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Nox Arcana 

Darklore Manor (Monolith Graphics)

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; without one, the other feels incomplete. 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. As well-planned and composed a work as Darklore Manor is, however, you find yourself waiting for a jarring moment that doesn't arrive. That criticism aside, Nox Arcana is to be applauded for its sense of vision; Manor brings down the house.

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