Arcturus - The Sham Mirrors

Five years after Arcturus gave black metal the kick up the ass that was La Masquerade Infernale, they have
returned, with the long awaited follow-up. A lot has happened since 1997 in particular the mutation
of Ulver (Garms other band) into the hypnotic experimental electronic act they are now.
And what with the 1999 Arcturus remix album Disguised Masters seemingly indicating that Arcturus were moving
further into the extreme leftfield, you would be forgiven for expecting more of a shock from
this record. Well there is a shock, it is however that Garm and co have forgone the experimental
electron fusion of their recent efforts in favour of six brilliant epic metal songs.
There is of course the trademark Dramatic flair and court jester style atmosphere on the songs
but it is now infused with a full on metal sound that will have you playing air guitar instantly.
The first track Kinetic sets the tone for the album with its driving riffs and Sverds
gorgeous keys. Garms voice takes on a slight Falsetto on this and many of the other songs, but don't be put
off by this, it complements his superb range perfectly and is just yet another string to his well
strung vocal bow. The electronics are kept to a minimum with only rare uses of loops and programmed
percussion during breaks in the songs. Isahn lends his vocal talents to the fantastic Radical
cut which begins with a belting symphonic Black metal surge before mutating into an almost
danceable synth drum workout before crashing back in. A real hairs on the back of you neck moment when Isahn
lets rip with one of the best screams Iíve heard since Angel of Death. The finale is the ten
minute For To end once again, which starts with more carnival sounds before the metal takes over again,
after about four minutes the track descends into a long atmospheric section before moving back into
symphonic territory before fading out. A great end to a great album. So they did it again, not like anything
else out there right now, wipes the floor with Dimmu, COF etc, the true masters of majesty are
back in town, who's coming out to play?