Neo-classical dark ambient project Nox Arcana was founded in 2003 by gothic fantasy artist and composer Joseph Vargo and composer/engineer William Piotrowski.
The group's lush, ominous music is inspired by classic horror and fantasy authors such as Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft, as well as a wide range of musicians and composers including Danny Elfman, Enya, AC/DC, and Hans Zimmer. Their music blends sound effects with acoustic instrumentation, and often includes choral vocals, Gregorian chanting, or dramatic narration. Stylistically, their work has ranged from darkwave to Celtic new age, with occasional ventures into heavy metal or industrial. The group's albums are typically themed around specific subjects, phenomena, authors, or literary works, and their styles and instrumentation have varied accordingly; they'll often replicate the music of the particular time period in which each album's story is based. Nox Arcana's music has been issued exclusively through Vargo's Monolith Graphics, and the recordings have been utilized heavily by theme parks and attractions during Halloween season, as well as theater productions, television programs, and professional magicians.
Prior to forming Nox Arcana, Joseph Vargo was internationally renowned for his visual artwork, particularly in the horror and fantasy realms. He produced and contributed music and narration to two albums by Midnight Syndicate, co-wrote the vampire-themed book Tales from the Dark Tower, and published Dark Realms magazine. Vargo and William Piotrowski, a guitarist and keyboard player who also worked as an audio engineer, formed Nox Arcana, debuting with the 2003 full-length Darklore Manor, which was inspired by a haunted house near Salem, Massachusetts. This was followed by the H.P. Lovecraft-influenced Necronomicon in 2004. Nox Arcana's first seasonal album, Winter's Knight, appeared in 2005, and eventually appeared on Billboard's Top Holiday Albums chart. The group also issued the Dracula-themed Transylvania in 2005. The dark cabaret album Carnival of Lost Souls, loosely based on Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes, appeared in 2006, followed by Blood of Angels (a collaboration with vocalist/author/psychic vampire Michelle Belanger) and Blood of the Dragon, which earned praise from the Dungeons & Dragons fan community. With this release, Vargo began incorporating hidden puzzles and interactive quests into the CD artwork of Nox Arcana's albums. The Poe-inspired Shadow of the Raven appeared in 2007, followed by Grimm Tales, based on the folk tales of the Brothers Grimm, which was released on Walpurgis Night in 2008. Phantoms of the High Seas explored pirate lore, and was issued on Columbus Day of the same year.
Following 2009's Blackthorn Asylum (a second Lovecraft-inspired release), Nox Arcana primarily became a solo project of Vargo, although Piotrowski continued to engineer the recordings. Zombie Influx, produced with Jeff Hartz under the name Buzz-Works, also appeared in 2009, as did the seasonal release Winter's Eve. The magic-themed Theater of Illusion was released in 2010, followed by House of Nightmares, another Buzz-Works collaboration. In 2011, Nox Arcana released The Dark Tower, the soundtrack for Vargo's book series of the same name. Winter's Majesty, the group's third seasonal release, appeared in 2012. Two Nox Arcana-related albums were released on Halloween of 2013: the tenth anniversary album Legion of Shadows and Piotrowski's soundtrack to the vampire film Crimson Winter. Also in 2013, Nox Arcana initiated an annual series of winter holiday-themed digital EPs titled Ebonshire. Gothic, a full-length designed to resemble 19th century gothic novels, was released in 2015, followed by the witchcraft-inspired Season of the Witch in 2017. ~ Paul Simpson, Rovi