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3.69 | 25 ratings | 2 reviews
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Album · 2005


1. Hibernation Sickness Complete (5:02)
2. Shipwrecked Frontier Pioneer (8:32)
3. Deamon Painter (5:33)
4. Nocturnal Vision Revisited (5:16)
5. Evacuation Code Deciphered (6:16)
6. Moonshine Delirium (7:10)
7. White Noise Monster (3:55)
8. Reflections (3:40)
9. Hufsa (5:09)

Total Time 50:36


- Simen "ICS Vortex" Hestnæs / vocals
- Steinar Sverd Johnsen / keyboards
- Hellhammer / drums
- Knut M. Valle / guitars
- Tore Moren / guitars
- Hugh Steven James Mingay "Skoll" / bass
- Silje Wergeland / vocals (tracks 2, 5)

About this release

September 19th, 2005
Season Of Mist, Back On Black

Thanks to triceratopsoil, Lynx33, adg211288 for the updates


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As far as Arcturus album titles go, "Sideshow Symphonies" is rather apt. "Symphonies" are in play in the sense that the music is deep in progressive realms with, as in the classic Sham Mirrors or La Masquerade Infernale, only hints of their earlier black metal style present (and these are buried deeper than ever). And "Sideshow" in the sense that this doesn't feel like a top-flight, main event level Arcturus album.

Perhaps part of the issue is that the album explores a somewhat more mellow side of their sound, which following the bombastic moments of the previous two albums may feel rather restrained and meek. It's still an interesting enough release in its own right, with influences ranging from Pink Floyd (Shipwrecked Frontier Pioneer) to, I swear, just a hint of IQ (just imagine Peter Nicholls singing Hibernation Sickness Complete and you might see what I mean), but I can see why it's an often overlooked album from them.
Phonebook Eater

"Sideshow Symphonies" is a mysterious, but more mellowed-out piece of work.

Legendary Avant-Garde Metal band Arcturus arrive at their final chapter with “Sideshow Symphonies”, the fourth and last album of the band. Their previous album, “The Sham Mirrors”, was the last one that included Garm on vocals, and now ICS Vortex is doing the job. This turned fans off because it was preposterous that after a masterpiece such as Sham Mirrors they replaced the man who was such a big part of this band.

Stylistically, the music isn’t much diverse from the previous album, but it does incorporate somewhat less guitars, but it feels like it has less of everything for some reason. As a consequence, the vocals stand out the most from the mix, which is a sort of mockery in my opinion, since fans wanted Garm and not really ICS Vortex from the start. But the production and the overall sound here is best one Arcturus has ever achieved, however the mixing, like I said, can be a little unfair. The Black Metal moments are pretty much gone, and the Avant-Garde feel and craziness is not really felt on this one: “Sideshow Symphonies” is a much more straight-forward album that is very much based on melody. Symphonic Metal seems to prevail, as well as some Progressive Metal.

“Sideshow Symphonies” is a mellowed out album, for sure, but it has a sense of mystery that the other albums, while being a lot better than this one, don’t have. The vocals of Vortex maybe are the ones that make the music this way, I don’t know. But one thing is for sure, this vocalist can sing, even though it might seem off key at times. I find him a very unique sounding vocalist that should have more credit for the work he does.

Everyone seems to agree that the key song of the album is the eight minute “Shipwrecked Frontier Pioneer”, which also has the best melody and vocal performance. It also has a great structure that keeps me interested for the whole thing. Unfortunately it isn’t so for all of the tracks: some manage to be very flat and a little boring too, bringing down my interest. Also, since it is a more melodic experimental album, the melody is important, and I’m not that into it in some spots here. However songs like the opener “Hibernation Sickness Complete” manage to be otherwise, having enjoyable moments.

A decent album to listen to, if you like experimental/avant-garde you might like this, but it’s not guaranteed Arcturus fans will, since it would be a pretty big disappointment after the masterpiece “The Sham Mirrors”, but it is nevertheless one of the most interesting ways to end a musical career, as it’s still a mysterious and calm piece of work.

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  • kalacho
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  • (De)progressive
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