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Arcturus Sideshow Symphonies album cover
3.72 | 122 ratings | 10 reviews | 20% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2005

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Hibernation Sickness Complete 4 (5:03)
2. Shipwrecked Frontier Pioneer (8:33)
3. Deamonpainter (5:34)
4. Nocturnal Vision Revisited (5:16)
5. Evacuation Code Deciphered (6:16)
6. Moonshine Delirium (7:10)
7. White Noise Monster (3:55)
8. Reflections (3:41)
9. Hufsa 5 (5:09)

Total time 50:37

Line-up / Musicians

- Simen Hestnaes / vocals
- Knut Magne Valle / guitars
- Tore Moren / guitars
- Steinar (Sverd) Johnsen / keyboards
- Hugh Mingay "Skoll" / bass
- Jan Axel Blomberg "Hellhammer" / drums

- Silje Wergeland / vocals (2,5)

Releases information

Artwork: Trine + Kim Design Studio

2xLP Back On Black ‎- BOBV044DLP (2005, UK)

CD Season Of Mist ‎- SOM 100 (2005, France)

Thanks to pablo_p for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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ARCTURUS Sideshow Symphonies ratings distribution

(122 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(20%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(46%)
Good, but non-essential (24%)
Collectors/fans only (6%)
Poor. Only for completionists (4%)

ARCTURUS Sideshow Symphonies reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Melomaniac
4 stars A new line-up, including Simen Haestnes (formerly of Borknagar, melodic singer and bass player for Dimmu Borgir)on vocals, replacing the ever prolific Garm. Not to worry, Arcturus picked the only singer who could do the trick, since Haestnes (a.k.a. Vortex) already sung a few parts on La Masquerade Infernale. His singing clings to Arcturus as much as Garm's did, if not more. The atmosphere on this album is simply breathtaking, every element in its place. I enjoy all songs, even though some have weaker sections or elements than others. I came close to give it a 5 star rating, but something kept me from doing so: the production. Never mind the sound DEFINITION, it's the mix that is a bit weak. The overall volume is unequal from one track to another (song 2 is an example... volume too low, crank it up, song 3 normal volume, turn it down, etc...) and there are glitches a few places. At certain moments the sound is blurry also. A remixed and remastered version is in order here, for this album is truly a gem in the progressive metal genre.
Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Pink Floyd goes metal?

Well, it might seem an exaggeration if I say so. But my point is clear: this album, my first experience listening to Arcturus, is an ambient metal music regardless what kind of category this is defined under Tech/ Extreme Prog Metal. This is my reaction the first time I played this album. I liked it the first spin because the opening track "Hibernation Sickness Complete" sounded great to my ears. It's a combination of ambient nuance and technical / industrial music that brought me to a new experience. The vocal character is very clear and I do enjoy the screaming part at the end verse of the lyrics. The opening track " flows natural to my ears and I enjoy from start to end; in fact the interlude using keyboard is stunning. The second track Shipwrecked Frontier Pioneer consumes longer duration and breaks the critical duration of typical prog music (8 minute?). Again, it's composed beautifully and the keyboard solo reminds me to the keyboard solo of Pain of Salvation "Be" album. I think, besides the changing styles of the music, the keyboard work sounds like progressive music in general.

Third track "Demon Painter" runs slower in speed but it still maintain the style of the music. What interesting about the third track is that you will get an excellent keyboard solo in the vein of Rick Wakeman. Even though the solo is short but it helps enrich the musical composition. The fourth track opening reminds me to the kind of Eloy music; but it then turns into a fast speed metal music with nice rhythm section followed with a sudden break to let vocal in.

I don't want to elaborate each individual song but I can assure you that this is a very good album and for me personally, this band is unique. Production quality is really excellent. Keep on proggin' ...!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW.

Review by EatThatPhonebook
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.

Review by Warthur
4 stars As far as Arcturus album titles go, "Sideshow Symphonies" is rather apt. "Symphonies" are in play in the sense that the music is deep in progressive realms with, as in the classic Sham Mirrors or La Masquerade Infernale, only hints of their earlier black metal style present (and these are buried deeper than ever). And "Sideshow" in the sense that this doesn't feel like a top-flight, main event level Arcturus album.

Perhaps part of the issue is that the album explores a somewhat more mellow side of their sound, which following the bombastic moments of the previous two albums may feel rather restrained and meek. It's still an interesting enough release in its own right, with influences ranging from Pink Floyd (Shipwrecked Frontier Pioneer) to, I swear, just a hint of IQ (just imagine Peter Nicholls singing Hibernation Sickness Complete and you might see what I mean), but I can see why it's an often overlooked album from them.

Latest members reviews

5 stars even at their "worst", Arcturus stands head and shoulders above the crowd, on this, their final release. This album is a grower to be certain, with more focus placed on keys and overall feel rather than speed and insanity. The artistic approach is still there though. There are some real catch ... (read more)

Report this review (#149352) | Posted by avalanchemaster | Tuesday, November 6, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars And so Arcturus evolved one more time. This concept album is much more oriented on atmospheric and progressive touches than the previous albums, which will cause regret for a few people who like the dynamic sound of TSM or LMI. We all do. But this album is still brilliant. The concept is about a ... (read more)

Report this review (#87656) | Posted by Everlasting | Saturday, August 19, 2006 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Waited for three years after the release of the previous and marvellous record "The Sham Mirrors", this "Sideshow Symphonies"shows as more important news the come- back of Simen Hestnęs, or better known like ICS Vortex, just guest on "La Masquerade Infernale", and now he has taken the place beh ... (read more)

Report this review (#80023) | Posted by abyssic_hate | Thursday, June 1, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This Acturus album is again totally different from all the previous albums. This time the music is much more progressive black metal with mostly operatic vocals and sometimes a few growls. The keyboards are less present, especially the piano interludes that were taking a large part in "The Sha ... (read more)

Report this review (#74571) | Posted by zaxx | Monday, April 10, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars No longer avant-garde but still a great band. The line-up now includes the vocals of Vortex( a big plus) and the guitar work of Tore Moren(Ark). I would put this band in the symphonic/space metal genre nowadays. The sound quality is lacking, and the band mentions planning to re-release it with ... (read more)

Report this review (#70777) | Posted by slowfire85 | Tuesday, February 28, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Arcturus comes back with this new album! I had high expectations after the amazing "The Sham Mirrors" and I am not disappointed at all! The madness and the sounds of outer space are still there. The songs are brilliantly interpretated, and the new singer Simen Hestnaes (also in Dimmu Borgi ... (read more)

Report this review (#51177) | Posted by | Monday, October 10, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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