Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Arcturus : "Arcturian"

ICS Vortex was one of my favorite things about the classic line up of my guilty pleasure... Dimmu Borgir. His long running side project, which is his long running main project now, aside from the iffy solo album he released, is what I would suggest if you asked me what steam punk metal should sound like. Similar to Borknagar but much more theatrical, they balance the power prog cheese with a darker and heavier element that doesn't not require twenty sided dice in pocket, though they wouldn't hurt. The first album in ten years There is a Nightwish folk metal feel to "Crashland", but the exotic scales and intervals his vocals employ give it a darker current. Of course when your band has three ex-members of Ulver you can expect some folk elements. His vocals don't sound quite as powerful in fact they have more of the strained tenor to them that Roger Waters voice carries , could just be a stylistic choice . He doesn't each for the skies with the same epic flare he did when soaring into Dimmu songs.

At the opening song they employed some electronic elements that  gave the sound a more modern touch. They return to that on "Warp". They also succeeded in doing this by embracing more black metal moments on "Angst"  though some of the blasting makes the song feel rushed. They back off into a more Pink Floydian elegance on "Game Over". Hellhammer's drumming is stellar as always I enjoy him playing something other than black metal to here how those chops are applied to other styles.  "Demon" has a dense and discordant sound and industrial undertones. I like it's dark, it just not the most layered song on the album.

Vortex's get back to a more epic place on "Pale".The  more trippy introspective side of the band returns on "the Journey" which is filled with cool sounds , but feels more like an intro or interlude than a song unto it's self. "Archer" has big Phantom of the Opera keyboards, but the other Andrew Lyod Weber staples step aside in favor of big-top prog.This song does take more dynamic dips than the others. "Bane" closes the album on a dark synth slathered note, they tend take you on a roller-coaster of double bass that spill you out into another carnival like frolic. Over all an enjoyable listen , but they played it a little safe, I'll give it an 8, but fans of cheese drenched prog metal, who probably take it too seriously to think of it that way should round it up. Worth a listen from fans of any of the bands the members of Arcturus have played with...yes, Emperor  fans too.

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