Arcturus Experiment with Alien Influences and a Gong on 'Arcturian'

BY Bradley Zorgdrager Published Jun 24, 2015

"It would probably anal probe it and use it as a hat because they can do that in this alien dimension" — this is what Arcturus vocalist I.C.S. Vortex thinks the alien that foretold the band's reunion would think of Arcturian, their first post-reunion album. Of course, there really was no alien, just a fictional encounter with one in a statement the singer made announcing their 2011 reunion.
Vortex says the band never planned on his first outing with them, 2005's Sideshow Symphonies, being their last recorded output, but it felt good when the band split in 2007. Fortunately for fans, four years after their first show back and a decade after their last studio release, Arcturus unleashed Arcturian, an album Vortex says benefited from the lack of pressure the lax timeline and lack of label provided.
"It's been brewing for 10 years, and we were hungry enough to go the extra mile."
That extra mile actually involved another relaxing factor: alcohol, which allowed Vortex to let go of a need for perfection in the studio.
"I just went down there one Friday, came back Sunday. You know, just after work, go to the studio, take a beer, take six beers, start you on the red wine, do some Jack and Coke, whatever, stumble to bed at 7 or 8 in the morning and, in between there, there's a sweet spot somewhere: sober enough to still hit some notes, but under the influence enough so you don't care about the red button and you don't have the fear of making everything perfect and shit. The magic point of no return!"
On Arcturian, it's as much about the obvious as the subtle. Vortex says there's a huge gong — over three metres tall — all over the album, as well as violin on every song courtesy of Sebastian Grouchot, who Vortex says has "three fucking master — master of the universe — degrees in violin." Often times, you won't hear these elements unless you're specifically listening for them.
The sparing usage is done in contrast to Vortex's former band Dimmu Borgir's huge orchestras, which he says he's burned himself out on.
"When I look back and I hear a lot of flutes going like 'doo-doo-doo, doo-doo-doo, doo-doo-doo,' all these happy little tunes, it's not very metal at all! So you have to control yourself a little bit."
Fortunately, maintaining control and ensuring the music doesn't stray too far from its roots is pretty easy for Vortex to measure.
"For me, when it sounds more like a calculator than a good Black Sabbath riff, that's when you have to be careful."
The combination of all of the above — the Sabbath riffs, the dubstep influence, the violin, the alcohol and more — is Arcturus and, more specifically, Arcturian.
"Arcturian is what we are. It's not the little green man. It's just some weirdoes from Norway that used to make black metal music and now they do this avant-garde stuff that nobody has ever heard about."
With any luck on their side, hopefully more people will hear it soon. Perhaps they just have to ask their alien friend for a little help.
Arcturian is out now on Prophecy.

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