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Arcturus - The Sham Mirrors CD (album) cover




Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

4.15 | 221 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
2 stars |D+| Good material, bad synthesis of material, mediocre result.

Sham Mirrors is an album by the black metal super-group Arcturus. This band has a good variation of sound from album to album. I often agree with prog reviewer Rune2000 in his review of this album; this album is almost more symphonic/power metal sounding than black metal, though the black metal element is certainly strong. The keyboards and rhythm guitar are mostly to blame for this, whilst the drumming and lead guitar are indeed very old-school black metal. And I've always liked Rex's voice, though it doesn't seem to fit the music on this particular album somehow and the effects do indeed seem a bit overdone.

The good things about this album is that the individual musical ideas (riffs, melodies, ect.) are excellent, though they are often (if not usually) overused. Each song is very unique to itself, while the whole album has a nice cohesiveness to it; it sounds like Sham Mirrors and not that much like anything else, which I always appreciate. The best track on the album is by far For to End Yet Again.

My biggest problem with the album is how repetitive the sections of the songs are. Each section has great material, but the way the parts were put together just makes for an incredibly repetitive and synthetic sounding organization of composition. The ideas are often so overused its like "can we move on to the next part now." There is never any rhythmic variation in the piano parts, their often just triplet patterns playing arpeggios over and over and over, though we certainly hear some cool stuff in Star Crossed. The keyboard settings sound synthetic and cheesy to me in the album overall, though the actual musical ideas are often pleasing. The chord progressions repeat relentlessly. So do the riffs, and tremolo guitar, and the drums, and the bass is just backing everything else most of the time. The musical ideas in this album are great, they really are, but they're never constructed efficiently to form a pleasing and engaging result.

So while I certainly don't mind putting this album on, but I can't really mentally engage in it and feel like I'm really getting anything out of it. This is among the most overrated albums in the whole progressive metal community... its nice, a lot of nice ideas, but it doesn't add up to an album that holds up to the progressive rock listener's expectations. If Arcturus is a band you're fond of or you really like power metal and black metal (and cheesy keyboard settings associated with the former), this is an album you might really like.

Isa | 2/5 |


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