Arcturus - Sideshow Symphonies
The story of this band goes back to 1987 when Steinar Johnsen and Jan Axel Blomberg started up A band called Mortem. Back in those days the main purpose was to create and write death metal. It wasn't until 1990, after some musical changes, that they ended up calling themselves Arcturus. I wonder if they knew then what a suitable name this was to be for the music they later would compose....There are few bands that manage to create such landscapes of sounds as these Norwegians do. Nowadays the traces of the past with its death metal influences are erased and gone. Arcturus' way of playing and writing music are very much as a journey, booth inside and outside of the human mind.
Sideshow Symphonies is quite a massive work of progressive art. This material isn't so much about black or death metal, instead it feels more like a combination of Mortiis and Borknagar. Add to this the wonderful clean, yet powerful voice of Simen Hestnaes (Dimmu Borgir and ex. Borknagar). Arcturus perform a very complex type of metal, were nothing is what it seems to be. The musical diversity seems to be endless and after a while you are carried away by all feelings that are summoned. I think it's cool as it presents something new all the time during the length of the album. Of course there are some really weird passages and composing that maybe aren't hundred percent logical sometimes, but as a complement to all harsh and ultra destructive music this works surprisingly well. Metal meditation without getting softy or jerky, just check out the instrumental song Reflections.
I use to have serious difficulties with the use of keyboard
in metal. I always thought that the instrument destroys more than it
add to the music, but this time I'm not so sure that the keyboards are
destructive in any possible way at all. There are some really good composing
on this loved or hated instrument. The last song Hufsa is a good example
that the keyboard really works in this music. A slow and almost psychedelic
piece of art that ends the album in a very worthy way. Well, I wont
go further into this album as it will show a different meaning to each
one that listens to it, of course all music does but Arcturus Sideshow
Symphonies is something special. No masterpiece but still very great
music and last but not least, interesting. At least for a while.