CD Review

The Midnight Syndicate – "The 13th Hour"

By Marcus Pan

Not much can be said about Midnight Syndicate that hasn't already been said. The second largest distributor of Halloween flavored music CDs, with break-outs into other arenas such as the hobby game industry with their last release of the Dungeons & Dragons Soundtrack(1), the music of Edward Douglas and Gavin Goszka has received worldwide acclaim and moved the duo into projects with Warner Brothers and being heard in most major theme parks during the Halloween season.

Their work is extraordinarily crafted with macabre themes, haunted melodies and an infusion of sound effects that rival all others of the soundtrack genre. Midnight Syndicate were, after all, the original creators of this style starting with their original, Born of Night(2), release after forming in 1997. They've continued defining and upping the bar of the Halloween soundtrack format as they've taken us on tours of many haunted locales. Their next album will be a trip through a haunted carnival expected around 2007.

The 13th Hour, the latest full release from Midnight Syndicate, explores a haunted Victorian mansion. Capturing truthfully the horror of the old house, tracks such as Fallen Grandeur play upon your darkest senses with spooky organ melodies and background chants. The ghosts of the Haverghast family, featuring Lily Lane(3) as madeline Haverghast with David Jacobs, Greg Ballato & Mary Kate Douglas, still wander the darkened hallways of their mansion.

The story of this family is unknown – the listener is left to grasp the happenings at the mansion through the soundscapes. The momentarily pleasant strains in The Drawing Room tinkers lightly as children play before the Mausoleum of Haverghast takes us swiftly to another portion of the dark house. In Family Secrets we are given clues as to the fate of the Haverghast family – were they victims, conspirators or both?

There are a total of 25 separate tracks here, all taking us a little deeper into the dark mystery of The 13th Hour. The Watcher is the second longest, at just over 3 1/2 minutes, and takes what could be a pleasant piano strain and warps it into a dismal horror with the infusion of the surrounding chorales and sound effects. Cold Embrace is a favorite here – the deep thundering orchestration and surrounding effects is the embodiment and sound of death itself. A 1920s Victrola spins Hand in Hand Again as the wind picks up about the house.

Harvest of Deceit builds from a deep piano into a crescendo of orchestra. Footsteps in the Dust opens like a horrific Jeopardy puzzle tune only to collapse into the hushed heartbeat as the unknown lies in wait. Veiled Hunter takes us on a swiftly moving piece as we tail along on the footsteps of a dark persona as he or she slips through the corridors of the house on a gruesome search for something unknown.

The duo have no intention of stopping their creations, as they complete one project only to immediately begin and/or plan the next. Some folks like their music to take them places and Midnight Syndicate are masters at this. They'll take you deep into the darkest mysteries, macabre realms and surround you with gloom. Know that when Halloween is near there is a very good chance that somewhere, sometime, the sounds at this haunted castle exhibit or that dark museum very well could be the work of Midnight Syndicate. If it weren't for them we'd still be listening to the Monster Mash and goofy chain rattling tape cuts.

Contact Information:
Midnight Syndicate
Post: 11510 Boxwood Circle, Chardon, OH, 44024, USA
Phone: (440) 286-1494
(1) Reviewed in Legends #140.
(2) Reviewed in Legends #102.
(3) Lily Lane is with the outfit Lazy Lane, who’s Keepers of the Gloom was reviewed in Legends #149.

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