It's actually been a few years since I listened to either of these albums in one sitting. That's impressive, as both were on active and heavy rotation back in the day. I thought I knew how I felt about The Parallax Part 2 and Artkis, heading into today's competition. But I was wrong.
In the six years since the release of Parallax 2, BTBAM (who won the cointoss) have toured endlessly, and put out two (or three) albums that have been even more btbammish than this. But it's not the excesses and outlandishness of the band's extremes that make this their undeniable masterpiece; it's the little subtleties, like The transition from Astral Body" to "Lay Your Ghosts To Rest. This isn't the biggest, thrashiest, or proggiest BTBAM album ever made; it's just the most perfect.
Ironically, Artkis may also be the best thing that Ihsahn has ever produced. Here, he'd perfected his blend of black metal, prog, and proto-synthwave. But it all feels much smaller and more muted than Parallax 2. The props and respect that Ihsahn engenders are well-earned, but Arktis is simply not as metallically fun as Parallax 2. Alas, Ihsahn's second chance at redemption crashes against the might of BTBAM2012.
Tomorrow, last year's Imperial Triumphant insolently challenges our winningest Arsies champion ever.