Apr 262014

Norway has been home to a very long list of groundbreaking metal bands, many of whom are sadly no longer with us. Arcturus are one of the survivors. Their roots go back to approximately 1990, and although their demise has been rumored more than once, they continue to forge ahead. As they have moved forward, they have evolved, transforming themselves through a persistent desire to experiment with the boundaries of metal, and with black metal in particular.

Their last release at this writing was a critically acclaimed 2006 DVD entitled Shipwrecked In Oslo, which captured the band’s 2005 live performance at the Sonic Solstice Fest in Oslo, Norway. The line-up for the performance consisted of Steinar “Sverd” Johnsen (keyboards), Jan Axel “Hellhammer” Blomberg (drums), Knut Magne Valle (guitar), Hugh “Skoll” Mingay (bass), Simen “ICS Vortex” Hestnæs (vocals), and Tore Moren (guitar).

Now, the Finnish label Blood Music has taken the soundboard recording of the concert and professionally re-edited and remastered the audio for release on CD and vinyl. Continue reading »

Apr 132012

(If this stuff weren’t so much fun to read, I’d be murderously jealous. Here’s Andy Synn’s review of the last day at Oslo’s Inferno Festival last weekend. His review of Day 1 is here and the Day 2 review is here. Okay, to be brutally honest, I’m still murderously jealous.)

So here we are at the final entry of my Oslo odyssey.  We spent the last day of our time in Norway exploring Oslo a little more, sampling its fine foods, visiting the art museum, tracking down the infamous Neseblod Record Store (grabbing myself an Antestor EP and two hard to find Urgehal albums in the process) and generally enjoying the fine weather and the experience of being in a foreign city (albeit one which I’ve now visited numerous times). But all good things must come to an end, and thankfully the festival had another stunning night of music left to send us off in good cheer (and with aching necks to boot!).

The rebirth of Decapitated has been one of metal’s most stirring tales of perseverance, returning from the depths of tragedy with a revamped line-up and a sound that builds even further on the group’s base template. Like an armoured tank, they roll unstoppably onwards, stoically bearing the brunt of what life throws at them.

Vogg’s riff-writing and playing style remains utterly unique, his squealing leads careening like a freight train up and down the fretboard, while angular mechanical chugging rhythms pound a cybernetic war drum into your brain. Songs like “404” see the man almost literally torturing his guitar, bleeding bone-scraping noises from his instrument like some demented guitar-wielding surgeon, while a track like “Homo Sum” allows him to flex his more melodically-inclined muscles, eking out eerie lead parts and swirling dis-harmonies amongst the pneumatic, drum-driven carnage.

Talking of drums, there are times tonight when Krimh’s inhuman technique and stamina seem right on the verge of spontaneous combustion, so unnerving is it to hear a single human being produce such an industrial cacophony of noise – people might speak mostly of his impressive ability to handle older material like “Day 69” (including its now infamous mid-song drum-solo) at a standard to match his predecessor, but it’s his work on the newer material that shows just how his style differs, and just what new avenues that will open up for the group in the future. Continue reading »

Apr 132011

Take a look at that flyer up above for ProgPower XII, the latest installment of the long-running prog- and power-metal festival held in Atlanta. Now let your eyes drift over to the upper left-hand corner and find the logo for a band called Arcturus. Now, mentally cross out that name and put a different name in its place: Ihsahn.

It’s true — Arcturus is out and Ihsahn is in — as in, yes, the former Emperor frontman will be making his first live stage appearance in the U.S. I’m not a huge Ihsahn fan, but I know many of you are, and this definitely qualifies as news that’s worthy of note.

The story about how Ihsahn was added to this festival is also damned funny.  It starts with the bizarre statement by Arcturus (who I’ve never heard of, to be honest) “explaining” the cancelation of their appearance and ends with the promoter’s blunt-but-hilarious comment about Arcturus jumping ship. I think it’s safe to say that in the eyes of most metalheads, he got himself a big upgrade.  Read both statements after the jump. Continue reading »

Nov 232009

So you all have probably read some things by the author islander, but there’s a new girl in town! I’ll be writing about the music I love and things I’m passionate about. Here is the music I love Continue reading »