In late 1996, the established symphonic metal band released the album, 'La masquerade Infernale' which was to originally be called 'The Satanist.' This album came as a musical shock to the Arcturus fan base, making extensive use of odd sounds and incredible vocals, besides the overall weirdness of the album. This album is released on the British label, Misanthropy.
Garm - vocals, samples
Steinar Sverd Johnsen - keyboards
Knut M. Valle - guitars
Hellhammer - drums
Hugh Stephen James Mingay - bass
This album also features guest appearances from...
Simen Hestn"s - vocals (tracks 1, 3, 7), lyrics (track 3)
Carl August Tidemann - guitar solos (tracks 2, 8)
J"rn H. Sv"ren - lyrics (track 6)
Erik Olivier Lancelot - flute (track 2)
Idun Felberg - coronet (track 2)
Vegard Johnsen - violin
Dorthe Dreier - viola
Hans Josef Groh - cello
Svein Haugen - double bass
*On this album, the vocals are all sung, not screamed.
The opener, Master of Disguise contains some odd synths and vocals to start off before shooting off into some slow, odd riffs, the vocals in this song are probably the weirdest vocals on this album. The song intertwines piano interludes with slow, dark riffs along with faster paced, more guitar oriented sections towards the end, along with some killer vocals. The solo in this song, though it is short, is nothing to be overlooked. This track starts off slow, but picks up towards the end. Solid track.
The second track is a nearly 8-minute epic, Ad Astra. It is arranged very well, is prominently the string quartet that Arcturus recruited for this album. It's essentially a classical song, Arcturus style. Contains flute solos, piano solos, and a whammy of a guitar solo towards the end. Every aspect of this song is perfect, this one of my favorite songs to listen to you, and it's not even the best song on the album.
Ad Astra, leads into a more heavy song, The Chaos Path. This song is reminiscent of Dream Theater's work on the album 'Awake.' Heavy guitars and synth riffs intertwine with almost circus music on this track making for one odd combination, Arcturus does this acceptionally well. The vocals on this track are excellent, along with the combination of instruments. It amazes me how Arcturus plays so well, this track also includes appearances from the string quartet. Awesome track. It's also conveniantly available on www.blackmetalradio.com
The next track, 'La Masquerade Infernale' is basically a filler track. Just some piano, along with some samples and soft vocals. Though, it's meant to lead right into Alone, which is one of my favorite Arcturus tracks to listen to. The opening is brilliant, though simple. A dark intro which is followed by blasting drums and heavy guitars. This intensity is carried throughout the rest of the song, with absolutely brilliant vocals and awesome drums. Absolutely great song.
The next track, The Throne of Tragedy starts off with an intro that i love, it's a poem by Edgar Allan Poe, read with a vocal effect on amidst the rest of the musical chaos that is going on in the background. This leads right into some awesome guitar work, and nice vocals. The way the music fits together in this song is incredible. This song, though it has alot of slower, synth oriented riffs is an awesome one to listen to because it always comes back with a force of the weirdness that Arcturus is known for. Solid track, though one of my favorites.
Painting my Horror is like The Chaos Path, but with a doom metal edge to it. The synth lines in this song really define the music. I don't know what is about this song, but i love to listen to it. About halfway through the song, it gets really weird, insanely odd synths with even weirder vocals make for an immensely insane combo that no words can describe. The untrained ear would wince at this music, i love it.
The finale, Of Nails and Sinners starts with some odd synths, and some nice guitar work filling in where needed. The song soon blasts off with some vocals, which i just happen to love the lyrics to. If you listen to the words, you realize how dark the music really is and how well it fits with the music. The music here is simple compared to the rest of the album, but is still awesome nonetheless. This song continues on intertwined speed with slow darker doomy riffs. Towards the end a solo calms down the music before the album ends of a dark section, that Arcturus has become known for, with this album.
This album gets a 4.9/5 (nothing's perfect). I've never heard anything like this before, the music on this album is top quality all the way around.
The vocals, Garm sings in a way that is not usually heard before. It's very hard to explain. You really need to hear it and judge for yourself. I choose to like it, alot.
The Musicianship, every aspect of the music here, from the guitars to the drums are all of the best quality, but what do you expect from a HellHammer band? Only the best.
The string Quartet, this really rounds off the music. Instead of having to use synths as strings, the strings are real and really give the music an edge.
The vocals, it's really hit or miss here. If you don't like the vocals, they are very hard to ignore.
The weirdness of the music, as i said before, to the untrained ear, this music will be odd and random to you. Though as you listen to it more and more, you realize how good it really is.
The Chaos Path
The Throne of tragedy
Of Nails and Sinners