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Arcturus - La Masquerade Infernale review


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Band: Arcturus
Album: La Masquerade Infernale
Release date: 1997

01. Master Of Disguise
02. Ad Astra
03. The Chaos Path
04. La Masquerade Infernale
05. Alone
06. The Throne Of Tragedy
07. Painting My Horror
08. Of Nails And Sinners

How thin is the line that divides simple music and art?
How can you define a work of art?
I will not solve these questions, questions posed through the centuries by many artists and philosophers. What I will try to explain you here is why I think that this album can be defined a pure work of art.
But first, a few informative lines about this band and the members.
The Arcurus project was originally known as Mortem, and was founded by the keybordist Steinar Sverd Johnsen (a.k.a. Sverd) and the drummer Jan Axel Von Blomberg (a.k.a. Hellhammer). The band followed a particular path as it morphed (with the My Angel 7?? demo) to Arcurus, playing an unusual, ?cosmic?, and electronic Black Metal. The most clear expression of that course was the debut album: Aspera Hiems Symphonia.

Almost three years later, in 1997, Arcturus was back, with a new guitarist and a completely different musical proposal. The line up that recorded the new CD La Masquerade Infernale, was: Garm (also Ulver) for the voice, Hellhammer (also Mayhem and Kovenant), at drums, the newcomer Knut M. Valle at the guitar and the brilliant Sten Sveinard Jhonsen (aka Sverd) at the keyboard.
These 5 musicians, that was, and still are, some of the most talented in the entire scene especially for the particular and unique style of playing their instruments (or voice), were able to produce an album which has been able to go above all the labels and the categories of music, a complex and theatrical opus of musical Art.

It is a complex work, you can not listen to it distractedly, and every time you listen to that you will be able to hear something new that you wasn's able to hear before.
Also because, apart of the ?consuete? metal instruments such as guitars, bass and drums you?ll find violins, cellos, flutes or strange electrical sound. A continuos musical mayhem but not a meaningless noise.

To describe the music of this album is a duty that also the most talented poet would hardly achieve, so, for a simple and humble reviewer like me, it's best to try to describe the feelings that it can transmit to you.
The blending of the instruments, mainly the beautiful armonies and intricated patterns of the guitar of Knut M.Valle, together with the voice of Garm, creates a vortex of madness, of melancholy, of despair, of sadness, of pain, of burlesque laughthers.
Also the vocal style of Garm is not easy to define: it's not the classical Black Metal screaming, but it cannot be defined a clean voice, even if of a deep tone. It's operatic, theatrical, impostated voice.
A carnival of bizzarre sounds, a feast of laughters of sadness.

Is it metal? If for you metal is only chugging guitars and full speed blast beats that's not. But, if we look at metal as it should be, a genre in continuos evolution and the most fertile ground for sperimentations of any kind (despite of what the metal detractors usually say), well, we can say that it is one of the shiniest pearls of this genre, and maybe of good music itself.

To be a work of art means indeed to outbreak the schemes, the rules and the traditions and to establish new ones. Six years later of its releasing La Masquerade Infernale sounds new and incredibly innovative as the day of its publishing, because there are no standards to compare, no rules to observe.
That's a work of art: a classic that has never finished to say what it has to say, a paradigmatic opus.

If you have just a bit of regard of my opinion, please, make yourself and to your very soul a favour, and get this album.

Written by Sephiroth | 16.10.2003



Comments: 8   [ 1 ignored ]   Visited by: 217 users
14.03.2007 - 08:57
Account deleted
One of my favourite albums ever.
07.04.2007 - 01:31
Danny Thomas
this album is amazing, though not as good as the sham mirrors imo
Our children are dead. Burnt in the ruins that were left by war.
01.10.2007 - 06:13
every part of this album is like a little opera!!!! why they didn't take it to opera
Written by muthafucka on 08.07.2010 at 06:46

24.03.2008 - 18:25
Garm's voice are indeed quite different from what we use to hear within Black Metal, but what about ICS Vortex? I thought it was amazing, he added a unique and well done performance.
And sometimes I despair
At who I've become
I have to come to terms
With what I've done
26.03.2008 - 19:31
Liver Failure
Fantastic album!! Arcturus is an amazing band, one of my favorites outside the classics of black metal. That's not the best album in my opinion (Aspera Hieims Symphonia gets the 1st place), but still figures in my favorites album list.
Best tracks: The Chaos Path, Painting my horror, The Throne of tragedy and Ad Astra.

member of the true crusade against old school heavy metal, early 80s thrash, NWOBHM, traditional doom, first and second wave black metal, old school death metal, US power metal, 70s prog rock and atmospheric doomsludgestoner. o/
04.12.2009 - 23:07
Sure, Ad Astra and The Chaos Path are awesome!
21.01.2011 - 08:20
Unasuming Madnes
I suppose what I really love is the successful mutation and transformation of what they did from Aspiera Hyems into the sound of this album, and what would eventually mutate into what they did on "the Shame Mirrors". Personally the albums beauty is lost without listening to their prior release.
06.03.2012 - 21:10
Account deleted
This is the best review on this website. And this one of my few favourite albums of all time.

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