Dungeon synth is an electronic music genre that merges elements of black metal and dark ambient. The style emerged in the early 1990s, predominantly among members of the black metal scene, such as Mortiis, Burzum, Robert Fudali of Lord Wind and Graveland, Tomi Kalliola of Azaghal and Valar, Sigurd Wongraven of Wongraven and Satyricon, Andreas Bettinger of Grausamkeit, Silenius and Protector of Summoning, Die Verbannten Kinder Evas, Abigor, Pazuzu, and Grabesmond, Ray Heflin of Absu, and Equitant, among others.
The genre employs aesthetics and themes typically associated with black metal juxtaposed to the typical heavy tremolo-picking, blast-beats, and harsh, shrieked vocals of black metal by way of compositions of instrumental or ambient music commonly used as introductions, interludes, or "outros" in black metal, death metal, and heavy metal albums throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Though often paired with medieval and fantasy motifs throughout the 1990s onward, some prominent contemporaries of dungeon synth reject the excessive prevalence of high-fantasy themes. Dungeon synth is occasionally contentiously likened to video game music, as some very general thematic overlap may exist in sparse examples of each, but Mortiis and others] have rejected the influence of video game soundtracks on dungeon synth. Mortiis (Håvard Ellefsen) is a major performer of this genre and the style is heavily prevalent in early releases such as Født til å Herske and later releases from the return to the "Era I" sound, chiefly Spirit of Rebellion. Other prominent contemporaries of the genre include Old Tower, Sombre Arcane, and Galdur; each having toured or regularly performed live on top of publishing music. Mortiis, alongside Burzum, is normally cited as the de facto progenitor of the genre proper, and each is regularly cited as having influenced later acts associated with dungeon synth.
The earliest mention of "dungeon synth" on the internet has been attributed to blogger Andrew Werdna in 2011, in his blog dedicated to the genre, though he has stated that "dungeon synth" and Mortiis' "dark dungeon music" are appropriately used interchangeably.