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“La Masquerade Infernale” by Arcturus is an extremely innovative and progressive album for it’s time and even for the present. They were one of the first black metal bands to abandon the cliché black metal sound. And I am so glad they did!
Arcturus traded in the black metal sound for something very unusual and unique. It is almost classical music using metal instruments.
Hellhammer provides the drum work here. However, he does not play with the same extremeness that he does for Mayhem. He just kind of keeps the beat. On the other hand, his unique drumming does provide that insane sound the band was going for with this album. Hellhammer gets a chance to blast beat at the beginning of “Alone,” and he does a superb job with it.
The guitars are used for the atmosphere as well. Knut M. Valle shows off his skill in select parts of “Master Of Disguise” and “Of Nails And Sinners.” Again, he is just keeping the crazy sound alive and not stealing the show.
Speaking of stealing the show, Kristoffer “Garm” Rygg does just that. He is the major focus of this album. He exchanged his high-pitched black metal rasps from the last album, for very deep, theatrical, almost operatic singing. He is clearly a bass/baritone, and he knows how to use it. His vocals on this album are not for everybody though. If you do not like the vocals, chances are you will not like the album. This is how special they are. “Master Of Disguise” shows how well Rygg can sing. He sings at his lowest here, and does a beautiful job. Garm also performs samples for this album. They are used frequently and sometimes can get annoying. This is only because they are lines that Garm could have sung instead.
There is also a guest vocalist here in the name of Simen “Votex” Hestnaes. His voice is very good on this release as well, but nearly as good as Garm. Vortex does lead vocals on “The Chaos Path.” He is obviously a tenor and can hit high notes really well. He is almost operatic with his delivery like Garm. He also does backing vocals on “Master Of Disguise” and “Painting My Horror.” He really adds to the insanity of the album.
Every song here is great. My favorite is “Master Of Disguise.” “Ad Astra” is a unique song as well. It is almost an instrumental, with some samples towards the end. It gives off an exotic seductive sound for some reason. Guitars and drums really shine here. “The Chaos Path” has a cool circus sound to it. It really reminds me of clowns, jesters and such. “Alone” kicks ass too. It is a poem put to song, and Arcturus really captures the madness Edgar Allen Poe was inducing with his poem. Garm is powerful on this song, and the violins at the end are nerve racking insanity. “The Throne Of Tragedy” is the weakest song here. It has a jazz-like introduction and kind of stays the same throughout the whole song. “Painting My Horror” is another masterpiece. It has some awesome Garm singing, and takes an eerie carnival-like vibe towards the end. “Of Nails And Sinners” is another killer. Garm is extremely low and operatic in the beginning and the song has a nice chorus in it.
This pretty much sums up the album. It has brought me so many wonderful listening hours, and it is my favorite album of all time. So, if you are looking for a great, unique album, then go pick up “La Masquerade Infernale” now!