ARCTURUS "La Masquerade Infernale" (Misanthropy)

This is probably the best record I’ve ever listened to so I can’t be that much objective concerning its content. In the year 1997, Arcturustravelled beyond the stars and completed an album that common human imagination still struggles to handle with. Let’s begin with the band’s line-up at that time. Garm (Ulver, Borknagar, Head Control System) on vocals, samples and loops. Knut Magne Valle (Ulver) on guitars. Hugh Steven James Mingay (aka Skoll / Ved Buens Ended, Ulver, Fimbulwinter) on bass. Jan Axel von Blomberg (aka Hellhammer / Mayhem, Covenant, Winds etc.) on drums and of course, Steinar “Sverd” Johnsen (Covenant, Satyricon, Emperor, Ulver) on synths and grand piano. This company is also assisted by the united forces of Simen Hestnaes, Carl August Tidemann, Idun Felberg, Erik Olivier Lancelot and a philharmonics quartet. If these names and the projects they’ve associated with still haven’t persuaded you about the record’s quality, then you are seriously sick. Anyway, the rewind button of your CD player will show you some extra seconds of abstract music before the opening track, “Master of Disguise”. Dressed with poetic mood, the record starts with the flickering voice of Garm above-and-below the strings and magic is about to be revealed within few seconds. Sverd has created a blacker than black atmosphere in which Garm (co-assisted by Hestnaes) spits in eulogic delirium his poetic lyrics. “Ad Astra” is simply one of the best compositions of all time. Created in the normas of classical arrangements, its evolvement is shocking and at the same time revealing. The first traces of melancholy appear for the first time in this track. In “The Chaos Path”, Simen Hestnaes takes the sceptres from Garm and gives the performance of his life in this twisted, haunted song, as a fallen angel or demon. The homonym track of the album is a simple intermission which gives space for “Alone” to abound. Edgar Allan Poe’s poem is turned into a horrific melody wherein misery and woe prevail. Garm’s voice is once again frightening. I could fill a hell of a blank space for this album. Yet I have to stop the track-by-track analysis to this point. To be honest, I’d like to see the faces of those who will listen to this for the first time. Logic tells us that they should expect a common black metal record and “La Masquerade Infernale” comes to prove them so damn wrong. To my ears, however, it’s more into black metal than any other record. For its atmosphere is creepy and irresistible. Besides the extraordinary performances of each member and guest, Sverd takes all the credits for he has conceived this record’s mystagogy. Plus, he is its main composer. Hands down! Buy it this instant. For aeons they descended down ’till they saw the dreadful truths of which man wouldn’t know…

Typically: ∞/10

Miltos XIC

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