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John Rossi RSS Feed (Somers Point, NJ United States)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Essence Of A Word Is Captured By Music, December 8, 2015
This review is from: Gothic (Audio CD)
In 2003, a new force arose to claim the throne as my favorite composers of Gothic music. Twelve years later, they still hold that throne, and they show no signs of abdication. Nox Arcana's music has always excelled in immersing me in the world that it depicts and in painting musical pictures in my head. They achieve that feat here with flying colors, but go a step even beyond that. The very essence of a word has been captured by melody and given to the world for all fans to enjoy. The word I refer to is, of course:


The newest journey that Nox Arcana bids us to take begins with a gripping blend of a ghostly moaning wind mixed with harpsichord, tolling bells and beautiful female choral voice. Whispering pipe organ floats to the forefront to be the blanket that covers us upon a bed of melody. While thus "at rest" a voice greets us cordially but with a deep and foreboding menace that to me is some of Joseph Vargo's best narrative work as the speaker gives unto us his TESTAMENT * .

"Welcome to Grimstone Manor. I hereby bequeath to you, my last surviving heir, my mansion and all the secrets it holds. You may still have distant recollections of your ancestral home, but perhaps some things are best left buried in the past. Your inheritance is not without condition, however.

Should you wish to claim all that is rightfully yours, you must stay here in this house on this very night, alone, where you shall remain locked inside from dusk until dawn. Only by facing your fears can you truly embrace that which dwells in the darkness. Perhaps you will come to understand and embrace your true heritage as well. "

Easily portrayed in my mind is the image of someone sitting alone by candlelight at an old desk in an antique study while soft thunder rumbles outside. They are reading a letter whose contents are given to us in voiceover. This haunting opening canticle is closed out with a sinister laugh as the ghostly wind and music fade into silence. Given to us next is a musical image of:

GRIMSTONE MANOR * - The pipe organ that first whispered to us now sings to us in full-blown majesty, flowing over the senses like a waterfall. Joining it are soft percussion, deep strings, trickling piano, bells and choral voice. Lighter strings soon soar over the top in beautiful cadence before the piano "rain" and deeper strings take prominence for a short while. Pipe organ and and percussion assert themselves anew while a female voice soars into the sky. The "dance" that is done by these instruments throughout the piece shows me a grand and ancient domicile back-lit be moonlight and flashes of lightning as rain cascades down from the weeping heavens. This is where we are dared to take rest for the eve.

ASHES TO ASHES- Mournful tender piano and heart-wrenching chorals are the partners in a duet for the tune we are presented here. Stately pipe organ does walk sedately through it in the middle. It's softer in tone than the previous track, suggesting heavy grief. In my own mind I can see someone lighting a fireplace to keep the cold at bay, while glancing with tear-filled eyes at an urn that rests upon the mantle. Maybe even holding it.

FORGOTTEN BY TIME - Here a sad and slower promenade is begun by deeper male chorals waltzing with the trickling tones of a music box. Female and mixed chorals drift softly through, seeming on occasion to weep. Here in my mind I stand alone among..not ruin, but a place covered with dust and cobwebs. Still beautiful is the architecture but it is a shadow of the grandeur it once possessed.

THE PORTRAIT GALLERY * - Here, a thunderclap is the herald of my journey through many years. Weeping violins are my guide, alongside gliding harpsichord mournful voice and tolling bells. The thunder in this track, though reasonably soft is very effective as both a scene setter and a closer for the piece. I can see myself running gentle fingertips over time worn dust-laden canvas as my own ancestors' eyes look back.

INTO THE DARKNESS - Deep drums and rapid strings herein march us along. Brooding soft horns and choral voice combine with tolling bells and a ghostly moan to the wind. The strings sometimes lift in pitch to "hit" us with a louder more urgent note before they start to maintain that higher more driving nature and dance to center stage, draping softly over the other instrumentation without detracting from it.
Suggested to me here is our own heart both almost begging us to turn back and also compelling us to move deeper into the depths of the mansion despite a gripping fear.

FAMILIAR HAUNTS - Piano dances once again for us with a music box moving upon bare and whispering feet as its partner. Tolling bells will occasionally kiss our ears while pipe organ and beautiful female voice glide regally though the piece. Particularly gripping are the vibrating strings and mixed choral melodies that begin in the middle and carry through to the end where the music box all but beckons us to take in all that we somehow feel....we should remember. As if everything is as the title suggests, familiar to our hearts and minds. Whether different rooms, or the mansion's grounds, it's as if this is not the first time we''ve been here, just the first time in a long while.

THE HOUSE BEYOND THE GRAVEYARD - Here we are given a classic scene-setting staple in many Gothic tales. A haunting narration that bears a message of caution as a sort of macabre gift. Voiced very nicely by Sophie Pipik, the ghostly warning to which we are bidden to pay heed is:

"The house beyond the graveyard
Is no place to stay the night,
For when its ancient doors creak shut,
There's no escape in sight.
The old house looks deserted,
Abandoned and forsaken.
But every night as darkness falls,
Its residents awaken.
Shadows roam the cobwebbed halls,
And whispers fill the rooms,
And in the cold crypts far below,
The dead rise from their tombs.
So if you dare to venture there
Leave long before night falls
Lest you join the restless ghosts
That haunt its shadowed halls."

UNHALLOWED HALLS * - A swirling piano melody mates exquisitely here with female voice, pipe organ and a soaring violin motif that literally seems to cry, all but ripping at the heart strings. Tolling bells soon join in and dance with harpsichord while the choirs sing. This makes me literally want to cry for what the mansion had likely once been, and what it had become, an ancient and noble place and bloodline, lost to shadow. This may be one of my favorite pieces on the disc. .

THE DOLL HOUSE- A music box joins here with deep bass strings, female and mixed choir and tolling bells to depict the titular keepsake. A childhood treasure that for too long has gone unplayed with. A memory of innocence long since fallen If only the family that called this place home could have lived the noble and peaceful life that far gone ancestors once had.

Melancholy Memories - Piano , tolling bells and choir are serenading us here. To my ears, it's a beautiful and stirring tribute to ages long past where the legacy of a family might not have been as dark as legend holds it is now.

STIR OF SHADOWS * - Moaning spectral wind joins with deep keys, brooding piano and ghostly haunting chorals. Regal but mourning violin floats over it all with graceful steps. The golden sunlight's glow has long since been stained blood red, falling into slumber. Now over the grounds wherein we rest, darkness has full reign.

DARK REALMS- A driving bass line stirs the heart while ghostly moans drift upon the wind to touch the soul. A rainfall of piano joins occasional tolling bells and flowing pipe organ to complete the piece. Driving us on to explore perhaps more than the mansions interior. Daring us perhaps to venture into the darkest corners of our own psyche wherein our most primal fears are lurking in wait.

BEYOND THE FORBIDDEN GATE * - A five-beat string passage joins with deep and percussive timpani to begin this one. It feels to me almost like a musical heartbeat. It is not long before brooding male choirs and pipe organ enter the fray. Tolling bells and mixed chorals add both tension and a darkly regal feel. The piece is very march-like. My favorite sections are the majestic swirling dances for which the pipe organ partners with the strings. Each instrument allows the other to also occasionally dance beautifully on it's own. There's almost a feeling of bravery in this, as if our fears in being dealt with are losing part of their grip. Twisted bravery maybe, but it's there. I feel almost like its a dark processional.

IN THE BLOOD * - I love the urgency in the opening low piano strains of this one. It is not long before it is joined by higher piano notes, beautiful strings, tolling bells and swirling pipe organ. The piano seems the star of the piece, and the female chorals are particualarly invigorating and calming all at once. This may be one of the best melodies Nox Arcana has written in my own mind. The mix of piano and strings in particular is, quite simply... lovely. To me this speaks of the majesty inherent in an old family's bloodline before shadow claimed them.

THE BEAST WITHIN* - This piece is another that i would call march-like. It's almost bellicose, as if some sort of dark army were being summoned and were preparing to answer the call. The rising tide of darkness is expertly depicted in my mind by an exquisite mix of deep bass, percussion, tolling bells, omnious regal choirs and marching urgent strings. Pipe organ is incorporated very well and is not to be out-done.

THE BLACK CRYPT- Here, the percusion we get as soft as a whispered kiss, perhaps a dark lover's quiet beckoning. The tolling bells are more subdued. Female chorals and pipe organ waltz softly. I love how to me the tone over-all is quieter despite the strength of the choirs. The tone is excellent for depicting a macabre sanctuary, a place of dark and perhaps diabolical reverence.

WAKE THE DEAD * - It is not long before the heart-beat like percussion and low strings that begin this piece are kicked into a wonderful sense of urgency by a much faster and tenser string motiff. Deep piano and captivating chorals are well utilized herein with pipe organ and bells. For me though, it's the string melodies that are the star of this one, like sweet icing on a beautiful cake that tastes so good you just want more and more of it. If any piece rivals UNHALLOWED HALLS as my favorite on the disc, it's this one. Night has long since fallen, and though the beauty of the strings hints at the royalty and elegance of the family bloodline for me, I'd advise that you flee to sanctuary, as the long dead residents of Grimstone Manor have begun to stir. They sense you, and you may feel that they are being watchful, biding their time.

THE OTHERS - Beautiful piano and haunting choral melodies dance once more for us. What a lovely and yet strange dance it is. It's not off-key and yet it feels to me off-kilter, as if I'm seeking refuge somewhere in this home and something just isn't right. Do you feel the eyes watching you? Are some of the figures in the paintings suddenly missing? Whatever the case, the tension here is thick enough to cut.

RISE OF THE ANCESTORS- This is another majestic macabre processional piece to me. This time, deep percussion and strings are joined by tolling bells, pipe organ and mixed choirs in doing the honors. Ghostly moans drift through, and the string melodies grip the heart as well. A particularly praiseworthy touch is the addition of the choral chants. The time for seeking refuge is gone, for those who have gone before you are one again awake and have come to add you to their numbers.

DARK SURRENDER * - This wonderful closing canticle with which our ears are gifted opens with the softest whisper of a ghotly wind. It is comprised of a four-note dancing piano motif that turns into a beautiful tapestry of chorals and pipe organ joining tolling bells and soaring strings to perform an exquisite waltz with the aforementioned piano. In facing fear and embracing what waits in the dark, fear's very power over a soul is broken and an inheritance is claimed. For my money, this may be one of the best piano melodies Joseph Vargo has written to date, standing proudly alongside The Prestige from "Theater Of Illusion" and Days of Olde from "Winter's Majesty" though it is far darker than the latter. Of the hidden track, I will give no spoilings. I will say though that it is very fitting and well done, providing a perfect closure for Nox Arcana's newest macabre symphony. What a symphony it is.

I said earlier that Nox Arcana excels at painting pictures in the mind with music, and they do. Not only that, to me they are the best musical story-tellers in their field. Here, Nox Arcana returns to their roots. We are herein given a musical ghost story that positively drips with the feeling of antiquity and elegance. Beyond even that. with this CD, the very word "Gothic" is given life and personification in a way that is clearer and more powerful than any other word that may be defined and written in any dictionary. The haunting beauty, alluring power, and heart-gripping tension that define that word are all present in spades.

If you are a Nox Arcana fan, do not miss this one. If you are not a Nox Arcana fan, you very well may be after you give this one a listen.

Note: My personal favorite tracks are marked with asterisks.

Ebonshire, Vol. 3
Ebonshire, Vol. 3
Price: $3.96

5.0 out of 5 stars I am back in Ebonshire and rejoice to be there, December 2, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Ebonshire, Vol. 3 (MP3 Music)
Since the beginning of the Winter's series, I have found it a great and wondrous thing to visit the realm of Ebonshire through the beautiful music that Nox Arcana releases for the winter season. Now, once again we are taken back there. I've long thought of Ebonshire as an ancient and lovely place that feels like a sort of home for the dreamer in us all.

This newest journey into that ancient realm is another radiant melodious jewel, vividly painting with melody the warmth, joy and gripping power of this time of year onto the canvas of the heart.

Each of these pieces are brilliant, but I must give particular praise to Silver Horizon and December's Child. I can say with happiness and pride that both of these coaxed gentle tears from me and left me in awe, particularly December Child's heavenly guitar work. With Echoes of Elise, a classic melody is given a heartwarming musical glow that I found beyond endearing and unique. If I could describe Through Wintry Wilds with just two words, those words would be exuberant ecstasy.

Take the journey back to Ebonshire. I daresay you will find awe, joy and wonder waiting to greet you once again.

Return To The Dark Tower (Volume 3)
Return To The Dark Tower (Volume 3)
by Joseph Vargo
Edition: Paperback
Price: $16.99
27 used & new from $12.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A Journey That I Rejoice To Have Taken, October 24, 2015
An old saying goes that the joy of life is in the journeying through it, with the thought of our destination acting as a beacon through it. I have been a lover of books and fine stories from a very young age. I feel that love is well and rightly earned by the tale that is penned within the pages of this book. I am thankful to the authors for the journey that they have allowed me to embark upon.

To do a story by story breakdown of this tale would be unworthy of it, so I will not attempt it. I will only whole-heartedly encourage anyone who loves Gothic fiction to pick up this book and allow it to draw you into the world it depicts. Let it's imagery be painted upon the canvas of your mind. Terror, tension, awe and beauty all reside within its pages. Even many smiles may find their way to you, as they did with me.

I once compared the saga of the vampire Lord Brom to Bram Stoker's novel "Dracula" for the quality and tone of its prose, and for how vividly it managed to paint its imagery into my mind's eye. That assessment stands, as I find the tale more than worthy of it. This volume for me merely all the more confirms the rightness of that stance. While I will admit to a bittersweetness at the journey being over, I take joy in knowing that I can pick up this tome and revisit this world whenever I wish to. Therein lies solace, for the journey is beautiful, through both light, and shadow.

Will this book and the saga it concludes be as well beloved as Dracula within the years to come? I cannot say. I can only hope. Speaking for myself.... it has earned the right to stand proudly beside that classic work as the best Gothic fiction available. To both authors, to all who have contributed to the saga that is concluded herein, I say whole-heartedly, thank you.

To all reading this, my hope is that if you decide to also take this journey, that you too will love it as I do.

NBA 2K16 : Early Tip-off Edition - Xbox One
NBA 2K16 : Early Tip-off Edition - Xbox One
Offered by Blazing Dealz!
Price: $46.34
30 used & new from $15.50

5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Just Got Better, September 27, 2015
I'll try to keep this short and sweet. For me, this is the best basketball game out there. Graphically, presentation wise and sound-wise, it's a gem. While it is more difficult to get around your defender on the offensive side of the ball this time around, I appreciate that you have to actually work to get around to get open for a good shot. Sometimes I've wished tat my team-mates would try to get inside after a good pass rather than stand there with the ball, but that's a minor quibble.

I do love the My Career this time around especially, even though the "Livin' The Dream" portion feels more like a prelude than the meat of the matter. It reminded me in a way of the Origin stories that you could choose from and play through in Dragon Age: Origins, as it "sets" the stage for the meat and potatoes of your NBA career. I felt a bit odd being called "Freq" in the game (after the beginning story was over) as I had given my character a different name, but that's just me and it's a minor thing. Why I was called "Freq" was already explained in game and in time I grew to see it as a nickname.

If you're a fan of basketball and sports games in general, do yourself a favor and take a crack at this one. The best has indeed gotten better.

Project CARS - Xbox One
Project CARS - Xbox One
71 used & new from $10.79

5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Yikes...., May 17, 2015
The headline for my review pretty much sums up anything I could say without delving into inappropriate language. If only there had been (or if I had seen) a demo for this, I would have been able to try this out first , and saved myself the money and frustration-induced headaches. My biggest gripe is the steering . It just doesn't work with a controller. NUDGE the stick... nothing. Push it just a LITTLE more and you either swerve about wildly OR you flat out careen off the track and smash into a wall. In order to even stay on the track, you have to drive so slowly that you can't even finish a race. What is the point of playing a racing game where you cannot "race", but you have to drive like you're going for a Sunday stroll down the back-roads?

I've played a fair few racing games in my years on planet Earth, but I've never played one with controls this flat out finicky and straight-up broken. Save your money and your enjoyment of the genre. Don't touch this.

Banish My Rash Cream with Emu Oil - Natural Eczema & Psoriasis Treatment, Dermatitis, Rosacea, Hemorrhoids, Shingles, Lichen Sclerosus
Banish My Rash Cream with Emu Oil - Natural Eczema & Psoriasis Treatment, Dermatitis, Rosacea, Hemorrhoids, Shingles, Lichen Sclerosus
Offered by Emu Joy
Price: $39.98
2 used & new from $24.97

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thank God for small and not so small favors, February 7, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
For me, the title of this review says a lot. I literally consider finding this product to be a favor from God Almighty and not a small one at that. I don't want to call it a habit, but I am on occasion a sufferer of rashes in the summer or winter, and in winter my skin dries out a lot. I've used a fair amount of skin creams in my day, and this one in my experience and judgment has been and is by far the best.

In only several days' worth of applications, the rashes on my arms are better and my skin is far moister. It's so cooling and soothing, a real refreshment. The Emu oil is the "star" of the product and has made all the difference. Not only that, I've found the scent very pleasant too.

I heartily encourage anyone suffering from itching, bug bites, rashes and more to try "Banish My Rash".It's been the best product of this type that I have found in years. I thank the Lord Jesus that I found it, and hope that it will prove a good and helpful product for any and all that give it a try.

God bless. :)

NBA 2K15 [Online Game Code]
NBA 2K15 [Online Game Code]
Price: $59.99

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great when it works, a royal pain when it doesn't., October 8, 2014
To be fair, the game looks and sounds terrific. Personally, I love the immersion of the career mode too. I enjoy feeling like a part of a real NBA team, with frequent pre and post game cutscenes and dialogue voiced by real NBA players, coaches, etc. Why not rate it higher than three stars? The game crashes for me a lot on PC, and usually at the worst of times (in the middle of a game). I did enjoy when I could play a great deal, but the game crashed too often for my liking.

Price: $2.97

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Joyous Return, January 4, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Ebonshire (MP3 Music)
Verily, I know not what I may say that has not been previously voiced. All I know is that in the land of Ebonshire, I feel as if I have found a sort of musical home. A beautiful land that whenever I make return unto it, I am filled with joy, peace and wonder, thankful to God Almighty that I have functional ears and am thus able to rejoice in glorious melody.

Though the Winter's trilogy has been concluded, I am overjoyed to have the opportunity to return unto a beautiful Kingdom wherein the soul and the inner muse are gently blanketed in awe and wonder. Once again I know the joy of my own younger years, fresh as new-fallen snow.

Nox Arcana, thou hast mine eternal thanks.

Legion of Shadows
Legion of Shadows
Price: $13.70
24 used & new from $8.90

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Milestone and Masterpiece. These are thy names., December 31, 2013
This review is from: Legion of Shadows (Audio CD)
Heed me well, mortal souls. and hear what I shall relate. For six score moon
cycles, my slumber has been... not uneasy, but rather, filled with wondrous
dreams. Through darkness and light alike have I joyously trod, and I would have it
no other way. Through masterful melodies expertly woven, my very soul is thus
uplifted. 'Tis indeed of interest unto me, that it seems to truly value light, it is
through the darkness that one must needs make journey

Ten years, A solitary eye's mere blink they seem. Yet for all that time, by one
band has the night been ruled. Thus I feel shall it ever be. Majestic minstrels of
eventime. Nox Arcana be thy name, and thy call shall I ever joyfully heed. Hearken,
oh blessed mortal listener, and hear their haunting and irresistible call once more,
as I do. Thou art hereby beckoned, with invitation bestowed unto thee to become
of of us..... We are....the Legion of Shadows.

Banshee's tender breath , a siren's song with thunder's heartbeat mated,
dances with pipe organ's haunting strains and violin's regal flight through the
heavens, Joining them are heart-stirring choral callings of night's eternal children.
From my slumber once again I am inexorably called, helpless to do aught but to
obey my heart's prodding. Before me, wrapped in shadow's shawl, stands the
monarch, eyes of moonlight blue framed by kingly raven locks. Thus doth he
identify himself, telling me likewise of his purpose, giving unto me his own

"We are the children of the night. We are the denizens of the dark, cloaked in
blackest shadow. We are the fallen angels, soaring through ebon skies upon raven's
wings. We are the wolves that prowl the midnight hours to prey upon the heartless.
We are the descendant's of the dragon's blood, the keepers of the ancient flame.
We are the chosen ones, who dare to explore the mysteries of the unseen realms.
WE ARE LEGION*, for we are many, and united, we cannot be vanquished."

Taken from my bed by even's minstrel, through rain-kissed misty locale do
we tread together. Gentle rainfall of harp, music box and choral voice is our
companion upon our journey as midnight's vesper tenderly sings upon distant
winds. Verily doth it seem that all are clad in slumber's garments of peace,
Beyond mortal borders, it appears we have gone, for ancient wrought-iron gate is
soon eased ajar with great and pondrous creaking. Beyond lies the portal to a
HIDDEN REALM, the longing for which I had not known before hearing the minstrel
play, but which from now on can never be denied.

Ancient wrought-iron portals pose no longer obstacles for us. Merely doors
are they, after all. More wondrous still to me is that beyond them I glimpse
myself. 'Tis as if through darkly radiant crystalline mirror that I seee myself as I
am, the lure of the dark ever calling, bringing unto mind the myriad of times
that unto it I have given indulgence. Shivering violin and tolling vesper dance with
music box, bell tones and urgent choral cry. Deeper strings, with nearly martial
pace, call forth the ancient spirit of a warrior of shadow. Driven back am I,
almost to my knees with fear, upon glimpsing myself thus. Yet retreat is forbidden
by minstrel's gentle hand, with equally soft yet irrefutable counsel

"Why do you deny yourself? Why tremble so at what is merely your own
deeply-buried nature? All sons and daughters of mortal kind have SKELETONS IN
THE CLOSET of their being, and unto all does the dark inexorably beckon, a
majestic beacon upon moonless eve."

Staring nearly helpless into eyes alive with moonlight's azure glow, I can find
no answer unto inquiry made. Night's rainfall, it seems, has grown ever gentler and
more tender. Comprised of trickling piano, music box, deep strings, drum's
heartbeat, and the choral song of an ebon robed angel, it is a comfort unto me.
The SHIVERS that I feel begin as mere tingles, but all too soon build into an
undeniable tide. They are not of fear, but of power. I know that the minstrel may
both see and sense them, for his smile enters my own vision, and softer with hand
extended, intones: "Come, that you may see what hath been, and that which may
yet be."

Ever standing gate of time, effortlessly thrown wide, led am I unto that which
seems a graveyard. Twin columns of eternally burning crimson
flame pierce the shroud of mist which over all is draped. Spectral mourners bowed
in devoted reflection, Laid tenderly upon granite slab, Clad all in ebon gown save
for pale bare feet, lies one with flowing locks of sunlight hue. Weeping piano, soft
chorals and the chill breath of eventime pay unto her reverent homage. Beside me,
robed also in darkness, saith the minstrel:

"Behold, she that bringeth call unto mind of DISTANT MEMORIES. They do not
fade, as sunlight does with nightfall, but remain ever burning within me, much like
the fires you see before you. I am the minstrel of the night, and those who tried
to sit upon my throne over eve took her from me. I swear to you, as to all, that I
will have my vengeance."

From graveyard unto courtyard am I hereby led. As the former, so the latter is
bathed in peerless nocturnal glory, moonlight and starlight forever entwined over
the land. Bear witness to the power of the minstrel that rules the nocturnal time.
Flute's insistent whispered call blends with guitar's gentle glide. Drum's martial
heartbeat and tambourine's graceful step blend with choral call and handclaps of
joyous ethereal dark angels and mortal kind. All together joining in stately dance
of power, as from eternal standing sconce, an ANCIENT FLAME* burns bright anew,
born again from passion's yearning,

Indoors now, from the chill of eve, is shelter found in grand castle standing
ever proud, as in olden times. Opulent feast upon grand table is generously laid,
yet an inner darkness of grief reigns, for the minstrel hath been friend unto me,
and the memory of his Queen laid to rest upon the slab hangs heavy in my heart
Music is called for, to enhance our meal. 'Tis a lovely, heartbreaking merging of
harpsichord, piano, music box, ethereal chorals and weeping violin. As a mortal
flesh-clad angel, dark of hair and amber of eye takes her seat beside me..the
minstrel smiles whilst also weeping bitter tears of blood, whispering:

"Take heed my friend, and do so well. Be thou always possessed of valor, and if
treasure be found, guard her well, that thou mayest never be found LOVELESS*

Time of repose, for all has come, yet I can pay it no mind. Even as I yearn
desperately for sleep, I am likewise jarred always from it, for the castle's dungeon
is not silent. Even from my tower bed, my ears cannot help pay heed to the
insistent driving dance of piano, bells, choral song, and primal call of deepest
drumbeat. Rising, I pass effortlessly through mist and shadow, seeing an even
grander domicile rising from the shadows, at the distant edges of the DREAMSCAPE
in which I have found myself.

"Soul of valor, enter though the sanctum of the Bard of Night!" This be the
command that reaches my ears as I am risen from my own repose. Yet I am clad
differently than when I arrived. All my garments ebon-hued, armored as if for
virtuous battle, sharpest sword upon my hip. Upon approach, majestic melody
grows ever louder, within and without. A peerless bleed of trembling, violin, martial
cello, pounding drums, wind's moaning, urgent chorals, pipe organ and vespers

"Behold," saith he..."Thou shalt ever be my stalwart warrior." Irrefutable unto me
be the counsel of one whom many would name an EVIL GENIUS. Genius though,
he truly be, for to rule the night as he has for so long.

Deep within seclusion lieth minstrel's ancient study. Bedecked it is with all the
comforts of a homely living area, complete with warmly blazing fireplace, and
many a torch in ornate sconces. Upon one wall stands proudly a painting of a
Queen's royal chambers. Within them stands, gaily garbed in crimson and gold with
lavender in her hair, the minstrel's Queen. Lorelei Christina was she named in life.
Within his study, the bard of night pays unto her loving homage with an exquisite
blend of bell-like music box like unto chimes mated with piano trickling soft as
dew drops, and gently weeping chorals, whilst the violin forth her bravest delicate
wings towards Heaven. Hearken , and behold a marvel just as great as the
musical genius of the man before me, for whilst the peerless melody is woven in
her honor, I can swear that I do clearly see her GHOST IN THE MIRROR*, radiant as
she'd been in life, and that she is smiling, whilst yearning for the day of her own

Pay heed, dear listener, to what I shall reveal, for ancient lore doth clearly
speak of a melody so potent and and gripping that any that may claim mastery of
it may lay hold of the throne of evening, with a grip that shall ever be beyond
contestation. Many times throughout the centuries have mortal ears been gifted
with renditions of this mighty and majestic TOCCATA*, Never, though, have I heard
it so well executed as 'tis herein performed. With expert weaving of regal pipe
organ and piano, quaint harpsichord, soaring strings and heavenly chorus, thus
has the minstrel before me proven beyond question his descent from the Master
that first blessed the mortal world with this mighty melodious masterpiece of
wonder. Truly worthy is he above all to be hailed as King of Eventide.

Slumber once again has found me within the grand castle to which I have been
bidden. Like before however, it is repose that lasts not long at all. Unable am I to
resist heeding the call to wake. 'To my wonder, 'tis not now the Minstrel that
beckons me, but the Queen LORELEI. Clad now in pristine ivory, leading me through the mirror in which she had been seen. Bare of foot, with graceful step ever leading onward. Onward into a realm pristine and beautiful, as it was before the Minstrel's right unto his throne was challenged. Moaning mournful winds mate with tender music box, gently flowing choral song and piano to pay tribute to the beautiful kingdom and realm both lost and yearned for.

Golden sun, bright orb of Heaven, hath once more fallen into slumber. Within
vast and royal courtyard are gathered souls innumerable. Mortal and immortal
alike are gathered. Ebon garbed one and all, lifting a nocturnal choral hymn unto
the skies. Soaring strings stretch mightily forth, whilst drum echoes each eternal
heartbeat. From giant brazier burns an ever brighter flame, That which had been
for so long a mere emblem upon a coat of arms, is now a living, breathing
reality. He is a herald of truth, that reign wrongly wrested shall be laid aright and
ever claimed. Behold, the glory of the herald of Night's kingly and peerless bard.
Behold the majesty of the BLACK PHOENIX!*

Listen! Oh, listen bravely mortal ones, and immortal likewise. Pay heed unto
the minstrel's skill. Hear the stately promenade, born of mated piano,
harpsichord, violin, chorals, drums and tolling vesper. A masterful melding
indeed it is, and paying heed unto its call come many. Specters, ancient and proud.
Each and all of regal heritage. Behold these noble SPIRITS OF THE PAST*, for they
are here to bolster our own numbers, believing likewise justly in the cause of the
minstrel and all kindred shunned for the sake of love for all that is nocturnal.

Hearken and behold, for the time is come, for word to soar like matchless
melody upon the wind, carried into the ears and hearts of all mortal kind willing
to listen. Born of gracefully flowing piano, violins and choral song is our anthem.
For each and every one of us there is a great and mighty raven, draconian in
size. Soar they shall, ON DARK WINGS*, graceful as any equine steed. Carrying us
ever onward, as we bear word of the minstrel's skill unto any and all willing to
hear, and pay heed.

Hearken, and listen well. Dost thou hear the gentle trickle, music box's rainfall?
Hear how it speaks, eloquently dancing with both tender and mighty piano, the
heartbeat of the kingly drum, and majestic flight though the skies of violin and
angelic voice. Do you feel the rising tide of power, ever flowing? An era is at hand,
in which Night's Bard and King will sit rightly on the throne which is his, beside
the Queen wrongly taken. Lose not heart, for their day, our coming. Behold
the tremble of those who would challenge him. HAUNTED DREAMS surely must be
borne, for 'tis surely known of them that the bell marking the end of one reign,
and the birth of another, is tolling.

Behold, and rejoice, for far and wide they roam, the army of the eve. Upon raven
wings carried through the skies. Spreading tidings of the coming dusk, wherein the
true Bard of Night and those chosen of him shall reign. Of dancing guitar and
tambourine, blended with pipe organ, tolling vesper and angelic chorus is born
their battle march. INTO THE NIGHT* they roam, seeking kindred souls to join their
revelry, basking in the peerless melody woven by a bard without mortal equal.

This time... is mine. It is my turn, to stand before the gathered, garbed one in
an all in ebon robes. I have spoken often of their passion, their purpose, their
power and their pride in that which is beloved of them. Now, it is time that they
should rightly call me "brother" Within ancient courtyard I stand before them.
Walking through columns of ornately sconced crimson luminescence whose fingers
seem to bravely stretch unto the highest heavens. Drum's kingly thunder echoes
the eager beating o my own heart behind its ivory cage. The regal flow of violin is
sure and mighty, powering the flow of blood through my own veins, a tide of power
flowing ever through my being. Tolling vespers and angelic chorals sing to me,
filling with with resolve and warmth. Violin's soaring cry dancing with choir, drums
and pipe organ awakens in me the spirit of a warrior of night. Laid down am I
upon a blazing pyre, but I do not burn. Rather, rise I do, alive and whole, Garbed
all in black, as are my kindred. A smile of pride is etched upon the bard's face.

"Welcome, my friend, you have survived your RITES OF PASSAGE*."

Behold the moment which the bard himself and all his kin have joyously
awaited. Martial drums, tolling vespers, dancing piano and soaring strings and
horns are her heraldry. Ancient mirror, bathed in dark radiance, stands before
the gathered. She is come to take her rightful place beside the bard, and rule the
night along with those chosen of them both.

"ARISE Lorelei Christina, wrongly taken but now returned! Assume thou Queenship
of the night, and lead with me our kindred, ever stronger, and ever vigilant!"
Thus be written the counsel of the Bard, in royal proclamation.

Hear well, all that have ears. Pay heed to the ever falling rain of delicately
trembling and soaring violin, pipe organ and celestial chorals Hear well, how piano
and tolling vesper lend their ever powerful grace and strength to them. It is an
ever cleansing waterfall that will wash the realm of all that would challenge the
Bard, the Queen and their chosen. We are the LEGION OF SHADOWS, and ever shall
we stand in testament of musical majesty. Peerless is the minstrel, and blessed
are all that may take true joy and bliss from his gift of melody, given with love
and skill to all who wish to hear.

Do you hear? Can you feel the tenderness of the shawl of evening, wrapping
itself around you every time the sun goes to sleep? Listen...oh listen dear mortal
souls. Hear the sweetness of heavenly graceful violin dancing over piano's tender
trickling bed. Hear the gentle majesty of the dark angels' voices singing to you.
Hear the vesper tolling, calling you unto thoughtful reflection upon true beauty.
Within this realm, 'tis true that light may only be rightly appreciated when there is
darkness to stand against it, to make it shine all the more. Think of starlight
glowing against a moonless sky, or fire light with an elsewise darkened room. The
HEART OF DARKNESS* is not, as some may say, the heart of evil, but the heart of
those that may see true beauty even in the shadows. May true beauty be therefore
forever beheld by one and all, and may the heart of darkness therefore beat

Ten years and counting, and once again Nox Arcana has ably proven why
theirs is the work that is judged of many to be the pinnacle of Gothic music. It is
an accolade rightly and well earned. Legion of Shadows is quite simply a marvel
unto me, rightly and truly named both a milestone, and a masterpiece.

* = A favorite track of mine.

Winter's Majesty
Winter's Majesty
Price: $13.99
29 used & new from $8.90

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Majesty, in melody personified, January 1, 2013
This review is from: Winter's Majesty (Audio CD)
Golden, orange and red leaves rest upon the earth, as far as
mortal eye may see. Branches clad in them for the nonce are barren.
Frigid air caresses me from every side. Despite frigidity, a crisp
refreshment brings me comfort. Autumn's end is come, and a joyous
thought comes to my mind. Deep within, I know that the red and
golden leafed realm in which I stand is soon to become a wondrous
world bedecked in ivory petals robed in white radiance. The thought
beckons me, as if inviting come back home. My heart is warm
as mightily blazing winter's hearth, as deep within I know that
soon I will be back in Ebonshire. I will be back home.

All about, glorious melody fills not only the air, but my senses.
Yea, my entire being is sated with it. Heavenly chorals flow through
my heart, mated gently with tender trickling piano, music-box chimes,
and regal tolling bells. Upon the air, they bear the hope of a king.
They bear great AQUILON'S WISH*, of peace on earth, and good will
toward men. My heart smiles all the more, as within my mind's eye I
behold King Aquilon seated upon his throne within a majestic hall of
pure crystal. I am not there yet, but it comforts me to know I will
be. The beautiful canticle I hear is a lovely reminder of that coming

Even now, it is begun. Summer's azure sky is no more. Nay, The
heavens' hues have turn to gray, as ivory petals commence their fall
unto the Earth, soft as ivory teardrops, cascading to the earth Soon,
the very land will be thus blanketed. Gently gliding guitar, flowing
violin, and soft chorals blended wonderfully with piano fill my heart.
A song, to draw me ever closer to my home. Within, TRANQUILITY is
the only word that describes what it is I feel at this moment.

Oh, happy time! What a blessing it is to be here! The gentle tears
of heaven, wept with snowfall, are no longer a trickle. The are a
glorious winter waterfall, washing the land, cleansing it , robing it
in beauty. Flowing piano, trickling chimes and soul-soothing chorals
fill my being. Oh, how happy I am! How I feel like dancing! Dance, I
will, through these beautiful WHITE WOODLANDS.*

My journey has not ceased. Even soul, in my very soul I rejoice.
Though the golden orb of heaven, is falling into his nightly slumber,
I am at peace. My heart is full of stately melody. Tender guitar,
soaring chorals, and stately piano are the craftsmen that have built
it, along with tambourine's aid. Through white-clad forest sentinels
has each awe-filled stride carried me. The sky's clothes are crimson
and lavender, falling into the majestic raven hue of dusk I now stand
before a quaint domicile. Cottage-like, yet large enough to house any
that wish to take up residence within. Bedecked in glorious ivory
light, Fashioned mightily of ever-standing oak, Its roof is bedecked
in icicles that shine like the stars on a clear moonlit winter's eve.
A hearth fire crackles musically within. Blessed indeed am I, to have
come unto this SECRET SANCTUARY.

A night of peace is spent, and a new dawn is come. With it, I
know, the time for me to journey on is likewise here. Journey,
therefore I will make, through whatever I must, to reach the home that
calls to me across the snow-clad landscape. Majestic pipe organ,
tolling bells and flying chorals drive me on, as Heaven's breath is
colder still. Power. The very breath of a King. Eyes closed, as I am
driven on, my heart requests of the sovereign.... SUMMON THE WIND* carry me home

Happy is the soul upon whom a king bequeaths his favor. I know
now, that I am among the favored, and unto me a new peace is come. A
new vision blankets my eyes. Distant, yet clear as the very first of
glorious days A village, dusted ever gently in heavenly white. My
village! Oh, how I long to complete the journey. How joyous I am
within, at that very contemplation. Soon, I will be home again. A
minstrel comforts my heart, with a tapestry of guitar, angelic
chorals, tambourine, and tolling bells. The sight of SNOW IN THE
SHIRE has always brought me peace, and it still does.

Night is come anew, and even amidst the soul-soothing peace I
feel, new visions make their way unto me,as again, the minstrels play.
Waltzing piano,nay...marching a stately promenade. Tolling bells,
majestic harpsichord, tender chorals and soaring strings are its
mates. Distant, yet ever nearer, ever beckoning. Vistas more
glorious than many a mortal eye will ever see. Ivory-armored
sentinels, soldiers, both on the march, and keeping watch over a royal
home. Maidens, fair is any ever written of by ancient minstrels
dancing through torchlight, robed in gowns of snow. The jewel of
it....? A palace fit for the greatest of kings. A realm unrivaled
covered in winter's snowy jewels. A CRYSTAL KINGDOM, whose grandeur is
beyond peer.

My village now behind me, celestial heralds bear me on. Urged by
piano's gentle tears, trickling chimes, and chorals that soothe the
heart, tender as lovers' whispers. More beautiful than mortal beings,
clad in garments fashioned of winter's wind. Queenly maidens, one and
all, SOLSTICE SPIRITS. Those beholding them indeed do have the favor of
the king. Blessed am I indeed then, as are all who see.

A quaint place of rest. To here have the maidens guided me. Much
like the secret sanctuary to which I was earlier granted entrance, it
is nonetheless even grander in scope and size. Better still I am not
alone. Many herein are gathered together. Gentle fires blaze in
warming hearths, and all about me are the joys of conversation and
song. Roasted meats, fresh bread and stews, and fine and filling
ciders and ales. Guitar, piano, chorals, and strings are the tools of
the bards' trade, as a group of them weave a soul-soothing tune for
the patrons within this much welcomed SHELTER FROM THE COLD.

With bellies full of fresh bread, hot stew, and roasted meats,
all are gathered without. Behold the smiles on all the patrons faces.
Hear the joyous melody of tender piano, gentle strings, and heavenly
chorus. How beautiful. See all the children of the kingdom. Hear the
music of their laughter. How happy they are. Their exuberance
unrestrained and without boundary as the play together. How pure, and
innocent. How carefree we were at their age. Do you remember? I do.
What joy! What fun it would be... This is their time, which they
graciously allow us to remember, and rejoice together. Rejoice, all ye
sons and daughters of Ebonshire, in the revels of these beautiful

With every autumn's end, legend says that a knight good and brave
and true returns unto the blessed land that in life he called his
home. Now. beckoned alone back into the place where a meal was shared
with many, I bear witness to the truth of that legend. Once again, a
minstrel plays, accompanied by a maiden most fair providing chorals
and violin work without equal. Tolling bells and tambourine join them
well and fittingly. His mastery of the guitar, and voice of gold will
never meet their match. Will I go, he asks, to SCARBOROUGH FAIR* on
his behalf to speak to his love? Will I ask her to think back upon younger days? To follow the path to the shire where her own heart's true desire awaits? Yes,
good knight, have no fear. I will go back for you, to tell her to
gather three lilies of white, to place at your headstone beneath the
moon's light. Thus will be proven a love that stands eternal.

Behold, my journey is urged ever on. With song in my heart I am
borne aloft by joy that even the greatest poet on Earth may need to
struggle mightily to express it well. Across glacial ivory landscape
I behold them. They are the most glorious equine specimens ever beheld
of mortal eye Behold the freedom, the grace, the power with which
they run. Verily they seem to fly across the wintry land, even the
heavens themselves. Beautiful piano, flying chorals and soft
percussion are the taskmasters that drive them on. Blessed am I to
behold the majesty of these wondrous IVORY STEEDS*, and even more
blessed, that one should deign to carry me.

Another place of rest greets me, bidding me take respite from my
travels. Garbed in in winter's white vestments, hearth's fire glowing
warmly within, it is impossible that I should should resist it. The
knight's request of me comes to mind, for my own love awaits within.
At peace with her I take my rest, in this quaint but glorious WINTER
HAVEN, expertly crafted by tender trickling piano, guitar, and chorals
soft as a lover's whispers. Herein, within her comforting arms, true
sanctuary of my heart is found

Hearken! Gentle canticle is woven once again. It seems, verily,
to be a gift from the heavens unto me. Celestial chorus, blended with
gentle chimes and the dulcet tones of the music box are the bards that
have scribed this song of peace. I sense change upon the air, a
herald of grand things to come. Yet, I am comforted, for in order for
the new to awaken, the old must fall asleep. Indeed, as I pay heed
unto a gentle FOREST LULLABY*, my very soul is filled with joy.

At last mine arduous trek hath borne happy fruit. I am
Ebonshire. I am home. Every face beholding me bears a smile. Ever pair
of arms bears a hug as a gift. A joyous melody, crafted of piano,
harpsichord, and gentle chorals fills the quaint cobblestone streets.
Torches burn brightly in ornate sconces before every home. All is
right within the world. I am returned unto a place where family, love,
and honor are all that matter. It is where the simple joys of life are
it's greatest treasures. All is as it ever should be. All is once
again as it was, in blessed DAYS OF OLDE*.

Bidden am I anew to join my kin. Great bonfires burn throughout
the land. A stately promenade is begun, turning into a festive dance
wherein with every maiden fair is joined a fellow of noble
heart. Our song of revelry fills the land with happy strains of
guitar, flute, violin and tambourine. Applause dances through the tune,
an echo of our own hearts' joys. SATURNALIA* once again is upon the
realm, a custom ancient and beloved, wherein a hymn to the land we
love rings out clear and true from every soul.

All ye sons and daughters of Ebonshire, hearken and behold. This
is the herald's cry! Heed me well,and gather near! Rejoice, for thy
king is come! The truth of these words is borne upon maestic
canticle. Born of soaring pipe organ, stately snare drum, tolling
bells and ever-soaring chorals, the summons is impossible to resist.
Behold the joy on every face, dressed in their very best attire, as
the royal procession draws nigh! Exquisitely garbed, flanked by ivory
armored guardsmen, with Winter's Queen at his side. Both ride upon
ivory steeds as the one that once carried me. Rejoice, people of
Ebonshire! Rejoice, THE COMING OF THE KING is at hand! Behold, he is

Blessed am I among men. Thus I verily do feel, for privilege of
which I have not felt worthy is mine. With King Aquilon and Queen
Celestia, I stand, right alongside them, surrounded by the glory of
the very winter itself. Everyone in Ebonshire it seems, is there. A
torch burns not only in every hand, but that torch's light, it seems,
burns brightly in every heart. Minstrels play peerlessly upon
exquisite piano and splendid soaring violin, as from every throat a
soaring song erupts. We are a blessed choir of earthly souls, lifting
to the very heavens a hymn unto WINTER'S MAJESTY*, celebrating the
beauty and glory of a beloved season. Verily do I rejoice as well,
for as that blessed hymn is sung, unto me do I hear both King Aquilon
and Queen Celestia say "Welcome home, my son."

As within my mind's ear a new hymn is played upon exquisite
guitar and keys, I behold a trio of wayfarers, making a pilgrimage
upon which there very hearts and souls demand they embark. Bells,
chorals, piano and tambourine bear them on as well. "Whence art thou
bound?" I inquire. With a smile, one of the trio of royal figures bows
to me. "WE THREE KINGS are bound to visit the one foretold, to be the
King and Savior unto all the world, He that is to be a gift from
Heaven unto earth."

"Let me travel with thee, then, that I may see Him too."

Arduous and long, it seems, is any journey from the home. Yet home
remains nestled forever in my heart, along with every precious memory.
Piano and soft chorals echo in the mnds and hearts both of me and
those that travel at my side. Their gentle melody brings us comfort.
Never fear, for no matter how bleak and cold any journey, as long as
the light of POLARIS is our compass, we will always find our way
back to the warmth of home.

Within the castle I once called home I lie. Before me, a gentle
fire burns within the hearth of the great hall. I am home again, in
the land of my birth. Beside me, sit the queen and king, my beloved
mother and father, and my dear beloved wife. My heart is full of light.
It is not for myself I grieve, but for them. I see the tears they weep, for the journey back to them has made me frail, but I did make it. I made it.
From the great beyond it seems, I am called unto a greater realm.
Within my ears, my heart, my very soul, there sound the celestial
strains of soaring violin, tender trickling piano, gentle bells and chimes and Heavenly choirs. The music of the angels is heard by mortal ears."I love thee dearly, mother...father and wife. Weep not for me, for I have found eternal, FINAL PEACE*, and one day, you will be with me too, We will be together again. Forever. I am grateful to have seen my beloved Ebonshire one last time, and eternal peace is mine."

Scrawled humbly above, is the tale born within my own soul's
muse, upon hearing Nox Arcana's "Winter's Majesty" It is the
culmination of a glorious journey to a beautiful winter kingdom, begun
many years ago. Now and forever, all who wish to may listen, and each
time be brought back to a beautiful place. To me, it is easily the
best of Nox Arcana's three winter jewels, and easily the most
beautiful. May we never forget that memory is precious, that we have
the power to make reality of hopes and wishes, and that it's the
simple things, the little joys of life that are its greatest and truest treasures.

* - A favorite track of mine.
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