I won’t deny that I’m biased when it comes to my love of dark ambient music. And by all means, Midnight Syndicate embodies a lot of what I love from it. It’s not just sinister electronic music, but a soundscape atmosphere that fills an entire room with dark atmosphere. And for the past 2 albums, MS has been doing a great job at it! This album’s certainly a step up! Enjoy!
Good Evening, Boos and Ghouls!
For the season of Halloween, I thought it’d only be appropriate to tackle the latest album by Dark Ambient group Midnight Syndicate. Their latest release, “Monsters of Legends” is a nostalgic look at the classic monsters featured in horror cinema favorites, filled with terrifying music akin to classic films and an equally chilling soundscape.
Back in July, Midnight Syndicate first began to preview a couple tracks such as “Carriage Ride” over various websites. From the moment I heard this sneak peak, I was hooked and wanting more. As an avid fan of classic horror, the release of this album was long awaited from the moment it was announced.
As soon as I snagged a copy, I darted deep within the depths of my lair, tinkered with my tele vision set (as those young imps living in my cellar call it), and played Midnight Syndicate’s soundtrack over some muted silent cinema classics. The result was a cinematic experience… to die for! Caligari, Nosferatu, London After Midnight, and others; blended with a fitting gloomy symphony.
As stated by the press release back in July, Monsters of Legend pays tribute to “the golden age of horror” and takes inspiration from Hammer Horror, Universal Horror, and European horror classics of the ’60s and ’70s.
And man, is that one hell of a trip for nostalgic horror freaks like yours truly!
So, what makes this album any more interesting than previous works? In more recent albums, Midnight Syndicate has experimented with a living, breathing three-dimensional atmosphere in their albums. While we still get symphonic ambiance, we’re also treating to a living world in audio form. It is certainly a step up from previous work, “Carnival Arcane”, which is a beautiful work of macabre art in its own right.
From the moment we enter the album with “Return to Arcadia”, we’ve given a soundtrack both melodic and a fully realized space with interacting sound; a bolder, newer direction that Midnight Syndicate has taken lately. We’re first greeted wita sweeping ambiance of bells, droning orchestral sound, and frenzied strings mixed with keys collide with a ghastly choir, we can expect our trip to Arcadia to be quite the memorable one.
We follow up with an adventure through the familiar realm of Arcadia and beyond. “Into The Valley of Shadows”, “Black Woods” and “Carriage Ride” carry a frantic and panicky sound driven by the music pace picking up along with sounds of dashing creatures and frightened horses. The slower and more atmospheric tracks like the funeral dirge of “Requiem”, the sinister incantations of “Witching Hour” and “It Lives”, and the isolationist terror of “Dark Tower” allow you to really soak in the dread that this mystical land creates in standard classic horror tradition.
But what really stands out with this album is that it strongly ties to the horror classics it pays such deep homage. To an extent, it sounds vaguely like the horror films of the early to mid 20th century, a golden age for monstrous classics. In fact, the piano/pipe organ segments almost feel like they’d be played in a classic theater. The subtle ambiance with occasional retro sound effects don’t distract (like they do in many cheesy Halloween CDs), in the contrary it enhances the classical feel of the album and helps to shape the 3D soundscape it aims to achieve.
In addition, Midnight Syndicate changed up their usual new age-style electronic sound for more classically-inspired traditional orchestra to convey the soundtrack of the black and white monster movie. So, not only does this album go for a modern feeling scare, but also delivers the sounds and images from the past in a very nostalgic way.
So, would I recommend this album? Absolutely! Never once do I get lost or bored in these immersive sounds of Gothic delight. The listener always feeling like an active part of the world they build. Not only is it a great addition to your Halloween season, but it’s also a considerable collectable for any fan of classic horror cinema.
Monsters of Legend receives 9 film reels from the abyss out of 10!