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Nox Arcana

Winter’s Eve

Review by Gary Hill

Nox Arcana typically produces music that is dark and Gothic and a little spooky. I consider their stuff to be progressive rock, although, it’s often short on the rock side. It’s well suited to Halloween music. So, it seems a bit strange to have them do something for the Winter holidays. That’s what we have here, though. It’s interesting. It’s in the same musical territory as other Nox Arcana albums, but not as dark. I think I prefer the darker side, but this is an intriguing change of pace.


This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2010  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
The Messenger

Chant style chorale vocals and pretty music serve to create an intriguing mood. A spoken female vocal serves almost like an introduction to the album, and the cut ends shortly after.

Frozen Memories
This is quite pretty and does feel rather frozen over. I love the keyboard textures on this and bell type sounds are a nice touch.
Magic and Moonlight
Another pretty track, this one has an intricate sort of arrangement. It’s perhaps a bit less lush, but the progression feels more involved. There’s almost a ticking clock feeling to some of this that’s rather cool. 
The Rose of Winter
In terms of the range of sounds, this one is more diverse than the last couple pieces. It’s still full of layers of keyboards, but it seems like there is some guitar on show, too. Mind you, it might be keys that sound like guitar, but it’s a different sound on show, either way. 
Enchanted Realm
Somehow, this cut reminds me a bit of “Carol of the Bells.” I’ve always loved that piece and this stands out for me, also. 
The Ides of December
This feels a little darker and more ominous. It’s quite pretty and intricate, though. The progression and arrangement seems to be the most complex of anything we’ve heard to this point. 
Gifts of the Magi
The percussion and other elements here make me think just a bit of Blackmore’s Night. Somehow this feels like a cross between Nox Arcana and that group. It’s a pretty and intricate piece of music. 
Season of Wonder
There is a sense of wonder about this track. It’s similar in a lot of ways to the music that has preceded it, but there’s an extra level of character here. 
Solstice Dance
There is definitely guitar on this piece. This has a bit more of a rock ballad approach. It’s very pretty and has a nice energy level to it. 
The White Queen
Piano drives this piece, but there are plenty of other layers of sound here. It’s definitely a keyboard dominated number that’s both moody and beautiful. 
Winter's Eve
A nice change, this is based heavily on a balladic acoustic guitar pattern. There are real vocals here, with lyrics. It’s got a dark and cold texture, but is still very pretty and enchanting. It’s one of the most “rock” cuts of the set.
Starlight Serenade
Another intricate piece of music, this doesn’t differ a lot from much of the other material here. That’s not a bad thing, though, and this is in no danger of becoming boring or staid. 
Greensleeves
Here is an ancient song that’s become associated with the holiday season. I’ve always loved the melody to this and Nox Arcana put their own spin on it. It’s a wonderful number that works very well. 
The Longest Night
Another intricate piece, this has a lot of chiming and tolling bells. It’s interesting and delicate. 
Pax Terra
Tolling bells and chorale voices make up this track. It represents a nice change. 
Winds of Change
Acoustic guitar and other elements are merged into a pretty and intricate piece of music. It’s another that does a good job of changing the parameters of the musical endeavor and scope. 
Fading Embers
The pacing on this is deliberate and the music is pretty. It’s another classy cut that shows off the magic that is Nox Arcana quite nicely. 
Crystal Chimes
As the title suggests, the main sound on show here is chimes. That doesn’t mean it’s the only sound, though. There are other elements that serve as icing on the cake including chorale style vocals. 
Serenity
Here is another that features a prominent acoustic guitar track. This is pretty and potent. It’s got a classical music meets folk and Goth element to it. 
Winter Rhapsody
This one is more like the kind of music typical of Nox Arcana. It’s dark and menacing while still maintaining a sense of beauty. It’s a powerful cut. 
Time Slips Away
In many ways this is a lot like the previous piece. It isn’t quite as menacing, though and is more intricate in terms of musical progression. It’s quite pretty and serves as a satisfying closer to the disc.
 
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