As everyone already knows by now, Arcturus is the Black Metal supergroup consisting of, among others, Garm from Ulver and Hellhammer from Mayhem. Instead of being a conventional Black Metal band, Arcturus have broken musical boundaries and pushed the genre to its limits. The biggest difference between this and their previous opus, "La Masquerade Infernale" is that they have ditched the random, often rambling song structure and refined their sound with a much more focused approach. This is what will determine which album you prefer, and I personally feel that 'The Sham Mirrors' is a superior album. Yet this does not mean that they've gone boring. To me, 'La Masquerade Infernale' often seemed full of ideas and hints of genius, yet often broken down into a clumsy mess. With 'The Sham Mirrors' they have managed to forge these ideas together into perfectly flowing music. There is a lot of variety on this album. Opener "Kinetic" is an epic journey through many different styles of music, whilst "Radical Cut", featuring guest vocals from Ihsahn of Emperor, reminds you of their Black Metal roots. So, how do you describe music as unique and original as this? Well, imagine a cross between every Ulver album so far, and you would not be far off. The keyboards and guitars complement each other fantastically, the vocals are probably the best Garm has ever done, and the drumming is as good as we've come to expect from Hellhammer. If this, as is rumoured, is the last Arcturus album, then it is a brilliant swansong and a fine way to go out. If it isn't...well, I can't wait to hear what they come up with next. This proves that there is still originality left in Black Metal.
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