| Artist: Midnight Syndicate|
CD Title: Realm of Shadows
Label: Linfaldia Records
Reviewer: Joshua Heinrich
I was first introduced to Midnight Syndicate's blend of eerie classical horror compositions and horror sound effects during a brief part-time stint at a Halloween store years ago where their first disc was being cleverly marketed as a Halloween soundtrack. Of course, it wasn't just clever marketing; they definitely fit the bill and are currently one of the biggest providers of music to haunted houses and other Halloween attractions. On the other hand, their music is certainly not your typical "creaks and moans" Halloween sound effects schlock and could probably just as easily be marketed as serious ethereal gothic horror.
On Realm of Shadows, Midnight Syndicate's second offering, the duo (Edward Douglas and Gavin Goszka) serve up a 52 minute aural journey spanning 21 tracks. The album, while certainly dark and moody, isn't exceptionally frightening for the most part. In fact, much of it falls more along the lines of family friendly Disney haunted house fare (in fact, it quite literally IS Disney haunted house fare; the band's music has been sold outside of Disney's Haunted Mansion attraction). Synth strings, organ, piano, bells, wind sounds…it's all here. Somewhat foreboding epic tracks like "Into the Abyss", "Black Woods", and "The Summoning" combine grandiose orchestral arrangements while others like the beautiful "Noctem Aeternus", "Eye of the Storm", "Soliloquy", and "Among the Ruins" take a slightly sparser melancholy approach with snaking piano lines weaving around an underlying synth framework. Still, others like "Tempest", "Raven's Hollow", and the particularly well done "Harbored Souls" blend processed sound and percussion with sound effects to create effectively eerie abstract soundscapes. With each track flowing seamlessly into the next, the disc is essentially one cohesive, linear work that's exceptionally well written and beautifully produced.
Those looking for a serious dark horror masterpiece may, despite the album's strong songwriting and fairly emotionally effective content, find the blend of theatrical orchestration and horror sound effects that make up Realm of Shadows a little bit on the cheesy synthetic side. However, it certainly fits the bill for moody, eerie Halloween fun, and Midnight Syndicate's apparently unparalleled success in the Halloween soundtrack market is more than justified. With candy corn already hitting the store shelves and October 31st quickly approaching, Realm of Shadows is an album that's definitely worth checking out.
Midnight Syndicate website: www.midnightsyndicate.com
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