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The Sham Mirrors
June 2002
Released: 2002, The End Records
Rating: 2.5/5
Reviewer: Michael De Los Muertos

Now here’s a strange album. There was some debate among the M-R staff as to whether this was actually metal or not. I volunteered for the assignment of reviewing it, and now I can understand why those who’ve heard it have generally been left scratching their heads. This certainly isn’t your ordinary metal album!

THE SHAM MIRRORS is not exactly metal, not exactly techno, not exactly ambient, and in fact not exactly anything you can easily classify. The first track has some metal guitars, some fairly reasonable riffs, lots of synth stuff, some orchestral/epic/pipe organ parts, and a lot of just plain weird stuff. That said, it’s not bad. Arcturus occasionally pulls out some pretty decent and heavy guitar stuff which, if allowed to dominate the music as it seems to want to do, would easily classify this as metal. However, throughout all seven tracks on THE SHAM MIRRORS there is some other element taking your attention away from the “metalness” (for example, the vocals, which are somewhat annoying). Furthermore, the pace of this album is never consistent enough to really let the metal elements take over. Just when a great momentum is going--for example, the fourth track, which is speedy, epic, melodic and yet punishing enough to appeal to most metal fans--the album slows down (track five is a strange dirge that begins like a piano ballad and quickly turns gothy). Shame!

On balance, being as I have been asked to “diagnose” this album, I’d say it’s a non-metal album, but there is a metal album in here somewhere…and it’s trying to get out! Arcturus clearly have a lot of talent and technical proficiency. My (biased) advice would be to let the metal stuff shine through--and you may well have a very unique band worth paying attention to.
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