Arcturus Sideshow Symphonies

Arcturus’s Sideshow Symphonies marks the return of Dimmu Borgir’s Vortex (Simen Hestnaes) on vocals and is also the band’s first record to feature guitarist Tore Moren. Vortex’s baritone is unmistakable and tends to dominate Arcturus’s current sound, challenged only by the persistent interplay of multiple keyboard tracks. The guitars often shrink back in the overall mix, which enhances the album’s spacey and progressive atmosphere but tends to downplay the metal angle — the odd harsh growl aside. Lyrically, Sideshow Symphonies is also focused on the stars as well, its concept the tale of space pioneers. The record’s mostly moderate pace and its continual wash of melody and effects make it feel more like mood music than something you can really dig your teeth into, and even while it serenades the ears it just seems to slip on by. (Season of Mist)