Archive | Music

Monica Valentinelli

Dark Tower CD Review

Posted on February 6, 2012 by

The Dark Tower CD from Nox Arcana was developed solely by Joseph Vargo as a themed complement to The Dark Tower anthology series. The music composed for this particular collection seems to be more understated than their other offerings. There are two types of experiences I’ve had with Nox Arcana’s music. The first is evident through Blackthorn Asylum, The Necronomicon, Phantom of the High Seas, and the Theatre of Illusion.

After you hear the opening refrain, there’s typically a story threaded throughout the music so it’s often a bad idea to play the CD at random if you want the full experience. I found this was especially true for Grimm Tales, which is one of my favorite Nox Arcana CDs.

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Jason Thorson

Zombies Unlimited The Devil’s Chamber Review

Posted on June 24, 2011 by

John Morrone, veteran writer for the horror webzine Bloody-Disgusting.com, is unleashing his musical talents on the world in the form of Zombies Unlimited. According to the official website, Zombies Unlimited is dedicated to creating low-cost, original music for independent horror and sci-fi movie soundtracks. This music comes to us in the form of techno, a genre I associate with cheerleading, raves, and clubs I wouldn’t patronize. But make no mistake, Zombies Unlimited is creating some of the most unique techno and electronica possible and as a longtime professional musician of the old school variety, I certainly appreciate ZU’s musical aesthetic despite my unfamiliarity with the tropes of these genres.

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Monica Valentinelli

Eternal Lies Suite Music Review

Posted on May 18, 2011 by

Eternal Lies Suite | Music for Trail of CthulhuTo enhance your gaming experience for an upcoming Trail of Cthulhu campaign called Eternal Lies, Pelgrane Press has published a collection of songs you can play in the background on a never-ending loop. For this hour-long selection, several composers collaborated with Will Hindmarch and Jeff Tidball to create the atmospheric tracks.

The purpose of the Eternal Lies Suite is to enhance your mood as you play through this campaign. Since Eternal Lies isn’t out yet, we can glean some insight as to the scope of this story — it’s a global adventure that may include two characters named Edgar Job and Henslowe.

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Billzilla

Zombie Week: Nox Arcana’s Zombie Influx Review

Posted on December 7, 2010 by

Zombies: the kids love ‘em. Now you can have your very own zombie film soundtrack album thanks to the good folks at Nox Arcana; their Zombie Influx album is just the ticket to put a person in a brain-chomping mood.

All kidding aside, Nox Arcana has done some great work producing albums of evocative background music suitable for gaming and often inspirational for writing – whether fiction, gaming adventures or scenarios, or what have you. With Zombie Influx, Jeff Hartz of Buzz Works and Joseph Vargo of Nox Arcana explore new musical avenues of horror. There is a fairly solid level of cohesion at work on this album’s 19 tracks; however, many of the cuts do not necessarily evoke zombie sort of horror. Most evocative here of a mob of zombies wandering aimlessly in search of food are the tracks “Ground Zero” and “Flesh Eaters,” with a chorus of hoarse, moaning voices winding through the opening strains of both.

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Top 10 Halloween Songs and Soundtracks

Posted on October 26, 2010 by

FlamesRising.com contributor Eric Pollarine blogs about horror music and horror artists in this colorful post about his top ten Halloween songs, albums and soundtracks.

It’s time for Halloween again, that most special of holidays for nerds, RPG folks, fan boys, Goth kids, and freak shows such as us, where we are able to come out come out from wherever we normally hide and celebrate openly, without fear of persecution, our collective weirdness. From the food court in the mall to the back room of the comic shop, from our mother’s basement to the diner down the street, no-not that one, the other one down the street.

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Flames

Rage Movie and Soundtrack Review

Posted on July 12, 2010 by

A mad scientist is experimenting with viral Rage in the middle of the woods. One of the victims of this crazy doctor’s experiment goes mad, escapes and kills the Doctor himself before escaping into the woods, where he meets his death from the Virus. After eating the corpse of the infected victim, the Rage Virus spread to the wild vultures. This causes a lot of horrific problems for visitors and campers to the woods. The birds attack several hikers in the area, spreading and mutating the virus into the plant-life as well. The Vultures infect victims by spraying this yellow slime into their faces. After a group of concert goers get tangled up in this mess when their RV is pretty much decimated by a Raging Zombie and air bombed by Raging Vultures.

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Limelit by Ludwyg Music Review

Posted on May 18, 2010 by

So when I listen to music I generally do it out of a need to write something and I generally do it out of another need to fill up the continual space between the silence of my day and the clicking of my keyboard, but it’s not normally music that I haven’t heard before, because I am getting old and the older we get the harder it seems to be to get into newer music. That’s why growing up kids is hard to do…because eventually you will find yourself at a club or a bar and hear a song that you really like, you’ll start to bob or nod your head a little and then it will hit you. From somewhere out of the corner of your eye you’ll see bright and fresh faced early twenty something’s that are just learning that “Yager Chasers” are the two deadliest words to have ever been combined in the English language. They will be mocking your prehistoric head movements and you will, I say the word will with emphatic surety; want to punch them in the face.

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Billzilla

A Very Scary Solstice Review

Posted on December 7, 2009 by

Many people try to find some solace in seasonal music at this festive yet emotionally draining time of year. After years of hearing the same classic carols — or more recent covers with no soul and even less imagination — if you’re like me you’re looking for something a little different to inspire the holiday spirit. A Very Scary Solstice by the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society fills the bill nicely, with 25 Mythos-inspired takes on classic Holiday songs.

Warning: If you are particularly sensitive about the sanctity of holiday traditions, or if your sense of humor has rather rigid and narrowly-defined limits, stay away from this album. My largely abandoned Catholic upbringing suggests that these songs border on the blasphemous, despite their obvious playfulness and good humor.

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Monica Valentinelli

Blackthorn Asylum CD Review

Posted on July 13, 2009 by

In what I would consider to be the 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.

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Monica Valentinelli

Shadow of the Raven Nox Arcana Music Review

Posted on April 24, 2009 by

Inspired by the horror writer Edgar Allen Poe, Shadow of the Raven is a musical interpretation of his life and his works through a variety of sounds. A rich, baritone voice representing Poe narrates the beginning of the songs in Darkest Hour. His narration ends with a line that speaks of dead things, lurking about in his crypt.

This musical selection is a departure from some of Nox Arcana’s other CDs, because it employs an instrument wholly fitting for Poe’s era — the piano. Mysteries of the Night is a gorgeous piano melody that erupts into a duet with a violin, accentuated by a tolling bell. Listeners do not have to play the tracks in any sort of an order to experience the full effect of this soundtrack inspired by many of Poe’s short stories. You’ll find songs like The Pit and the Pendulum and The Tell-Tale Heart that feature interesting sound effects. You’ll hear sounds like a door creaking, a screeching cat, a pendulum swinging and a heart thumping. Each effect is integrated into the song, so that it becomes part of the rhythm, as if you couldn’t listen to the music without them.

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Monica Valentinelli

Four Shadows (Trail of Cthulhu) Music Review

Posted on November 3, 2008 by

When you listen to instrumental music or a movie soundtrack in the background while you’re playing game, it’s very challenging to find music that fits a Cthulhu game. Part of the problem is that there are a lot of droning, repetitious soundtracks that sound the same from song to song. The other side to that, of course, are the soundtracks so recognizable that no matter how softly you play them, every one of your players knows what songs you’re playing. In gaming, music often plays multiple roles to heighten or enhance a mood, to “speak” to the theme of the game and to be playable whether the dice is rolling or not. In a lot of ways, music played for any game has to have a lot of variety because there’s a lot of activity going on in game that will “drown out” the music playing in the background.

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Flames

Culture of Unaccountability Music Review

Posted on September 2, 2008 by

The newest CD from Spirit Creek, A Culture of Unaccountability, is the much anticipated CD release from them for several years. After a too long sabbatical from the band, they appeared out of nowhere on the scene again in Milwaukee, bringing with them their original lead guitar, Drew Ingle, and new bassist, Mike Jakubiak, as well as a brand new sound. Taking inspiration from Pearl Jam, Lacuna Coil, and The Cure, A Culture of Unaccountability has breathed new life into the Spirit Creek lineup.

After the introduction, The Black Co. bursts into the speakers, driving home the concept behind the album title.

Review by Crystal Mazur

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Monica Valentinelli

Blood of Angels CD Review

Posted on February 9, 2008 by

Michelle Belanger lends her soprano voice to this musical selection by Nox Arcana.

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.

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Flames

Carnival of Lost Souls Review

Posted on June 6, 2007 by

Nox Arcana’s newest CD in their collection is devoted to the grim, grotesque and the macabre all found within a dark carnival. The CD opens with an introduction; the ringmaster, voiced by Joseph Vargo, welcomes one and all to the “circus of the strange.” Indeed, this CD is “strange” for on it you will hear a blend of organ music, children’s voices and haunting melodies.

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Flames

Mythmaker Review

Posted on March 11, 2007 by

Mythmaker, while affording Key and Ogre their individualism as musician and artist and possessing the “updated” sound of the current iteration of Skinny Puppy, reaches back in time. Back into the closets. Back down into some of the hidden holes and shallow graves that the band had dug with their bare hands back in the day when they began pioneering away from Winnipeg and into the faces of the rest of the world, changing the meaningless term of “post-punk” into the force to be reckoned with genre of modern industrial music.

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Flames

Fanez-Vous Pour Noircir (Fade to Black) Review

Posted on July 19, 2006 by

Ahoy matey! These days pirates and swashbucklers are all the rage on land and on sea. With roleplaying games like the recently released Conan: the Pirate Isles by Paizo Publishing and the older title Skull and Bones by Green Ronin out on the market, it should come as no surprise that GMs and players alike are on the hunt for some mood-setting music.

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Flames

Out of the Ether Review

Posted on June 20, 2006 by

The intro track had set a wonderful feeling for the soundtrack, giving a nice intro and everything. As the CD got going though, I found my self increasingly tuning it out. Not because the music was boring, but because besides the first intro track, every track is well over 5 minutes a piece, most being 7-9 minutes in length. Now, this isn’t some mainstream CD, so track lengths aren’t really applicable here. But over 7 minutes of non-developed musical ideas makes for a very boring CD to listen to.

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Flames

Darklore Manor Review

Posted on May 20, 2006 by

I’ve been picking up various motion picture scores (not soundtracks) and King Diamond albums (no kidding) for years to use as background music in my campaigns, but I’ve never been very impressed with any self-produced albums meant specifically to serve as roleplaying campaign scores. For the most part, I’ve found such efforts to be of an amateurish quality at best, often sounding more like a funhouse sound reel than a musical composition. Nox Arcana changed this by delivering a polished, professional and purely enjoyable product in Darklore Manor.

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Flames

Desecrated Ashes Review

Posted on May 2, 2006 by

Desecrated Ashes was the full release of the EP Consecrated Ashes. The release year was 2003, and the band has continued to do well. URN is based out of Chicago, but has toured in many cities. They have even had airplay of their music in Canada and Mexico, not to mention the United States.

On first listen, Desecrated Ashes was a little hard to get into. Honestly, I felt very indifferent about the album. After more listening, I really started to warm up to the music.

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Monica Valentinelli

Necronomicon (Nox Arcana) Review

Posted on November 12, 2005 by

Nox Arcana delves headfirst into the darkness with its musical tribute to the Cthulhu mythos. Creating a haunting festival of sounds to this is a challenging feat—every day that passes Cthulhu transforms into more of an icon than a mere concept of Lovecraft’s imagination. Nox Arcana delivers its tribute in a jarring way; this is not a CD that should be idly played in the background, this is a performance that demands your attention.

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