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Arcturus is an avant-garde metal band formed in Norway in 1987. They named it Arcturus (meaning Bear Guardian), after the Behenian fixed star Arcturus.


The band has released four official full-length albums. Arcturus has experimented throughout their career, extracting influences and incorporating elements from all over the musical spectrum including black metal and classical music, but the band was rooted as a metal outfit.

The original line-up was changed when bassist/vocalist Marius Vold (ex-Thorns) was taken out of the band. The band soon became labeled a black metal supergroup, consisting of Kristoffer "Garm" Rygg on vocals, Carl August Tidemann on guitar, Skoll on bass and the two other original members, Hellhammer on drums and Steinar Sverd Johnsen as main composer/keyboard player. In 1994, Samoth played guitars on the EP Constellation and released it on his record label, Nocturnal Art.

After three full-length albums, Rygg left the band. He was replaced by Øyvind Hægeland
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ARCTURUS Discography

ARCTURUS albums / top albums

ARCTURUS Aspera Hiems Symfonia album cover 3.90 | 30 ratings
Aspera Hiems Symfonia
Symphonic Black Metal 1996
ARCTURUS La Masquerade Infernale album cover 4.19 | 46 ratings
La Masquerade Infernale
Avant-garde Metal 1997
ARCTURUS The Sham Mirrors album cover 4.31 | 60 ratings
The Sham Mirrors
Avant-garde Metal 2002
ARCTURUS Sideshow Symphonies album cover 3.68 | 27 ratings
Sideshow Symphonies
Progressive Metal 2005
ARCTURUS Arcturian album cover 3.92 | 10 ratings
Avant-garde Metal 2015

ARCTURUS EPs & splits

ARCTURUS Constellation album cover 2.94 | 4 ratings
Symphonic Black Metal 1994
ARCTURUS True Kings Of Norway album cover 2.50 | 1 ratings
True Kings Of Norway
Symphonic Black Metal 2000

ARCTURUS live albums

ARCTURUS Shipwrecked In Oslo album cover 3.00 | 1 ratings
Shipwrecked In Oslo
Avant-garde Metal 2014

ARCTURUS demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

ARCTURUS re-issues & compilations

ARCTURUS Disguised Masters (And The Deception Circus) album cover 3.00 | 1 ratings
Disguised Masters (And The Deception Circus)
Avant-garde Metal 1999
ARCTURUS Aspera Hiems Symfonia / Constellation / My Angel album cover 3.32 | 7 ratings
Aspera Hiems Symfonia / Constellation / My Angel
Symphonic Black Metal 2002

ARCTURUS singles (1)

.. Album Cover
2.79 | 6 ratings
My Angel
Symphonic Black Metal 1991

ARCTURUS movies (DVD, Blu-Ray or VHS)

.. Album Cover
4.00 | 2 ratings
Shipwrecked In Oslo
Avant-garde Metal 2006


ARCTURUS Arcturian

Album · 2015 · Avant-garde Metal
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Arcturus took a decade off of creating studio albums after Sideshow Symphonies and have returned with this, a pretty solid new release which, though it lacks any fully-fledged epics (with all the song lengths at less than six minutes), still offers a confection of progressive-minded metal with symphonic and black metal touches, with the inclusion of (unless my ears deceive me) an actual string section really allowing them to bring their symphonic aspect to the fore. Sebastian Grouchot guests on violin and adds a nicely melancholic touch to pieces such as Crashland.

Like the preceding Sideshow Symphonies, this does not feel like as striking and groundbreaking a release as any of their first three studio albums (up to and including the classic Sham Mirrors). Still, if you loved those you will probably enjoy this, and even if other musicians have caught up with the far-out territory of Arcturus, Arcturian is still a nicely polished example of this sort of black-about-the-edges progressive metal.

ARCTURUS Sideshow Symphonies

Album · 2005 · Progressive Metal
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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.

ARCTURUS Aspera Hiems Symfonia

Album · 1996 · Symphonic Black Metal
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The debut album by Arcturus finds the band not quite reaching the symphonic intricacies of La Masquerade Infernale, instead yielding something more like a mingling of black metal and melodic prog - in particular, some of Steinar Sverd Johnsen's keyboard passages in the quieter moments put me in mind of the likes of early Marillion and other Genesis-influenced neo-prog projects. This unlikely fusion yields intoxicating fruit here, with the album neatly blending the styles at a time when the idea of sophisticated Norwegian black metal was still not yet entirely given credit. A majestic counterpoint to the more kvlt efforts of their contemporaries.

ARCTURUS The Sham Mirrors

Album · 2002 · Avant-garde Metal
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ARCTURUS are from Norway and are a supergroup of sorts as these members all came from bands who played or play Black Metal. The only thing is that on this record they don't play that style. What ? Listed here under Avant-Metal this band really hits us with a wall of sound and contrasts that with the mellow sections well. Vocals are normal except when guest vocalist Ihsahn spits his venom on the track "Radical Cut".By the way that song opens with an all out assault as Ihsahn comes in screaming. "Kinetic" is nice and heavy early on as spoken words come in.I really like this track and we do get some laid back sections too. "Nightmare Heaven" is heavy as the vocals join in. Man i like this one.We do get an industrial flavour and then later the guitars grind away. Nice. "Ad Absurdum" is another killer track with some outstanding bass.Vocals again are fantastic from trickster G Rex. The drums often hit us with a barrage of sound like a stampede. A great sounding guitar solo hits us half way through too. "Collapse Generation" sounds like an army running towards their enemy as the ground shakes.It finally lets up halfway through as we get a calm. Vocals and heaviness follow but at a much slower pace and then it kicks in hard once again. "Star-Crossed" features some beautiful piano early on and then it kicks in with vocals. "For To End Yet Again" is the longest track at over 10 1/2 minutes and even has some horns in it later. An excellent release and i really like the cover art too.

ARCTURUS The Sham Mirrors

Album · 2002 · Avant-garde Metal
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Conor Fynes
'The Sham Mirrors' - Arcturus (8/10)

With another album, there are new developments for the avant-garde metal act known as Arcturus. This now-legendary band is something of a Norwegian black metal supergroup, with members collaborating here from, among others; Ulver, Dimmu Borgir, Mayhem, and Emperor. What comes as a surprise is that despite these musicians' background, the music here is not black metal, but rather a highly theatrical brand of progressive metal. 'La Masquerade Infernale' first planted Arcturus' flag in the sand, taking the dreary atmosphere of black metal and channeling it through what may have been described as astral circus metal. 'The Sham Mirrors' sees this project continue own the avant-garde path, but this time around, things are a little lighter, melodic, and- dare I say- <.I accessible. No matter, in many ways, Arcturus have improved this time around, creating yet another excellent and memorable landmark of avant-metal.

My memories of 'La Masquerade Infernale' focus largely on the diabolical atmosphere that the music created. While it was far from being black metal in nature, the vibe that came across was not unlike something a frostbitten black metal band would convey. Garm's brooding voice was subtle and disturbing, and there were plenty of tritones for the devil worshipers to dive into. As is even evident from the album artwork, 'The Sham Mirrors' is a departure from the darkness, in favour of something a little more melodic. The riffs are faster and more harmonious, and Garm's vocal performance has been swept up from the gloomy basso into a higher-register, theatrical wail that I.C.S Vortex first introduced to the band with his memorable vocal performance on 'The Chaos Path'. All of these changes are best represented on the album's opener, 'Kinetic', which is incidentally the greatest thing that the album offers. 'Kinetic' opens up with fast paced chords and a steady build, with ambient vocalizations, programmed drum beats, and an array of 'sci fi' electronic noises. While Garm did not impress me a great deal on 'La Masquerade Infernale', his voice blows me away this time around. It is as if his voice has been let off its chain, and is now allowed to traverse the depths of his range, which is quite impressive. It is a disappointment that there is nothing else quite as astonishing as 'Kinetic' on the rest of the album, because it is one of the greatest progressive metal songs I have ever heard.

Arcturus may have made their sound more melodic, but it is still very forward thinking and weird. There is a symphonic element brought in via the keyboards, making Arcturus sound like an avant-garde incarnation of Dimmu Borgir, at times. The songwriting has plenty of hooks, but it rarely relies on a chrous structure. However, most of the experimentalism is brought on through the way the music is performed and executed. Garm's vocals are intense and dramatic, as if he was performing in an opera. The dense electronic ambiance also gives the music a coat of production that makes it sound weirder than it would otherwise. The production can get ambitious past its means at times, although the amount of work that's been put into fleshing out the sound is acknowledged and evident in the music. The one musician here who doesn't seem to get a chance to exploit his full talent is drummer Hellhammer, whose normally inhuman grasp of the double-kick and blast beat is muffled and drowned by the dense production, not to mention the thick presence of programmed beats in the album.

'The Sham Mirrors' is another challenging album from Arcturus, although it is nowhere near as shocking as 'La Masquerade Infernale' was for me. This is arguably the best thing that Arcturus has released in any case, and it is a shame they stopped making music together at the peak of their work. As it is with many avant albums I come across, there are aspects of this album that don't sit totally right with me, but these are easy to overlook in the face of the resounding strengths the album boasts. An excellent, inventive album.

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