Nox Arcana is known for guiding their listeners through iconic horror themes via their music. In Transylvania, arguably one of their most famous albums, we venture into a night haunted by wolves and ruled by vampires. Inspired by Bram Stoker’s Dracula and the original vampire myths of Eastern Europe, Nox Arcana creates an enthralling listening experience.
“Transylvania Overture” sets the pace for the following twenty songs. Joseph Vargo welcomes us to a land filled with things lurking in the shadow. His gravelly voice fits perfectly with his message and music. Ominous organ and vocals take center stage for the rest of the song. Aside from the vocals, perhaps the most notable element in this song is how seamlessly it goes into the track that follows it. Each song flows into the other creating an entrancing musical experience.
Most songs are filled with nuanced melodies and sinister vocals, ending around the two-and-a-half-minute mark. Shorter songs, such as “Sentinels Of Stone” and “Visitors In The Night” are more sound effects based, invoking images of howling wolves and cold winds whistling through dying trees. Even without the typical melodies and choir, these songs are just as visual and entertaining as the others on the album.
Of course, even the most powerful of vampires have a weakness. It’s reasonable to expect an album about vampires would have a weak point or two as well. “Grande Masquerade” and “Gypsy Caravan” are the weakest songs on Transylvania. Both songs are overpowered by melodic ostinatos. While melodic ostinatos (a repeated melodic rhythm) work well in the rest of the album, the ones featured in “Grand Masquerade” and “The Gypsy Caravan” make it difficult to appreciate how truly nuanced the songs are. Even so, these songs are still enjoyable in their own way.
One can easily forgive the weaker songs when listening to the powerful track “Night Of The Wolf.” This is one of Nox Arcana’s most famous songs and with good reason. Powerful from the start, strings, vocals, and timpani build to create a chilling urgency. Much like the bloodlust that overtakes the vampires, it’s almost impossible to resist the call of this song. It calls one to explore the depths of the night with the wolves. Although I wouldn’t recommend that, I do recommend listening to this song in the dark to give yourself a completely immersive experience.
With twenty-one connected songs, Transylvania is an enthralling listening experience. If you choose to buy a physical copy, you’ll be treated to stunning artwork by Joseph Vargo. Through dark sounds and haunting images, Transylvania truly pays homage to Stoker’s classic and the vampire mythos as a whole. It’s a perfect introduction to Nox Arcana as well. While it has a couple of weak songs, the album overall is a powerful and enchanting one. Fans of vampires, gothic-horror music, and dark music in general are in for a treat with Transylvania. So, settle in for the night, embrace the darkness, and enjoy the journey.