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Ars Nova (JAP)

Symphonic Prog

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Ars Nova (JAP) The Goddess Of Darkness album cover
3.72 | 89 ratings | 15 reviews | 26% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1996

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Morgan - The Fate Awaits Inevitable (11:41)
2. Fury - The Daughter And The Simoom After The Simoom (4:25)
3. The Gorgons - Never Look At Her Eyes (10:31)
4. Ainsel - A Mad Little Girl (5:23)
5. Kali - In The Name Of Demolition And Massacre (9:34)

Total time 41:34

Different track on 1996 Musea edition:
4. Isis - She Wakes The Dead (4:41)

Bonus track on 2006 & 2018 reissues:
6. War Of The Worlds (5:53)

Line-up / Musicians

- Keiko Kumagai / keyboards, composer
- Kyoko Kanazawa / bass
- Akiko Takahashi / drums

Releases information

Artwork: Numero Ueno with Norio Kajiki (photo)

CD Made In Japan Records ‎- MJC-1014 (1996, Japan)
CD Musea ‎- FGBG 4196.AR (1996, France) Replaces one track (#4)
CD Altavoz ‎- ALT-3 (2006, Japan) Remastered with a bonus track
CD Made In Japan Records ‎- KICS 3634 (2018, Japan) As above, new cover

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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Buy ARS NOVA (JAP) The Goddess Of Darkness Music

ARS NOVA (JAP) The Goddess Of Darkness ratings distribution

(89 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(26%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(45%)
Good, but non-essential (23%)
Collectors/fans only (5%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

ARS NOVA (JAP) The Goddess Of Darkness reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Marcelo
5 stars Excellent symphonic rock! The Japanese female power trio did here their best stuff, always in the vein of their other albums: great and powerful melodies based on fast keyboards (including the loved Hammond, Mellotron and synths). Bombastic and full of energy, ARS NOVA's "The Goddess Of Darkness" wll satisfy all prog fans and, specially, ELP lovers.
Review by Steve Hegede
5 stars ARS NOVA are an all-female trio from Japan. I was introduction to their music at the 1995 Progfest in Los Angeles, and I left that night impressed with the band. Not only have the three musicians mastered their respective instruments, but the keyboardist's compositional skills are impressive. "Goddess Of Darkness" is considered one of ARS NOVA's strongest album to date. Obvious influences include ELP, IL BALLETTO DI BRONZO, and GOBLIN. The keyboard-based music is quite intense and in-your-face, and it tends to feature a sound that is uniquely Japanese in nature. Their bassist, who unfortunately quit the band a couple of years ago, is impressive here. She plays complex lines, on a Rickenbacker bass, that would blow-away most Chris SQUIRE fans. Along with Marc Miller, bassist of YEZDA URFA, I'm surprised that she hasn't been mentioned in the bass community. Overall, this is recommended to fans of intense keyboard-based prog.
Review by Sean Trane
3 stars Atypical for Japanese group this KB trio even though all female (and babelicious), does not escape all of the clichés started by ELP, Refugee, Triumvirat and later on Thonk , Steamboat Swtzerland. There is one number that I particularly liked on this one but the rest left me quite lukewarm/tepid, but I am at pain to say which one as my copy of this album seems on permanent loan to a friend . I saw this band in Verviers (east Belgium) and they must have been in a horrendously horrifying night , for they asked for a reverse and opened the night , with the other band (whose name I forgot probably because we left at the end of Ars's concert) closing up. I think they had just lost their bassist , and had a second KB player who tried to fiddle about a bass guitar as Keiko was visibly tired , intimitated , and reading her introduction text in an extremely tired english. Only the very spity, energetic drummer (scantily dressed) saved the night from being a total disaster. A night best forgotten. Apparently , the next time they came, it was much better.
Review by Prog-jester
2 stars Bombastic Prog

That's the word. Either you like it ot hate it. I belong to the second option, though I appreciate ladies' technical abilities. You won't find ANYTHING more here - neither originality nor melodies. Recommended for ELP and ELP-related bands fanbase, but even they may not like what they'll hear. Seriously - this is a time when the heart and soul are betrayed to the speed and masterity. Not recommended for those who prefer music over skills.

Review by b_olariu
4 stars A excellent symhonic album in style of what ELP did in the past but with some great ideas add. The first track is the best from here, and shows how extrordinary is that girl named Keiko Kumagai, that's why she was invited to play keys on some Ayreon pieces later on. Maybe is not an absolute essential album in prog history but for sure is a great one to add to your collection. I give 4 stars, because is one of the fiew instrumental albums i can listen whole at once and not be bored by any piece. Maybe the weak point in here is the - Akiko Takahashi who plays on drums, she's to cold, rigid, no real feeling when she drums, and has no real skills like other drummers in prog. She plays without intrest. With all that i give to this album 4 stars. Try it, worth.
Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars There are some pros and cons for this all-girl Japanese band.

On the pro side one has to admit that their ELP-ish music is way better than the one of their model in these mid-late nineties. They are bringing the fans (to which I belong) to the sounds they have forgotten (unless they endlessly listen to "Tarkus") for so many years.

When it is played with such brio, I am keen to forgive this "tribute band" attitude and if you are ready for an ELP encounter, I can only recommend this album to nostalgic persons but not really to the ones who are expecting creativity.

To appreciate this release, you need to be open-minded in terms of derivative work but even if the keyboards sounds are great, the rhythmic section just sound shy in comparison with whom you know. To recreate the pompous side of ELP is not difficult. To add all their subtlety, Keith's classical approach, Gregg's smooth vocal work (at least, one can't reproach "Ars Nova" to imitate this, since they are an all instrumental band) is another challenge.

There are some beautiful and flamboyant passages in this album of which "Isis" probably combines most of the characteristics I have outlined a little earlier (of which the most significant part is the great piano work).

On the cons side, the lack of originality of course, the average song writing and the diversification. At the time you listen to "The Gorgons", you might feel like a bit of reliefto get closer to the end of this album. Because too much is too much.

Even if I was a profound lover of those fantastic keys moments distilled by the master, their equivalent are not on par in terms of inventiveness. A good representation of works already performed, by skilled musicians.

Three stars for these Japanese godesses.

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars I have the Japanese version which has a different track order and album cover. There's no question this is bombastic instrumental music inspired by ELP. Not my favourite kind of music but I tip my hat to these three ladies who can play with the best of them. It's almost too much the way the tempo and climate changes so often, and of course that bombastic element isn't something i'm fond of. Having said that I love the bass playing and the organ work.

"Morgan (The Fate Awaits Inevitible)" is the longest and my favourite song on here. I really like the sound of the organ that comes and goes that reminds me so much of Swedish bands like SINKADUS and ANGLAGARD. The song starts off mellow then bang an explosion of sound after a minute. The bass is incredible. "Fury (The Daughter Of The Simoon, And The Simoon)" is uptempo, bombastic and furious. Some sampled mellotron on this one as well. It does settle briefly before kicking back in.

"The Gorgons (Never Look At Her Eyes)" opens with pulsating sounds, and check out the powerful organ, drums and bass that take over 1 1/2 minutes in. It settles 3 minutes in. Drums before 4 minutes. Love the bass 4 1/2 minutes in. Outbreaks of bombast after 6 minutes is impressive. Is that bass after 8 1/2 minutes ! Too much. Some great organ work to end it. "Ainsel (A Mad Little Girl)" is one song I don't like at all. Lots of samples and piano in this one. "Kali (In The Name Of Demolition And Massacre)" is a great closing track. The organ early with deep bass lines is amazing. Some screams in this one too.

I feel this is worth 3.5 stars. Lots to like but there are also many sections that do little for me. Worth a listen for the Hammond and bass alone.

Review by DamoXt7942
3 stars Tragedy - I only say this word.

How should the scene go, with three talented HEROINES?

In the first track Morgan, Keiko's keyboard say gracefully to us that our fate should be already formed stably and we cannot struggle away from here forever. The first few phrases may let us enter into the dark area of our mind. The synth string sounds and rumbling guitar ones are active, aggressive and so violent I feel. I can understand Keiko can 'imagine' the tune fit for her solemn and spiritual imagination about the land of the dead. Meanwhile about the tune itself, their play are completely steady and united without any blur. That is, Keiko's imagination is not fuzzy but strict and stable. Let me say, yes, the story is really the story and should go ahead without hesitating - should make clear visions in our brain. Not only by the approach of heavy rock but also of classic, they can play flexibly and make 'visible sounds' as it is said. Fury has very speedy stream of sounds and heavy riffs. Absolutely we can shout THIS IS FEMININE POWER! Strong and soulful intention of three ladies is only one - really an impressive bodyattack with strangling sounds. Forgive me but this song always reminds me they play with sweat gushing out. :-) More heavy and darker scene has come here by The Gorgons - a messenger from the hell. Well indeed Gorgon is a goddess, with an ability letting a people looking at her be a stone. But why? From The Gorgons here we can feel some tragedies. We, altered into stones, can weep with some teardrops. What weird, but graceful Goddesses they should be! Keiko's keyboard, Kyoko's bass, and Akiko's drum can shout, cry, and whisper with complex words to us. Ainsel gets started with dry and scattered piano noises. Avantgarde keyboard sounds follow and develop. Hm, some classical melodies we should have heard somewhere before...should knock our brain continually. May not be relaxed by the song - although there are much classical essense with their passion. I see, their passion itself should be suspicious - it should make us anxious fully. Kali should be suitable for the last track of this album. Again very speedy keyboard solo and heavy bass sounds can let us palpitate speedily. And painful scene should face the death with some parts just like Zarathustra by Museo Rosenbach.

No fantasy, but spiritual tragedy. Watch, not listen.

Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Listening Japanese Symphonic bands is always an adventure and a risk, even when most of the musicians are highly skilled and the compositions based in the power of the keyboards are absolutely attractive for the traditional fan of the genre, there's the problem of the language (Not in this case, being an instrumental album) and the complex eclecticism of their sound, being that for Japanese creativity is not making something radically new, but making better what already exists.

In this line, they usually take influences from everything that may enhance the musical experience, normally they choose between Italian Prog with AOR leanings of ELP oriented sound with extreme pomp.

"The Goddess of Darkness" by ARS NOVA is in my opinion the peak of the style, Keiko Kumagai is a well trained keyboardist, with great dexterity in the Moog. Mellotron and piano, she is clearly influenced by the powerful sound of bands like ELP or TRACE, but adds an extra doze of brilliance and pomp, seems to have horror to silent spaces,. because she covers each instant with music and sounds.

But the band wouldn't sound the same without the rhythm section formed by Kyoko Kanazawa (Bass) and Akiko Takahashi in the drums, with whom they work as a metronome and form a power trio capable of big things.

Wanted to review each and every track, but it would take me hours and mare space than the one available, because here are so many complex characteristics in a few minutes of music, so I will choose the three songs that impressed me more.

The album starts with the sober and impressive "Morgan - The Fate Awaits Inevitable", after a delicate intro, the band morphs into a some sort of tortured ELP where the massive use of Synths will attract any Symphonic fan, it's almost unbelievable to see the fragile Keiko Kumagai hitting the keys with such fury, the song is like an Emersonian nightmare with echoes of Bartok and Janacek, of course the strong drumming enhances the effect.

The structure is amazingly complex, the changes are so radical that nobody will expect what comes next, pure strength and musical skills.

If Morgan broke schemes, "Fury - The Daughter And The Simoom After The Simoom" is even harder, this time ARS NOVA sounds closer to a formal style like in the case of PAR LINDH PROJECT, again no time for rest, the band bombards us with sounds and elaborate music from start to end, never taking the foot of fuel, seems like this band only knows to give all they have without rest.

This time some Baroque passages take the listener for surprise, and to make it harder, Kumagai makes the Hammond shout in pain blending the tortured screams with clear piano sections, and as surprisingly as it started, the song ends.

"The Gorgons - Never Look at her eyes" is a bit softer, more fluid but this doesn't mean the song is free of drama and strength, trying to describe it is futile because it's so dark mysterious and elaborate with an amazing piano and orchestration, but at the same time contradictory, few moments of calm and again all the strength they are capable of , really versatile band with an out of this world keyboardist.

I use to avoid Japanese Prog because of it's excessive eclecticism, a mistake I will make no more, this album is essential, so any rating bellow 4 stars is irrational.

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars ''Transi'' gave the opportunity to Ars Nova to become known worldwide, leading to an invitation for a live at the 95' Progfest in the USA, the first ever live performance of the trio outside Japan.The bombastic music of the band led to an interest by the Musea label.As a result the third album ''The goddess of darkness'' was released in 1996 both in Japan on Made in Japan and in Europe on Musea.The two versions feature different tracklists.

Eventually the title of the album reflects perfectly to the music of Ars Nova, who now had fully developed their own haunting Symphonic Rock style.The three goddesses from Japan play again an intricate, bombastic and very complex music, led by Kumagai's unque keyboard executions and the solid rhythm section.While stylistically not much have changed, the composing of Ars Nova has become extremely solid with impressive solos, twists and breaks, resulting though to well-arranged and tightly delivered long symphonic, instrumental suites.The trio seems absolutely passionate and restless with endless changing themes and tempos in a very short time, led by majestic Mellotrons, mascular synthesizers and pounding Hammond organ.Full of Classical inspirations and a special influence from soundtracks, ''The goddess of darkness'' starts from pompous DEVIL DOLL-like orchestrations, passes from frenetic E.L.P.-influenced keyboard experiments and ends up in romantic, Baroque-inspired themes in a LE ORME vein.Absolutely efficient and compact music, reminiscent of the best moments of GERARD.The only negative point I could find are some scarce yet apparent 80's-styled synths lines with a questionable sound.

Ars Nova at their peak.Bombastic, semi-personal, E.L.P.-styled Symphonic Rock with a huge amount of great parts.An album to remember, highly recommended to all Progressive Rock fans.

Review by Progfan97402
4 stars Ars Nova is the only all girl prog band I know of. While there are other all girl bands performing their own instruments, like the Go-Go's and the Bangles, they were simply mainstream pop/rock bands geared for pop hits. Who'd ever thought the only all girl prog band would be so over the top and bombastic to the core that they even give ELP a run for their money? Even ELP would throw in an occasional acoustic ballad ("Lucky Man", "From the Beginning", "Still... You Turn Me On") to lure people of less discerning taste, and for radio programmers to be able to play something from them without alienating their listeners. Not with Ars Nova. The Goddess of Darkness is their third album and regarded as their best one. Make no mistake who Keiko Kumagai takes for heroes: ELP, Goblin, Museo Rosenbach, Il Balletto di Bronzo, and classical music. I'd probably include Anglagard, but she stated how she wasn't too fond of the 1990s prog scene, and made no mention of Anglagard (making me think she probably would have dismissed them without hearing them), on the other hand I wouldn't be surprised in the least if she actually heard them, because on this particular disc, I get reminded a bit of them as well. It's that similar approach of going through constant changes only to occasionally repeat an earlier theme to let you know what you're listening to. The major difference being Ars Nova doesn't have their quiet, calm, tranquil moments the way of Anglagard. The keyboards are both digital and analog. The music is not only over the top and bombastic, but melodramatic as well, with that dark, Gothic overtone. And speaking of which, I have never been too fond of their Gothic image, probably due to my preference to long haired hippie girls with natural hair color and style. If this sounds great, you know you need this CD. On the other hand, if you dislike prog on the bombastic side,, probably give them a miss. It's really difficult to sift out the songs, as they all pretty much use the same approach. Ars Nova, while obviously paying tribute to the past, doesn't try to sound retro, because the production is pretty modern, and they aren't afraid to use digital synths, but on the other hand, this isn't neo-prog, which is a plus if you run at that thought. I really can't say anything else, but if my description sounds good, get this. BTW, my CD is the Musea pressing with "Isis - She Wakes the Dead" instead of "Ainsel - A Mad Little Girl" in case you own the Made in Japan CD (which features a different cover from the one posted here).

Latest members reviews

3 stars I have Musea version and I admit that for who I know Ars Nova is a copy of The Nice/ ELP (P as Palmer, P as Powell)! And nothing more! "Kali - Demolition & Massacre" is not a normal song because this song not have melody but only a series of musical figures and it is a battle for a normal lis ... (read more)

Report this review (#403992) | Posted by 1967/ 1976 | Sunday, February 20, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Ars Nova is a band (i use the word "band" in an euphemistic way) formed, in this album, by 3 Japanese girls, lead by Keiko Kumagai, the girl behid the keyboards (yes, more than 1 keyboard); in other albums the member are 2, 3, maybe 4, but always leaded by Keiko (she's a genius, so, there's no pr ... (read more)

Report this review (#122905) | Posted by CGH Tompkins | Sunday, May 20, 2007 | Review Permanlink

2 stars An all-female trio, and yet they are not inferior to ELP as it comes to powerfully laying out a huge carpet of sound. The bombastic energy is self-evident. Don't look for something original here. The playing is impressive though, and Keiko Kumagai brings this massive attack of notes up to such ... (read more)

Report this review (#1076) | Posted by PROGCOM | Wednesday, February 16, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I'm amazed, a few years ago a friend told me about these all girl trio but somehow I forgot all about it, and never heard anything, a couple of weeks ago I got this copy at a flea market, somehow remembered having heard something about Ars Nova. Didn't hear it then and somehow the CD went into ... (read more)

Report this review (#1075) | Posted by | Friday, February 4, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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