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Good, but wildly inconsistent - 75%

Dark_Mewtwo1, August 29th, 2008

When this album came out, I was willing to accept that Garm would no longer be a part of this band, and that this would be yet another approach to what Arcturus attempted to do. The 50 minutes of music that comprises Sideshow Symphonies is not bad by any stretch. In fact, I feel this is one of Simen's best albums in terms of vocal work. Knut and Tore did a good job writing simple, yet effective guitar parts, along with Steinar's keyboard work and Hellhammer's drumming to create quite an awesome sounding dark prog metal record. Unfortunately, that's only when the band gets it right. There are some sections of this album that falter in comparison to the band's brilliant moments, making this sideshow more like a rollercoaster.

The perfect example to my explanation is the second track, Shipwrecked Frontier Pioneer. The first section of the song is a brooding and passionate affair, with some great vocals from Simen, and a very interesting sounding rhythm section. The middle piece with the keyboard and guitar solos continues the same atmosphere, building up to a climax that, unfortunately, never comes. Instead the band retreats, doing what feels to be a rehash of the section they just played for you just 2-3 minutes prior. It's frustrating how many times things like this occur throughout this album. Demon Painter is the complete opposite of Hibernation Sickness Complete, the former being possibly one of the worst Arcturus songs ever recorded, almost sounding like the band was struggling to find where to take the listener with the piece, while the latter is one of the band's best and most magnificent of tracks, complete with a strange "sideshow" sounding bridge section that pretty much describes the album title perfectly. But even then, the unevenness found throughout catches even the best of songs. Hibernation's final 30 seconds have some horrible sounding harsh vocals by Vortex. Nocturnal Vision Revisited builds and builds only to find a sudden and jarring end, while admittedly, I like that quite a bit, it could have been so much more. The second half of the album drags a bit more than the first does, sapping the power of songs like White Noise Monster and Hufsa, which could have been excellent tracks if arranged a little better, and so on.

But even with all those complaints, there's still one simple fact here: this is Arcturus. They know how to create some amazing moments throughout their albums, and this delivers quite well, almost to the point where you can forgive many of the band's miscues. Vortex, as stated above, is excellent save for the poor harsh vocal attempt. Instead of saturating the music, the keyboards take more of a complimentary role here, only adding to the music when they need to. Hellhammer's drum patterns are a little more standard metal, unlike the rock-ish vibes of The Sham Mirrors, and it works quite well with the material. And when the band is on, they provide some entertaining pieces. Nocturnal sounds like a hymn of impending doom, with Simen's haunting vocals that almost sound like spoken word. Hufsa has a fantastic guitar solo towards the end, while the keyboard solos to Hibernation and Shipwrecked are simple, yet very effective.

Arcturus's prog direction with this album has many bumps in the road, but the band was still able to craft a enjoyable record. Its unfortunate that we won't get to see them expand on this style further, at least for now, but until that day comes, Sideshow Symphonies fits in pretty well alongside the rest of Arcturus' discography.

Underrated? - 80%

Perplexed_Sjel, August 28th, 2008

Much has been made about Arcturus’ final record. The departure of Garm set alarm bells ringing in the ears of many fans. According to a vast number of people, no matter who replaced him, they wouldn’t be able to fill his boots and the band would eventually decay without his awe inspiring presence behind the microphone. Whilst, yes, it did turn out that Arcturus split not long after the release of the first record without Garm, I don’t think it’s fair to suggest that this record is mediocre. In comparison to the other Arcturus records, this one is probably, bar the first outing which was primarily black metal with a vast amount of experimentation thrown in, the most different. To me, the main difference between this effort and previous, particularly ‘La Masquerade Infernale’ and ‘The Sham Mirrors’ is the lack of showmanship on this effort.

As stated, the lack of showmanship is the main differing element between this and the previous two efforts, which are seen by most as flawless. ICS Vortex is a different kind of vocalist to Garm, although their voices do contain some obvious similarities. To me, the previous records were about blowing away the audience. Astounding the audience with such a flamboyant display of musicianship that the records would boarder on arrogance, rather than simple strong musicianship. Personally, the flair that was Arcturus before this effort, particularly on ‘The Sham Mirrors’, whilst it was terrific to hear, was in need of maturing. To me, this is the most mature effort that Arcturus have produced and it always will be. The previous two efforts, as stated, were primarily concerned with experimentation of the highest level, in terms of instrumentation. The almost arrogant flair is what carried a vast amount of the material across to it’s desired audience and as a result, blew them away. Now that Arcturus have seemingly settled down into a more mature routine on ’Sideshow Symphonies’ and are instead intensely focused on developing songs and there respective structures which will stand the test of time, instead of being outstanding at the moment of hearing it, which is what previous efforts seemed to do.

Most importantly, lets deal with vocals. I’m a big fan of Garm’s voice. His vocal exploits for Arcturus, whether it be his black metal inspired rasps or his clean vocals which developed a heavier influence of the emotional side of the band, and other bands, including the infamous Ulver and guest performances for Ihsahn and The Gathering, ICS Vortex isn’t bad at his job either. His vocals don’t seem to show off as much as Garm’s did. It’s almost as if Vortex knows his exploits for Arcturus won’t be as warmly received as they might be if Garm were leading proceedings. To me, Vortex was the idealistic vocalist to take over from where Garm left off. His vocals are well suited to the more mature sound Arcturus have decided to produce. This mature side can be seen in the shape of the guitars and keyboards, most notably. Whilst Arcturus are still an avant-gardé band, producing experimental music, they have calmed down a lot. This, in particular, shows in there instrumental song, ‘Reflections’, which aptly takes a lot of influence from the past material. The lush soundscapes were once developed heavily by the divine keyboards, but now, there is more emphasis on all aspects of the instrumentation.

Production wise, Arcturus have changed again. ‘The Sham Mirrors’ produced what was the cleanest production from the Norwegian act we’ve heard, but ‘Sideshow Symphonies’ takes on a more mellow production. The music, particularly atmospheres and soundscapes are more relaxed and content to stay that way. The vocals, whilst impressive, aren’t as direction driven as Garm’s. Vortex is happy to stand his ground with his own distinctive blend of melodies, which are supported by the often mesmerising leads on guitar. I’ve noticed something rather original about this record too, the bass. It’s much more influential. Take songs like the brilliant ‘Hufsa’, the bass is much more expressive than it has ever been and I put that down to the relaxed production and more mature styling of the album. The fact that the bass has much more room to breath is, to me, a perfect example of how the record has lessened it’s sound in terms of being arrogant and cocky. Whilst ‘Sideshow Symphonies’ doesn’t like to show off as much, it still is a decent record, which is underrated by disgruntled fans of the old style. Out with a lessened bang.

Well Done, Vortex - 94%

Jiri777, August 28th, 2008

Ah, “Sideshow Symphonies,” Arcturus’ last album that takes so much crap because Garm is not present. Well, if you actually listen to the album without Garm in your mind, you might enjoy it.

Yes, Garm is one of the best vocalists in metal. And yes, Vortex is not quite up to par with him. But Garm wore out his welcome with the last album where he really lost it vocally (one of his worst vocal performances). Let’s face it, Garm’s time in this band was up, and it was time to move on. I know everyone thinks “The Sham Mirrors” was a masterpiece, but read my review on it, and you’ll understand where I’m coming from. Fortunately, Arcturus pulled in Vortex, the next best thing to Garm.

Vortex does an outstanding job on this album. He is such a good operatic tenor, and this is probably his best performance (IMO). He sings beautifully throughout the album. If you don’t like operatic vocalists, you will not like this album! They are very hard to ignore. He does some blackened harsh vocals in “Hibernation Sickness Complete.” I think this song is the best on the album, with “Shipwrecked Frontier Pioneer” closely behind. His black metal shrieks are sub par as usual with Vortex. He can never nail harsh vocals for some reason.

Hellhammer is, as always very good on this release. He really sounds great in the dark atmosphere of the album. It wouldn’t sound right with any other drummer. He really stands out in this release. This album is very vocal centric, but Hellhammer and his drum set are also very prominent. The drums are certainly a huge factor in this album, much more so than guitars, bass, and keyboards.

Guitars are used like they always are in Arcturus. No huge riffs, just keeping the dark atmosphere alive. Bass can barely be heard as well. Also, the keyboards that were so present on “The Sham Mirrors” are used in nonchalant way in this album. All of these things probably have to do with the production of the album. It really isn’t that great. Past Arcturus albums had a crisp, clear sounding production, but this one sounds like it is a black metal release or something!

The album loses points only because it is a little flat. A lot of it is just Vortex singing over slow metal. Some songs like “Moonshine Delirium” and “Hufsa” are really not that great. They are obvious filler songs. However, they can be ignored and do not ruin the album. As mentioned before, “Hibernation Sickness Complete” is a masterpiece. Everything is perfect on this song. Vortex sings the best on it, and Hellhammer drums wonderfully. The song builds up to the amazing finishing paragraph recited by Vortex at the end.

I would recommend this album to anyone who likes dark operatic metal. It is very unique and people should give it a fair chance. Vortex is an excellent vocalist and should not be overshadowed by Garm.

Highlights: “Hibernation Sickness Complete,” “Shipwrecked Frontier Pioneer,” “Demon Painter,” and “Nocturnal Vision Revisited.”

Avant-HARD! - 90%

Robropnkr1, November 1st, 2007

Typically I’m not a person that enjoys avant-garde metal. In fact, I rarely like it all. However, Arcturus moves me a different way than most bands of the same musical style. All the best aspects of this band and it’s history shine through in their final album, Sideshow Symphonies.

The album starts off great, with heavy keyboards, dark guitars, and the clean vocals I have come to know and love, performed by ICS Vortex of Dimmu Borgir. The lyrical patterns, mixed with the excellent atmosphere created by swirling soundscapes, provide for a very space-like atmosphere that many bands attempt but fail at doing. There are very few things that I do not enjoy on this album, even with its “avant-garde” feel.

The drumming on Sideshow Symphonies is my hands-down favorite thing about the album. HellHammer, also of Dimmu Borgir, not only keeps a tempo and a steady pace going, but adds an extra dose of heaviness with the use of searing double-bass and incredible fills. Even when the drumming is slow, the addition of technical cymbal work and odd timings adds that “death” feel that I enjoy very much.

The vocals are very beautifully done, and are never annoying or out of place. I have always loved ICS’ voice and vocal patterns, simply because he always manages to make his vocals match the music without flaw. His harmonies are sometimes strange, but are always beautiful and never conflict.

The guitar and bass work are usually done rhythmically on this album, and are mostly there to support the keys and drums. Even though they don’t stand out to me as much as the vocals or the drumming, there are definitely a good amount of riffs that are heavy and fast, just the way I like them. Too often bands either have their guitars and bass overdone or underdone, but neither is so with this last effort from Arcturus. The composition of all instruments is flawless, and mixed together very well.

Aside from all the things that I obviously enjoy about Symphonies, there are a few things that could be worked on. For example, towards the end of the album, the songs tend to drag on and add nothing new that the first few songs already have. I usually get bored after the first three or four songs, which is never a good thing for a listener. If this album had a little more originality toward the end, it would deserve a 100% score, at least in my opinion

Vortex just doesn't do it for me. - 43%

NocturneFreeze, September 10th, 2007

For decades, Arcturus has ruled over the avantgarde metal section. Of course, how could it be else with the masterpiece "The Sham Mirrors". Sadly, that album was with a different vocalist. You probably all know Garm of Ulver. He was one of the most driving forces of the band. His voice suited the album perfectly well, being not too operatic, whiny or fake. Now ICS Vortex has taken the place of Garm. Now I'm sure you also know Vortex, the clean vocalist of Dimmu Borgir. His voice, though still the same range as Garm, sounds totally different, having a more operatic voice. Vortex's voice doesn't suit the sound of Arcturus well, so what did they do, change their overall sound. Changing your sound to new levels isn't bad, but instead of making progress Arcturus fell some steps back.

The main problem is the songwriting. Back in the sham mirror days there were countless melodies over steady base and drum beats. Now Arcturus features a lot of worthless atonical riffs with song structures that go nowhere. It's not all that bad at all, but compared to The Sham Mirror or any other Arcturus release Sideshow Symphonies just falls behind.

There are still some good songs in it though. Demon Painter and Evacuation Code Deciphered are two great songs. They'll never be classics, but could stand for a 7.5 when giving it a personal rating. The others, while not criminally bad, are extremely average and are only great for once a listen. From the epic Shipwrecked Frontier Pioneer (seriously, who can think of such names) to the short and moody Reflection.

Another redeeming factor is the abandoning of the great production found on earlier albums. Sverd, the man behind the keyboard, is considered one of the greatest keyboard players in the metal scéne. On Sideshow Symphonies most of his playing is drown out of the production. Not only the keyboard is affected by the production. The whole band sound sounds muffled and dry. Gone are the spacey and clean sounds on the other albums.

Now I've been comparing most of Sideshow Symphonies with the older albums. But on it's own it also has too many flaws. The lyrics are too abstract to actually make sense, and although that would sound interesting; the lyrics are not. Most of the melodies sound as if Arcturus hadn't paid enough attention to it, and just made it to finish it before the deadline. To end with a positive note, there are some computer effects scattered around the album which sound pretty interesting, and the intro's of some songs such as Evacuation Code Deciphered.

"It's sad that Arcturus had to end their career with such a disappointing album"

A bit Inconsistent, but still fairly awesome.. - 84%

caspian, May 8th, 2006

The whole 'Big keyboard, Soaring Vocals' is a bit hit and miss for me. FOr every band that does it well, there's another band that does it really crappilly. Luckily Arcturus do a good job. Some of the stuff in this album is really quite awesome, but there's still a bit of untapped potential.

The first song is fairly decent, but really, the skill of Arcturus is most visible in Shipwrecked Frontier Pioneer, an eight and a half minute long epic, which basically sums up what is good about this album. The vocals are amazing, just awesome, operatic stuff, the keyboards are really melodic, and make their point without being too cheesy, while the guitars chug along in the background. There's unpredictable riff changes and fairly competent, if not particularly amazing drumming. It's a perfect song, really, (except for maybe the female vocals.)

Unfortunately, this standard doesn't remain throughout the whole album. Nocturnal Vision Revisited is quite bizarre, and the strange, ranting vocals of Evacuation Code Desiphered aren't particularly inspiring. The production doesn't help much either.. While it's pretty polished, the guitars are mixed way too low and the drums are really sterile. And what's the point of recording a burp in the intro of a song? (Daemonpainter, an otherwise excellent song.) Does it add anything to the tune? No!

Despite the odd screw up though, this is a good album. Shipwrecked Frontier Pioneer is nothing short of stunning, White Noise Monster is a bit strange but super good and Hufsa is pretty cool, with the Norwegian (or whatever language it is) vocals adding a good edge to it. Simen is a great singer.. His lyrics aren't incredibly deep, but he's got a strong, clear and very melodic voice, and he writes some great vocal melodies too. The guitars are mixed really low, but there's tonnes of variation, from the speed metal intro of Shipwrecked.. to the slow chug of Daemonpainter, to the spooky appregios that open up Evacuation Code.., to the solos in Moonshine Delirium, there's a lot of variety in here, although writing in a different key once in a while would help. (Does every song have to be in a Minor key?). The bass is turned up quite loud (always a huge plus in my book.) Hellhammer doesn't do much amazing stuff, but he does dig out some pretty impressive beats though.. like the super fast double kick in HIbernation Sickness, the cool tom-heavy beat in Shipwrecked, and the odd double kick/bass drum beat in Moonshine Delirium. Still, there's a feeling that he didn't put too much effort into them, and the drums are very sterile.. they've been screwed with way too much, there's not much natural drum tone in here.

So in the end, this is a pretty good album, although it would have benefited from maybe a bit more time writing songs. Still, it's worth getting if you dig Atmospheric Black Metal, Power Metal, basically anything with big Keys, big riffs and soaring vocals. Just get the skip button ready.

Sad effort. - 50%

Stien_Says_Hi, April 26th, 2006

Arcturus have made some of the most elaborate, theatrical, beautifully insane music, and they're good at doing it. That's why it's so depressing to have to say this about them.

WHAT
THE
FUCK...?

This CD is boring. I feel that collectively, Arcturus have reached the end of their creativity together. Every CD before this one was a unique and evolving creation, always getting better and more addictive with each listen.

I anticipated this release for a long time, and when it finally happened, I felt the same way I did when I got to the end of the movie Scream 3; "This is it?"
"This is what the wait has come to"?
The CD opens like any good Sci-fi movie, some spacey ambience and mystical calliope. Simen and the rest of the instruments come in and the song is underway. But what we have here are overused guitar riffs and melodies that seem too familiar. Throughout the song you are waiting for that drastic change or crescendo and it just goes nowhere.
All of the songs are like this EXCEPT for Deamonpainter and Evacuation Code Deciphered.
Deamonpainter is an awesome song, it almost doesn't belong on this CD. It's very catchy and "groovy" in the beginning. This is one of the only songs that you can actually appreciate the nuance of each instrument as its played. This song also seems to showcase a great collaboration between Sverd and Knut Valle during the instrumental breaks.
Evacuation Code Deciphered should be on a Greatest Hits CD of theirs, if they had one. This song sounds basically how you would be expecting the rest of the CD to sound; Strange random vocals with lyrics that are weird but strangely relevant at the same time, keyboard melodies that are used enough to keep you interested without becoming repetitive, Hellhammer NOT sounding like he recorded his part over the weekend, etc.
This song follows no real pattern, but it's so damn catchy, and then it gets to the end of the song, and the end really makes you want to give a standing ovation; The female vocalist whose parts were inappropriately added throughout the rest of the CD returns and sings with Simen and it makes for one of their brightest moments as a band. Each octave and tune is sung with such emotion that you'll almost want to learn the song yourself to sing with them.

After this is basically filler.

Reflections is okay with some catchy parts, but I think they begin to try to get away with using some techniques they used in other places.

I mean, the rest of this CD is just THAT BORING. Evactuation Code Deciphered and Deamonpainter are this whole CD, but other then that, nothing else is memorable.

They'll probably release a CD next called "DEATH CULT MASQUERADE INFERNALE ENTHRONED BY A STORMBLAST SHAM MIRROR"

www.beyondallremorse.co.uk review - 80%

BeyondAllRemorse, February 7th, 2006

ARCTURUS
Sideshow Symphonies
Season Of Mist

Never has a more apt title for a release been used. Arcturus have looked at the rule book, and although they haven't actually ripped it up and started again, they have taken its core, twisted, manipulated and totally transformed the damn thing. Okay, other bands have tried this, most of whom have fallen flat on their arses in the process, which is where Arcturus differ dramatically.

This is sensational stuff. Dipping in and out of elegant dreamy sound scapes that fit perfectly into the mix. Nothing sounds out of place, although in turn nothing sounds like anything before it. Comparisons shouldn't really be identified in any review because to be honest there isn't really anything relevant in the current scene. This is original, majestic and a true piece of modern day art.

Tracks like 'Shipwrecked Frontier Pioneer' take you on a space aged journey that features swirling keys, perfectly poised guitars, jarring rhythms and distinctive vocal passages. The sound is erie and distant and not of this world, yet it envelops the listener and transports you to a place that you actually find yourself quite liking.

Music to me is about escapism, and with 'Sideshow Symphonies', Arcturus have created a new blueprint to which I feel sure a horde of plagiarists with try to ascend to. This will in time though be regarded as not only a piece of modern day art, but a significant influence on all that follows.

Like Sideshow Bob but with less malice. - 79%

bluberry, January 23rd, 2006

The first thing you should know about Sideshow Symphonies is that the rumors about its production quality (or lack thereof) are true. I appreciate the great dynamics, I really do, but even ignoring blatant mastering errors like an inconsistent volume level and a disconcerting click at the end of "Shipwrecked Frontieer Pioneers", the guitars just aren't prominent enough in the mix for the album to be very intense. Knut is one of metal's most underrated guitarists in my book, but that doesn't mean much when you can barely even hear the guy; he's shredding away like a pro in the aforementioned "Pioneer", but sadly, it's almost inaudibly buried beneath everything else.

I'd also like to whine about how Sideshow Symphonies is neither as consistent as The Sham Mirrors or as wildly inventive as La Masquerade Infernale. I don't think anybody expected another LMI, but the fact that they couldn't at least make every song work is a disappointment. It's sort of reminiscent of Aspera in that regard. You'll get two awesome, intense (for Arcturus) tracks, but then you get a boring and generic tune like "Raudt Og Svart" that's only worth noting for something hilariously bad like the nun scream--or, in this case, a boring and generic tune like "Deamon Painter" that's only worth noting because some guy burps right in the middle of a slow part.

All that being said, don't kid yourself. This is Arcturus, and even if you're not getting a timeless classic with this one, you're still in for a bit of a treat. Despite being in every other band that hails from Norway's hilariously inbred metal scene, for instance, drummer Hellhammer is a blast to listen to whether or not the song he's playing in is up to par. He can wail on his kit at ~4589 BPM, he can tack a catchy groove on when nothing else is around to pick up the slack, and on songs like the catchy album opener "Hibernation Sickness Complete", he even does both at the same time. Even better is how this part doesn't have any singing, so Knut's great riffing can actually bubble up to the surface and compliment the savage drum blasting.

Surprisingly, new vocalist Simen Hestæs is also really good--his performance here is never quite as delightfully demented as it was on LMI's brilliant "The Chaos Path", but he's a fantastically unique vocalist who's more than capable of filling G Wolf/Trickster G Rex/Fiery G Maelstrom/Homie G Dawg's massive shoes. He's definitely got variety going for him: he opens "Moonshine Delerium" with a series of hoarse whispers, but then breaks into his trademark crazy voice and belts out some of the catchiest vocal melodies this side of the almighty Garm himself.

A decent portion of Sideshow Symphonies is rather blah, yes, but every now and then, it all comes together perfectly. The slow instrumental "Reflections" again has Hellhammer and Knut playing off each other to perfection, for instance; this time, though, Simen gets to join in with some ominous chanting toward the end, and Sverd keeps the opening interesting by tactfully stealing a keyboard melody from "Ad Astra". The two part "Evacuation Code Deciphered" is another favorite of mine. The first half has catchy keyboard melodies and Simen doing everything from operatic-style singing to maniacal laughter, while the second part has some cool riffs and backup vocals from Octavia Sperati's... I don't know her name, but she's kind of hot. Good show.

The production is pretty daft, and it's not my favorite Arcturus album regardless--actually, it's my least--but there's no denying that this is still a solid release. Everybody's at the top of their game, and a good portion of the album really works even in spite of the weak sound. Sideshow Symphonies wouldn't be their strongest effort even if you could hear the guitars, as it sort of feels like an EP of great mid-tempo metal stretched out to album length by all the filler, but it does an admirable job of persuading me that Arcturus' best work isn't necessarily behind them just because Homie G is.

CLICK

Bizarre Chilled Space Oddity - 82%

AngelofBreath, December 9th, 2005

I got to know this band through a mention in a magazine as sounding like they were "from another planet". I wasn't disappointed.

This is a very chilled but definetly metal journey through the stratosphere and beyond to a weird place where Simen's vocals make you wonder where the hell you are. He's one damn fine singer and he really makes this release come alive. The mix seems to be engineered around him, as alot of the instruments are quite subdued and means his soaring operatic vocals are what the listener hooks onto. This is definetly not your average black metal release, in fact black metal doesn't do it justice as a description. There are strange and querky elements everywhere, from the astral keys, to Simen's using his highly addictive voice to deliver strange lyrics that sound completely out of context in the spacey operatic veign; "who gives a flying shit anyway!?!" Takes me back to the Jerry Springer opera.

This is extremely competent as a release, choosing to travel into uncharted areas and actually deserves the label "avant garde" which is to be welcomed into a genre where blast beats and grunting are becoming more pointless than a broken pencil.

I originally gave it 90% but since that's become obvious that's a little too high. It's still great but for the sake of consistency I'm lowering it a little.

who would have guessed - 81%

thedeityrises, September 24th, 2005

The release of this album finally comes... so I go and buy it... and listen to it with extremely high expectations. Unfortunatly, this album seemed to have something missing. It's hard to pinpoint, so I'll just go into the different instruments.

Guitar- Guitar is used considerably more, and is put into the band a lot more than in the previous two albums. It's not used in any one style, just used a lot more. I guess the way to put it is that Arcturus must be trying to show their black metal roots.

Vocals- As you all know, Arcturus got a new vocalist ICS Vortex of Dimmu Borgir and Borknagar fame. The sound... well it definetly is good, just seems to not be up to par with Garm. He also does a bit of growling as well. Now the lyrics are definetly a step down from previous releases. They definetly could be worse, but they could be a whole lot better. They just seem to have lost that thing that Garm had somehow. Not bad though, Vortex is probably the only person who could replace him.

Bass- Probably saying the same thing as the guitar here. Relativly average.

Drums- Maybe the strongest part of the album. Hellhammer does a great job of using his drum kit as usual. Truly top notch.

Keyboards- This could be where they went wrong. With the first song, you notice "Where have all those cool keyboard riffs gone?" The answer is the amount of guitar used. Now this album is not devoid of keyboards, and the parts where the keyboard was used were really well done, but there just wasn't enough, at least for Arcturus.

This album in general has a darker feel to it. Though not quite a return to La Masquerade Infernale. I'm not sure, this album just didn't stick with me. If this hadn't been Arcturus, chances are i would have rated this 70. I got bored with this album fairly quickly. If this album has a strong song, it's probably Moonshine Delirium. A good way to summarize this cd is that I was comparing this album to other bands, which with Arcturus isn't a good sign. Other users on this site may disagree with me, but it really seems like Arcturus has lost their touch.

By the way, I am a huge Arcturus fan, they are probably one of my top bands. Which is saying something. So I regret making this review, but its just the truth.

This album may be worth listening though if you are looking for something darker or similar to Borknagar, and more guitar orientated compared to the previous two releases.