The Sham Mirrors



by Per Ardua Ad Astra USER (30 Reviews)
January 14th, 2005 | 418 replies

Release Date: 2002 | Tracklist

I will start off by saying that this album is absolutely brilliant. The combination of instruments ranging from pianos to guitars to horns blows my mind. With Garm's (of Ulver) operatic vocals and HellHammer's (of Mayhem, Winds and many more) technical drumming makes for one brilliant album. The Sham Mirrors being Arcturus' latest release (2002). It is their fourth official full length release, the others being "Aspera Heims Synfonia" "La Masquerade Infernale" and "Disguised Masters." Hopefully we will be hearing from them again sometime soon, in other news about them Garm has left the band due to other priorities with other bands (being Ulver). Now to the review...

Track 1: Kinetic-Track starts off with a blast off energy of drums and guitars. Then comes Garm's operatic chants along with a melody part that sounds great together. That for me defines the song, then comes in a semi slow interlude which leads perfectly into an atmospheric keyboard part soon to be accompanied by drums and guitar. Here again Garm shows off his Operatic talent, all of this goes on while the Steinerd Sverd Jonson bangs away on the keyboards making for a great song, while remaining heavy towards the end of the song with double bass and somewhat heavy riffs and a solo. This is one of the best songs on the album, this song ends with just keyboards and an atmosphere of aw.

Track 2: Nightmare Heaven-This is more of a guitar oriented track, the opening guitar riff doesn't appeal to me much but when Garm's vocals come in that all changes. Garm shows off his talents in the song the best, if it weren't for the vocals this song would not be what it is. The lyrics "The angels are so passive of their years, open to be saved from oblivion by oblivion" will stick with you. Right after this comes in the piano solo which is absolutely amazing. Then a change of direction, a techno beat, with a bass line and atmospheric keyboards. This part of the sound in my opinion goes on just a little to long, though when it is over it is worth the wait. This song ends the best out of them all, It brings you to a point of excitement and no return, though it kind of ends abruptly.

Track 3: Ad Absurdum-If this album has a weak song on it, this is definitely it. I don't know, the guitars and the vocals just don't seem to be put together well in this song. It does progress throughout the song though, from the solo on the song is decent. Then another complete change of direction for arcturus, the song stops and just turns into an atmospheric song with guitars that add to that atmospheric mood. It continues like that for the rest of the song with pianos in and out and haunting chants, a good ending for an average song.

Track 4: Collapse Generation-Starts off like your getting ready for something with keyboards, then it goes into a roaring atmospheric black metal riff with drumming that blows your mind. Soon the keyboards and piano's come in adding to the flare of this song. The song comes to a sudden pause in the middle for a chime interlude, then right back into the roaring black metal with clean vocals over it making for a fantastic track.

Track 5: Star crossed-Song starts off with a piano intro that is simply brilliant. Making for a brilliant combination of beuty and speed on the keyboard. The piano intro for me is what defines this song. The rest of this song does not live up to the hype you get from the piano intro but it's quite good none the less. Garm's vocals are somewhat lower on this song over a guitar riff that sounds familiar from the rest of this album. Soon the track speeds up a bit then right back down to an atmospheric interlude with Garm's haunting chants over it. Soon after this, the guitar riffs and keyboards that you have come accustomed to by listening to this album come up again along with double bass on the drums and a guitar solo making for a good song.

Track 6: Radical Cut-This song is by far the best song on the CD. Starts off with a small drum thing then right into roaring black metal with keyboards. Special guest Ihsahn (of Emperor) does vocals on this track, or I should say Screams. HellHammer's drumming is brilliant, the guitar work is brilliant and Ihsahn fits absolutely perfectly for this song. This song is very fast paced, there are two keyboard solos in this song both played at blazing speeds making for an absolutely AMAZING sound. This song without a doubt is absolutely amazing.

Track 7: For To end yet again-Starts off with somewhat interesting music, sounds almost like's it from a carnival or something. This is soon put to end but guitar riffs and back to Garm's operatic vocals. Using a mix of keyboards guitars and odd drum beats makes for a great first part of the song. This song soon goes into a 3-minute piano interlude that does get boring after awhile, then at about 6:24 a very well crafted guitar and horn riff comes in, it sounds like it's straight out of a horror film. This is probably one of the best riffs on the CD, it's worth waiting three minutes to get to this part of the song absolute brilliance.

This album gets a 5/5
It's a good buy for anyone into metal or not into metal. This album is definitely a classic.

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user ratings (674)
other reviews of this album
Angmar (5)
A classical piece of avant-garde metal....

Altmer (4.5)

Comments:Add a Comment 
March 20th 2004


excellent review!

avant-garde metal sounds too good to be true. i will check em out.

May 6th 2004


I listened to some Arcturus a little while back. It sounded sort of like a heavier Mr. Bungle in carnival mode. Very odd, I'm not sure if i could get into them.

May 6th 2004


Album Rating: 5.0

I have a question for you, Per Ardua :

I've heard Wintry grey and du nordavind, do alot of arcturus songs sound like those?

Because I loved them.

May 6th 2004


Nice review man. Radical Cut is absoutley ace, I listened to it today. :cool:
/orgasms all over the melodies

October 18th 2004


I need to pick this album up...I loved the Masquerade Infernale, and "Star Crossed" was the song that introduced me to the group.

October 18th 2004


Any album with HellHammer I have to hear.

October 19th 2004


Excellent review for a classic album

November 11th 2004


I recommend this album to everyone, though I think Star Crossed is the best song

November 11th 2004


Got this album like a week ago, and it kicks ass to pretty much sum it up.

November 13th 2004


Album Rating: 3.0

I got the album earlier today actually. It is truely amazing...the combination of instruments and Garm's voice makes for one of the most unique bands I've ever heard.

Dancin' Man
November 13th 2004


The only problem I have with Radical Cut is that it needs a power metal guitar solo. Alexi Laiho guest on an Arcturus song? Orgasm? Yes.

Per Ardua Ad Astra
November 13th 2004


[QUOTE=Fast Fingers]The only problem I have with Radical Cut is that it needs a power metal guitar solo. Alexi Laiho guest on an Arcturus song? Orgasm? Yes.[/QUOTE]

Is the keyboard solo not good enough for you?

Dancin' Man
November 13th 2004


Of course they're good enough but couldn't you just hear it? Extend the horn section and stick it in there.

November 13th 2004


The piano playing is the best I've ever heard in metal

November 13th 2004


Album Rating: 3.0

[QUOTE=Fast Fingers]Of course they're good enough but couldn't you just hear it? Extend the horn section and stick it in there.[/QUOTE]

For some odd reason that does sound like it would work...

November 26th 2004


It's on my christmas list

November 26th 2004


Never heard of it, but avant-garde metal sounds pretty cool. I'll definitly check these guys out.

January 3rd 2005


mauscript reccomended this album to me. I'm halfway through listening to it and it's one of the best albums I've heard in ages. The vocals sound like Dream Theater to me, but not annoying. If I can actually find it, I'll definitely be buying it. I am going to check out their other stuff now, probably "La Masquerade Infernale" next because I heard a song from the first album and it scared the crap out of me.

Tangy zizzle
January 3rd 2005


Can you say "O-ver-ra-ted" ?

January 3rd 2005


hey can someone trade me this album for one of mine? because i cant find this ANYWHERE. i went to the TAOA thread and found nothing....

my aim is malignant5050

id appreciate it if you imed me because i really wanna hear this album

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