When a cult band comes back to life after almost a decade of silence, doubts and fears about the genuineness of the operation always hover over the heads of fans and insiders. Arcturus, however, had temporarily bid farewell to the public with an album as Sideshow Symphonies that was not up to their reputation, so there was fear mixed with curiosity to mark the wait for this announced return. Well, the introductory notes of the opener The Arcturian Sign dispel in a few seconds any doubt about the newfound compositional vein of the Norwegian band: Arcturian is simply a wonderful album that, at times, goes to fish out the inspiration of the seminal Constellation and Aspera Hiems Symfonia, in the sense that, rather than linger in avant-garde doodles, ours vent a renewed progressive and melodic vein that makes listening to each song an experience worth living. At the voice there’s still ICS Vortex, which as usual contributes to increase the evocative load of the work thanks to his particular timbre that, compared to other performances, appears less perfect and algid preferring rather the intensity of interpretation. Now there will probably be someone who will turn up his nose at the alleged catchiness of Arcturian compared to The Masquerade Overture and The Sham Mirrors, but it would be time to get out once and for all from the misunderstanding: not always sounding strange is synonymous with quality and if we banish the use of the word black approached to Arcturus the success of the operation will be further facilitated. Leaving aside some acceleration (Angst, Pale) and the past of the musicians involved, the extreme component appears only functional to strengthen an inspired and original sound that today is revealed without excessive reserve in all its beauty, even when the avant-garde impulses take over without ever appearing fake. A series of magnificent tracks, dominated by the keyboards of Sverd and the drumming, as always above average, of the sprawling Hellhammer, compose what is already a candidate as one of the best albums of the year: the orientalising Crashland touches emotional peaks difficult to equal and is the top of a work that perhaps has the only defect of enclosing in its initial part the most prominent songs, nothing that can go to undermine the absolute excellence. Arcturus are back among us to firmly lead the group, certainly not to pedal conservation in the rear.

2015 – Prophecy Productions