A Journal Of The Dark Arts
Welcome to Arcacia, a troubled land of misty moors and buried secrets. Graves have been turning up empty at the churchyard, and the stone tower on the distant hill is lit up for the first time in 27 years. You can hear monstrous baying in the moonlight, and people have been disappearing, only to return but… different. There’s trouble brewing, and the distant Stranger in town seems nervous, like he knows something. Like he’s looking for something.
Welcome to Monsters Of Legend, the most recent addition to the corpus of Edward Douglas and Gavin Goszka, the masters of cinematic horror known as the Midnight Syndicate who have been making uncanny soundtracks for nearly 20 years, and helped to jump start a genre, in their wake.
Many consider Midnight Syndicate to be the first ‘haunted house band’, whose blend of cinematic orchestral music with eerie sound effects make for a listening experience that transports you to whatever world they’re investigating, this time. They have become favorites of themed haunted houses, Halloween mixtapes and as ambience for role-playing games.
On Monsters Of Legend, the Syndicate transport us to the world of Universal Classic Monsters and Hammer Horror: the gothic grand guignol of Dracula’s pipe organ; Lon Chaney‘s furry face in nitrate; bolts from Boris Karloff‘s neck spraying sparks while Technicolor blood runs down Christopher Lee‘s chin.
To keep with this classic feel, they have stuck to a pallet of mostly epic adventure music, mixed with traditional Bernard Hermann/Penderecki orchestral tension: bold striding strings meet martial tympani and church bells. It makes you think of angry mobs with guttering torches and Mad Scientists breaking the laws of nature. The presence of Foley FX, like rattling chains, crunching hooves, and rusty crow calls gives Monsters Of Legend a sense of narrative, and a good one at that. It’s like a universe where every classic horror movie is happening simultaneously. Sort of like Halloweentown from Nightmare Before Christmas, or the Black and White world from Once Upon A Time. This record would be perfect for any event, mix, or role-playing event that may happen around the late 1800s, to early 1900s. Edwardian, i guess you could say. Resurrect the worlds of Sherlock Holmes, Jack The Ripper, Frankenstein’s Monster. Cast the world in flickering gaslight and rolling fog.
Most of the music seems synthetic, a representation of classic film scores rather than a total recreation, meaning that this record may stay in the role-playing/event music category, but it doesn’t have to. It reminds me of other dungeon synth classic Glenn Danzig’s Black Aria, and will appeal to a similar crowd. For those for whom Halloween is a way of life, and not just one day a year, Monsters Of Legend, and everything else by Midnight Syndicate, should be on steady rotation.
As you no doubt already know, i am a devoted horror junkie, but i must admit, i am woefully underexposed to the Silver Screen classics of Universal. I know their iconic imagery, but have never actually seen the films themselves. Being a product of my age, sometimes i have trouble getting through the glacial pacing of bygone eras. I mean, i love Tarkovsky and Godard, but damn those black and white movies are slo-o-ow sometimes! But i love the sense of atmosphere in horror films, the glorious set design and creepy music and sound effects, and that’s half of the reason i watch in the first place. Midnight Syndicate are doing a public service, drawing eyes and ears to the works of James Whale and Val Lewton. We must expose ourselves to classics and masterpieces of every age, and create masterpieces in our time.
Its inspiration, pure and simple. Its genius. We know it when we see it. These things last the test of time for a reason. These shadows formed the nightmares of the Baby Boomers generation, as you can see in the works of Stephen King like It. They seem almost laughably tame, now, and even that is kind of refreshing, after a few days of being immersed in the vomit factory that is (some of) modern horror. I plan on checking out some of these Silver Screen treasures for the first time, in this most holy of unholy weeks.
4 more days to Halloween, so expect to see a lot more macabre delights, along with the usual pop cultural musings. Check out our Tumblr page, for a torrential downpour of blood, tears, magick and miracles, plus lots more reviews and mixtapes.
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Listen @ spotify