When Midnight Syndicate's Edward Douglas made a straight-to-video film called The Dead Matter five years ago, he discovered that he liked creating the music for the soundtrack more than the actual filming. As a result, he joined up with Gavin Goszka to form Midnight Syndicate, which released its first, self-titled album in 1997. That album, which featured a range of music, isn't typical of what the band sounds like; it has since adopted a more consistent approach. Like Danny Elfman, Midnight Syndicate makes music that's spooky in a campy sort of way, and every Halloween, theme parks across the country tap the band's catalog for their haunted houses, rides, and other festivities related to the holiday.
Set in a fictional insane asylum called Haverglast Asylum, Gates of Delirium keeps to the Midnight Syndicate template -- with its gothic piano flourishes, creepy string arrangements, and bone-chilling chants, it sounds like the soundtrack to a Tim Burton film. To mark the release of the album, the group even turned the Lakewood nightclub Tyr into a fake institution, complete with a cast of actors who pretended to be its mad patients. The story behind Haverglast, which is described as a "wretched stronghold" in the liner notes, is never explicitly revealed in the music, but the echoing, manic laughter that runs throughout the 21 songs suggests that the place is somehow haunted by its previous occupants. The sound of footsteps and clashing cymbals also effectively works to convey a sense of foreboding. While it's more engaging than the group's previous three releases and meticulously produced, Gates of Delirium still suffers from the fact that it, like the rest of Midnight Syndicate's material, is best suited as background music.