Welcome, my fearsome fiends and gruesome ghouls!
A chill wind blows. You hear the clink and rattle of a horse’s harness. Someone rides slowly through the dark, mysterious village of Arcacia “where monsters of legend roam its hillsides.”
The music builds, swelling, ever so slowly, creating an atmosphere of brooding whimsy as you travel back to the golden age of horror.
For the purposes of full disclosure, we’ve been fortunate enough to use Midnight Syndicate’s music for last year’s Spooky Flix Fest. So when they offered me the chance to check out their latest album, well, I jumped at the chance faster than Lawrence Talbot at an all-you-can-eat raw meat buffet.
Needless to say, this won’t be an unbiased, consumer-focused review. It’s more about championing the work of great artists I believe many of our readers will enjoy.
Despite my bias, if you’re a fan of classic horror, Universal Monsters, or just love dark, beautiful movie score music, I’m happy to report you can’t go wrong picking up a copy of Monsters of Legend. Edward and his musical partner Gavin create aural dreamscapes (or is it nightmarescapes?) that sweep you into a netherworld both haunting and sublime.
With Monsters of Legend, their sixteenth studio album, Midnight Syndicate creates a rich and epic symphonic soundscape that chronicles a cinematic tale that never was. And it will leave you longing for the movies and cinematic horrors it celebrates.
If you’re unfamiliar with their previous work, Midnight Syndicate is comprised of founding members and composers Edward Douglas and Gavin Goszka. Their prolific output of criticslly-acclaimed instrumentals has established Midnight Syndicate as the biggest, and best, name in the Halloween music genre.
Much of their work consists of entire, sweeping soundtracks to non-existent films. Each album tells a story, taking you the listener on dark and beautiful journey through the Theater of the Mind.
With many of the tracks, like “Return to Arcacia,” which opens the album and “Unwanted Visitor,” where you get auditory hints of conspiratorial whispers, the subtle use of sound effects helps heighten the cinematic quality of the experience. Many of these songs would be right at home in any compilation of great score music from the golden age of horror films.
Of course, I assume this was Midnight Syndicate’s intention with Monsters of Legend: to create a nostalgic, atmospheric experience that transports listeners back to a time when Lugosi, Karloff, and Chaney, Jr. were monster gods.
So if you’re a fan of the era, classic horror cinema, or just love beautifully dark, Gothic, instrumental score music, you should definitely check out Midnight Syndicate’s Monsters of Legend!
For the uninitiated, I’ve embedded a few videos from Midnight Syndicate’s official YouTube Channel below:
Press Release from Midnight Syndicate’s website:
“Midnight Syndicate releases MONSTERS OF LEGEND album
July 19, 2013 (Cleveland, OH) – Symphonic gothic horror musicians MIDNIGHT SYNDICATE have just released their sixteenth studio album, MONSTERS OF LEGEND. This “tribute to the golden age of horror” is inspired by horror films from the silent era, Universal Studios’ horror classics, Hammer Films, and other European horror films of the 60s and 70s. It features sweeping symphonic horror instrumental music and sound effects in the signature style the band helped pioneer. “We want to make you feel like you are a character in one of those classic horror films – that you’ve entered a world where any one of those iconic Universal monsters could be right around the corner,” said composer EDWARD DOUGLAS. The CD artwork features original images from classic Universal Studios horror movies including BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN, WEREWOLF OF LONDON, and DRACULA.
“Those classic horror films are at the core of what we do in Midnight Syndicate, so to do an entire disc based on them was a lot fun,” added Douglas. “Musically it required us to use more traditional orchestral instruments, and use them in more ways than we have in the past. The result is a fuller orchestral sound with a heavy classical music influence. There are plenty of nods to James Bernard, Bernard Herrmann, and other early film composers.” Although the band promises the new disc will deliver the dark atmosphere haunted house designers, roleplaying gamers, and Halloween music enthusiasts expect from them, they feel they’ve crafted a disc that transcends their favorite time of the year. “Like CARNIVAL ARCANE, we feel we’ve taken things up a notch both musically and with the sound design on this release,” said GAVIN GOSZKA. “There’s a lot there to listen to and lose yourself in.”
In addition to over 50 minutes of new music, the band went back into its archives and recreated several tracks from its early releases Born of the Night and Realm of Shadows, bringing the total runtime of the disc to over 65 minutes. “Both the new album and those older ones are set in and around the mysterious hamlet of Arcacia. We felt it would be a great opportunity to breathe new life into a few of our lesser known tracks from those discs to help tell this story. For additional atmosphere the band called on voiceover artist Dick Terhune. “Dick’s known throughout the haunted house industry as the “Voice from Hell,” needless to say he was the perfect match for this disc,” added Goskza.
The CD is available now through the band’s website, as well as iTunes and Amazon.com. It will also be available in select Halloween retailers beginning in August. A collector’s edition 12″ vinyl version is also available on the band’s site.”