Midnight Syndicate: Monsters of Legend CD Review

Listen to them, the children of the night. What music they make!”
Bram Stoker, “Dracula”

For more than 15 years now, composers Edward Douglas and Gavin Goszka have been recording nightmarish soundscapes for the haunted attraction industry and for Halloween fans everywhere. Their music is featured in hundreds of haunts across the globe, and almost annually they’ve released a new sonic spook show to accompany each new October moon. Themes for their recordings have included haunted Victorian mansions, creepy Lovecraftian seaside villages, abandoned asylums, vampire’s crypts and dark carnivals.

You’ve likely seen Midnight Syndicate CDs at Caufield’s Novelty, Horner Novelty and in just about every temporary Halloween outlet store that pops up each October. You may also have seen the Midnight Syndicate table at FandomFest or at horror conventions like Days of the Dead and Horror Hound.

This year Midnight Syndicate has released a new symphonic audio soundtrack called “Monsters of Legend,” inspired by the classic Universal Monster pictures of the 1930’s and 40’s, as well the garishly bloody Hammer Horror monster movies of the 50’s and 60’s. Midnight Syndicate weaves subtle sound effects into its themes; howling winds, rattling chains, flapping bat wings and other creatures of the night set the imaginary scene as each track pulls the listener into a story told by music.

You’ll be taken by coach ride to the mysterious village of Arcacia, and from there into the Black Woods and eventually to the castle that’s perched on the cliffs overlooking the town. The various themes conjure images of vampires, werewolves, witches’ curses and man-made monsters. It’s a journey best experienced lying in your bed or favorite couch with your headphones on during a dark and stormy night with the windows open, a candle lit and your mind free to take the dark journey.

If you’ve listened to some of Midnight Syndicate’s CDs in the past, you may be surprised how far they’ve come musically since their early audio experiments. Some of their early releases, while certainly evocative, tended to sound a bit electronic and were sometimes a bit repetitive in themes for my tastes. “Monsters of Legend,” much richer and more symphonic than anything they’ve released before, represents these two artists at the absolute peak of their talent.

Perhaps the theme of classic monster cinema has connected with Douglas and Goszka’s best childhood Halloween memories and inspired their best work to date. The artwork on the CD cover features Boris Karloff’s Frankenstein monster and Henry Hull’sWerewolf of London” amid a foggy cemetery. There are tracks clearly influenced by classic monster movie composers like Hammer’s James Bernard (“The Curse of Frankenstein,” “The Horror of Dracula”), Bernard Herrmann (“Psycho”) and even Wojciech Kilar’s score for “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” (1992).

Varying from the quiet, creepy and cryptic mood of “Return to Arcacia” and “Cloistered Cemetery” to the sweeping sinister bombast of “Into the Valley of Shadows,” “Unwanted Visitor” and “Black Woods,” “Monsters of Legend” offers 21 tracks and over an hour of old school horror music. This is truly an early Halloween treat for Monster Kids young and old.

“Monsters of Legend” is available on Midnight Syndicate’s website at  http://www.midnightsyndicate.com/buymusic.htm and through Amazon.com. Of course, first I’d recommend a trip to Caufield’s or Horner Novelty to see if they’ve got it in stock yet. This is the Phantom of the Ville howling with the children of the night through October 31st. I’ll be back soon with some brand new haunted attraction previews and news!

The Phantom of The Ville

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