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Arcturus - The Sham Mirrors CD (album) cover




Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

4.15 | 209 ratings

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Prog Leviathan
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Four big, fat, crunchy, bombastic stars to this unique album that blends styles and sounds into an intense metal journey through space. Sham Mirrors features precise, technically intriguing playing, savage and blisteringly fast metal riffing, and heaping portions of moody, layered atmospheres. The end result is an original and creative product which succeeds on almost every level.

The first and best things Sham Mirrors has going for it is solid songwriting and musicianship. The tunes are interestingly written, with an exceptional amount of variety in, and amongst songs. Each has a distinct feel and tone, and the group's smart use of dynamics highlights the flow of song's tremendously. Expect to hear variety but be prepared for levels of cosmic intensity on occasion! Combine this with a technical virtuosity and you've got a winning combination.

Valle's guitar is like a tightly focused saw, shredding holes in space/time with few solos but very enjoyable riffs and effects. Drumming is intense, as Hellhammer (yes!) positively destroys his skins with moments world-shattering gusto; smartly, this classic death metal drumming comes and goes throughout the album, appearing only to serve especially hostile sections of music. Of course, Johnsen's keys deserve special mention, since they go a long way in making Sham Mirrors as unique as it is. For starters, he's good... very good, playing a combination of traditional metalish synth as well as piano. Keys accompany the melodies often (often as counter melody), but lays down well-conceived atmosphere/spacey stuff which gives the album much of its character. Vocals are top-notch, Rex's voice crooning more often than not, but sounding very appropriate to the songs. His range is on par with most other metal groups, but his growls and screams (which are perhaps more rare), sound like he's having much more fun than his peers; very fun to listen/sing to.

Highly recommended for anyone on or leaning to the metal side of the fence!

Songwriting: 3 Instrumental Performances: 4 Lyrics/Vocals: 4 Style/Emotion/Replay: 4

Prog Leviathan | 4/5 |


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