Last week, I changed things up a bit and gave you reviews of horror movie DVDs instead of CDs. This week, I offer a couple of CDs that might help you extend the spooky season a little longer!

 

Grigori 3Grigori 3
Exile
(Dark Star)


One of the best goth-rock combos I've heard in years hails from right here in Chicago. Grigori 3 actually is a quartet (the name has to do with fallen angels), and led by a talented and alluring goth beauty named Gwen. The band has been playing around town for three years now, and after performing last year at the large day-long GothicFest here and getting coverage in Spin Magazine, its first full-length CD finally is available.

For those who love crunchy fuzz-riff guitars and haunting vocals, this is a must-have album. Think Evanescence with a more hard rock guitarist, and you'll have an idea of the power and style of this band. Gwen's vocals have more depth and color than Amy Lee's, however, while her band's attack borrows from a number of goth scene touchpoints, ranging from the electronic, danceable aspects of acts like Cruxshadows to the subtle beauty of Hungry Lucy on the disc's one quiet piano ballad, “Silently Breeding.”

While the guitars and drums pound strong throughout the dozen songs on “Exile,” their metallic attack is tempered by washes of keyboards that sometimes sound like the backdrop music for a haunted house. And Gwen's layers of plaintive harmonies add even more to the often melancholic atmosphere of the songs. She even manages to sing in Latin to add to the medieval gothic atmosphere on songs like “Awakening,” which is offered in two forms on the album (there's a remix at the end).

“Awakening” previously appeared on a demo EP the band released on their own, and thankfully it's resurrected here, as its stomp-rock riffs and oscillating electonica background show the breadth Grigori 3 is capable of. The track mixes rock guitars with dance keyboard loops with eerie goth vocals. This ought to be on the soundtrack to a horror film somewhere, as it's both catchy and poundingly scary at the same time!

"Kindred," is one of the band's best tracks, and shows off its love of dark themes. Over the top of a dramatic, spooky, music bed (with the toll of a bell) Gwen sings:

"though you crave my flesh and bone
it's not the blood you need alone
to feed the emptiness inside."

In “Shadows,” Gwen sounds like she's calling to us from another room as the band lays down a stomping riff with a furious barrage of drums. And then in “Feast,” there's another urgent rhythm bed as the vocals and keyboards set a palpable tension; as if this song was leading to “something wicked coming this way.

Grigori 3 offer an intoxicating mix of spooky atmosphere with hard-edged rock rhythms. Don't miss this disc, or one of their local shows! For more information, look at their website at www.grigori3.com.

 

Midnight SyndicateMidnight Syndicate
Out of the Darkness: Retrospective 1994-1999
(Dark Star)


If you took away the haunting vocals and buzzsaw guitar riffs of Grigori 3, you might be left with something that sounds like the music of Midnight Syndicate – spooky, keyboard-based songs that listen like the soundtrack to a haunted house.

The band has been crafting concept albums and instrumental collections for a decade now. If you want some dark songs with slow moving basslines, eerie synthesized strings that sometimes sound like voices, and delicately melancholy piano themes, a la the themes to the movies "Halloween" or "The Exorcist," you should definitely seek this out.

The description on the back of this collection of early recordings describes the band's music:

"Symphonies from the Crypt: Midnight Syndicate blends haunting orchestrations, pulse-pounding melodies and chilling gothic horror sound effects designed to set the mood for your darkest nightmare. Dim the lights and venture forth...if you dare."

For more information check their Web site at www.midnight-syndicate.com.