Posted on February 9, 2008 by Monica Valentinelli
Music by Nox Arcana
Featuring Michelle Belanger
Like their other selections, Blood of Angels is based on a theme. In this case, the idea that the “Watchers” alluded to in myth and religious texts were angels that fell from Heaven to fall in love with humans.
I had the pleasure of listening to Michelle’s voice live at another concert featuring the band, Urn. At the time, I had commented that the acoustics in a dark, smoky bar didn’t do her voice justice, for she had all the signs of classical training. This CD really brings out that classical training and her voice resonates beautifully. Take my word for it (from someone who was involved with classical music for years), this is not the work of a “wannabe” singer – this is really, well done.
The challenge with any CD theme that Nox Arcana offers is the variety of songs to tell the story. Now, with Blood of Angels, you may expect that there are some ethereal songs that echo church music or heavenly themes, or over-the-top “goth.” Happily, I can say that neither scenario was the case. Yes, there are differences in the foundation of these songs, but it seemed as if they were planned to cover regional areas of the world at different time, to give an ageless, timeless feel to the plight of the Watcher Angels.
For example, Ligeia’s Lament has a Victoriana feel where Ella Sheena is a gorgeous, middle eastern-inspired song that echoes ancient Mesopotamia. The “laments” are similar to bardic style chants, with a blend of major and minor chords, giving it a happy-sad feel. Widow’s Walk reminded me of the 1800-1900 folk songs where a sailor’s wife or girlfriend would sit on the rocks by the sea, hoping her lover would return.
On the surface, the choral, “epic” title song Blood of Angels doesn’t sound like Michelle but it actually is. I found out after I wrote this that Michelle has a range of 4 octaves, and the vocals are all her. The choral pronounces a set of lyrics to a strong beat to finish the CD and offer a kind of finality to the story.
We are the twilight and we are the dawn / We are the silence when all else is gone / We are the anceint ones, we are the flames / Once you would pray to us, call us by name.
As a “bonus” song, Children of Heaven is offered both in its original version and as a club mix. I really prefer the club mix to the original, because I felt the pacing was a bit off. Initially, there is a lot of “information” (speech, vocal tracks, and instrumental moments) to process in a song with a slow beat. The club mix is punchy and the juxtaposition of Michelle’s voice with a dance beat gives it a much, more modern “goth” feel.
I feel that the important thing to think about if you’re going to pick up Blood of Angels is that this CD is a bit different from others by Nox Arcana. With more classical overtones, and a lot more vocals, this is less of an instrumental CD and more of an artistic piece, resulting in something that you can’t really just “play” in the background while you’re writing or trying to find your muse. I don’t really have a comparison of another artist to give you, but just keep the idea that “this is not an instrumental CD” in the back of your head when checking it out.
Look for more Nox Arcana at the Flames Rising Amazon Shop.