Every town has a house of legend, a place where inhabitants fear to tread, and children speak of in whispers. Usually it's a great Victorian mansion, abandoned for decades, and left to rot at the end of some long lonely road. And if you're anything like me you want, nay need, to roam it's dusty corridors and see for yourself if the rumors are true. Well fiends, Nox Arcana maestros William Piotrowski and Joseph Vargo have created just such place with the release of their album Darklore Manor.
You begin by entering this old isolated home, unaware of its legacy, by way of the "Threshold Of The Dead." Throughout the album's twenty-one tracks, you meander through all of the rooms, such as "The Grande Hall," slowly uncovering the grim past and strange goings-on that have occurred with these walls. You find clues to the history, "Music Box" and "Nursery Rhyme" (featuring eerie vocals by Christine Filipak), and even attend a "Séance." All the while you are surrounded by entities trapped here, some good some bad, as you try, in vain it seems, to escape Darklore Manor.
This album is the perfect way to capture that elusive haunted house from your childhood, and relive it anytime you wish. All you need to do is close your eyes, and you are there. That is the wonderful thing about Nox Arcana's musical creations, everyone's mind's-eye plays a different version of the same theme, allowing each individual his or her own separate nightmare.
Enter the doors of Darklore Manor, and prepare yourself for a journey to the very heart of your deepest fears. Just remember that this invitation may be your last!
Josh Haney, Hacker's Source
Joseph Vargo and his partner William Piotrowski for Nox Arcana bring back the sounds that made Midnight Syndicate famous. Fans of Midnight Syndicate may remember albums like Born of the Night and Realm of Shadows, both of which feature Joseph Vargo. Nox Arcana's debut is no less enthusiastic and resurrects these dark orchestral sounds. Darklore Manor continues Vargo's legacy initially begun, while Midnight Syndicate has not carried on, to venture into other territory such as a Dungeons & Dragons soundtrack. Nox Arcana, on the other hand, give fans of Midnight Syndicate what they've been craving most. Enter Darklore Manor, where creatures of the night lurk in shadows and ghostly sounds echo through unhallowed halls. Haunted organs, ghostly voices, and much much more fill this release while maintaining strong musical compositions instead of becoming overdone with sound-effects like most seasonal releases. I say seasonal because as many of you know Midnight Syndicate has become very popular in the Haunted Attraction industry at Halloween and Nox Arcana should reside along with them by the other releases Vargo helped create.
Joseph Vargo is not only a talented and creative musician with a taste for dark music but also a well established artist who has created quite a stir with his own company. Monolith Graphics has been in business several years producing postcards, posters, stickers, t-shirts, journals, calendars, tarot decks, and their own magazine. Dark Realms has also run several issues featuring reviews of all things dark and wonderful in entertainment including books, games, movies, music, and much more. Dark Realms is THE premiere magazine for darkling entertainment. Also check out Monolith's Tales from the Dark Tower, an original collection of 13 sinister stories, lavishly illustrated by Joseph Vargo. Based upon characters depicted in Vargo's classic gothic paintings, each story in this unique anthology is woven together to create a new and compelling saga of vampire lore.
Darklore Manor is a healthy addition to the Monolith family of releases and an exciting one this year for Halloween fans worldwide. Abandon hope all ye who enter here... Look for the follow-up called Necronomicon, a dark symphony based upon H.P. Lovecraft's forbidden tome of unspeakable horrors.
TG Mondalf, ChainDLK
Former Midnight Syndicate mastermind Joseph Vargo pairs off with a new partner-in-crime, William Piotrowski, and the 21-song litany of lament they orchestrate is pure Goth. The blackened compositions Vargo and Piotrowski have written are irredeemable but gorgeous, dreary but exquisite. Not since Hammer has an ominous Gothic sensation been so effectively produced.
Darklore Manor isn't merely music, it's good music.
A masterpiece of darkness. Everything is dark orchestration, black harmonizations, sad melodies and haunting arrangements. These guys manage to link closely the music with the artwork, the interaction of which is really perfect. Favorite tracks: All the CD.
Federico Marongiu, Music Extreme
Each dark composition is a chapter in the story, a piece in the puzzle, skillfully crafted to guide your journey through the unhallowed halls of Darklore Manor. Darklore Manor's appeal is likely to cross genres—the dark and brooding orchestrations are just as likely to appeal to the gothic crowd and gamers alike. Combining a well thought concept with solid orchestration, Darklore Manor succeeds where others in this genre have failed.
National Gamers Guild
Former Midnight Syndicate member Joseph Vargo has embarked in his own haunted project, Nox Arcana, teaming up with William Piotrowski to create a landmark album of gothic and eerie atmospheres and classic orchestrations. If this debut album, Darklore Manor, is anything to go by, rejoice your dark souls... Nox Arcana will lead you through this haunted and grim manor house impeccably, by means of a soundtrack that projects you instantly into the dark fantastic realm it depicts and keeps you there with bated breath throughout the over 50 minutes of the journey. Darklore Manor is pure, classical goth, the main body of which is made up of fast progressing melodic orchestrations, with abundance of cello, piano, pipe organs, and the occasional pounding sequence. Ghostly interludes punctuate the developing story with treated vocals and atmospheric noises, while some sparse vocal narrations are used to great effect, which increases the evocative power of the music. Macabre and refined, Darklore Manor is highly recommended to gothic audiences of all kinds, and of course, to any fan of old-style horror movies. Candlelight listening is obligatory.
Gianfranco, Darklife Magazine (Germany)
Darklore Manor, the debut CD from Nox Arcana, takes listeners on a musical journey, invoking images of dark spirits that haunt the night and lurk within the cursed halls of a forsaken Victorian mansion. This sinister soundscape from the duo of Joseph Vargo and William Piotrowski will stir your darkest fantasies and put you in the mindset of a classic tale by Poe or Lovecraft. The predominantly instrumental music stands alone as a haunting and moody soundtrack, but the disc is further enhanced by the addition of unsettling artwork and a creepy story in the liner booklet that is included with the CD.
The tracks are evenly balanced between darkly elegant classical pieces, haunting instrumental melodies and ghostly interludes from some of the mansion's undead residents that serve as introductions to some of the songs. "Trespassers" is a suspenseful and foreboding track that conjures the sense of exploring the cobwebbed corridors of the forsaken manor. Sinister church bells toll mournful melodies to serenade the ghosts that haunt "The Grand Hall" and summon the restless spirits of the dead in "Phantom Procession." A solemn harpsichord melody echoes throughout "Remnants," while an ominous Latin chorus chants to the sounds of a gothic pipe organ in "Sanctuary of Shadows." "Nursery Rhyme" and "Music Box" convey the story of a ghostly child, trapped between the realms of the living and the dead. "No Rest for the Wicked," "Beyond Midnight" and "Resurrected" are terrific pulse-pounding orchestrations. In "Incantation," a thunderous heartbeat sets the pounding rhythm as forbidden, ancient rites echo in the distance. And for those brave souls who would dare, just try to listen to the eerie "Seance" while alone in the dark.
Darklore Manor rises far above the campy, low-budget Halloween soundtracks filled with cheesy sound effects. This CD is an extremely high-quality production in the same league as classic horror soundtracks like Bram Stoker's Dracula, The Omen and Halloween.
Darklore Manor is music from the shadows for creatures of the night. This is Gothic music in the truest sense. Highly recommended.
Jordan Wright, Vampire's Crypt
It's too bad they no longer make those "read-along-with" 33 rpm records of decades past; if they started being pressed again for adult fans, Joseph Vargo of Nox Arcana would be the perfect choice to produce them. Case in point: Nox Arcana's CD album Darklore Manor, based on a legendary spectral abode in Salem, MA.
Darklore Manor is an occult-themed concept CD inspired by the mysterious deaths, disappearances and ghostly sightings involved in the museum's controversial history. (An insert includes a mini-testimony by Damon Darklore on why the tortured souls of his bloodline must meander in the cursed place forever.) Vargo and William Piotrowski's musical creations fuse eerie soundscapes with vocals in the form of ominous incantations. The haunting melodies combine classical instruments with modern synthesized orchestrations, and Vargo's cover art is a real Victorian treat.
Vargo's creations have been in the genre spotlight since 1993, with his renowned series of "Born of the Night" art collections, his Tales From The Dark Tower illustrated anthology and his Gothic Tarot cards of the Major and Minor Arcana. All of the his work has a sophisticated flair and homages classic horror.
Alexandra Nakelski, Fangoria
I have recently added this spectacular CD to my music collection. In my opinion, Darklore Manor must be Joseph Vargo's most remarkable musical endeavor to date. You all know him from Midnight Syndicate's Born of the Night and Realm of Shadows—here he takes his atmospheric story-telling to new heights. You do not simply "hear" the music, you feel it and live it. Listen for yourself, and once you do, I am positive you will have to own it. I hope you are as excited and blown away as I was. Nox Arcana is about to make its mark!
Jeff Hartz, Buzz-Works.com
Nox Arcana is a new American duo set up by Joseph Vargo. You maybe remember this guy from his involvement in Midnight Syndicate, where he also walked on soundtrack fields. Darklore Manor doesn't sound different, but is definitely more 'conceptual' to me. The music is all about the story of a haunted manor. The picture on the front perfectly illustrates the ideas about the music. You see an impressive manor surrounded by a deep fog and a kind of vampire character in front of an open iron fence, who invite us to enter and visit the hidden secrets of the house of horror. The music remains mainly instrumental and is full of organ sounds, dark strings, orchestral arrangements and a few baroque influences like harpsichord. The tracks create a compact entity, which is pure soundtrack like. This is the ultimate gothic expression, which will undoubtedly please to the most traditional freaks of the genre.
Here is something a little off the beaten path. Let me introduce you to the dark duo known as Nox Arcana. The band is made up of internationally acclaimed gothic fantasy artist Joseph Vargo (ex-Midnight Syndicate), and William Piotrowski. The music is sort of hard to classify, or to stick into a precise genre. Surely those who dig it will mostly be from the Gothic crowd, but horror movie fans that don't regularly purchase straight-up goth CDs will also find this to their liking. On their two releases so far, the band creates what one might call a dark soundtrack or musical score based on a theme. I have taken to calling such works "Horrorscapes." These works are mostly instrumental, with just a few spoken word portions, or the odd low-key chant thrown in for effect.
The first CD, Darklore Manor, is based on the tales of a legendary haunted house in Gloucester, Massachusetts, near the infamous town of Salem. The music is sort of mellow and eerie, it ebbs and flows the same way your heart rate would, as you explore the dark corridors of a long abandoned Victorian mansion. The actual mansion has a long history of death, with stories of ghosts, murder, a curse, seances, and mysterious disappearances. Even though the house mysteriously burned to the ground on Halloween night in 1971, people still see things in the area that can't be explained.
The second chapter in the Nox Arcana story is a sonic interpretation of the Cthulhu Mythos and the Necronomicon (aka The Book Of The Dead / The Book Of Dead Names), H.P. Lovecraft's forbidden tome of unspeakable horror. This disk is more bombastic in nature, as instead of creeping around a run down mansion, we are now dealing with the Elder Gods and the Old Ones, and their struggle for supremacy over this world. The band calls it a "dark symphony," and that's a pretty good description. One could also almost call it a dark slice of Prog-Rock.
Both CDs, while very different from each other, do a great job at creating, and sustaining an uneasy atmosphere of dread and uncertainty. Much like the atmospheric work of Frank Petruccelli of Petruccelli Productions or David Bagsby. Darklore Manor will slowly build tension and creep under your skin in an almost inconspicuous way. Necronomicon on the other hand is more "in your face," and would make a great soundtrack to the original Lovecraft-inspired computer game Quake, or the newer creep-fest known as Doom III. Both however are well worth your time.
As you might be able to tell from the name; this CD tells the tale of a creepy manor and what goes on therein. The CD sounds like it is a soundtrack to a movie you've seen; complete with the occasionally voiced interludes. The most effective being a disembodied ghostly little girl doing the bed-time prayer 'Now I lay me down to sleep'. There is enough on this CD to make it interesting to listen to either with your full attention or as part of the background while you do other things. What is most impressive about Nox Arcana is their ability to set an all encompassing mood via merely audio treatments. Like other releases by this duo; the quality of this material is first rate. I recommend it highly to anyone who enjoys a bit of Gothic symphonic music.
Marty Dodge, BlogCritics
Former Midnight Syndicate mastermind Joseph Vargo is back with a vengeance, this time with new musical partner, composer William Piotrowski. Together the two have formed a new band known as Nox Arcana, and their debut cd is an instant classic. This gothic soundtrack includes the added bonus of a detailed booklet with accompanying photos that provide a guided tour through a haunted Victorian mansion known as Darklore Manor. The booklet also features some of Mr. Vargo's delightfully creepy artwork, making it worth the price of admission in itself—as I must say that everything this man does in the name of art is first rate.
Darklore Manor is a ghost story, and every good ghost story deals with a tragedy of some sort, therefore, there are some melancholy pieces such as the hauntingly beautiful "Remnants," which will leave you with a feeling of sorrow, at least until you turn the next spine-tingling bend and face your darkest fear. Other standout cuts include Christine Filipak's rendition of a ghostly little girl reciting the sinister "Nursery Rhyme," which is sure to give goosebumps to even the bravest soul, and "Seance," with its spooky whisperings that will surely scare the hell out of soccer moms and little kiddies everywhere.
One thing quite unique about this offering is the addition of ominous Latin chanting to some of the tracks, which lends authenticity and an element of mystery to the gothic mood of this cd. The bottom line is that Darklore Manor is solid from start to finish, and a "must-have" addition to every witch and warlock's collection. This eerie music is perfect for occasions such as digging up graves in the dead of night, or conjuring evil spirits, and it really is just good clean fun for the entire family—if you happen to be the Addams family. Darklore Manor is destined to be the soundtrack for spook houses from coast to coast, so move aside Midnight Syndicate, a new monster has been born. Nox Arcana is its name, and it has now arisen to claim the dark throne!
Randy Rosko "Goth God," Haunted Hollow
Where to begin... While already impressed with Joseph Vargo's visual work, I had no idea what to expect with the audio. The Nox Arcana CD is truly beautiful, inside and out! The CD design is a work of art, and both my wife and I are already enjoying the music. We are really picky when it comes to Goth-influenced music, and this shows significant sophistication, good production/engineering, and just plain excellent compositions. I'm blown away by Dark Realms, The Gothic Tarot cards, and now this?! Everything Monolith is associated with is truly magical. Congratulations on another masterpiece!
Jer Olsen, CEO, MusicBootCamp.com
Darklore Manor takes listeners on a journey into the shadows as it weaves a musical tale of a ghost story set in a haunted Victorian mansion. Midnight Syndicate producer Joseph Vargo combines his dark vision and talents with fellow composer/musician William Piotrowski to create 21 haunting melodies comprised of pipe organs, violins, cellos, tolling bells, ominous choirs and harpsichords. These pieces are further accentuated by a gothic chorus of Latin chanting of forbidden rites. Ghostly choirs add a somber and eerie accent to lonely piano melodies such as "Belladonna" and "Veil of Darkness," while pounding rhythms echo throughout some of the more elaborate orchestrations like "Resurrected" and "Beyond Midnight." Vocal narratives lend unsettling interludes between some of the tracks such as the child's poem that introduces the eerie "Music Box." With its mixture of haunting, melancholy melodies and ominous, symphonic orchestrations, Nox Arcana delivers classic goth appeal. Explore the shadows of Darklore Manor. Highly recommended.
Devon King, Dark Realms Magazine
Don't play this if you're at home by yourself after midnight—or, depending on your taste for being creeped out, definitely do. Darklore Manor plays like a suspense/horror soundtrack, taking place in the classic setting of an abandoned mansion haunted by damned souls. Ghosts awaken with heavy, chilling synths, slithery whispers, mournful piano, and creaking doors; the scariest tracks by far are the childlike "Nursery Rhyme" and "Music Box." Pieces like "The Forgotten" and "Veil of Darkness" feature quite lovely piano playing, and many stand alone as fine dark-orchestral fragments... genuinely quite spooky.
Gothic Beauty Magazine
Former Midnight Syndicate collaborator Joseph Vargo and multi-instrumentalist William Piotrowski have combined their passions for darkness and music. In the course of Darklore Manor's 21 tracks, the duo explores horror-inspired soundscapes and creepy fantasy coupled with an occasional ominous narrative. The music comes off as accompaniment to a ghost story, which is detailed in the liner notes and artwork. The full experience entails both parts. Vargo and Piotrowski know what they're seeking musically—gothic moodiness and subtle tension inspired by classic horror-movie scores along the lines of Carnival of Souls and Halloween. Nox Arcana is to be applauded for its sense of vision.
Darklore Manor is a soundtrack inspired by an actual haunted Victorian mansion, legends of which have circulated throughout the Gloucester, Massachusetts region for over a century. On the Nox Arcana website, one can peruse the history and the hellish background of this place as a means to whet the appetite for the music that follows.
Nox Arcana band member Joseph Vargo has been a renowned macabre style artist for well over a decade, with a wide array of dark works to his credit. In 1998, his inspirational creation and stunning artwork thrust the band Midnight Syndicate into notoriety with the release of Born of the Night. After the release of Realm of Shadows in 1999, Midnight Syndicate and Vargo parted ways so that he could focus his attentions on other projects such as a book and deck of gothic tarot cards, while his publishing company, Monolith Graphics, expanded to include Dark Realms Magazine, as an outlet to help promote other gothic writers, artists and musicians.
Throughout it all, Vargo has continued to be haunted by the dark musical muse. Joining forces with William Piotrowski, this duo known as Nox Arcana musically transports the listener through the core essence of a hellish experience within a haunted mansion.
Once inside this decadent place, we are held captive within the many cavernous halls of this Victorian domicile. Black masses replete with Latin chanting are re-enacted under the music to create an almost subliminal fright experience. We notice this tug on the fear level from the title track, "Darklore Manor," which serves as a prelude of what is to come as heard in "Beyond Midnight." "Threshold of the Dead" might make some think of Dark Shadows, as it has a similar airy, yet macabre intonation conducive for a midnight stroll along the water's edge. "Veil of Darkness" utilizes a piano in a malevolently bombastic way, that one may need to look over their shoulder from time to time just as a reminder that this is only music. "Remnants" is one track that can actually be called darkly poetic and romantic in a somber way. The harpsichord effect takes one back to a time where there once was love, just before all hell broke loose. Christine Filipak makes a wonderful appearance on the track "Nursery Rhyme," which although one of the shortest tracks, leaves an indelible impression of long dead children from another space and time.
All in all, this 21-track CD has everything one would seek from haunted music. We are privy to bells tolling malevolently, whispered phantom voices, Latin chanting, door slams, eerie harpsichords, thunderstorms and the like. Certainly, this is the type of music to be played at the height of a thunderstorm or during a Ouija board session with friends if one wanted to elevate the evenings spook factor. Additionally, this CD contains fabulous graphics along with a brief history of the mansion. Nox Arcana tightly controlled the listening experience by crafting sound with lyrics as an atmospheric setting for this ghost story, somewhat like a haunted tour guide. If you seek a CD to scare the neighborhood children as much as yourself, Darklore Manor bids you welcome.
Mike Ventarola, Hidden Sanctuary / Albion Batcave