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Avant-garde Brilliance! - 99%

Erin_Fox, October 28th, 2006

An exceedingly moving album, instrumentally “La Masquerade Infernale” established Arcturus as an ensemble that are curiously innovative as well as progressively ambient. No further substantiation is required than what may be the group’s most dauntingly epic composition, the enigmatically appealing “Ad Astra”, a track that reaches soaring sonic platitudes and equally dismal depths with passion, power and grace.

The group’s performance here takes on a majestic authority and is further enhanced by strict attention to dynamic. A strong sense of dramatics in arrangement is also apparent, with the strings carrying adept keyboard work in a highly proficient and ear-pleasing manner.

“The Throne Of Tragedy” bristles with a blissfully dim ambience before catapulting into a vast feel that is both cavernous and highly melodic, the group’s metal influences permeate this track much more so than on “Ad Astra”, with the song’s fantastic combination of intensive rhythm and percussion standing out as a high point.

Meanwhile, the title track entertains a macabre, mysterious feel with manipulated sounds placed in tempo as a percussive element and a somber yet rollicking piano melody ringing in the background of the track.

Overt black metal influences are scattered throughout the record, such as during the introduction of “The Chaos Path”, a cut that morphs into a confused, yet entertaining mixture of carnival music, opera and meta’ that only furthers the notion that Arcturus are one of the most highly original acts in the scene in terms of sheer songwriting ability.

Their compelling sound is center stage on this excellent release, with “La Masquerade Infernale” providing listeners with nothing but the most intriguing of wicked sonority, underlining the fact that Arcturus are most assuredly one of the most critically appealing acts to experiment with a hybrid of dark textures and masterfully ambient musical stylization.