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Midnight Syndicate – Monsters Of Legend

Label: Linfaldia Records
Format: CD
Released: 2013
Reviewed By: Rich Catino
Rating: 8.5/ 10

While not Heavy Metal music in its purest form; screaming guitars and vocals, pounding drums and bass, Midnight Syndicate are the other creative side to the genre. Composing film score orchestrated arrangements that create spooky moods, atmospheres, environments, and transport listeners to another time and place. Midnight Syndicate are akin to the complimenting piece of any instrumental intro/outro, interlude, accompanying orchestral/symphonic keyboard arrangement you could hear from King Diamond, to Black Metal kings Dimmu Borgir and Emperor, epic European Power Metal by Rhapsody, Nightwish, Blind Guardian, or Grave Digger, concept albums from Iron Maiden, Dio, and Manowar, to Progressive bands like Symphony X and Therion.


Hearing Midnight Syndicate for the first time when they released “Realm Of Shadows” and “Born Of The Night” (1998 and 2000) was like hearing King Diamond for the first time in 1986 when he released “Fatal Portrait”, and perfectly merged horror stories with heavy metal music. Midnight Syndicate have done the same for not only the Haunted Attraction industry (their primary market), but for the horror film.

Just in time for the Halloween season, “Monsters of Legend” is inspired by the classic Universal, Hammer and other European horror films of the 60s and 70s. ‘Return to Arcacia’ is a subtle building opener with a Danny Elfman (composer for Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, Batman, Nightbreed, etc) feel; the full orchestra using piano, horns, strings, percussion, and background noises from the creatures of the night welcome the listener to the village of Arcacia and neighboring castle. ‘Into The Valley of Shadows’ is more dramatic, horn and string section become stronger complimented by the ghostly chanting voices. Crows (and more spooky voices) nicely accents the eerier ‘A Watchful Gathering’ and makes you wonder what could be behind a creaky door, tree, or crypt, with its simple effective haunted house like keyboards. At 2:19 seconds I want to hear more from such a arrangement, a great piece to establish a setting and one of my favorites. ‘Inn of the Weeping Sparrow’ follows equally effective and keeps within the subtle feel, incorporating again another castle (gothic) organ and ghostly sounds. The ‘Unwanted Visitor’ presence (who’s behind those voices?) is made by the flurry of strings, simple piano placement, and dark low lining keys.

Elsewhere, familiar themes and melodies from past Syndicate albums can be heard (and expanded on) in ‘Witching Hour’, ‘Black Woods’, and ‘Twilight’. ‘Unexpected Cargo’ nicely has a subtle build, ghostly delivery of instrumentation, and minimal sound effects that brings attention to the dangerous package there in, and which would have probably made a better impact closing on a crescendo. Sandwiched between ‘Stone Guardians’ and ‘Dark Tower’ is ‘Ancient Portal’, a useful segue but so short and quick should have been incorporated elsewhere or expanded on. ‘Building The Monster’ sets the stage for ‘It Lives’ which captures the grandeur of the classic Universal Monster movie Frankenstein.

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