Summer Screams: Midnight Syndicate: Monsters of Legend

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Summer Screams begins a tad late this year, but hey, summer doesn’t really end until the fall equinox and that’s weeks away! Forget your AC. Sit down with us beside the radio and get properly chilled this hot August.

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[dropcap]I[/dropcap]t’s 92 degrees outside, the humidity is high (never a surprise for Michigan), and these Dog Days have chewed me up and spit me out. That means it must be time once again for Summer Screams. Hopefully, some chilling listening will cool me down some. So, without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to Midnight Syndicate’s latest CD: Monsters of Legend.

I first became aware of Midnight Syndicate through gaming circles (That’s tabletop RPG gaming, not video gaming) and their creepy soundtracks used to heighten any session of dice slinging. They had a number of CDs that were mandatory background music at my Call of Cthulhu games. Each was an eerie blend of music and spooky sound effects that dripped with atmosphere, and went a long way in helping me set the mood I was striving for in those games of mortals verses the eldritch evil of the Great Old Ones.

And yet, that’s all I used them for. I never listened to them outside of the game, except for maybe once or twice when I threw Halloween parties. But that was it. I just didn’t think about them outside of those settings. Quite frankly, when I got this new CD in for review, I at first wrote it off as more of the same. Good, creepy music for flinging dice, but that’s it.

Boy, was I wrong.

Monsters of Legend is an amazing CD and one that’s aptly named. Drawing heavy inspiration from the classic Universal horror movies from the 30s and 40s, it is a tour de force of music that is melodic and haunting, beautiful and uncanny. Each of the 21 tracks expertly captures the Gothic essence of those early horror movies, so much so that you will catch yourself thinking, “Wait, I know that was in Dracula. And yeah, I know this one was in Frankenstein for sure. I remember the scene where ….” Well, the truth is that all these songs are brand-spanking new, but you will be fooled again and again.

Moreover, I have listened to many horror soundscapes over the years and many of them encouraged you to, “close your eyes and let the music take you away to a dark world of horror and mystery.” While many of those CDs were good, none of them was able to pull that trick off for me. Monsters of Legend did just that and then some. While listening to it, I could see a carriage traveling through mountains on its way to a distant, shunned castle, or gravediggers lurking in a fog-shrouded cemetery. With this CD, I did find myself closing my eyes and just listening, allowing the music to make a classic black-and-white monster movie in my mind. Yes, this CD is that good.

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Final Verdict: Midnight Syndicate’s Monsters of Legend is one of the best collections of atmospheric instrumental music I have ever heard. If you are at all inclined towards dark things, this soundtrack will inspire you and fire up your imagination like nothing else. By all means, use it for horror gaming and Halloween partying, but also use it to get you in the proper mood if you create art that intends to horrify. Listen to it on an oppressively hot summer day if you want a little taste of chilly Autumn. Or give it a listen if you just want to take a break and watch the monster movies in your head. Whatever your reasons are, just listen to it. You won’t be sorry. If you want to get your own copy of Monsters of Legend, you can do so directly from Midnight Syndicate’s website here: http://www.midnightsyndicate.com.

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