ARCTURUS – Sideshow Symphonies

ARCTURUS - Sideshow Symphonies


Season Of Mist
Release date: September 19, 2005

User Review
0/10 (0 votes)

With roots in various Norwegian Black Metal projects and bands, Arcturus caught the Metal society by surprise when releasing their orchestral La Masquerade Infernale in 1997. Up to this date, the society had not yet been able to agree on its ingenious: discarded as pompous and pretentious by some, embraced as inventive and impressive by others.

In spite of numerous line up changes and an existence nearly solely related to the release of albums, Arcturus reveals that they haven’t lost touch with their vision with this year’s album, Sideshow Symphonies.

The Music

Arcturus’ music is distinctively unique. Much of it is spun around symphonic keyboards on one side, and intense up-tempo drum passages on the other. Another aspect is their ability to communicate such immense sadness and darkness without turning to cheap and embarrassing melancholy. They simply define a mood you cannot ignore, whether you like it or not.

Their Black Metal roots are still apparent, but not in anyway dominant. Visiting Ambient, Melodic Metal, Symphonic, and many other styles, they reveal a profound interest and understanding in the theatrical properties of music … and in this lies their magic and their strength, with songs like “Daemonpainter,” “Moonshine Delirium,” and “White Noise Monster” being brilliant examples and definite highlights!

On the weaker side, their lyrics are at times less convincing, if comparing to the aforementioned La Masquerade Infernale, especially the Norwegian words in “Hufsa” fail to reach the presence found elsewhere.

The Band

Initiated by Sverd (keyboards) as far back as 1987, Arcturus as a band has mainly consisted of Steinar “Sverd” Johnsen (keyboards) and Jan Axel “Hellhammer” Blomberg (drums), with a handful or two of session musicians, all contributing to their rather experimental style. With so many contributions, one might expect less focus and lack of identity, but this is not at all the case with Arcturus. Actually, it’s quite impressive how they have been able to maintain their expression and identity throughout the years, and yet the evolution is apparent.

The 2005 Arcturus line up is completed by Knut Magne Valle (guitar), Tore Moren (guitar), Hugh Mingay (bass), and a pleasant revisit by Simen “Vortex” Hestnæs (vocal).

The Verdict

Arcturus still spellbinds. Sideshow Syphonies is an evolving and emotional album, and it is a worthy successor to the albums making up the Arcturus legacy to date. With a crisp and rich production, appropriate dynamics, and solid performances by all contributors, it’s an album worth checking out.


  • Frode Leirvik

    Frode was a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio, based out of Norway. His headbanging experience started when his brother-in-law gave him Deep Purple’s Fireball at the age of ten. Since then, he has also been a fan of and active in several other musical genres, resulting in a deep and profound interest in music. Some of his favorites, among all of those who have somehow managed to tap into the universal force of Progressive Music are (in no particular order): Thule, Dream Theater, King Crimson,Pink Floyd, Rush, Spock’s Beard, Jan Hammer and Jerry Goodman, Ekseption, Focus, The Beatles, Deep Purple and Frank Zappa.

    View all posts

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.