Beautifully dark Christmas hymns with a gothic touch. A classic masterpiece of timelessness. Certainly appropriate for the holiday season! Be prepared to go back in time to a kingdom far far away.
Nocturna, Livid Looking Glass
This music is wonderful... All the enchantment and beauty of traditional classical Christmas music from the dark side. Very evocative of holiness as well as spine chillingly mysterious.
Many artists claim that their music is haunting, but no one delivers the goods like Nox Arcana. Everything about this enchanting concept album is a true work of genius.
Nox Arcana view the season through a haunting, Gothic lens. From symphonic arrangements and acoustic guitar to Gregorian chants and choral harmonies, the album enchants the listener with its evocative, appropriately chilling imagery. Highlights include reinterpretations of God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen and Coventry Carol. If you like your holidays with a little imagination and mystery, this is the album for you.
Amy H. Sturgis, PopThought
If you are one who finds Christmas music irritating by about the second weekend in December this might be the perfect antidote. It certainly works for me with its creepy symphonic ghostly tale set in the middle of winter. This is a perfect soundtrack when you are all tired out by the Christmas hype and the annoyances of the season. Gothic symphonic goodness.
Marty Dodge, BlogCritics
As the wind and bone wrenching cold envelops you this Christmas season, my suggestion is to let the latest brilliant dirge by Nox Arcana increase the effect with their Christmas effort, Winter's 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.
With Winter's Knight, Nox Arcana went into more of a gothic or ghostly sound for the winter holidays. They have done another excellent job of giving us fans some great background music to set the mood.
No, this is not Tim Burton's ghoulish tale about the Pumpkin King—this is royalty of an entirely different sort. Nox Arcana is Joseph Vargo and William Piotrowski, musical masters of darkness. Their intensely creative Winter's Knight takes listeners on a gothic fantasy to the blackest parts of midnight. Although most pieces are instrumental, there are several sinister vocals to chill the soul.
This ample album (over an hour of music!) travels through 21 holiday numbers that are unlike anything you have ever heard. The orchestration is elegantly creepy and musically astute; these gentlemen know their stuff. Most pieces are inspired originals, but more intriguing are the ghostly and ghastly renditions of well-loved carols. Although these holiday chestnuts once were harbingers of hope and grace, Nox Arcana reworks them to cast the eeriest glow across the haunted landscape, all the while retaining the coolest sort of inner beauty.
Most definitely, Winter's Knight is not for everybody. Nox Arcana throws dark shadows across the brightest time of year, and unless you have a solid sense of humor or, at the very least, an open mind and/or a fondness for all things goth, this album will puzzle and perhaps even offend. On the other hand, if you have heard five billion renditions of "Deck the Halls" in your neighborhood mall, and you long for something a bit more daring, Nox Arcana's Winter's Knight may well be your cup of tea, so to speak.
As for me, great music attracts me, and I have considerable admiration for talented musicians who are willing to walk a different path. Winter's Knight will take you down that bizarrely distinct trail for the holidays, but Nox Arcana will make the journey well worth your while.
Carol Swanson, ChristmasReviews.com
I decided to first listen to this CD on a cross-country train ride, I thought it would be fitting. It was gently raining in the Pacific Northwest and as prehistoric landscapes rolled by, I felt I too was like a knight on a quest of lonely tranquility.
My favorite track is "Ebonshire." This minstrel piece is a perfect accompaniment of medieval mystique for a journey into the unknown. I love the sound of the harpsichord, and Nox Arcana did not skimp on the medieval instruments, or the length, with over 60 minutes of music. The different sounds and emotions are threaded together with a gothic motif.
I love how this album especially, matches Vargo's famous blue hued illustrations. If the music on Winters Knight had visual color, it would definitely be the frost blue of an enigmatic winter in Eastern Europe. The serene silence of winter is illustrated in "Crystal Forest." This track sounded like crystal and images of falling snow suspended in time. I pictured an outdoor mysterious masquerade during "First Snow," and I could just see the night sky lit up by the blue-hued snow. The chain of thoughts then led me to think I was inside a glass ball with a contrived scene inside that you shake and the snow flutters around.
The album then takes a turn to celebrating the holiday season. Guest vocalist Jeff Endemann brings a foreboding comfort to the lullaby "Coventry Carol." Nox Arcana's rendition of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" has been the most interesting I have ever heard to date. "Redemption" and "Carol of the Bells" are the perfect finale.
The medieval noble knight motif is incorporated into all of the pieces, he is eerie but not evil, and he protects the solace and beauty of this delicate and fragile season. As I visited the frozen tundra engulfed in fog on a mountain a mile high in Washington, this soundtrack I heard on my train ride over raced though my mind. I was delighted with the sophisticated elegance of this enchanted realm. I have usually in the past looked forward to summer, but now I look forward to winter.
Alexandra Nakelski, Fangoria