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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Nox Arcana

Legion of Shadows

Review by Gary Hill

To a large degree you know what you will get with a Nox Arcana album. This outfit produces music that is atmospheric, pretty and very dark. It’s perfect for Halloween. While there is actually quite a bit of variety from track to track, over the course of a whole album it tends to be a little tough to differentiate each song when writing reviews of each of them. This music is meant to set a mood, though, so that makes sense. This is another strong album from Nox Arcana. It would be a good introduction to the Nox Arcana musical experience or a great addition to a growing collection. In other words, this is good stuff.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2013  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
We Are Legion

Atmosphere and tolling bells bring a foreboding darkness. A spoken vocal creates the lyrical concept as the music continues. There are bits of chorale vocals and some fairly familiar musical themes in this.

The Hidden Realm
Piano drives much of the melody on this pretty piece of music. While it does have that innate beauty to it, it’s also dark and foreboding.
Skeletons in the Closet
More of an orchestral sound is heard on this piece. It has definite classical tendencies. Chorale vocal sounds and chiming bells feature prominently.
Shivers
While there is definitely melody here and the arrangement has a lot of layers, this feels more purely atmospheric than some of the other stuff does. It’s also a bit further down in terms of volume and intensity and seems a bit less involved.
Distant Memories
The melodies on this one are dramatic and build rather gradually. This is spooky and pretty and cool. It’s a little mellower and more classical than some of the other music we’ve heard to this point.
Ancient Flame
This piece is very different. The instrumentation is somehow more organic. There are world music elements at play here, too. It still has the same ominous, rather creepy majesty to it, but the overall musical tapestry is quite different from anything to this point on the disc..         
Loveless
Piano has a prominent role in delivering the melody here. There is some classical instrumentation in the mix. That makes sense because there are also symphonic elements in the melodies. This is fairly mellow, but also quite powerful and dramatic.
Dreamscape
As piano opens this, I’m reminded of classic horror film music. It grows out from there in a pretty, but still rather disquieting, melody that is quite intriguing and effective.
Evil Genius
Somehow the opening of this makes me think of some of the music from “Jaws.” It works out from there into a piece that combines some of the best 1950s science fiction movie music with more symphonic modern Gothic sounds. The result is a number that is both electronic and symphonic and one of the more unusual (and strongest) of the disc.
Ghost in the Mirror
There is almost a music box element at play here. This is delicate, intricate and very pretty. Of course, it’s Nox Arcana, so there is still a dark and ominous element of mystery here.
Toccata
A full on classical piece, this gets the Nox Arcana treatment and it works quite well. 
Lorelei
This is dark, pretty and enchanting. It’s fairly mellow and slow. It’s also quite cool.
Black Phoenix
This is quite pretty and symphonic. It’s also rather creepy.
Spirits of the Past
More classically tinged music, this is another that’s pretty and dramatic.
On Dark Wings
I really love the melody and the arrangement here. This feels very much like some sort of dark beast soaring in the clouds. That clearly fits that title of the piece. It’s one of the stronger numbers here.
Haunted Dreams
There are definitely links (at least to my ears) from this to the theme song for Halloween. This is a dramatic and pretty piece of music that works well.
Into the Night
Intricate and delicate, this is another dark dream of a composition.
Rites of Passage
Symphonic, dramatic and powerful, this is one of the stronger pieces here.
Arise
Here we get another piece of trademark Nox Arcana atmospheric sound.
Legion of Shadows
Definitely classically inspired, this is one of the more powerful and outstanding pieces here.
Heart of Darkness
There’s not a lot of surprise here, but rather a classic Nox Arcana styled piece. At the end, though, we get some silence before some spoken words tell the tale over some spooky music to take the disc out.
 
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