Nox Arcana Winters Knight
By Marcus Pan
As the wind and bone wrenching code
envelops you this Christmas season, my suggestion is to let the latest
brilliant dirge by Nox Arcana(1) increase the effect with their Christmas
effort, Winters Knight. The duo of Joseph Vargo and William
Piotroswki subdues the cold outside and replaces it with a deeper one from
inside, but somehow interweave warmth into the otherwise bleak dirges they
produce, a subtlety that is not missed on this reviewer.
Winters Kight is a Christmas album really, with
some classical cold night accompaniments intermixed with some traditional
madrigal songs such as God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, and Veni, Veni,
Emmanuel. One of my favorites, Carol of the Bells, closes
Winters Knight in slot 21. Much of Winters Knight is
very minimal when compared to Nox Arcanas previous work. Songs are made
of only a handful of melody, rhythm and overtone instruments at a time creating
a very bleak atmosphere. Somehow they dont lose in the minimal approach,
all coming off as full bodied some minimal creations have a tendency to
sound like somethings missing, but Vargo and Piotrowski do it
Vigil opens us with a short spoken word from Joseph
Vargo as he takes us into the mood of the album. And First Snow is made
with the minimalist approach; a simple melody, harpsichord sounding backing
rhythm and some chorale overtones. The rest is left to your imagination as the
track flutters along to completion to be met by Evening Stars
piano which weaves into another choral background. Again the melody is simple
but effective with a power of its own built on its very loneliness.
Reflections of Long Ago is very small in sound and gives you that
feeling of being lost before December Winds builds into a crescendo of
classical chorales, tolling bell choruses and strings.
Phantom Toccata takes an operatic feel with its swift
organ, one of the faster moving tracks throughout Winters Knight.
Gregorian Hymns tolling bell calls to you. Coventry Carol
is gorgeous, taking you back to medieval times with its tradition and sung
beautifully by guest Jeff Endemann. Lullaby is twisted and dark, but
subtlety plays a key role here as the darker elements of the music box
accompaniment is kept underneath. At its first strains it almost sounds pretty,
but close your eyes as the chorals sneak in and it becomes a waltz of despair.
The closing Carol of the Bells is easily one of the most brilliantly
produced versions of my favorite traditional Christmas song.
Nox Arcana tone it down a bit this time, taking a bleak
theme of winter, mixing in some classical carols and dont overstep the
melancholy of the season. They step into a little bit of minimalism applied to
their more heady efforts from before and still manage to create a full bodied
moving sound. If you like the holidays, and most do I would suspect, and you
like the dark solitude that winter brings and youd like that reflected in
the sounds that surround it, then youll certainly enjoy Nox Arcanas
latest, Winters Knight.
(1) Nox Arcanas Darklore Manor was
reviewed in Legends #146 and Necronomicon was
reviewed in Legends #151.
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