Arcturus - "The Sham Mirrors"
Norway - 2002 - Ad Astra Enterprises - 43'13
1. Kinetic - 5'25
2. Nightmare Heaven - 6'04
3. Ad Absurdum - 6'48
4. Collapse Generation - 4'13
5. Star-Crossed - 5'01
6. Radical Cut - 5'08
7. For To End Yet Again - 10'33
Trickster G. Rex : vocals & samples
Knut M. Valle : guitars
Dag. F. Gravem : bass
Hellhammer : drums
Steinar Sverd Johnsen : keyboards
Additional Musicians :
Ihsahn : vocals on #6
Mathias Eick : ubu's horn on #3, #4 & #6
Hugh Steven James Mingway : bass on #6
première chose qu'on a à l'esprit quand on voit ce nouvel
album arriver, c'est qu'ils n'étaient pas pressés de le
faire. Après un enregistrement et un réenregistrement,
il est enfin là : le nouveau ARTCURUS, que l'on attendait depuis
5 ans !!! (1997 : année de sortie de "La Masquerade Infernale").
Après une parenthèse très expérimentale
avec "Disguised Masters" en 1999, ARCTURUS nous remet le couvert
avec un "The Sham Mirrors" des plus surprenants et surtout
des plus enchanteurs. Avec tant d'années de préparation,
une déception aurait été fatale je pense.
Ben : 95% (Avril 2002)
Introduction : Let me begin to say that in my opinion ARCTURUS has been one of the strongest acts to ever grace the genre of Metal, and they are believed by me to be a truly great band with some of the most original and innovative material I have ever heard from a Metal band. For that reason it is even stranger and even more dismaying that I have yet to hear an ARCTURUS album with good production. This is very unfortunate, because with the strength of the material here, a different production on this album would have raised its sway with me even more. But don't get me wrong, it's a fantastic album, the songs are well written, the music is energetic, massive, beautiful, in short, I don't have enough superlatives to describe it.
Originality : This record is very much a piece of work from innovators rather than followers. The material is very fresh, and has a high originality factor. It's not overly complex for the most, but rather based on simple melodies that work. The desired effect is definitely accomplished.
Production : The production could have been much better as initially stated. My main point of critique is the muddy sound of the guitars. In some places I wish I could hear more details, and the different instruments are almost in each other's way here and there. There should have been more space in the mix, more room for each instrument to unfold itself. But considering the high level of the compositional quality here, this shortcoming is compensated against to a large degree.
Vocals : The vocals are absolutely amazing. A huge improvement from the previous records, like night and day in fact. I'm very impressed. This is the best vocal performance I've heard in a long time. The screaming vocals on the second to last track could however have been left out without any significant loss. Leave the cheap wine in the basement if you have the champagne in the fridge.
Guitars : There are some really cool guitar parts on this record, although you can hardly hear a lot of them. Some of the solo attempts seem a bit hopeful, and compared to what I'm used to working with I would tend to expect more. But the riffing parts are excellent, and by good choice, this is where the main focus of the guitar work is centered.
Drums : The absolute strongest side of the whole album is in my opinion the drum arrangements. Rarely will you hear drumming more tasteful than this. Pay a lot of attention to the details and you will see the magnificent work behind it.
Keys : First of all, with the at times wonderful arrangements conjured up here, it surprises me that something reminiscent of a Casio from the 1970's is chosen for the piano sound. Even if there is no Steinway in the general vicinity, I'm sure there are better keyboard based piano sounds out there than this. Also it seems that the keyboardist doesn't really put feeling into the piano playing, it's very mechanical and cold, almost as if he seems uninterested in what he's doing. But again that might just be the keyboard, because I'm not doubting his talent, obviously he knows how to put together melody lines that really work together, and the synth pads and effects are great. The bottom line is, I just strongly disagree with the choice of piano sound.
Bass : I didn't even notice the bass at first listen, but there are some great bass lines under everything else. You can't hear them too well, but if you concentrate they are there.
Arrangements : Not too much, but yet enough. Again this is a very positive aspect of the album, and perhaps one of the things that makes it so interesting to listen to as it is. It's not over-arranged, but there is enough going on to keep you interested.
Lyrics : Well written, insightful, and not overly pretentious like a lot of Metal lyrics. Good work.
Overall performance : In short, it's a great album for anyone who appreciates quality in music. A must have. If you haven't already bought this album then run to the store, now.
Andy Winter : 90% (Juin 2002)