Nox Arcana is renowned for creating haunting, gothic-themed soundscapes with classic horror references, strong literary influences, original and captivating storylines, and hidden riddles and elaborate puzzles. The band is the musical manifestation of gothic fantasy artist Joseph Vargo. After successfully producing several gothic, horror-themed concept albums for other bands, Vargo formed Nox Arcana with fellow musician William Piotrowski in 2003. The name Nox Arcana is derived from two Latin words, which roughly translate to "mysteries of the night."
Nox Arcana's debut album, Darklore Manor, was featured as the musical score for the WB's televised special of the 1922 silent film classic, Nosferatu, and has spawned a book of original horror stories, The Legend of Darklore Manor and Other Tales of Terror. Their haunting Gothic soundtracks have also been used in theatrical productions of Bram Stokers' Dracula, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, and Lewis Carrol's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. During the Halloween season the music of Nox Arcana can be heard throughout haunted attractions and theme parks around the world, including Universal Studios, Busch Gardens, Six Flags, and Knott’s Berry Farm.
In keeping with Vargo's literary interests, several concept albums pay tribute to many of his favorite authors. The darkly seductive album, Transylvania, ventures into the land of vampires, musically expounding upon Bram Stoker's Dracula. The sinister Necronomicon is brought to life in Nox Arcana's homage to H.P. Lovecraft. And the unsettling Blackthorn Asylum explores the horrors of a forsaken 19th century sanitarium with an original storyline that expands upon Lovecraft's "From Beyond." Carnival of Lost Souls takes listeners inside an old-fashioned traveling circus that harbors living nightmares and sinister secrets, in the tradition of Bradbury’s "Something Wicked This Way Comes." The morbid and melancholy Shadow of the Raven pays tribute to the great Edgar Allan Poe, and the darkly enchanting Grimm Tales album brings the childhood nightmares of the Brothers Grimm to life.
Nox Arcana created the music for Blood of Angels in 2006, an album featuring vocals and lyrics by noted gothic author and classical vocalist Michelle Belanger. In keeping with the insane pace that Vargo sets for all of his projects, the album was written and recorded in only 5 days. During this time Nox Arcana also delved into the realms of fantasy with the medieval sword and sorcery epic, Blood of the Dragon, which stormed in at #4 on Amazon's New Age chart. Nox Arcana also explored the mysteries of the deep with Phantoms of the High Seas, a ghostly adventure steeped in pirate lore. Their gothic-Christmas release Winter's Knight peaked at #8 on the Billboard Music Chart for Best Holiday Album in 2006 and 2007. In 2017, Nox Arcana's Carnival of Lost Souls ranked on MSN at #101 for Best Album of All Time. Nox Arcana shares the spotlight with The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, and The Ramones.
Since the early stages of Blackthorn Asylum, Nox Arcana has been the solo project of Joseph Vargo, who has been the sole composer and musician on all subsequent albums: Winter's Eve and Winter's Majesty continues the celebration of the magic and wonder of the winter season. Theater of Illusion conjures a realm of mystery and dark magic, set in an old Vaudeville theater, hidden from the outside world, where master magicians gather to display their talents every Halloween night. The Dark Tower is a sinister symphony based on Vargo's original book series, Tales From The Dark Tower, and its sequel, Beyond The Dark Tower, which follows an epic saga of the vampire Lord Brom and his quest to solve the ancient mysteries of the accursed keep. Joseph also composed the music for two Buzz-Works albums, Zombie Influx and House of Nightmares.
Joseph's release of Legion of Shadows marks Nox Arcana's 10 year anniversary and is dedicated to their fans. William simultaneously debuted his solo project, the original motion picture soundtrack for the vampire film Crimson Winter, and continues to work in Los Angeles scoring independent films. With the release of Gothic, Nox Arcana defines the genre, daring the listener to stay the night in a haunted mansion. Season of The Witch explores the various aspects of the craft, both good and evil. Vargo's tradition of releasing winter holiday songs each year since 2013 culminated in the full-album release of Ebonshire in 2018. Nox Arcana's 2019 album The Haunted Symphony tells the tale of a tormented musician who becomes obsessed with creating a dark masterpiece dedicated to his lost love.
Nox Arcana has released 24 full-length albums comprised of more than 470 original compositions, and has become the foremost provider of specialty theme music. As with all of Nox Arcana’s albums, the concepts and themes are of personal interest to Joseph Vargo, who also creates the lavish artwork, captivating storylines and hidden puzzles that accompany each CD. The section called The Arcanum offers entertaining information about Nox Arcana's favorite authors and arcane subjects.
During the winter months of 2019 and 2020, a year spent mostly in isolation, Joseph wrote and recorded another 11 songs, which he released as singles and a digital EP entitled Excelsior.
Nox Arcana's debut of Darkfall in 2002 hit the Billboard Charts at #13 in the Classical Crossover category.
Joseph Vargo, composer, founder and producer of Nox Arcana, has has also contributed music and narrations for various bands including Legion of the Damned and Acid Witch. He achieved international acclaim in 1993 as a gothic fantasy artist with the release of a series of visual works entitled "Born of the Night," a title which has become synonymous with his gothic empire. In 1998 and 1999, Joseph Vargo produced, financed, directed and performed on the gothic-themed albums, Born of the Night and Realm of Shadows, creating a unique sound and style of music for the Halloween industry.
In addition to his music, Vargo has created various artistic and literary projects including Tales From The Dark Tower and The Gothic Tarot. His artbook, Born of the Night: The Gothic Fantasy Artwork of Joseph Vargo, features a collection of over 100 paintings and illustrations from about 1988 to 2005. His artwork has been featured in Spectrum's international collection The Best in Contemporary Fantasy Art, in Dark's Art Parlor Dark Visions collection, and in numerous other horror publications including 32 covers and countless illustrations for Dark Realms Magazine, Vampir, and the UK’s Bite Me. His artwork has been featured in productions by broadcast and film companies such as NBC, Universal, A&E, 20th Century Fox and The Discovery Channel.
Be sure to visit JosephVargo.com to see hundreds of paintings and illustrations, and to read more of his extensive biography including complete publishing credits and in-depth interviews.
William Piotrowski, composer (2003-2008) and engineer for Nox Arcana, began his professional music career at the early age of 15 when he created the musical score for an independent production entitled "Ghosts of Ohio," a video documentary about the original "Ghost Whisperer," which became a popular TV series on CBS. William plays guitar and keyboards, and is well versed in digital recording technology. William's expertise as a studio engineer enables him to bring Nox Arcana's artistic visions to life. William is currently in LA pursuing a film music career but continues to act as the studio engineer for Nox Arcana.
Guest Vocalists and Musicians
Over the years, various Nox Arcana projects have enabled Joseph to work with many of his talented friends in the studio.
A multi-talented singer and musician, Jeff has worked with Nox Arcana on several albums. He performed as a guest vocalist on "Coventry Carol" (Winter's Knight), "Treasure of the Four Crowns" (Blood of the Dragon), and "Winter's Eve" (Winter's Eve), and "Scarborough Fair" (Winter's Majesty). Jeff also played lead guitar on the rock version of "Spellbound" (Carnival of Lost Souls).
Occult author and spiritualist Michelle Bellanger is perhaps best known for her numerous books and television appearances, but she is also a gifted singer with an amazing four-octave range. She has worked with Nox Arcana on two studio projects, performing as a guest vocalist on "Past Time with Good Company" (Winter's Knight), as well as collaborating with Joseph and William on her solo album, Blood of Angels.
Jeff "Buzz" Hartz
Founder of Buzz-Works, Jeff Hartz collaborated with Joseph Vargo on two albums: Zombie Influx and House of Nightmares.
Artist Christine Filipak is often wrangled into the studio to perform voices and background vocals for various Nox Arcana tracks. Her most prominent performances include the ghostly child's voice in Darklore Manor's "Nursery Rhyme" and "Music Box", the voice of the Witch Queen on Grimm Tales, and the angelic narrator of "The Messenger" on Winter's Eve.
Lead singer of the heavy metal bands Breaker and Nightcrawler, and former bandmate of Joseph Vargo from his earlier rock projects, Jim Hamar lends his dynamic voice to the rock version of "Spellbound" on Carnival of Lost Souls.
Lead singer of various heavy metal bands including Maiden Voyage and Mind Riot, Ty Cook lends his soulful voice to the pirate ballad "Fate of the Tempest" on Phantoms of the High Seas.