comes out to roughly 2000 hours of music. AIN’T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT. Like—who is actually really listening to all of that? It takes me ten fucking minutes to listen to “BLEEDING WOUNDS UNEXPLAINED.”

While microsongs could be viewed as a complete joke, I think that the time is right for something like this to bleed over into the mainstream. I mean, just look at what’s happening to the Retrowave movement, almost all of the aesthetics that made it popular in the underground have been appropriated by mainstream artists. Could you imagine someone like Katy Perry taking just the hooks or bass drops of her songs turning them into one minute tracks and calling it good? It might sound crazy, but it could happen.

“BLEEDING WOUNDS UNEXPLAINED” manages to ride on the outer edges of so called vibe aesthetics while completely rejecting them altogether. This is an absolutely brilliant synthy punk album that is relevant in the moment. It offers a paradigm shifting social commentary on our attention spans, the music industry, and difference between what it means to be a music fan and an actual musician. If you have ten minutes to spare, check this out. It might change everything you thought you knew about music.

The album is fucking dead. Long live the album.

RECCOMENDED FOR: people who enjoy running through the street naked while on fire with scissors in their hands.

Stand-out tracks: “Remote Control Dad,” (batteries not included), “Hamberders,” “It’s Not You…Ok, yes it is”

Album Color Profile: #FF6666

You can find all things The Warhorse at

The first time I encountered Neuron Spectre was at a Perturbator gig in Tempe, AZ at Club Red in 2018. He hit the stage in a ghoulish white mask and jammed for a little over half an hour. I fucking loved it. I felt like the two groups who went on afterwards should’ve opened for him.

I saw Neuron Spectre live a second time at another Perturbator show some six months later. That night he played some untitled tunes. But they were distinctive enough that I was able to pick them out the first time I listened to his new album entitled “The Sadist.”

In case you’re wondering these songs were: “Prelude to Insanity,” “Beasts at Your Door,” and “The Lambs Expire.”

“The Sadist” is an album that fits into the B-horror flick aesthetic. Sound-wise it’s like a postmodern interpretation early John Carpenter. There’s almost always a booming bass section, a lot of pipe organs, and an electronic mesh of symphonic sounding strings. Strands of metal creep in here and there—especially in the drum programming. It’s unsettling to hear frantic rapid fire snare blasts intersecting with 1980s style horrorsynth.

Neuron Spectre isn’t a producer who stays in his comfort zone. He likes to take risks. This often results in badass tempo changes that shift the music off one continuous theme within ONE song. He really likes to mix it up. The best example of this type of exploration can be heard in “After the Infinities of Chaos,” “Horror into Eternity,” and the title track “The Sadist.” Neuron Spectre also delivers moments of intense focus that reach its apex in “The Return Gaze of the Abyss.” Of any track on the album I feel that this one would be a good pick for a single as it showcases everything he’s capable of doing.

“The Sadist” does what every good horrorsynth project should strive for—to sound dangerous. There is a lot of passion and heart to this release that really appeals to my dark side. It’s certainly worth checking out if you’re into B-horror soundtracks, slasher flicks, etc.

RECOMMENDED FOR: Lovers of all things horror, darksynth fans, and girls or boys (and everyone in between) who just love a tall dark man in an evil looking mask.

Stand-out tracks: I loved every track on this album but “The Return Gaze of the Abyss,” “Beasts at your Door,” and “The Lambs Expire” were the most memorable to me.

Album Color Profile: #003300

You can find all things Neuron Spectre at:

“Canyons” by Detroit’s Android Automatic is like listening to a soothing slow ride through a distant fond memory. I suspect that this is exactly the feeling that producer Michael Gene Graham was going for when he put this album together.

The cover art by Cameron McPhee features a wide spectrum of “sunset” colors, but it’s primarily accentuated with dark midnight blue. The cover also has a car that appears to have joyfully driven through the long night. There is sun is rising up behind a tableau of canyons and morning fog peacefully coexisting in a breathtaking southwestern landscape.

Truly great Synthwave has the ability to capture feelings of longing, sadness, and emotive nostalgia for a time that never was. “Canyons” does this beautifully. Android Automatic creates this atmosphere through an effective use of sweeping dreamlike pads and arpeggios. The drums are the greatest asset that “Canyons” has going for it. They have an Oberheim DMX quality to them–especially the toms and claps which are liberally used throughout. This strong rhythm section when coupled together with a subtle driving low-end creates clear direction for the album to travel upon. This allows “Canyons” to stay focused through a distinctive set of song structures that are pleasing to the ear.

“Canyons” feels like a lost soundtrack straight out of the 1980s. I really have to applaud the execution on this album, it features an exquisite mix of songs that makes me feel all of the memories. And for that it makes me sad. So sad, in fact, that I feel compelled to get into to my car and just drive. Thank you Android Automatic for creating this wonderfully touching album.

RECOMMENDED FOR: Synthwave fans looking for feels in all the right places.

Stand-Out Tracks: The city-popish “Exhale,” “Nightfall,” “Lonely Roads,” “Canyon Cruise,” and “Beyond the Unknown”

Album Color Profile: #2E86C1

You can find all things Android Automatic at:

Upon first examination, Dynamite Stranger’s “Synth Ranger” is branded to appeal to the Synthwave crowd. Visually speaking, “Synth Ranger” looks the part. The album’s cover art features an image of a lone spacewalker that reminds me of of Ridley Scott’s “Alien.” I can’t decide whether the spacewalker is screaming out in pain or rocking out to some ill tunes. I mean, he’s on his knees, so he’s probably in distress, but he also could be knee sliding in excitement. In any case, I quite enjoy the artwork. It has a sharp cinematic look to it that is almost Giger-like.

It’s clear to me that a lot of work went into this album, and I think it’s something Dynamite Stranger should be proud of. There are some banging tunes on “Synth Ranger.” “Fast Forward” is a nice track that has a Daft Punk sort of approach to it. I think that really fits in with the sci-fi aesthetic of the album. “Rewind” is also great. It is the only track to feature vocals (by the wonderful Nightmares and Neon). I really have to applaud Dynamite Stranger for the vocal processing on “Rewind.” To me, it stands out as a distinctive high point on the album. Its fun, somewhat retro underpinnings are downright catchy. The lyrics are well written too. I wish “Synth Ranger” had more tracks like it.

Musically, “Synth Ranger” sounds like has more in common with postmodern future music than it does with the dreamy sonic sound of yesteryear. There is a regimented, albeit triangular quality to the sound of this album. I think that this works to its advantage on tracks like “Xero,” and “Into the Void,” which use space and bright portamento-infused leads to add focus to the music. In general though, this album is somewhat cold. This is mainly due to how clean it is. Like—it almost feels like Dynamite Stranger literally worked in the same cold space depicted on the album cover—suit and all. That said, there is a “no one can hear you scream in space” type of attitude about “Synth Ranger” that gives the album a certain flair.

RECOMMENDED FOR: Synthwave folks looking for something a little different. I think that fans of futuristic sounding music will like this too.

Stand-out tracks: “Into the Void,” “Fast Forward,” and “Rewind,” and “Xero”

Album Color Profile: #2874A6

You can find all things Dynamite Stranger at:

“Negative Space” by Burial Grid is a collaboration with horror novelist B.R. Yeagar and New England producer Adam Michael Kozak. The album serves as the soundtrack to Yeagar’s novel also entitled “Negative Space.” The book focuses on a synthetic hallucinogen called WHORL. As WHORL begins to take over the lives of the four main characters, they come into contact with four “string-shaped” ghosts. The ghosts apparently teach the characters of the novel a lot of crazy shit.

“Negative Space” makes “Requiem for a Dream” and “John Dies at the End” look like episodes of Paw Patrol. Remember kids—drugs are bad, m’kay? WHORL will distort your reality, cause you to see ghosts, and turn you into a masturbating degenerate on collision course with ruin. Death magick might sound fun at first, but when rags start having faces remember that you were warned.

What Burial Grid has chosen to do with “Negative Space” isn’t so much musical, but rather a sonic translation of indescribable, otherworldly hate and animus. This creates a landscape that paves a road to somewhere so horrifying that words alone can’t accurately describe what’s going on here. This album is beautifully grotesque, experimental, and cold-blooded. With “Negative Space,” Burial Grid taps into the unsettling ugliness that exists within all of us. It is a violation of senses, and a masterpiece—on a colossal scale.

Burial Grid strays away from traditional songwriting and instead focuses on exploration over structure. Rhythm-wise, “Negative Space” is almost completely devoid of any proper percussion. Although it is effectively used in “The Rope Man,” which sounds like the ending theme to a really fucked up movie. In general, I really don’t have anything to compare “Negative Space” to. It’s like listening to a mix of Akira Yamaoka’s work on Silent Hill 3 and Stalaggh’s “Projekt Nihil.”

“Negative Space” is note-worthy and deserves attention. This is album of the year quality work here folks. Seriously, run, don’t walk towards picking up this release.

RECOMMENDED FOR: People who love horror. It’s truly one of the best horror-oriented soundtracks ever. I’m probably dreaming, but I hope “Negative Space” gets a movie.

Stand-out tracks: Let’s be real—everything stands out, but “The Rags Had a Face” was my personal favorite, followed by “The Woman Buried Beneath the Candle,” “A Poltergeist Drug,” and “The Rope Man.”

Album Color Profile: #7B241C

Cassetter is the brainchild of Polish producer Mateusz Wajs. His debut album, “The Fugitive” features ten tracks and four remixes of postmodern Synthwave. I really dig the aesthetic of this release. The cover artwork is electric and purple. It features a silhouetted figure standing on a stairway leading up to futuristic looking play/pause above a neon-soaked city.

“The Fugitive” has a concise low end throughout that is frequently sidechained to the kick. This creates a pulsing vacuum effect/illusion that’s all the rage right now in the age of the DAW. This leaves plenty of “air” and space up in the higher frequencies allowing Cassetter to create a atmosphere with saw leads, ping-pong arpeggios, noise sweeps, and various other spacey sounding pads.

If you’re into the futuristic Synthwave vibe, I’m confident that you’re going to enjoy this one. “The Fugitive” is like one continuous song that refuses to let up. Its best moments are found in the catchy “Chased by the Hammerhead Robot,” the almost Eurythmics sounding lead in “Drive through the Night,” the bassy “Neon Towers 2,” and “Eyes with a Soul” which features the always amazing Megan McDuffee. Overall, “The Fugitive” is accessible, something worth dancing to, and an easy listen. I think it’s worth checking out.

RECOMMENDED FOR: Synthwave-heads looking for a solid album to add to their playlists, people who like to dancing to heart-pounding bass-driven rhythms.

Stand-out tracks: “Chased by the Hammerhead Robot,” “Drive through the Night,” “Neon Towers 2,” and “Eyes with a Soul” (feat. Megan McDuffee & Time Travel)

Album Color Profile: #4A148C

You can find all things Cassetter at

Philippe Gerber is something of a visionary. I was first introduced to his occult project JOHN 3:16 way back in the early 2010s. The first track I ever heard from him was his interpretation of Jonathan Edwards’s fire and brimstone leaden sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” I instantly knew right then and there that what I was hearing was an intimate glimpse of Hell itself. Mr. Gerber is connected to something I can’t even begin to describe with words. It scares me to death—and I can’t keep myself from looking away.

Earlier this year, Philippe released a short EP entitled “Sodom & Gomorrah.” The artwork is by the amazing Azi Hariramdani. It features a black and white ram’s skull and sigil that easily could have been used on an early Deathspell Omega release. It gives “Sodom & Gomorrah” a certain cult-like mystique that I haven’t felt the presence of since 2004.

Musically, I find that “Sodom & Gomorrah” matches its namesake well. To me, this EP is sixteen minutes of pure bliss. Inside are two tracks, each one based off of the depraved bibilcal cities. Here JOHN 3:16 took me on a doomy whirlwind journey that took me places beyond the outer reaches of human experience. It is transcendent, metallic atmospheric, dark, and hellish. Of the two tracks available I much prefer “Gomorrah” especially for it’s industrial infused moments. It also breaks off into a ritualistic drum rhythm towards the end of the track that adds some cinematic excitement to the overall release. It made me feel like I was walking hand-in-hand with the Devil himself through Israel during the crucifixion.

Of all JOHN 3:16’s releases, this is probably my favorite. It’s concise, the artwork is on point, and it just sounds great. It’s releases like “Sodom & Gomorrah” that makes me remember what it’s like to be mystified by music that goes beyond the music.

RECOMMENDED FOR: War-torn veterans of the black/death/doom/occult crowd looking for something completely new, but familiar. It reminds me of something that could’ve been on Northern Heritage back in the mid-2000s.

Album Color Profile: #000000

You can find all things JOHN 3:16 at

Starfarer’s “Spaced Out” is a bit of a novel oddity to me. The cover artwork (also by Starfarer) is self-aware and well-crafted. It doesn’t just channel one period of American culture—it channels two. The overall color scheme and style has a sensibility that reminds me of late sixties Haight-Ashbury hippie culture. This is combined with a Saturn-faced astronaut standing in a purple and green haze overlooking some far-flung galaxy. This could have easily been on the cover of Heavy Metal magazine in the late seventies. It also would look stunning on a vinyl sleeve.

The overall vibe of “Spaced Out” made me feel like I was entering the mind of an astronaut who has seen every weird thing the universe has to offer. So where does one go from there? Well, according to our hero, Starfarer, it’s time to experience the final frontier in an entirely different way—high as fuck. The first time I listened to “Spaced Out” I remember giggling uncontrollably at the sample that plays at the beginning of “Lift Off!” It features a dude taking a long bong hit with spacey Darksynth vibes playing behind it. This took me completely off-guard. It was wonderful and entertaining. It helped break the ice, which made me enjoy the music even more.

Musically, “Spaced Out” reminds me of doomy southern stoner rock combined with dark synthwave. Starfarer does this successfully by creating a cultural amalgam with his music—just like the cover artwork. “Spaced Out” serves up some heavy bass tones throughout but they don’t overpower the spacey arpeggios and astral sounding synth leads. The sound quality is clear and enjoyable, but there’s also a certain analog “grit” that makes this different from most Synthwave. If you can imagine what Saint Vitus or Down (NOLA) would sound like if they played darksynth it probably would sound a lot like “Spaced Out.” Overall, I really dig this EP. “Spaced Out” is well worth the time if you have an ear for slow heavy space jams with an extra helping of DOOM.

That’s one small step for man…one giant spliff for mankind.

RECCOMMENED FOR: Spacetokers who like their darksynth southern, doomy, and instrumental.

Stand-out tracks: “One Way Trip” (best track)!, “Spacetoker,” and “Spaced-Out.”

Album Color Profile #3E2723:

You can find all things Starfarer at