Arcturus - _Arcturian_
(Prophecy Productions, 2015)
by: Julia Semprich (
When Simen Hestnæs, also known as ICS Vortex and famous for his prominent voice on quite a few Norwegian metal albums, announced that he had plans to revive "a band or three" after his departure (or rather removal) from Dimmu Borgir, I really hoped one of them would be Arcturus. My wish came true, and ten years after their last album _ Sideshow Symphonies_, the Norwegian symphonic, experimental and progressive metal band are now presenting their new masterpiece _Arcturian_. One thing Arcturus fans must have learned by now is to expect them to go far beyond the generic metal elements, and on this album they seem to venture out repeatedly into the electronic music genre. Examples of this new influence are especially evident on "Warp", "Demon" and "The Journey" -- which is a rather psychedelic piece using only violin and acoustic guitars with distorted singing on top of the electronic sounds, while the drums are kept in the background. Other songs, such as "Crashland", "Angst", "Archer" and "Bane", resort more to symphonic synth passages combined with gloomy guitar riffs and double bass, creating a dark atmosphere but usually not lacking variety through changes of tempi and interjected slow passages or solos. All compositions are multi-layered and spiked with numerous different influences and elements. The synths are often bombastically symphonic, but can also fade to the background, making space for the other instruments. Pure piano passages are rare but perfectly placed, such as during the intro for "Game Over". The guitars are both clear and distorted, varying from monotone, gloomy riffs to speedy, playful solos. Every song seems to create a different mood, which is amplified by the voice of ICS Vortex ranging from desperate to playful, from aggressive to calm, going through a variety of styles from growling over screeching to whispering, from darker tones to high-pitched singing. Everything is possible on this album: from the weird electronic intro on "The Arcturian Sign" to the nice metallic, instrumental outro on "Bane", from the aggressive sound on "Angst" to the calm and acoustic "The Journey", from the melodic, catchy tunes on "Crashland" to the gloomier "Demon". Despite all the variation and the different influences, the tracks on_Arcturian_ still form a nice unity and the album is at its end way too soon. The only fault I can find is that we had to wait such an extraordinary long time to hear this new creation so please, Arcturus, don't make us wait another ten years for the next album!
(article published 1/8/2015)
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