Arcturus
The Sham Mirrors


5.0
classic

Review

by Angmar USER (24 Reviews)
January 21st, 2007 | 15 replies


Release Date: 2002 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A classical piece of avant-garde metal.

Imagine taking elements from recent Ulver work and throwing it in with Mayhems sound. You would probably call me crazy even thinking about it. For some this fusion may be hard to imagine, but for those who have heard the band Arcturus you know this combination all to well. Yes although avant-garde metal may be difficult to imagine once you hear it for yourself you cannot help but listen in awe. Arcturus is one of the better known bands of this obscure genre; this is most likely due to the addition of metal gods, Garm from Ulver and Sverd from Mayhem.

The two musicians combine their sound by adding in some of the brutality from Mayhem and the experimental sound from later Ulver. However you want to classify this band there is no denying the shear individuality. Right away you can tell The Sham Mirrors is going to be a trip, with the opening track “Kinetic”. All throughout the song there are experimental elements mixed with heavy metal riffs and double bass. Song structures demonstrate a constant change from black metal moments to more electronica esq. parts.

While a lot of the tracks illustrate a more Ulver feel there is definitely a lot of Mayhem in The Sham Mirrors. In the track “Radical Cut” you can tell right away that there is a good deal of black metal influence. A lot of the black metal feel in this album is due to the heavy use of keyboards. Every track has keyboards mixed in it somewhere; some of the tracks are even lead by key boards. A good example of heavy keyboard use is in “Star Crossed”, where we have a wonderful key board intro lasting about a minute and a half. Keyboards are also extremely standout in Radical Cut mixing in with the black metal perfectly.

Drumming is also exceptional on The Sham Mirrors. Whether it is extreme double bass or fast passed blast beats the drum skills on this album show off everywhere. Take “Collapse Generation” for example after some harmonizing keyboard it kicks right into some incredible double bass work. There is also some obscure percussion used like bongos mixed into the carnival like intro in “For to end Yet Again”. Arcturus is also depraved of any bass guitar activity. Normally this would bother me but Arcturus has replaced an itch for bass with keyboards that seem replace any needed bass activity all together.

I am sure most of you agree in saying that Garm and Ihsahn are both exceptional vocalists. The two singers show a lot of what their made of in The Sham Mirrors. For a majority of the album Garm sings the most. Ihsahn guest appears on this album and gets his fair share of screaming vocals in a few songs like “Radical Cut” and some clean vocals here in there as well. Garm who often sings in a lower pitch is using more high vocals then I have ever heard him in this album. Trust me when I say Garm singing higher more often is a good thing, his tone is perfect making it a great fit for all of the songs. A good example of Garm showing his higher pitched vocals is in “Kinetic” where his tone is just amazing.


All throughout The Sham Mirrors there is absolutely no filler. Every track is special in its own little way never really getting boring or repetitive. Aside from there being no filler there is also lots of diversity. A good example of this is the way we have the song “Radical Cut” which is for the most part a heavily synthesized black metal song.
And then we have other tracks like “Star Crossed” which are softer. Arcturus also proves to appeal to many different types of listeners in The Sham Mirrors. There is heavy black metal for those metal heads and there is also a lot of avant-garde style music for the fans of more experimental music.

In the end The Sham Mirrors proves to be brilliant. It proves to be Arcturus’s best release, and one of my favorite metal albums of all time. No elements of this album disappoint, the vocals are great, the instruments provide perfect song structure and it is all unique in every sense of the word. I would suggest this to anyone who is trying to branch out and find something new. The Sham Mirrors has elements that can appease to anyone and is a must have for any fan of music.

Final Rating 5/5



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user ratings (677)
4.1
excellent


Comments:Add a Comment 
Angmar
January 22nd 2007


2688 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Dinner time, not sure how this is but wutev.

Det_Nosnip
January 22nd 2007


374 Comments


There are very few albums that I would go so far as to say are nearly perfect, but this is one of them. Nice review!

ScelusNefas
January 22nd 2007


274 Comments


What should i get first? This or LMI?

Altmer
January 22nd 2007


5711 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This. Better production, less raw and more refined sound.



Excellent record, not my alltime favourite though.

teamsleep698
January 22nd 2007


423 Comments


I said it before and I'll say it again, great review

Angmar
January 22nd 2007


2688 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

[quote=Nefas]What should i get first? This or LMI?[/quote]



This if your looking for shear uniquness and beuty but if your looking for something more raw go with LMI

And thanks for the feedback and votes everyoneThis Message Edited On 01.22.07

ScelusNefas
January 22nd 2007


274 Comments


Thank you Stevo and Altmer for answering me.At first i though i should get LMI first but now i think i will get this. Thank you....and good review, sorry i forgot to tell you this before.

Tyler
Emeritus
January 22nd 2007


7927 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Damn you, I was going to do this.

Angmar
January 22nd 2007


2688 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Sorry Cocaine but i did call it :D

Tyler
Emeritus
January 22nd 2007


7927 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I dont love it as much as I used to, but I still think it's totally awesome. Might go to a 4.5 for me.

Angmar
January 22nd 2007


2688 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Well i do but wutev maybe the shock will be gone in time but for now this is one of my favs.

Shattered_Future
January 22nd 2007


1627 Comments


I still have yet for this to fully sink in (I still have a few problems here and there with it), but it's a terrific album.

Det_Nosnip
January 23rd 2007


374 Comments


Why would it sink to 4.5, Cocaine?

Riverpeth
February 3rd 2008


150 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

hmmm?

badtaste
July 13th 2008


824 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Neat review, pretty much agree with all.



Debating whether this is a 4.5 or a 5...



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