La Masquerade Infernale
Review by Jack on October 13, 2001.
Garm. Does everything he touch turns to gold? Borknagar: 2 great albums. Arcturus: 2 awesome albums. Ulver: 5 ridiculously talented opuses. “La Masquerade Infernale” is the second full length album, from a band that was noted for a rather dark and gloomy first effort with “Aspera Hiems Symfonia”. No one could have predicted this oddball album being released as follow up effort.
“La Masquerade Infernale” follows up “Aspera Hiems Symfonia” with a few similar points of reference. These points of reference are that Arcturus still use Garm’s hymnals and outstanding instrumental collaborations that were present on the debut. That is where the similarities stop, “La Masquerade Infernale” is a completely new and innovative metal album.
To describe the musical content in this epic would be like trying to give a seminar on the concept of global politics to a mute dog.
Everything you thought metal stood for should be wiped from the slate. Death growls, fancy melodic death guitar work from Gothenburg bands, hyper keyboard solos from black metal, although all fine parts of metal... you should erase any misconceptions and precognition about metal from your mind. Enter the world of a dark classical metal opera without any expectations and prepare yourself for what is one of the most outstanding and obscure albums ever created.
“La Masquerade Infernale” is a very keyboard sample driven concept with various classical styling thrown in at almost every track. It is almost as though Arcturus (as musicians) has taken a back seat and let their music grow around the keyboard.
Arcturus’ “La Masquerade Infernale” is puzzling in what it sets out to achieve as a record. Many hundreds of ideas are thrust forward to a palette of whirling colors. A black metal symphony? A phantasms’ opera? Or a horrific, vampiric tragedy? The truth maybe that Arcturus tried to achieve none of the above, all of the above or a combination of the above with other theatrical dealings. The “La Masquerade Infernale” experience will be different for each person who chooses to consume this outstanding product. For me; the “La Masquerade Infernale” experience was an Elizabethan tragedy in the vein of Shakespeare’s MacBeth, whilst holding a very true contemporary urban aristocratic feel.
This is a concept driven album (whatever concept that is, perhaps it is up to the listener to kindle his/her own concept) and as such, “La Masquerade Infernale” holds no stand out tracks. No killer, no filler.
Bottom Line: Arcturus is an enigma, much like Ulver with their doppleganging efforts. Who would know what they would come up with next? You would have to have incredible insight to foresee what Arcturus would come up with after their 3 albums. ”La Masquerade Infernale” is just light-years away from whatever us normal folks could possibly perceive from a metal band. Compulsory purchase.
Rating: 9 out of 10