Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2019
Encyclopaedia Metallum

Best viewed
without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
or higher.

Privacy Policy

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"