Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Destini Beard EP serves up Halloween scares

Genre: Goth
Linfaldia Records
Running Time: 22:18

True story: I was working as a cashier once when this guy comes through my checklane wearing a Midnight Syndicate t-shirt.

They looked like some sweet metal band, so I asked him who they were. He told me they played goth music and suggested I check them out.

So lo and behold, I did.

Midnight Syndicate is two guys - Ed Douglas and Gavin Goszka - who compose Gothic Halloween inspired soundscapes, and they've been at it since the mid 1990s. It's a neat idea but it's mostly just atmosphere music. It's not something I would sit around and listen to all day.

So I was intrigued to find the recenty released EP, The Dark Masquerade, which pairs Midnight Syndicate with vocalist Destini Beard.  The eerieness of the background music coupled with pretty female gothic vocals would make a winner, right? The Dark Masquerade is certainly a unique addition to anyone's music collection, though it suffers from being a little rough around the edges.

This six song EP is essentially a work of Destini Beard.  Beard, who was a soprano in the Susquehanna Valley Chorale, wrote the lyrics and composed the vocal arrangements. The general sound is similar to Evanescence or Lacuna Coil, minus the rock influences. The Midnight Syndicate tracks are nothing new, with the exception of the title track. The rest are all pulled from the group's previous album, which is where the problem lies.

Many of the instrumental backing tracks were written years ago, and Midnight Syndicate almost certainly wouldn't have had a singer in mind. At times, it seems like this made it difficult for Beard to come up with effective vocal arrangements.

In the opener, "Awaken," Beard's arrangement plays off the melody established by Midnight Syndicate, but her vocals cover up those gorgeous, haunting synthesizers. I never noticed them until I listened to the instrumental track on its own. "Fallen" has added nothing vocal-wise other than oohs and ahhs.

The title track has more of a danceclub feel to it. Beard sings of being swept across the dancefloor by a mysterious stranger, creating a gothic romance vibe.Midngiht Syndicate change up the pace a little on this track, while Beard keeps them true to their gothic roots. This track represents the most effective pairing of these two artists.

This record is an interesting experiement, but the fact that the Midnight Syndicate tracks were pre-recorded tends to drag the record down a bit. If they sat down and worked on all-new material that fully complemented one another, the result could be dynamite. I recommend checking these artists out as they are both talented, though this may not be the best starting point.

Score: 63/100

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