Arcturus live At The 02 Academy Islington, London 13th December 2013

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Arcturus are an avante- garde metal band  that formed in 1987 in Norway. The name is taken from the star of the same name and means ”Bear Guardian” They have produced 4 albums & the set for this show consisted of selected tracks from those albums. The sound is a mixture of black metal, symphonic black & avante garde with clean/unclean vocals that have a pleading, questioning, spacey feel to them, however, unclean vocals were sparse at this show. The whole sound feels like black shards & splinters of glass falling into a boiling vessel of magnesium. The onstage presence has a Mad Max/Steampunk/Medieval/Star Gazer vibe about it, and going back to the sound, it reminds me of a band from the 80’s i used to listen to called ”Ring’. There is space in the sound that has a floaty feel, it’s not all intensity, there is space to float on a dust cloud through the expanses of space taking in the feelings of bliss.

The eleven song set was energetic throughout & the band seemed to be enjoying the set more and more as it progressed. As is usually the case at The 02, there is a curfew & just when you are fully loosened up to the proceedings, it ends.

My only downer of the night was bad attitude of a photographer who thought it was good form to stick her lense in my line of sight whilst i was composing a shot. My enjoyment & focus was temporarily diverted from the proceedings by this idiot but putting that aside i will say that it was an enjoyable night. I did have one issue. All of the other bands i have covered at this venue have let the photographers snap away through their sets with no restriction as long as they have not used their flashes. If the normal 3 song maximum is to be enforced then i would have appreciated the ticket office telling me before hand.I was informed by a helpful paramedic that the security were about to throw me out for breaking the rules.

4/5

Members ;-

Steinar Sverd Johnsen

Jan Axel Blomberg (Age of Silence, Antestor, Arcturus, Dimmu Borgir, Dynasty of Darkness, Emperor, The Kovenant, Jørn Lande, Mayhem, Mezzerschmitt, Mortem, Shining, Thorns, Troll, Winds)

Hugh Mingay (Ved Buens Ende)

Knut Magne Valle (Ulver)

ICS Vortex  (Lamented Souls, Dimmu Borgir, Borknagar, Arcturus, Code)

Set List;-

1 – Evacuation Code (SideShow Symphonies)

2 – Ad Absurdum

3 – Nightmare Heaven

4 – Alone (La Masquerade Infernale)

5 – Chaos Path (La Masquerade Infernale)

6 – Deception Genesis ( Disguised Masters)

7 – Painting My Horror ( La Masquerade Infernale)

8 – Master Of Disguise ( La Masquerade Infernale)

9 – Hibernation Sickness (Sideshow Symphonies)

10 – Shipwrecked Frontier Pioneer ( Sideshow Symphonies)

11 – Raudt Og Svart ( Aspera Hiems Symfonia – Constellation – My Angel)

Associated Record Labels;-

Century Media,

Music for Nations,

Candlelight,

The End,

Jester,

Season of Mist

Online Presence;-

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Arcturus/

http://www.arcturus.no

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Simon York:- ”Nothing’s Ever Quite What You Thought It Would Be”

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”If you like Luxury Stranger then you’ll love this!! How can i describe this? It’s like a large bowl of black treacle & marmite mixed with silky smooth dark chocolate & mixed again with Acacia Honey & finally topped off with sugar crystals soaked in mature whiskey. It is so easy to like this, i don’t mean in a ”LIKE MEEEE!!’ way, it’s just likable, in the same way that The Chameleons are likable. The sound is dark but with the mood lighting kept on in the background so you can see what lurks  back there, in the background. The drums are sublime, keeping everything together in a heavy but precise way & the vocals, smoky, gauzy, Interpolesque, what else can i say??.”You Don’t belong here anymore”  is reminiscent of ”Faith” by The Southern Death Cult at the start, great drums on that track. Next is ”Waiting for Someone” I know that feeling, waiting, waiting and waiting for someone to take me away, i give up eventually & take myself away, where i want to go is more interesting.”The Path” has more percussive loveliness & the lyric ” Whooooooo did you think i was??” The bass just rams home the point of the question as if demanding an answer.Track 6 ‘On Top Of The World” sounds so familiar but not, i feel i’ve heard something similar before but not heard it at all. Or have i? It’s like a shot of deja vu. I know what it is, it sounds like Talk Talk & Cure from The Head On The Door Era. ”Look Behind The Mask” takes me into a large 18 century Ballroom full of people in fancy dress hiding their powdered faces behind exotic masks & fans. Track 8 ”I know i’m right” takes me on another journey of familiarity forgotten & leads me into the next track. Track 9 ”1” is very Brendon Perry,whilst track 11 ”Leper” has more great drums which are forceful & emphatic shadowed by bass that does not disappoint. The Daniel Ash guitar screaming adds to the atmosphere. I have an image of Black clad vampish Gothettes dancing like whirling dervishes  around a pile black leather handbags as if the pile was a fire of dark energy compelling them to gyrate. I’ve played bass & i identify with this way of playing, moody & angsty & very hypnotic.

Track 14 ”Exit” (The Xtended & Rearranged Mix) It sounds like a sonic representation of me dancing in reverse, with a hollowness of feeling,Staring robot like into back nothingness & feeling peace.

Overall this is a great album, i thoroughly enjoyed it, it’s full of musical references some easy to get some alot harder (Track 12), but that’s good, i don’t want to listening to be too easy.Having said that there comes a point when you have to stop hunting for references & take the music at face value.I need my musical bearings but being lost without knowing where the hell i am can be exciting so just go with the flow & enjoy. Simon Yorks voice is rich & full like an expensive bar of chocolate, to be indulged at your leisure whilst the drums & bass do their job perfectly as they should.I have already listened to this album 7 times interspersed with other bands for comparable variety & i am not tired of listen to it yet. I have had the pleasure of listening to Luxury Stranger once before & i look forward to this material being played live.”

Top Notch!!

5 marks out of 5

Track Listing:-

1:- Together, Alone

2;- You Don’t Belong Here Anymore

3:- Waiting For Someone

4:- The Path

5:- I hear You Call

6:- On Top Of The World

7:- Look Behind The Mask

8:- I Know I’m Right

9:- 1

10:- 2

11:- Leper

12:- A Gentle Reminder

13:- Exit – Return

14:- Exit – return (Xtended & Rearranged Mix)