CD Reviews > Nox Arcana

Nox Arcana - Winter's Knight

Monolith Graphics

Nights are getting longer, a chill is in the air, and the winter holidays – whichever ones you celebrate – are approaching. There are those of us who like darker, more atmospheric alternatives to the cheery canned music we’re hearing everywhere this time of year, and Nox Arcana deliver just that with Winter’s Night (Monolith Graphics).

“Vigil” sets the mood nicely, with church bells tolling against a desolate, howling wind. These create a backdrop for a deep male vocal narration over an angelic choir. “Ghosts of Christmas Past” would be right at home in a haunted cathedral. “Ebonshire” and “Redemption” are graced by keys sounding like a medieval harpsichord, the former joined by acoustic guitars and choir, the latter dark and somber. “Solitude” indeed brings a stark, solemn loneliness.

The xylophone-sounds and chanting in “Crystal Forest” brings a Faery-like feel to a stroll through snow-laden trees. The waltz-like melody of “First Snow” conjures images of flakes softly dancing earthwards. “Evening Star” is majestic and soul-stirring. “Reflections of Long Ago” is a reflective, dream-like walk through the ages. “December Winds” indeed chills to the bone.

A larger-than-life pipe organ sets a haunted house mood in “Phantom Tocatta”, which segues seamlessly into “Hallowed Ruins”, which sets a similar yet more somber vibe. “Gregorian Hymn” is just that – deep male chanting punctuated by a tolling bell. “Veni, Veni Emannuel” is yet another Gregorian chant.

“Spirit of the Season” invokes timeless parties in Great Halls, with mistletoe hanging from the ceilings and fires roaring warmly in the fireplace; as does “Past Time With Good Company”, the latter having a more medieval feel. “Winter’s Night” sets a dark, chilling yet majestic mood. “Lullaby” is indeed just that, soft and tranquil.

Three traditional Christmas carols were included as well: “Coventry Carol” performed with an Olde English feel; “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” done on pipe organ, and appropriately chiming bells performing “Carol of the Bells”.

~Athena Schaffer