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May 2015
Released: May , Prophecy Productions
Rating: 3.0/5
Reviewer: UK Team

Just under 10 years ago Arcturus released their last studio album 'Sideshow Symphonies' which was the first album to include the vocal exploits of ex-Dimmu Borgir bassist I.C.S Vortex and now they have reformed again and produced 'Arcturian' their fifth studio release. The news of this was a great cause for excitement amongst their fans who have been suffering ion the wake of their disbandment. But it is so they have reformed and produced 10 tracks of interstellar material which will raise a few eyebrows even amongst their oldest and most dedicated fans.

The five proprietors of Avant-Garde metal kick things off with their pre-released single 'The Arcturian Sign' which opens up the wormhole for deep space exploration as the many elements that make this song entwine into an at times ferocious piece that, with accompanied phaser samples really reminds the listener what this band is all about. Arcturus seen the importance of retracing their earlier history, with the intentions to mould old with new to again press the boundaries of their creative edge. The second track 'Crashland' begins with a soft opening which then expands into a much heavier base with very eastern influences being utilised by ICS Vortex with his vocal range. It all adds to the atmosphere generated by Arcturus and it really does capture what they are trying to portray to the listener.

As the album progresses 'Angst' serves up some of their darker edge in the bands mother tongue so don't blame this reviewer for the lack of translation but it bring a forceful and dramatic edge to the album, although most of the content on this record is dramatic. The fourth track warp sounds like the band members had got their hands on a theremin device and started exploring its exploits. Quite electronically focused and is on a more neutral level but it does have a big finish where things turn fast and heavy.

Songs like 'Gameover' and 'Demon' provide their softer, but more expansive song writing talents to the frey whilst the seventh track 'Pale' lubes up the third eye and then explodes into a dark and grandiose spectacle where the lyrics "Out of the Vacuum it came" sets the thunderous tone for the song. It serves as probably the grittiest portion of the album with plenty of attitude thrown in towards the end of the track. The eighth track 'Journey' serves as a very melodic and quite serene track again which his heavily electronic focused but is backed by some very tempered and tranquil acoustic guitar which brings the song to a peaceful end.

The last two tracks are made up of, firstly, 'Archer' which brings back the almighty symphonic theatrics which Arcturus have mastered throughout their 28 years (minus the 10 year hiatus) of serving the realm of progressive music. 'Archer' is quite consistent with the rest of the album and serves as a testament to Arcturus' conviction and dedication to that elaborate niche that they so heavily immerse themselves in. As the eventual climax of the album rears its ugly head Arcturus serve up one final slice of their all consuming and dynamic music with 'Bane' which starts with the eerie atmosphere that Arcturus like to build upon before a shift into overdrive gets things back into the heavy gear before dissipating into a rather folk oriented section, which in itself doesn't last long before the song expands even further. There is a lot going on in this song as Arcturus aim for a big finish. Again a plethora of alternating elements are combined for the enigmatic style to which they are custodians of and the album ends with another display of the talents that these musicians possess. It can't really be said that it is an emphatic finish but it does feel like there's something not quite finished yet with Arcturus.

It is a hard piece of music to properly define and is definitely something that requires personal digestion to find true understanding. Arcturus have implemented some of their more older material's feel and character and gave it a massive facelift with some very expansive and more modern nuances added to the mix. They have included things like first take solos into the music to give it a more cultured approach which is impressive as you can find out by listening to some of the solos that are distributed throughout the album. There certain elements that aren't perfect however there is plenty for people to enjoy especially if they have a taste for the outlandish and surreal. Arcturus provide an insight into exploratory music that has a profound and lasting effect, sure to be emulated further. There does seem to be some unfinished business but we will see what the future holds for Arcturus.

Review by Pete Mutant
Track Listing

1: The Arcturian Sign
2: Crashland
3: Angst
4: Warp
5: Gameover
8: The Journey


Simen "ICS Vortex" Hestnæs - VOCALS
Steinar "Sverd" Johnsen - KEYBOARDS
Knut Magne Valle - GUITAR
Hugh "Skoll" Mingay - BASS
Jan Axel "Hellhammer" Blomberg – DRUMS

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