Thursday, 25 September 2014

Arcturus "Sideshow Symphonies" (2005)

Arcturus are a highly respected outfit from Norway who pioneered their own Avant-Garde niche in the Black Metal scene. Starting out with more traditional elements they quickly evolved into a unique and energetic, chaotic showcase of intelligent and deep musicianship that delivered some classic and unforgettable progressive records that have had a resounding impact on my personal experience with music. Their Avant-Garde fusion of Symphony, Black Metal & Electronic styling has been legendary, however this album has been considered a miss by many fans and critics, and for me it is their finest hour. Where other felt they had "toned it down", for me, it was a sign of artistic maturity and an appreciation of powerful and subtle writing.

Sideshow Symphonies nine songs seamlessly drift through an astral journey with absorbing, atmospheric compositions crafted through the subtle and layered music. At every moment in this album many small and detailed elements paint a bigger picture. Whirling distant synthesizers, bright pianos, crunchy guitars and paramount leads, all gluing together effortlessly, with many moments in the album bringing different instruments to the forefront. The album sounds crisp and lush, with the subtlety of the instrumentals being the key element here. There is no competition between any of the instruments. Hellhammer's drumming is sharp as ever providing a strong, yet creative backbone for these songs to reside in.

With all thats good to be said about the instrumentation, Vortex's vocal leads steal the show. This man has a stunningly melodic and honest Scandinavian voice. On the track Demonpainter he brings a lead on another level thats unforgettable. I've had the pleasure of seeing him sing live a few times and there's no studio tricks, its raw talent, and its utilized well on this album which has been a favorite of mine for years. Every time i listen its all to easy to get warped up and lost in the wonderful Sideshow Symphonies masterpiece!

Favorite Track: Demonpainter
Rating: 9/10