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ARCTURUS

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal • Norway


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Arcturus biography
In 1987 Steinar Johnsen (Sverd), Jan Axel Blomberg (Hellhammer), Marius Vold
formed a band called MORTEM. Sverd on guitars, Hellhammer on drums, and Vold on bass. They released a demo tape and 7" EP before 1990, no other records were known with this band. In 1990 the name was changed to ARCTURUS. They changed their style from Mortem's Death metal to their beginning in Black Metal. Between 1990 and 1993 staying with the same lineup the band released "My Angel"

Still very beginnings of the band, before they could show their true capability.

In 1993 a sudden change happened. Sverd gave up guitars, and returned to his primary instrument, Keyboards. Samoth was hired as a new guitarist and Kristoffer Rygg (Garm) joined the band on vocals. "Constellation" mini cd was released before Samoth left the band in 1994. Carl August Tideman (of TRITONUS and WINDS) on guitars has joined the band to record "Aspera Hiems Symphonia", along with ULVER's Skoll on Bass. The band released a very interesting album in this case. A recomended Album for someone who likes Death or Black metal, but I doubt most progressive listeneres will get much out of it. Its music is unique in a way that it shows how terrible screams on vocals and symplistic instruments can give way to interesting music. Lyrics are short simple, the band has not yet offered much complexity, but they are a step ahead of other Black Metal bands.
Since Carl was only in the band for that specific album, Knut Magne Valle has taken the guitars, and is still with the band.

The line up now stands as Sverd on keyboards, Hellhammer on drums, Garm on vocals, Knut on Guitars.

In late 1996 the band started recording "La Masquerade Infernale", where the band entered their full power. Extensive use of keyboards with various effects, Cello sounds come through on some tracks, and take primary face on one of the tracks to show how acoustic instruments other then guitars can do in Black Metal. The Vocal acrobatis take their interesting curve on this album, offering very dark but yet strangely wicked and melodic songs. Overall the album is very dark yet very instrumentally and vocally extensive. Sverd's compositional work successfully releases an Album that sounds like a Hellish Daemonic Masquerade (just as the name says so...).

Here I shall mension one of the tracks of this CD. Chaos Path is probaby one of the most unique and powerful tracks in all Black Metal releases. I...
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The Sham MirrorsThe Sham Mirrors
The End Records 2002
Audio CD$9.24
$6.74 (used)
Masquerade InfernaleMasquerade Infernale
Limited Edition
BACK ON BLACK 2014
Vinyl$23.46
$29.14 (used)
Aspera hiems Symfonia/Constellation/My AngelAspera hiems Symfonia/Constellation/My Angel
Candlelight 2003
Audio CD$8.56
$4.95 (used)
Sideshow Symphonies [Vinyl]Sideshow Symphonies [Vinyl]
Limited Edition
Candlelight 2006
Vinyl$17.70
$20.88 (used)
Aspera Hiems SymfoniaAspera Hiems Symfonia
Century Media 1997
Audio CD$189.34
$5.54 (used)
Disguised MastersDisguised Masters
Import
Jester Norway 2006
Audio CD$45.04
$4.95 (used)
Shipwrecked in OsloShipwrecked in Oslo
Season of Mist 2006
Audio CD$25.65
$13.98 (used)
The Sham Mirrors by Arcturus (2002) Audio CDThe Sham Mirrors by Arcturus (2002) Audio CD
The End Records
Audio CD$33.04
La Masquerade Infernale by Arcturus (2003) Audio CDLa Masquerade Infernale by Arcturus (2003) Audio CD
Candlelight
Audio CD$41.14
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ARCTURUS shows & tickets


  • Legacy Open Air 2014 on 13 Jun 2014 - CANCELLED

ARCTURUS discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

ARCTURUS top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.80 | 54 ratings
Aspera Hiems Symfonia
1996
3.85 | 126 ratings
La Masquerade Infernale
1997
4.13 | 158 ratings
The Sham Mirrors
2002
3.67 | 75 ratings
Sideshow Symphonies
2005

ARCTURUS Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

ARCTURUS Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.46 | 18 ratings
Shipwrecked in Oslo
2006

ARCTURUS Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.11 | 20 ratings
Disguised Masters
1999
3.32 | 13 ratings
Aspera Hiems Symfonia / Constellation / My Angel
2003

ARCTURUS Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

1.00 | 1 ratings
Slow Death (Demo by Mortem pre Arcturus)
1987
1.74 | 9 ratings
My Angel (vinyl)
1991
2.02 | 4 ratings
Constellation
1994

ARCTURUS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Shipwrecked in Oslo by ARCTURUS album cover DVD/Video, 2006
4.46 | 18 ratings

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Shipwrecked in Oslo
Arcturus Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by rdtprog
Collaborator Heavy Prog Team

4 stars Arcturus plays a original kind of symphonic metal that concentrate more in setting some nice atmosphere than to play complex metal with many solos. The vocals are not too aggressive, nothing in the death metal genre, but match perfectly the music to please anyone who hates harsh vocals. The show in Norway has some theatrical aspect with ancient costumes, some characters making their appearance on stage in one song. The music could go well as the soundtrack of a horror movie with his dark Gothic atmosphere and songs that don't show the bright side of life.

Nice editing for the video, and one audio option available, a good 5.1 surround sound. For those who know the band, this is a nice addition, and a great introduction for those who are not familiar with the band.

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 Aspera Hiems Symfonia by ARCTURUS album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.80 | 54 ratings

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Aspera Hiems Symfonia
Arcturus Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Excellent debute album from this already legendary band named Arcturus. Aspera hyems symphonia issued in 1996 is to me at least if not for many one of the most inventive symphonic black metal album ever with clearly many progressive touches in his 42 min lengh. Formed by well known names in this field , but specially Carl August Tidemann from Winds fame, who is a fenomenal guitarsit, his mark on this album is top notch. Quite complex and yet in same time melodic black metal album, this has nothing to do with the raw black of Immortal or early stuff, Aspera hyems is full of intelligent passgaes where the melodic side of black metal almost progressive metal in places because of the guitar and sound overall is melted with the voice who is raw and in black metal type because the instrumenets even are well performed by each member in some parts the sound is little precare and amatorish. Anyway I love this album, I have it since it was released more then 15 years ago, what a treat for my ears was then as now, still very fresh in ideas and one hell of a great ride for me. Like a lot the guitar who is very avangarde and goes progressive metal most of the time nice solos by Tidemann aswell, the use of keyboards is great and gives a perfect symphonic atmosphere. For me easy 4 stars a fine album all the way. No weak tracks for sure, all are winners.

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 My Angel (vinyl) by ARCTURUS album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1991
1.74 | 9 ratings

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My Angel (vinyl)
Arcturus Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by 1967/ 1976

2 stars I have deliberately hurt and I have deliberately tried to understand why. I casually tried to figure out what was the Black Metal and Death Metal. There are things that I like very much and things that I hate. "My Angel" is one of the things that like me. A strange EP, delivered by a band that some of my friends idolized/ idolize! For various reasons I have not pursued the discovery of a world that does not attract me.

The lineup for this EP consisted of Marius Vold (vocals, Bass), Steiner Sverd Johnsen (Keyboards, Guitars) and Hellhammer (drums). That is, for the uninitiated, we are at a non-return (and at the highest level) of the Scandinavian Black Metal/ Death Metal. But to say that if you are not followers of this scene, what is proposed here is a pure massacre (it is defined) is the minimum. Describe the music is superfluous.

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 La Masquerade Infernale by ARCTURUS album cover Studio Album, 1997
3.85 | 126 ratings

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La Masquerade Infernale
Arcturus Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Sinusoid
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Imagine an old horror film from the 1930's/1940's and that creepy gothic pump organ that looms in the background. Put that seventy years in the future, LA MASQUERADE INFERNALE might just be that type of music with thick metal guitars. A darker, creepier Black Sabbath meets keys equally as bombastic as those of Par Lindh Project, and then put a singer over the top who sounds like he has problems.

Most of the album is pretty overdone in the dramatics, the bombast, the heaviness, yet MASQUERADE is the type of album where I can bypass all of that and take it as a fun album to listen to. This isn't the most instantly accessible album, but how tight the ideas are stitched and how well the album flows as a whole keeps my curiosity level on notice. ''Master of Disguise'' and ''The Chaos Path'' in particular set the tone of the whole album.

Yes this is twisted and demented, but it's a treat. If you feel that this is way too over-the-top, try to sit back and not take MASQUERADE seriously. The metal riffs themselves are good enough to stand on their own merit to the point where everything else is icing even if everything else sounds silly.

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 La Masquerade Infernale by ARCTURUS album cover Studio Album, 1997
3.85 | 126 ratings

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La Masquerade Infernale
Arcturus Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Negoba
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Something Wicked...

As a fan of avant-garde metal, it was probably inevitable that I'd find my way to Arcturus' MASQUERADE INFERNALE. This album has a bit of a legendary place in the metal mythology, but sadly the music itself really doesn't match the reputation. On paper, this should be great with Garm's vocals and a Bunglesque carnival fetish added to a black metal ethic. Sounds like a fun ride. But like too many vampire stories, the affectations overcome the story and the camp becomes cartoonish. It seems like the band is trying too hard to be wierd and not concentrating enough on the fundamentals of the songs.

All the trappings are here, with Garm attempting Boris Karloff in the opera but instead singing out of tune much of the time. The organs are heavily reverbed and spooky, and various effects drench virtually every instrument. The guest vocals on the opening track and "The Chaos Path" are the best on the album. But the actual riffs are uninspired, the melodies monotonous, and songwriting virtually nonexistent. In fact, I don't think there's a single line I could sing back to you off this album and only a few instrumental parts that stick with me.

Despite all of the vocals being sung cleanly, I really don't have any idea what these guys are singing about. Supposedly it's sorta kinda Satanic (the idea of which turns me off) but there's nothing that feels truly dangerous to me. Contrast this to Sleepytime Gorilla Museum's "Of Natural History" which I think has some very similar intentions at its core, but is more intelligent, more musically daring, enjoys better songwriting, and at places really scares the crap out of me.

I actually like Ulver quite a bit in all of its different sounds. Garm's ear is never perfect, but it's never as bad as it is here. I've tried so many times to get into this. But it just isn't that good.

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 The Sham Mirrors by ARCTURUS album cover Studio Album, 2002
4.13 | 158 ratings

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The Sham Mirrors
Arcturus Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Now, this is much more like it! Arcturus back off from the baroque music embellishments of La Masquerade Infernale and come up with an intoxicating brand of mildly blackened progressive space metal on The Sham Mirrors, on which Trickster G. Rex delivers strange, semi-chanted vocals over a thick layer of tasty guitar riffs and keyboard lines. Despite presenting this bizarre, electronic fusion of extreme metal and trip-hop, the album is also incredibly accessible, grabbing the listener's attention from the opening bars of the fantastic lead track Kinetic. On top of that, the band refuse to fall into the progressive metal trap of thinking an album has to have 70 minutes of material at least; this is a lean, mean 43 minute album which delivers top quality for every second of the experience.

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 La Masquerade Infernale by ARCTURUS album cover Studio Album, 1997
3.85 | 126 ratings

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La Masquerade Infernale
Arcturus Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Black metal supergroup Arcturus took a decidedly avant-garde turn with this release, which features long stretches of material which aren't reminiscent of extreme metal at all if you ignore the standard black metal lyrical obsession with Satan. Shrieked vocals and blast beats make only brief, momentary appearances on this album and semi-spoken clean vocals and cello passages reminiscent of some sort of baroque-era reimagining of rock opera. To be honest, it's the sort of material which isn't for everyone - I personally don't really feel it - but if it does click with you you'd probably enjoy it a lot. Adventurous metal fans should probably give it a try at some point but shouldn't feel too bad if it goes over their head.

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 The Sham Mirrors by ARCTURUS album cover Studio Album, 2002
4.13 | 158 ratings

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The Sham Mirrors
Arcturus Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 'The Sham Mirrors' - Arcturus (8/10)

With another album, there are new developments for the avant-garde metal act known as Arcturus. This now-legendary band is something of a Norwegian black metal supergroup, with members collaborating here from, among others; Ulver, Dimmu Borgir, Mayhem, and Emperor. What comes as a surprise is that despite these musicians' background, the music here is not black metal, but rather a highly theatrical brand of progressive metal. 'La Masquerade Infernale' first planted Arcturus' flag in the sand, taking the dreary atmosphere of black metal and channeling it through what may have been described as astral circus metal. 'The Sham Mirrors' sees this project continue own the avant-garde path, but this time around, things are a little lighter, melodic, and- dare I say- <.I accessible. No matter, in many ways, Arcturus have improved this time around, creating yet another excellent and memorable landmark of avant-metal.

My memories of 'La Masquerade Infernale' focus largely on the diabolical atmosphere that the music created. While it was far from being black metal in nature, the vibe that came across was not unlike something a frostbitten black metal band would convey. Garm's brooding voice was subtle and disturbing, and there were plenty of tritones for the devil worshipers to dive into. As is even evident from the album artwork, 'The Sham Mirrors' is a departure from the darkness, in favour of something a little more melodic. The riffs are faster and more harmonious, and Garm's vocal performance has been swept up from the gloomy basso into a higher-register, theatrical wail that I.C.S Vortex first introduced to the band with his memorable vocal performance on 'The Chaos Path'. All of these changes are best represented on the album's opener, 'Kinetic', which is incidentally the greatest thing that the album offers. 'Kinetic' opens up with fast paced chords and a steady build, with ambient vocalizations, programmed drum beats, and an array of 'sci fi' electronic noises. While Garm did not impress me a great deal on 'La Masquerade Infernale', his voice blows me away this time around. It is as if his voice has been let off its chain, and is now allowed to traverse the depths of his range, which is quite impressive. It is a disappointment that there is nothing else quite as astonishing as 'Kinetic' on the rest of the album, because it is one of the greatest progressive metal songs I have ever heard.

Arcturus may have made their sound more melodic, but it is still very forward thinking and weird. There is a symphonic element brought in via the keyboards, making Arcturus sound like an avant-garde incarnation of Dimmu Borgir, at times. The songwriting has plenty of hooks, but it rarely relies on a chrous structure. However, most of the experimentalism is brought on through the way the music is performed and executed. Garm's vocals are intense and dramatic, as if he was performing in an opera. The dense electronic ambiance also gives the music a coat of production that makes it sound weirder than it would otherwise. The production can get ambitious past its means at times, although the amount of work that's been put into fleshing out the sound is acknowledged and evident in the music. The one musician here who doesn't seem to get a chance to exploit his full talent is drummer Hellhammer, whose normally inhuman grasp of the double-kick and blast beat is muffled and drowned by the dense production, not to mention the thick presence of programmed beats in the album.

'The Sham Mirrors' is another challenging album from Arcturus, although it is nowhere near as shocking as 'La Masquerade Infernale' was for me. This is arguably the best thing that Arcturus has released in any case, and it is a shame they stopped making music together at the peak of their work. As it is with many avant albums I come across, there are aspects of this album that don't sit totally right with me, but these are easy to overlook in the face of the resounding strengths the album boasts. An excellent, inventive album.

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 Sideshow Symphonies by ARCTURUS album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.67 | 75 ratings

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Sideshow Symphonies
Arcturus Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by EatThatPhonebook
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 6/10

"Sideshow Symphonies" is a mysterious, but more mellowed-out piece of work.

Legendary Avant-Garde Metal band Arcturus arrive at their final chapter with "Sideshow Symphonies", the fourth and last album of the band. Their previous album, "The Sham Mirrors", was the last one that included Garm on vocals, and now ICS Vortex is doing the job. This turned fans off because it was preposterous that after a masterpiece such as Sham Mirrors they replaced the man who was such a big part of this band.

Stylistically, the music isn't much diverse from the previous album, but it does incorporate somewhat less guitars, but it feels like it has less of everything for some reason. As a consequence, the vocals stand out the most from the mix, which is a sort of mockery in my opinion, since fans wanted Garm and not really ICS Vortex from the start. But the production and the overall sound here is best one Arcturus has ever achieved, however the mixing, like I said, can be a little unfair. The Black Metal moments are pretty much gone, and the Avant- Garde feel and craziness is not really felt on this one: "Sideshow Symphonies" is a much more straight-forward album that is very much based on melody. Symphonic Metal seems to prevail, as well as some Progressive Metal.

"Sideshow Symphonies" is a mellowed out album, for sure, but it has a sense of mystery that the other albums, while being a lot better than this one, don't have. The vocals of Vortex maybe are the ones that make the music this way, I don't know. But one thing is for sure, this vocalist can sing, even though it might seem off key at times. I find him a very unique sounding vocalist that should have more credit for the work he does.

Everyone seems to agree that the key song of the album is the eight minute "Shipwrecked Frontier Pioneer", which also has the best melody and vocal performance. It also has a great structure that keeps me interested for the whole thing. Unfortunately it isn't so for all of the tracks: some manage to be very flat and a little boring too, bringing down my interest. Also, since it is a more melodic experimental album, the melody is important, and I'm not that into it in some spots here. However songs like the opener "Hibernation Sickness Complete" manage to be otherwise, having enjoyable moments.

A decent album to listen to, if you like experimental/avant-garde you might like this, but it's not guaranteed Arcturus fans will, since it would be a pretty big disappointment after the masterpiece "The Sham Mirrors", but it is nevertheless one of the most interesting ways to end a musical career, as it's still a mysterious and calm piece of work.

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 The Sham Mirrors by ARCTURUS album cover Studio Album, 2002
4.13 | 158 ratings

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The Sham Mirrors
Arcturus Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by EatThatPhonebook
Prog Reviewer

5 stars 9/10

"The Sham Mirrors" brings you to the strangest heaven, a paradise covered in eternal iciness and dark night.

When a band assumes that their next release will be their masterpiece, there can be a lot going on. There can be endless fights between the band components, some uncomfortable decisions can be made. For a strange band like Arcturus, surprisingly, they decided to go on a more straight-forward direction, but the result for this decision is 'The Sham Mirrors', the third studio album, and the ultimate masterpiece.

It is very different from the previous album, 'La Masquerade Infernale': the production is a little clearer, but still a little muddy, creating this very sharp sound. The instrumentation is so much more highlighted: I feel like I'm hearing more guitars, but there's also a ton of keyboards. Both these are well balanced, without one overturning the other. But the music, because of the inevitable massive keyboard presence, is much more symphonic (some feel that this album has some symphonic metal to it). The piano is a standout instrument too, as it is much more frequent than it ever was for Arcturus previously, it to the point where it can even be the bulk of a song. The vocals are generally normal sounding, since Garm once again returns facing the microphone, giving some of his best performances. There are some shrieking growls in only one song, but they are pretty good, like you would expect from this man. There's also a lot more heavy electronics and eerie beats, some of the elements that really make this album Avant-garde. Like I said, this album is much more straight forward, the melodies are memorable, and some times even pretty catchy, an extreme rarity for this kind of music.

'Kinetic', the brilliant opening track, is the song that could have become in my opinion a single, the most memorable and accessible; great hooks, and very good experimentation as well. But 'Nightmare Heaven' is amazing to me; pretty melodic in the first part, but the heavy electronics come in as a bridge at a certain point, and last for a few minutes, until another hook blasts. 'Ad Absurdum' has pretty much the same structure, and even though being a really good song and having a great riff, it isn't my favorite. 'Collapse Generation' is another breathtaking piece, only four minutes long, but it manages to have a great structure and a very urgent feel. 'Star Crossed' is the mostly piano driven song, while 'Radical Cut' is the most aggressive one (the one that features growls). But the grand finale is very much worth waiting for; 'For To End Yet Again' is, maybe arguably, the best Arcturus song yet. Great hook in the beginning, amazing experimentation, a big range of influences can be heard in the very long bridge, from ambient to oriental music. The greatest piece of music, in my opinion, of the band, the widest and most adventurous one as well.

If the beloved 'La Masquerade Infernale' was a more infernal like trip, 'The Sham Mirrors' brings you to the strangest heaven, a paradise covered in eternal iciness and dark night. I've found myself loving this album immediately, and I'm sure I'll remember it for my entire life. If your Avant-Garde metal fan or you're interested in it, this album is an absolute must. One of the great masterpieces of the genre.

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