Muzica

ARCTURUS (NOR): Arcturian

 

 

 

Avant-Garde Progressive Metal

© 2015 Prophecy Productions

(for English, scroll down)

Pe zi ce trece imi dau seama ca a mai scrie recenzii sau scurte povestioare despre albume, concerte si alte happening-uri este un fapt deocheat pentru ale vremurilor actuale, cu atat mai mult daca e sa ma raportez la Romania. Nu am avut o cultura a recenziilor, o dorinta de a promova ceea ce ne place intr-un mod detaliat sau macar povestit. Cu atat mai mult astazi, cand rapiditatea in tot face ca orice incercare de a scoate ceva in evidenta se limiteaza sau trebuie sa se limiteze la o postare simpla, eventual 1-2 randuri comparative si… next to. Parca as iesi cu dorinta sa beau in tihna o sticla de vin rosu si ma trezesc ca o sorb rapid, la botul calului… si trec la altele, tot la fel de rapid. Mdea, se pare ca nu sunt sub aceste vremuri si nici peste ele. Asa ca doar ideea de a scrie o scurta povestire despre cate un album care imi capteaza interesul poate fi tot ceea ce conteaza pentru mine. Eventual sa-i invit pe trupeti apoi sa cante pe la noi, dar si de asta m-am cam plictisit.

Gata cu preludiul, sa trec la arcturieni, dar sa nu ajungem la reptilieni ca o luam pe aratura… Astept albumul asta de peste 10 ani si nu numai eu. Stiu ca tot timpul ARCTURUS m-a incantat, dar si surprins. Exceptand primele 2 albume, care, in acele vremuri, au insemnat capodopere ale muzicii Metal underground, si pe urmatoarele le-am digerat imediat, insa valorificate si apreciate doar in timp… ca si vinul, care devine mai bun cu cat este mai vechi… dar nu prea vechi, ca nu-mi ramane decat sa-l beau singur… eventual la 2 m sub pamant, daca nu ma salveaza careva din ale caznelor religioase ieftine si inca ritualice si ma pulverizeaza/imprastie peste vreun munte… sau macar peste vreun pod cu o poveste prea putin cunoscuta, dar iubita la un moment dat in viata asta arcturiana... sau ce-o fi ea.

De data asta norvegienii vin cu elemente noi care ma confuzeaza la o prima ascultare. In primul rand datorita ecourilor electronice, prea saltimbance in sens simplist, desi invaluiri orchestrale exista din plin. Inteleg ca totul e in limbaj SF, ca e o muzica de pe alta planeta, insa in acest sens prefer astazi amprenta neconventionala si intensa Darkspace. Apoi vioara devine un alt element ce incearca sa-si gaseasca cumva cadenta printre clapele magistrale ale lui Sverd! Sa nu mai spun de felul spectaculos in care bate Hellhammer. Cred ca aceste 2 instrumente au contat enorm in structura ARCTURUS. Evident ca si solisticile de chitara conteaza, doar ca acum parca sunt mult prea heavy, prelungite continuu. Clar ca live vor fi foarte catchy. Bass-ul pare a fi mult prea discret fata de trecut, ceea ce nu mai confera acea nota grava, apasatoare. Vocea lui Simen este la fel cum o stim, face in toate felurile, inclusiv cu growl excesiv pe alocuri, care extrage sunetul actual din acea levitatie mult prea atmosferica si melodica… sau cum i-as spune eu, parca prea Heavy dar soft, daca reusiti sa treceti de semantica sinonima.

Interludiile Electro ma cam deruteaza pe “Demon”, nu neaparat ca ma trimite la ceva ce experimenta The Kovenant pe ultimele albume, dar sound-ul devine chiar avangardist din cale afara, arucandu-ma la faze EBM sau Goth. Poate pragul acceptabil ar fi un aparent Trip-Hop saltaret a la MANES. Chiar si asa, tot nu ma prinde, mai ales ca Simen baga muuult prea subtire, heh… sau pe inalte, dar in mod strident.

Pale” este o piesa ce se identifica cu ceea ce stiam eu ca e ARCTURUS, totul suna simfonic, epic, “glorios”, cu un Simen care arata si alte inflexiuni ale vocii fabuloase! Si iarasi Sverd se depaseste pe el cu ale lui clape! Cum poate sa sune, pfff! Plus ritmurile alea invaluitoare superbe! Si vine “Journey”, care incepe iarasi mult prea Electro pt mine, cu o vioara care incearca ceva sa construiasca acolo, dar, dupa vreo 2 minute de interludii haotice, totul tinde sa contureze ceva in genul Tristaniei sau The Sins Of Thy Beloved din vremurile de glorie (adica alea de inceput, cu avea vioara abundenta), doar ca fara voce feminina. E poate cea mai non-Metal si atmosferica secventa de pe album, cu voci corale pe fundal, destul de discrete dar care dezvolta usor o aura meditativa… o adevarata calatorie linistitoare.

Archer” se joaca din abundenta cu instrumentele, dar nu reuseste sa-mi lase un sentiment de inovatie, decat doar sa-mi marcheze autenticitatea ARCTURUS (in ciuda faptului ca unele pasaje ma trimit la interludii Psychedelic a al Pink Floyd sau In The Woods…). Albumul se incheie cu “Bane”, destul de drujbita si intesata cu articole teatrale, cea mai buna replica la “The Chaos Path”. Curios este cum comunica aici vioara, mai degraba cum se joaca… dar nici bine nu ma familiarizez cu acest ritm saltimbanc ca Hellhammer iar rupe pedalele alea duble intr-un mod miraculos… si iar Simen… Da, frumos, cu adevarat.

Nu le-am luat in ordine piesele, de asta poate nu am spus nimic de “Crashland”, o piesa cu multe solistici de chitara impresionante si o voce ce-mi satisface pofta de Vortex, dar totusi cu prea multe amprente Progressive… lalaite cumva. Daca vreti Black Metal in genul “Radical Cut”, bagati o ureche pe “Angst”! Totul e furios, rapid, agresiv, imi lipseste parca vocea lui Ihsahn dar nu mi-e rusine deloc cu growl-ul total al lui Simen! Cat despre ritm, hmmm: infernal!

Dupa aceasta piesa in forta vine “Warp”, aici imi aminteste de “Nexus Polaris”, doar ca vocea ramane la fel de fidela stilului clasic ARCTURUS. Este poate cea mai ritmata, Pop-Goth piesa de pe album (de la The Sister of Mercy, Fields Of The Nephilim pana la Tears For Fears sau Paradise Lost, in variata anilor 2000), iar ultima parte este plina cu insertii jucause ale clapei, unele parca cu iz oriental. Uitasem sa mentionez piesa de inceput, “The Arcturian Sign”, care, dupa mai multe ascultari, mi se pare cea mai reprezentativa de pe acest nou album, dar care nu m-a miscat prea tare. Si inchei povestirea arcturiana cu “Game Over”, cea mai lunga compozitie de pe album (6 min), care are o amprenta frumoasa ca structura dar si ca poveste. Aici identific cel mai pregnant dimensiunea cosmica cu care m-a invatat ARCTURUS sa respir si de aceea mi-a mai ramas la suflet pe viata.

Dar am vorbit mult si probabil confuzant, sigur ar trebui sa raspund acum la intrebarea simpla: mi-a placut albumul? Hmmm, asta grea intrebare. E clar ca eram prea flamand ca sa nu-l ascult pe nerasuflate… s-ar putea sa-l fi ascultat mult prea repede si sa nu-i prind magia pe care mi-o doream. Probabil ca e valabila acea comparatie cu vinul vechi, trebuie sa-l mai las sa se aseze, decanteze! Chiar nu stiu! Din punct de vedere al virtuozitatii, este genial! Din punct de vedere al povestii starnite cu titlul asta bombastic Arcturian, dar si cu superba coperta facuta de Costin, albumul straluceste monumental in galaxia arcturiana. Ca si feeling final, cred ca mi-ar fi placut o dimensiune Dark mai pronuntata, cu acel background cosmic halucinant si mai putin translatata pe faze electro. Inca ceva: nu-mi place mixajul, se aude cumva infundat, desi am incercat si cu volum mare in casti. Dar, una peste alta, ce se aude pe muzica ARCTURUS nu am mai auzit nicaieri, niciodata! Sunt fabulosi!

ARCTURUS este ca si un brand celebru de parfum care vine catre consumator cu o varianta noua, gen floral/musk, pe care o testezi cu nerabdare pe propria-ti piele. Depinde de anotimp dar si de starea in care esti, daca vrei o schimbare sau preferi clasicul.

Pe de alta parte, Arcturian este o bijuterie muzicala pe care doar la zece ani o putem intalni, din pacate! Cat despre viitorul ARCTURUS, stiu ca anul asta vor avea parte de zeci de concerte, primele deja anuntate in mai si apoi vedem ce se va intampla in urmatorul interval de timp. Cu un label care pretuieste enorm aceasta noua achizitie (Prophecy Productions, mai precis Martin) si un management serios gestionat de Mark (Mythology), ar trebui ca ARCTURUS sa devina mult mai activa in aceasta piata Metal extrem de saturata de clone si de trupe fara autenticitate.

 

Inregistrarea singurului concert ARCTURUS de pana acum din Romania // Recording of the only concert ARCTURUS have ever played in Romania

 

Little by little, I’ve come to realize that writing reviews or tiny stories about albums, concerts and other happenings has become some sort of oddity in this day and age, most specifically in Romania. We don’t have a review writing culture, a deep desire to promote the things we like in a detailed manner or at least as a story. Moreover, in everything we do there’s this haste that limits any attempt to emphasize something or it is limited to a simple post, with one or two comparative lines and… next to. As if I’d want to enjoy a nice bottle of wine and all of the sudden I start drinking it hastily, pressed for time… and then move on to another, as quickly as possible. Right, it seems that I’m not from these times or any others. So the idea of writing a story about some album that gets my attention may be the only thing that matters to me. I might also get the band to perform in our country, but I’ve had enough of that too.

Enough with this foreplay, let me get to the Arcturians, hoping not to get to the reptilians... I’ve been waiting for this album for the last 10 years and I know I am not the only one. I know that ARCTURUS have always captivated me, as well as surprised me. Except for the first two albums, which, for their time, were considered masterpieces of the Metal underground, and the following two whom I’d quickly digested, but then savored and appreciated in time… like a good wine that gets better with age… but not too old.

This time, the Norwegians have come with some new elements which confused me at first. First of all, because of their electronic echoes, a bit too jittery in their simplistic way, although there are plenty of orchestral veils. I perceive everything to be in a SF language, like a music from another planet, but in this sense I prefer the unconventional and intense Darkspace imprint. Next, there’s the violin which becomes another element that tries to somehow find its pace among Sverd’s grandiose keyboards! Not to mention the spectacular way Hellhammer kicks his drums. I think these two elements have meant a great deal in ARCTURUS’ structure. Of course, the guitar solos matter, except now they are too heavy, endlessly prolonged. I’m sure that live they will be really catchy. The bass seems to be a bit too discreet compared to other records, which no longer has that solemn, haunting note. Simen’s voice is just like we’ve always known it, going through an entire range, including excessive growling, which pulls back the sound from the levitation of a way too atmospheric and melodic sound… or, who I’d put it, much too heavy but soft, if you manage to get past semantics.

The Electronic interludes seem to confuse me on “Demon”, not that it brings back some of my experience with the latest The Kovenant albums, but the sound becomes quite avant-garde, something along EBM or Goth. Maybe the threshold would be somewhere MANES’ lively Trip-Hop. Even so, I’m still not into it, especially since Simen’s singing is waaay too high and piercing, heh… 

Pale” is a song that has everything I’ve known to define ARCTURUS, everything sounds symphonic, epic, “glorious” even, with Simen showing off nuances of his fabulous voice! And Sverd once again outdoes himself on the keyboards! It sounds amazing, pffff! Plus those superb entangling rhythms!

And then, there comes “Journey”, which - again - is too Electronic for my taste, with the violin trying to build up something, but after 2 minutes of chaotic interludes, everything seems to outline something along the line of Tristania or The Sins Of Thy Beloved from their glory times (in the beginning, they all had an abundance of violins), but without the female vocals. It might as well be the most non-Metal and atmospheric piece on the entire album, with a choir on the background, discreetly featured, which gives it a meditative aura… a really peaceful journey.

Archer” plays abundantly with the instruments, and although it doesn’t inspire an innovative feeling, it still emphasizes ARCTURUS’ authenticity (despite the fact that some interludes bring back Pink Floyd’s Psychedelic vibe or In The Woods…). The album ends with “Bane”, pretty harsh and filled with theatrical elements, the best replica to “The Chaos Path”. Curious how the violin communicates here, or better yet, how it plays along… but before I’d get too familiar with its sound, Hellhammer miraculously breaks in with that double bass… and once again Simen… Yes, beautiful, indeed.

I haven’t mentioned the songs in their exact order, which is why I haven’t said anything about “Crashland” - a composition with many impressive guitar solos and a voice which satisfies my appetite for Vortex. There are still too many Progressive touches… somehow outstretched. If you want some Black Metal in the “Radical Cut” manner, take a listen to “Angst”! Everything is angry, fast, and aggressive, I kinda miss Ihsahn’s voice, but I can’t complain about Simen’s all-fired growl! As of its rhythm, hmmm: infernal!

After this tour de force, the next song is “Warp”, which reminds me of “Nexus Polaris”, the only difference being the classic ARCTURUS voice. It is perhaps the most rhythmic, Pop-Goth song on the album (from The Sister of Mercy or Fields Of The Nephilim to Tears For Fears and Paradise Lost, in their early 2000 versions), and the second half of the song is filled with playful keyboards insertions, somehow with an Oriental vibe. I forgot to mention, the opening song, “The Arcturian Sign”, which after listening to it repeatedly, it seems the most representative for the entire album, but not exactly my cup. I’ll end this arcturian story with “Game Over”, the longest piece on the album (6 min), which leaves a beautiful impression both as structure, as well as storyline. Here I can identify a more conspicuous cosmic dimension, one which ARCTURUS taught me to breathe through.

But I’ve said too many things and perhaps all too confusing, and I must surely answer a simple question: did I enjoy the new album? Hmmm, this is a tough one. It is quite clear that I was too hungry not too have devoured it breathlessly… I might have listened to it too hurriedly and I might have missed its magic. Probably, the best comparison is that with the good old wine, I need to give it time, to let it set in! I really don’t know! On the subject of its virtuosity, I can say it’s brilliant! On the subject of its storyline with the Arcturian title as well as with Costin’s artwork, the album is monumentally shining in the arcturian galaxy. As a final feeling, I think I would have liked a more prominent Dark dimension, with that hypnotic cosmic background, and not as much focused on the Electro vibes. One more thing: I don’t particularly like the mixing of the album, is seems somehow muffled, even though I’ve tried listening to it at high volume. But, all in all, what we hear is the music of ARCTURUS like we’ve never hear it, ever! They’re fabulous!

ARCTURUS is like a famous perfume brand which offers their customers a new floral/musky fragrance, one which you have to try on your own skin. It depends on the season, but also on your mood or whether you want a change or you prefer the classic formula.

On the other hand, Arcturian is a musical jewel, one you can encounter once every 10 years, unfortunately! Regarding ARCTURUS’ future, I know that this year they’ll be playing lots of concerts. With a label that is very fond of its new acquisition (Prophecy Productions, especially Martin), and with a management thoroughly run by Mark (Mythology), ARCTURUS will probably become a lot more active in the extreme Metal scene, which is already drenched by clones and bands with no authenticity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Artist: ARCTURUS

Album: Arcturian

Label: Prophecy Productions

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Data aparitiei: 08.05.2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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