Review: Arcturus - Arcturian

Band: Arcturus
Album: "Arcturian"
Style: Avantgarde metal
Release date: 2015-05-08
Origin: Norway

1. The Arcturian Sign
2. Crashland
3. Angst
4. Warp
5. Game Over
6. Demon
7. Pale
8. The Journey
9. Archer
10. Bane

"Sideshow Symphonies" (2005) was the first album without vocalist and founder Kristoffer G. Rygg (aka Garm, aka Trickster G. Rex) who apparently got tired of all things metal and decided to turn Ulver into a trip-hop band, depending on way too much drugs as a sole inspiration. Vortex (Borknagar, ex-Dimmu Borgir) naturally took over the vocals since he basically was the only one who could be up to such a task. It didn't make things worse that he already knew the band and provided vocals on a couple of songs on the masterpiece that is "La Masquerade Infernale" (1997). "Sideshow Symphonies" was a major disappointment for a lot fans, including your humble writer. Bad production aside, something was lacking compared to "La Masquerade Infernale" and "The Sham Mirrors" (2002). The songs were quite boring and not nearly as adventurous as they had been in the past. All in all, it sounded like Arcturus was trying too hard to sound like Arcturus. I think I'm on to something here, since the band disappeared and kept silent for a long time. So here we are in 2015 and it's been 10 long years since we last heard from the insane space-crew that inhabits the star known to us earthlings as Arcturus. But was it all worth the wait?

"The Arcturian Sign" kicks things off a bit in a manner and a style that was nowhere to be found on the tedious predecessor. It's an excellent choice in an opening track since it combines elements from all the band's previous albums, including the atmospheric black metal album "Aspera Hiems Symfonia" (1995) and it's a joy to hear some more, albeit brief, aggressive moments in Arcturus' music. "Crashland" is more mellow and atmospheric and could easily fitted onto the predecessor. But if that would've been the case, it would have been one of the best songs. The melody parts, both musical and vocal, treat my ears with wonders where the part around 1.50 reminds me very much of Guns N' Roses (of all bands). It's works emotional wonders on my mind and the album continues to do, despite what mood the space-pirates sets for us. "Angst" brings us Norwegian lyrics and a tad more aggression again whereas "Warp" has a keyboard melody that is to die for. "Demon" and "The Journey" is pure psychedelia and "Bane" has a moment where all "The Chaos Path"-lovers surely will get their satisfaction.

The songs are overall shorter than they've ever been throughout the band's career. "Arcturian" is a varied album that takes quite a few spins to actually digest, but once that is accomplished, I can't do anything but bow down to the masters of the genre that is avantgarde metal. The production is muffled and only slightly better compared to "Sideshow Symphonies", but I have never been a person that deduces points from an album just because the production is bad. Okay, I just might, but then it has to be a total disaster that really annoys the fuck out of me. This is nothing like that.

I know it's only May, but if "Arcturian" isn't anywhere near my top-5 at the end of the year, then this has surely been an amazing year music-wise. All in all, if you've liked Arcturus' previous efforts and you don't enjoy the fuck out of this one - there's something seriously wrong with you.
I know at least one such person...


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