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Arcturus - Shipwrecked in Oslo CD (album) cover




Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

4.40 | 29 ratings

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Trickster F.
Prog Reviewer
5 stars A brilliant performance from a brilliant group!

Arcturus, one of the most important and critically acclaimed, and quite deservedly so, Progressive collective of our time, have finally seen the extensively delayed release of the DVD, capturing their live performance September 24, 2005 at the Sonic Solstice Festival at Rockefeller in Oslo, Norway. Titled Shipwrecked in Oslo, with an obvious reference to the track Shipwrecked Frontier Pioneer from their latest album Sideshow Symphonies, the record captures the group at their musical and artistic best, and is an all-around exciting experience, featuring appearances from the dancers Delirium and Delight, as well as a demented circus on the track The Chaos Path. A good starting point would be looking at both visual and musical aspects of what the DVD offers in order to come to a strong conclusion.

The performance is approximately an hour and a half long, consisting of fourteen tracks from the group's vast catalogue, as well as additional solos from the guitarists Knut Magne Valle and Tore Moren and a great classical piano solo by keyboardist Steinar "Sverd" Johnsen. The setlist, as the name of the concert suggests, features songs from each major Arcturus release. There is one song from Constellation / Aspera Hiems Symfonia and Disguised Masters, four from La Masquerade Infernale (three of which Simen originally appeared on) , two from The Sham Mirrors and six compositions from the latest Sideshow Symphonies, which seems to be the emphasis of the concert.

The musicianship shown leaves no doubt of the proficiency of the musicians, and the sound is more than just satisfactory, allowing the listener to hear each instrument very well and not putting any of the musicians lower in the mix than it is necessary. Simen "Vortex" Hestnaes's vocal performance is worthy of a special note, as being on a gruesome mission of replacing one of the most influential and charismatics singers in modern Music, he is forced to do his absolute best, which he succeeds in. He especially shines during the material recorded with him(not surprisingly, three songs out of four from La Masquerade Infernale had him on the vocals), whereas the Garm material appears to be of greater difficulty, as Garm has his own style and also a lower voice. Nevertheless, the non-Simen material is dealt with in a very professional, creative and solid way, and Vortex does not disappoint. I already expect die-hard Arcturus fans anticipating a vocal performance after that one part (Arcturus followers will know exactly which one I am talking about, so I will save me time describing it) in the not-too-dated-yet-already-legendary Nightmare Heaven, where Garm truly shined. The live version of the vocal performance does not achieve the brilliance of the studio version(what we have is an amazing Kermit The Frog take on the classic! Kidding!) , however, whichever way Simen decides to alter the vocal lines of Garm's parts, he always does it appropriately for the music. The presence of a song from the greatly despised remixes compilation Disguised Masters - Deception Genesis sounds quite fascinating and unusual live owing to Simen singing in his full voice naturally in comparison to the studio output, although I still prefer the original with altered, whispered and distorted vocals by Garm which made the mood even eerier. In addition, there are more black metal shrieks on songs that used to have none, thus denying the fans' suspicion that Simen forgot how to handle the extreme vocals properly (his weak shouting on the first two tracks of Sideshow Symphonies was righly labelled as "cringeworthy"). The setlist finishes with the classic Raudt og Svart, one of the most intense Arcturus compositions and the only real Black Metal track on the setlist, that has originally appeared on the Constellation EP. Other particularly impressive performances include Nightmare Heaven, Alone with its greatly extended intro and the epics from the recent album Shipwrecked Frontier Pioneer and Deamon Painter, although everything performed is almost equally remarkable.

The visual side of the concert is also quite ambitious and entertaining. First of all, the musicians are all wearing the same clothes they initially put on during the Sideshow Symphonies promo photo session. Bearing a unique resemblance to cosmic pirates, they look picturesque in their outfits, only Hellhammer standing out and looking more like Abbath's long-lost brother separated at birth than anything (despite not having put on any corpse paint). Dancers Delirium and Delight (they previously toured with the group) ,appearing on different songs throughout the concert beginning with that one part of Nightmare Heaven, contribute to enhancing the live presence of Arcturus with versatile unconventional movements and who are generally pleasant to look at simply due to their attractiveness.

Moreover, The Chaos Path features a whole circus of artists dressed in bizarre clothes doing things that make no sense on stage. The line-up includes a polar bear, who tries to sexually harass his fellow actor and subsequently discovers the wonders of crowd surfing, much to the joy of the audience, a tough guy, a lady dancing with a skeleton and countless more. Their presence is very relevant within the song's mood and the lyrics' subject. The cameras show the group and specific members from various angles, mostly concentrating on Simen and the two guitarists and not giving Sverd or Skoll too much time. Sverd is not even displayed during the parts where he performs a keyboard solo, on the other hand, he is often shown doing something on the keys when you can not hear his contribution, this being my only complaint. Hellhammer is given some play time too, and displaying him emphasizes his great, virtuosic, yet never self-indulgent playing behind the kit - truly one of the most skilled drummers of our time! Lastly, but not least importantly, there is an abundance of effects and samples being used in the mixing of the video, from effects of the concert itself to lyrical digressions to space ships, planets and satellites, which is suitable for the music.

In conclusion, both visual and sound aspects of the music are impressive, and although it is impossible for the group's followers to be satisfied with the setlist, as each of us has his own favourites and the artists simply are unable to please everyone, the material performed is solid and excellent. The DVD is a must-have for group's fans who will not miss the opportunity to listen to this, in addition, the recording is highly recommended to those who have not yet given Arcturus a chance. Without a shadow of doubts, I am giving this the maximum rating.

If any concert DVD is essential, this is it!

Trickster F. | 5/5 |


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