When I heard a few months ago that Arcturus would visit Athens, I couldn't hold my enthusiasm. From the beginning of their formation, they have been one of the most distinctive Norwegian black metal bands, incorporating to their music avant-garde elements and making their concerts an amazing theatrical show. I never had the chance to see them live, then to my misfortune they split up for five years, so Saturday was the time for me.
I arrived at the venue at 20:00 and the people gathered at that time were so very few. That had me a bit worried, because there wouldn't be an opening act, but my worries were unnecessary. By 21:30 Gagarin was almost full, and fifteen minutes later the lights went out. The crowd cheered and Arcturus came on stage, all dressed up in their costumes, starting their set with “Evacuation Code Deciphered”. The band gave the best impression right from the start. All of them were very energetic, roaming on the stage, but ICS Vortex was the one who drew everybody's attention. He proved to be a amazing frontman, talking to the fans, doing weird dances, and of course his voice was in great shape, reaching unbelievable heights. Behind the drum kit, Hellhammer was giving his own performance, and his solid drumming was keeping the rhythm. The sound wasn't good enough and clear enough at first, but the problem was solved quickly. The lights were very impressive, and, as for the video-wall on the back of the stage, I believe that very few noticed it. “Ad Absurdum” came next, along with the first headbanging of the fans, which continued with “Nightmare Heaven” and “Deception Genesis”. Between each song, Vortex did a small prologue and Sverd accompanied him with a mellow keyboard melody, and it seemed as if we were listening to a fairytale. And a fairytale it was, because then Arcturus granted us with two songs from the exceptional “La Masquerade Infernale”. “Alone” and “The Chaos Path” drove the fans literally crazy. Arcturus didn't allow us to take a breath and they continued with “Deamonpainter”, “Painting My Horror” and “Hufsa”. After that the band left the stage, and I thought it was a bit early after only 45 minutes, but yes, it was time for the encore. The encore was more than satisfactory. Arcturus played for another 45 minutes, starting with the majestic “Master Of Disguise”. After “Shipwrecked Frontier Pioneer”, Vortex threw away his mask and took us back in time, to “Aspera Hiems Symfonia”. The avant-garde elements gave space to the black. With “To Thou Who Dwellest In The Night” and “Raudt Og Svart” our necks protested strongly but there wouldn't be much more. The live was drawing to a close, and that came with “Radical Cut”.
All that I can say is that I was left wanting much more. Arcturus offered us a great show, quite different from what you usually see at a metal concert. Their music can create beautiful, bizarre and mystical images in the mind, and my guess is that if they did their usual theatrics on stage, this concert would be unparalleled. I can only hope for the next time.