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Arcturus - Boston Arms, London - May 7 2015 (Live Review)

Monday, 11 May 2015 Written by Alec Chillingworth

Yet to be crushed by the depressing election results of Friday morning, the masses at the Boston Arms are chugging lukewarm beer and participating in general merriment. And with good reason – Vulture Industries are on stage and they are killing it.

Having started as an Arcturus clone, Vulture Industries have morphed into a completely different beast. Their 2013 album, 'The Tower', is an overlooked classic, and they tear through its slabs of carnivalesque prog with glee. They open with the title track and launch into a brutish three-part vocal harmony throughout the chorus, confirming that this is no ordinary gig.

Frontman Bjørnar Nilsen is a captivating rascal, part mad preacher and part excited schoolchild. He delivers his lines while maniacally shaking a tambourine, gripping it like it's going to tell him the meaning of life.

The grandeur of The Hound is delivered from the pit, with Nilsen grabbing punters' heads and crooning into their defenceless ears. He occasionally misses the mark on some of the higher wails, but he could be reciting a James Joyce novel and it'd still hold everyone's attention. The set finishes with him leading a giant conga line through the venue. Naturally.

As unique, inspiring and utterly brilliant as they are, Arcturus fall ever so slightly short of topping Vulture Industries' sermon of silliness. They're still great – ICS Vortex's high-pitched operatics are sung through that pervy steampunk mask with utter conviction and Hellhammer remains the best drummer on the planet - but the Norwegians' progressive black metal pomp lacks the youthful, almost punk energy of the openers.

But then again, bollocks to youth. What do they know? Arcturus have been knocking about for decades, and their first album in 10 years, 'Arcturian', is a gem. Pale, a new song, is lapped up with the same dewy-eyed vigour that greets The Chaos Path and Alone, and the unstoppable medley of Wintry Grey, Du Nordavind and Morax is definitely one to tell your apathetic kids about.

Shipwrecked Frontier Pier ties up a superb evening and, with that last monumental singalong, Arcturus head back to hell...or wherever they came from. It's been a night of genuine splendour but, ultimately, Vulture Industries have stolen the imaginations of the crowd and, more importantly, they've proved that they're so much more than a poor man's Arcturus.


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