REVIEW: Midnight Syndicate - "Realm Of Shadows"

By Marcus Pan

Chain Border

Realm of ShadowsOn the outskirts of some dreamland, somewhere, there is an abandoned village. Night eternally lies and crows take flight from the trees as you approach. The wind blows shrilly by, licking your spine and stealing your hair. And the Midnight Syndicate take you there as wholly as can be done in music.

Sounds, orchestration and amazing arrangement talents combine in the two masters of the non-existent movie, Gavin Goszka and Edward Douglas. Following the releases of Midnight Syndicate and Born of the Night, the duo released a truly spectacular soundscape in Realm of Shadows on March 6, 2000. Blending 21 tracks together across the CD, the Midnight Syndicate have created something spectacular. You would be hard pressed to find anything else as chilling as Realm of Shadows - even in a true movie.

The tracks of Realm of Shadows blend together so well you won't notice the breaks in most of them. A true soundtrack to a movie that doesn't exist, the MS attempt to create the movie in the mind of the listener. And if you close your eyes and let the music take you, that movie is there. As real as Nosferatu, Psycho, Dracula, The Crow - you just have to find it in your head with the help of the spooky sounds, classical strains and frightening effects. The movie may not look the same to all of us - but the feelings will be synonymous. Desolation…loneliness…darkness…and all that makes a suspenseful horror/thriller a success.

There's no gore here. No special effects. No modern-day King or Barker level bloodshed. Instead you are treated to an old fashioned arrangement. From pianos to strings, wind through the trees and chants of the damned. I'd love to be able to take you into it track by track like I do with most reviews, but the fact is I can't. Every time I attempt to expound on what a track sounds like, not to mention the blending from one to the other helped by lengths that usually don't top 3 minutes a piece, I end up writing what I see as well - and before I know it I have a Lovecraft style horror story unraveling in what's supposed to be a review. So here's just a few snippets - a few highlights from Realm of Shadows. It's the best I can do without becoming the unwilling author of a novel.

Track 5 - Eye of the Storm
Pelting rain and falling wind open this track. It rolls into a minimal but beautifully played piano solo punctuated by orchestra hits. You can smell the wet air as the track plays through.

Midnight SyndicateTrack 6 - Sanctuary
Gregorian style chants used more effectively than I've heard in years joined by a Phantom Of The Opera like pipe organ, Sanctuary takes you to one of the very few places of safety in the Realm of Shadows. Soothing vibes that grow darker as the short track moves onward, you find yourself standing by the door trying to find the nerves you need to open it and step through.

Track 11 - The Summoning
A triumph of orchestration with swiftly flowing string ensembles that drag you deeper and deeper into the ritual inside your head, The Summoning is a masterful classical piece rivaling the greats. Drum strikes bring the track to a seething and passionate climax, cymbals glaring aurally like the lightning flashes that permeate your dark room visually.

Track 13 - Soliloquy
Another piano solo with a rhythmic movement and backing ambient keyboard chords, this track finally soothes you if only for a moment shortly after the climax of The Summoning. Bells toll in the distance as you, for just a short while, feel safe and comforted.

Track 18 - Legions of the Dead
A death march of sorts, Legions of the Dead is another whole-orchestra masterpiece like The Summoning. Faster and faster the rhythm picks up as you race as fast as your rain-soaked limbs will allow you to move.

Track 21 - Eclipse
Atop the hill overlooking the desolate village you finally stop and fall, resting after your run. You can still hear the bell from the tower where you took Sanctuary if only for a moment, but now it plays a morbid, evil tone. Don't ever go back there, to that village. For your own safety. But you know you will…they always come back.

And nonetheless - the beginnings of a horror story. It was the best I could do…try it for yourself. See if you can keep your mind focused on only the music when you play Midnight Syndicate's latest triumph. I'd like to see you listen to Realm Of Shadows thinking it's ONLY music…because it's not. Like Zoar's Cassandra or Deathwatch Beetle Repairman's Hollow Fishes, it's much more than just music. Edward and Gavin have orchestrated the soundtrack to your horrors.

Buy The Album
Buy Realm of Shadows

Contact Information:
Post: Midnight Syndicate, Entity Productions, 7100 Rushmore Way, Concord, Ohio, 44077
Phone: (440) 357-9138

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