Just like many other people, I prefer that anything Christmas related be kept out of sight until AFTER Halloween. When I’m out shopping, I don’t want to see any Christmas decor or hear any Christmas music playing over the store’s sound system until November 1st at the VERY earliest. We all know that keeping it hidden away until after Thanksgiving is not even an option, but at least let Halloween pass before throwing Christmas in our collective faces.
This is an attitude I have held for the entirety of my adult life. The only exception I have even made to this rule has been regarding The Nightmare Before Christmas, since clearly it contains elements found in both Halloween and Christmas. However, thanks to Midnight Syndicate, I recently found myself making another exception to this rule.
My first introduction to the music of Midnight Syndicate was in 1998, with the group’s 2nd album, Born of the Night. This album was a soundtrack that simply begged for a Gothic vampire movie to be written for it. It’s a similar sentiment I have felt for all of their studio albums, as I truly believe they are all soundtracks waiting for their accompanying films to be made.
Their latest album, Christmas: A Ghostly Gathering, is no different. Imagine, if you will, that Charles Dickens, Bram Stoker, and Mary Shelley were all alive and actively writing at the same time, and were collaboratively creating a horrific Christmas tale in Ye Olde London Town. This album would be the perfect complement to a horror movie adapted from said story.
The duo of Edward Douglas and Gavin Goszka, have taken holiday season standards and cast them in a dark and macabre mold. The music is at times somber and morose, hauntingly beautiful, and even devilishly playful, but it is at all times very entertaining.
As much as I love the entire album, there are some tracks that just stand out in my mind. Track 4, “Night of the Krampus”, brings to mind images of gypsies huddled around their campfire telling grisly tales of that shadowy, nightmarish Christmas legend, The Krampus.
Track 7, “Up on the Housetop”, takes a song that originally told tale of the arrival of St. Nick and his reindeer, and turns it into a theme appropriate for an introduction to a monstrous and imposing creature.
In Track 10, “Little Helpers”, the idea of the benevolent helper elves from the story “The Elves and the Shoemaker” gets turned on its ear, as the music makes these “little helpers” sound devilish as if they may be out to do themselves and others a mischief.
Track 14, “The Parade of the Tin Soldiers”, sounds like a call to arms, for a battle against a rabble of yule tide ghosts, goblins, and monsters.
The entire album flows from track to track building the imagery in the mind of the listener. The story and visuals it creates may differ depending on who’s listening, but it will no doubt construct a chilling narrative.
For anybody who likes the idea of a dark and macabre Christmas album, or for those who just want something that differs from the cliche Christmas playlist, this album is a must have. It is currently available for purchase at the Midnight Syndicate site or by digital download at CDBaby, Amazon MP3, and iTunes.
I would like to give special thanks to Edward Douglas for giving me an advanced coy of the album, which I have listened to many, many times over the past month.