Well—it’s officially here. We’re at the start of the haunt season, and several of you professional haunts out there are opening your doors tonight. I know that all of us here at Rotting Flesh Radio wish each and every haunter out there the absolute best and a very prosperous 2009 season!
And with that said, let’s cut to the chase—if you haven’t quite figured out what music you’re going to be using throughout your haunt, or if you haven’t quite finished the sound work for a particular room in your haunt—then you’re going to want to give a quick listen to what I have in store for you this week. Those familiar with Michael Hedstrom will remember his debut album Midnight Circus, which was a delightfully spooky album of circus and carnival themed haunt music. Well, up on the slab this week is his latest, and possibly darkest album yet, Demagogue.
This spectacularly dark and versatile album easily sets the tone of ominous terror within the very first moments of the album with the track “In the Beginning.” This track blends a great sense of chaos and serenity almost seamlessly…
(“In the Beginning” clip)
The next track “Awakenings” pulses with ominous serenity until right up at the end when it concludes with a very loud series of swells and crashes to really accentuate the movement into the next track “Basic Instinct.” This highly thunderous track is highlighted with gothic vocal work, racing pianos and strings, and very well organized percussion.
(“Basic Instinct” clip)
The album is then taken down a notch with the very ambient track “Sanctuary.” This incredibly dark piece utilizes swelling horns oozing with ancient ambiance. Further along in the track we are graced with a very light flute and piano melody that enhances the spooky vibe you get while listening to the piece. This foreboding ambiance is further sustained into the next track “Isolation” where the delicate piano and swelling horns underscore a very delirious tension.
This tension is brought into full delirium with the next track “Epiphany.” Don’t let the length of this 58-second track fool you—it starts off quietly but ends with an incredibly macabre manifestation of distorted sounds, effects, and tones. I love this track because of it’s unassuming, but incredibly dominating once it picks up the volume!
We’re then launched back into the foreboding world of Demagogue with the next track “Demagogue Emergent.” This track combines several of the different qualities from the previous tracks and uses these to paint a picture in your mind of a ruthless entity of incredibly dark power. Its almost domineering power is alluded to in the next track “The Word” where a pipe organ plays a somber ode to darkness.
(“The Word” clip)
The gothic church style continues on throughout the next track “The Order” incorporating a vaster sounding pipe organ composition with several instances of sacred-like vocals. The next track “Sister Mary Katherine” lulls us with a very somber string arrangement to then lead us to a very whimsical arrangement in the next track “Idol Worshippers.” You can tell Sister Mary Katherine did not approve of the Idol Worshippers…
(“Idol Worshippers” clip)
The next track “Victory Prayer” reintroduces us to the pipe organ and sacred vocals with the beautiful orchestration and vocal arrangement. This track is probably my favorite on the entire album because it keeps the creep-factor nice and high, but the incredibly skillful orchestration really makes this beautiful track stand out amongst all the rest for its perfect musicality.
(“Victory Prayer” clip)
We’re then launched into the next track “Holy War” which is a great blend of epic orchestration with lots of timpani and horns, and also a nice blend of ambient sound effects like horses, wind, bells tolling, etc. It creates a nice all-around audio experience. Followed up by the track “Mourning” you can tell that the battle was vast…
The final track of the album “Afterlife” is a nice blend of somber strings, light piano arpeggios, lofty voices, and select ambient sound effects. These all culminate in a very well composed ending that hints very sinisterly at what’s beyond this life.
So, overall I give this album two stumps enthusiastically up! To be honest, I was surprised at how good this album sounded. The very first record from Hedstrom I ever heard was the Midnight Circus album, and being a bit older, the synths he used on that album sounded a little like calliopes—which was perfect for the clown theme! However, I did not anticipate that Demagogue would sound so crisp and authentic. The whole album sounds much more like a very well composed, very dark film score—there are highs and lows, fast tracks and slow tracks, all lending to an overall audio adventure that really tells a story. I think Michael did an incredible job with this release, and I eagerly anticipate his next album! Demagogue in particular offers us a very nice, very dark and gothic ambiance without being as lofty as some of the other haunt CDs out there. The album is also incredibly versatile—you could use these tracks all over your haunt and create a really dynamic and diverse world.
I highly recommend, if you haven’t done so already, that you check out Hedstorm Productions. You can visit his site at www.Hedstorm.net and purchase his albums directly there. Each album individually is only $13—BUT if you want to buy all three albums, he has them on sale as a package for just $30 plus shipping! I can tell you first hand that all three albums of his are amazing and are definitely worth adding to your collection and to your haunt. If you do want to use them in your haunt, it’s also good to know that you can use his music royalty free! Just shoot him an email and let him know that you’re using it in your haunt and you’re all set!
Well Deadites, that about does it for this week here in the Morgue. Be sure to tune in next time when I’m sure I’ll have more great tunes you’ll want to add to your collection. Also be sure to check out GruesomeJoe.com to catch the written version of my review, as well as all the links you’ll need to get to Hedstorm Productions! Until then, I’m Gruesome Joe and I’ll be chilling out here in the Morgue, waiting for you, until next time…