Saturday, 30 May 2015
Album Review; Arcturus - Arcturian
1. The Arcturian Sign
5. Game Over
8. The Journey
Somewhat to my detriment, this is my first experience of the band Arcturus. After seeing the line-up, which includes former Dimmu Borgir member ICS Vortex and Mayhem drumming supremo Hellhammer alongside ex-Ulver pianist and ex-Mortem guitarist Sverd, this musical project became a huge curiosity for me. Not least out of a love for ICS Vortex's wonderful singing style and melodic sensibilities.
'The Arcturian Sign' opens with all sorts of electronic sounds that took me aback to say the least, but when Hellhammer's drumming entered the mix, followed by orchestral keyboards and the understated but effective guitar riffs, I could tell that this record was going to travel far through the progressive hyperspace of metal's universe. Lyrically, it seems to draw a parallel between artistic inspiration and existential spirituality. All in all, an interesting and hard-hitting first impression.
Next, in comes 'Crashland', which easily stands as one of the most beautiful songs I have heard thus far this year. Vortex uses his voice to fabulous effect throughout this sublime and beautiful slice of hope that sweeps epically through a vast soundscape that bands such as Kamelot and Nightwish would murder for. 'Angst' then goes into a darker direction, with more Black Metal extremity sifting through the cracks, all the while maintaining those luscious atmospherics and orchestrations. 'Warp' is space-age Progressive Metal that takes some more unexpected twists and turns on this already impressive journey.
It seems by this point that every song on this record has it's own flavour and approach, showing this group of musicians to be nothing if not eccentrically eclectic in their musical imaginations. 'Game Over' is an impressive song, which sails and shreds its way through what seems to be a lyrical ode to drug-related suicide. It's as bare-bones as Arcturus seem to get, and is also chillingly affecting. 'Demon' on the other hand is an almost predominantly electronic affair which may leave purists reeling, but Arcturus clearly care not for rules. If you haven't figured this out by now, then you've not really been paying attention.
It's unreal how any band could manage to make such a disparate set of sounds and feelings meld together into a cohesive entity, but Arcturus have managed with this album, and they have done so with no shortage of aplomb. I can really say nothing much more except that in order to believe this album, you simply HAVE to experience it. It's a knock-out exhibit for the case in favour of musical originality, an achievement of sheer alchemical nature, and if it doesn't end up on the albums-of-the-year lists for 2015, I'll be shocked and stunned.