Monsters of Legend (CD)

Cover art:


midnightsyndicate CD - Monsters of Legend (CD)Performed by Midnight Syndicate

Released by Linfaldia Records

Can you believe this is the 12th standalone Midnight Syndicate disc? (16th if you count collaborations and scores!) Douglas and Goszka have been churning out instrumental music to chill your soul for a very long time, and by now you’d think they’d have run out of ideas. Not yet!

Monsters of Legend is a (fully licensed) tribute to the great Universal Monsters. With Frankenstein and The Wolf Man on the cover and Lugosi’s Dracula on the back, the stage is set for some classic cinematic soundscapes.

Those three classic creatures seem to be the focus here. Howling lycanthropes haunt “Black Woods,” “Requiem” has Gothic organs and chants that bring vampiric chambers to mind, and “Building the Monster” has grand, diabolic themes to bring to life the images of a corpse awakened by science gone mad.

To me, the quality of a Midnight Syndicate release is based on how evocative it is. Last year’s Carnival Arcane (review here) is my absolute favorite MidSyn release simply because it evokes such strong imaginary notes that you can practically smell the hay and the greasepaint. (Of course, I’m partial to dark carnivals… no particular reason.)

With Monsters of Legend, MidSyn return to a more traditional vein in line with their earlier releases. They even remake a few old songs from their first couple of albums with some new twists. While there are certainly moments that bring the theme of the album to mind, this album isn’t quite as expressive as Carnival Arcane so it falls just a little short of the greatness of that masterpiece.

All that said, this is what Midnight Syndicate does best: dark, Goth instrumental orchestrations that fit a general theme and provide an excellent mental backdrop to all things horror. As evidenced by their recent forays into film scores, their compositions have thickened dramatically since the Born of the Night days, giving Monsters of Legend an epic feel that fits the monsters.

Even though it doesn’t tell a musical tale quite as well as the previous disc, Monsters of Legend still represents the pinnacle of this kind of music. They pretty much invented it and refuse to give up the crown to any newcomers. Listening to these tunes will absolutely have you envisioning the monochrome villages and towers of the legendary Universal films as the creatures we all adore stalk their victims in the night, undying and eternal.

The disc ends with “Beyond the Veil of Time,” which has a plodding, foreboding theme that suggests the inevitable approach of something monstrous. The suggestion is simple: These monsters will live forever in our minds and memories no matter their fate on the silver screen. They’ll always be coming for us, unstoppable and undying.

Much like these titans of cinema, Midnight Syndicate are proving to be timeless and unshakable, continuing to provide amazing music for all of our nightmares.

Track Listing
1. Return to Arcacia
2. Into the Valley of Shadows
3. A Watchful Gathering
4. Inn of the Weeping Sparrow
5. Unwanted Visitor
6. Requiem
7. Witching Hour
8. Unexpected Cargo
9. Black Woods
10. Twilight
11. Carriage Ride
12. Stone Guardians
13. Ancient Portal
14. Dark Tower
15. Building the Monster
16. Lord of the Realm
17. Forgotten Alcoves
18. A Terror Unleashed
19. Cloistered Cemetery
20. It Lives!
21. Beyond the Veil of Time

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4 out of 5

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