Culling its membership from various Norwegian black metal luminaries, Arcturus
has been an evolving project for founding keyboardist Steiner "Sverd" Johnsen and drummer Hellhammer
(also known as a member of Mayhem
, one of the most infamous Norwegian black metal ensembles). The results of this newer endeavor have been quite fruitful, and with their full-length debut, Arcturus
proved that they are some of the best black metallers of the late '90s. The group initially began as a collaboration between Sverd and Hellhammer
, and their debut 7", "My Angel," was released on a small underground label in Europe. Following this, the duo enlisted Ulver
vocalist Garm and Emperor
axeman Samoth. The quartet's mini-album Constellation
was recorded without bass tracks, an unusual feat in the metal world. Samoth was later incarcerated for unrelated criminal activities, and so the group brought in two new members, bassist Skoll (from Ved Buens Ende
) and guitarist Carl August Tidemann (Tritonus
). They recorded Arcturus'
full-length debut Aspera Hiems Symfonia
for Century Black, garnering them more attention and critical praise. Their second opus, La Masquerade Infernale
, has only been released in Europe so far. Disguised Masters
followed in 1999.