Posted on July 13, 2009 by Monica Valentinelli
In what I would consider to be their creepiest selection of music to date, Nox Arcana offers a new thematic CD for Blackthorn Asylum. Inspired by the horrors of a gothic, abandoned asylum, the songs are about over-the-top personal horrors coupled with dark, scientific experimentation inspired by the occult.
Having listened to several of Nox Arcana’s CDs in the past, this collection of songs is a marked difference between their other music. First, there are more piano-based melodies in songs like Blackthorn Asylum and When Darkness Falls. You’ll still hear the wail of the soprano and a harpischord, like in the song Tapestry of Decay, as well as the deep resonating tolling bells that are often present in Nox Arcana’s music. Although there are stormy sound effects and chants present in some of the songs, the primary emphasis of this horror collection is on writing a particular song as opposed to writing a score. With each CD, Nox Arcana gets more and more sophisticated with the way they leverage theatrical scoring with memorable phrasing and melodies.
The songs and the structure of the playlist for Blackthorn Asylum are written with a degree of what I call “high fantasy.” Chanting and evil laughter accompanies the song Hidden Horrors and you’ll hear electrifying sound effects to open the song Shock Treatment before it delves into the song. Not every song is slow and creepy, however, for Phantasmagoria uses a heavy base line coupled with chanting and violin to enhance the mood and pick up the tempo while Frenzy employs fast-paced piano with bells to literally work the song into a frenzy.
There are a few songs which were definitely written in what I would consider to be Nox Arcana’s signature style like The Condemned with its heavy orchestration and occasional chanting and even Spiders in the Attic with its chilling piano line contrasted against the violin. Although this CD is a bit of a departure from song collections like what I had mentioned in the Shadow of the Raven review or the Necronomicon, this is much more akin to a thematic, audio experience like that of Carnival of Lost Souls in which you have a tight focus on a specific story idea.
Blackthorn Manor is definitely a collection of songs that squarely falls into the horror genre. In my opinion, this particular CD is fairly dark and a few sounds border on disturbing. Because of the low, throaty undertones on this CD that remind you what an evil, gothic sanitarium might be all about, this is not a song collection for the faint-of-heart.
If you’re interested in checking out Blackthorn Manor, you can…
Review by Monica Valentinelli