As a hard rock/heavy metal fan, there’s TONS of bands that I could listen to to help set the mood for the spookiest time of the year. But it doesn’t always have to be hard rock or heavy metal that helps to bring about the Halloween spirit. There’s plenty of artists and tunes out there they don’t fit those genres that I find myself returning to year after year to get myself in the Halloween mood. With that said, here’s a list of a little bit of everything that helps make my Halloween season all that much sweeter.
In my own unsophisticated words, Nox Arcana is a gothic neoclassical project that primarily features instrumentals. But I’ll let the group’s own bio page describe them a bit better:
Nox Arcana is renowned for creating haunting, gothic-themed soundscapes with classic horror references, strong literary influences, original and captivating storylines, and hidden riddles and elaborate puzzles. The band is the musical manifestation of gothic fantasy artist Joseph Vargo. After successfully producing several gothic, horror-themed concept albums for other bands, Vargo formed Nox Arcana with fellow musician William Piotrowski in 2003. The name Nox Arcana is derived from two Latin words, which roughly translate to “mysteries of the night.
By my count, Vargo & Piotrowski have released 16 full-length albums along with 3 EPs (there are a few other albums that were collaborative efforts and not credited entirely to Nox Arcana). While Nox Arcana has mostly dabbled in dark themes and haunting tunes, the 3 EPs plus three full-length albums are of a winter theme. Those are good, too, from what I’ve heard.
There’s plenty to explore and appreciate from Nox Aracana’s discography as their albums take inspiration from, and are set to, the themes of haunted mansions, H.P. Lovecraft, vampires, werewolves, witches, sinister carnivals, sword & sorcery, Edgar Allan Poe, Grimm fairy tales, ghost pirates, evil sanitariums, evil magic, dark angels, and gargoyles!
Midnight Syndicate (in their own words):
For almost two decades, composers Edward Douglas and Gavin Goszka have been known as Midnight Syndicate, creating symphonic soundtracks to imaginary films that facilitate a transcendental and adventurous escape into the secret dimensions of the mind’s eye. To many of their fans, they are Gothic music pioneers brewing a signature blend of orchestral horror music and movie-style sound effects. To others, they remain the first “haunted house band” that forever changed the Halloween music genre and became a staple of the October holiday season. And some know them as the duo that created the first official soundtrack to the legendary Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game. Their critically-acclaimed works are reminiscent of sweeping, complex masterpieces by artists such as James Horner, Danny Elfman, Black Sabbath and King Diamond and have been featured as a part of groundbreaking films, television shows, video games and at haunted attractions, amusement parks and live performances worldwide.
It’s important to note that while Midnight Syndicate does share some Gothic similarities with Nox Arcana, Midnight Syndicate leans much more towards creating soundtracks that feature music with sound effects. In addition to the fantastic horror fantasy/Gothic music Midnight Syndicate brings, you also get to hear howling wolves, gusts of wind, the cawing of ravens, bells tolling, etc.
Douglas & Goszka have done a number soundtracks for indie horror movies such as The Dead Matter, The Rage, and Axe Giant: The Wrath of Paul Bunyan, to name a few. As mentioned in their bio, they also created an official soundtrack for Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game, and their most recent effort is Zombies!!!, which stands as a soundtrack to the board game of the same name.
I reviewed one of the group’s albums, Halloween Music, two years ago for my old music blog.