In preparation for their latest release, “Franckensteina Strataemontanus,” we’ve had a great chat with the band’s vocalist and guitarist, Seregor, who’s given us a taste of CARACH ANGREN‘s working process. Dim the lights, let the undead join you, and enjoy this interview while you wait for the album to drop on the 26th of June via Season of Mist.
Hello there! Thanks for taking the time to do this interview. How are you doing?
Greetings. You’re welcome and I’m doing fine, thank you.
You are about to release your sixth full-length album, “Franckensteina Strataemontanus.” How do you feel about the final product?
Thrilled, excited, and satisfied so far. This release is definitely another milestone that has been reached with utter pride. As artists we are always satisfied with our creations, that’s why it’s hard to choose a favorite album for example, but “Franckensteina Strataemontanus” has definitely met our expectations.
“Franckensteina Strataemontanus” was supposed to be released at the end of May, but the release date got set back to almost a month later. Can you explain why exactly the album release was pushed back?
That can be answered in two words: Motherfucking Corona. This piece of shit virus has been taking its toll on all of us. But okay, it’s the way of the world so the album will be released on June 26th.
What can you tell us about the writing process of “Franckensteina Strataemontanus?”
Actually, Ardek came up with the idea of Frankenstein and the origin of the concept has a bit of a paranormal feel to it. It started somewhere after our previous release. Ardek called one day, said he had a dream that felt real as fuck. He heard weird tones in this old house and when he saw a portrait of an evil looking face, which he was drawn to and there was no way to escape until he woke up. Immediately he started imitating what he heard on his piano/synthesizer and drew up a sketch of the face he saw. He told us the story in all excitement when he came into the rehearsal room. Ardek is a down-to-earth guy and always has an explanation for things, so whenever he comes up with an unexplainable story he experienced himself, it’s a moment that you don’t forget. Meanwhile, we started looking into Frankenstein. Ardek started reading Mary Shelley’s book and I watched a lot of movies to see how the story evolved on screen. Many weeks later Ardek did more research and found out that Mary Shelley had to be inspired by a man who truly lived in Castle Frankenstein. This was the real Dr. Frankenstein who led an adventurous life, searched for immortality, and experimented on dead cadavers, Johan Conrad Dippel. Ardek believed this had to mean something because he felt this was the face he sketched on his drawing. We didn’t want to copy another Frankenstein story so we had to add some other ingredients to turn this into a CARACH ANGREN concept. It influences our music like all our works. Once we have the concept in our mind the music will automatically be written in its atmosphere. The moment Ardek had the Doctor in his mind, he was sitting next to him, composing shit in the laboratory, so to say. Sometimes we already have parts written in advance. Simply add the right lyrics to them and they become the next fitting puzzle piece of the album.
The release takes another step away from previous albums and continues in the path of “Dance and Laugh Amongst the Rotten” – is that the new style the band has chosen to go with or can we expect a return to the black metal -infused style of earlier releases?
Well you never know with CARACH ANGREN. One thing you don’t have to expect is another album that sounds the same as one of our previous works. We were never part of any “true” or “underground” environment, so being successful with CARACH ANGREN was a fact we agreed on from the get-go. This is an interesting question because I remember being young and disagreeing when certain bands whenever they went “too commercial” but you get older and your taste changes and develops. So now I understand that what you need to write as an artist goes upfront, but you want to find a balance between that and what your audience wants to hear. This black metal influence has always been important to us and will never disappear.
But yes, It’s fair to say we have chosen a more obvious or logical sound for the latest albums. You might lose a few fans here, but gain many more there. We consciously try to give each song a different vibe. As a kid, I listened to QUEEN before all the metal. That’s a good example. So if I ask you: “What kind of rock/metal tag would you put on that band?” There are no tags because they use all the fucking styles in the world. In metal, that’s a bit more limited but I like to compare us with that. It’s easy to make another “Lammendam” or “Where the Corpses Sink Forever” and there’ll always be people that love this album or another. The most important thing is that we keep writing from our souls and that’s why our name has been rising ever since. Who knows? Maybe we go back to the roots in the future. But it will always be presented in a different jacket so we don’t have to repeat our work.
“Franckensteina Strataemontanus” is a concept album; was the overall concept and story of the album the only choice you had prepared or was it selected between several ideas, some that might be saved for the future?
Like said before, the album describes how the real Dr. Frankenstein, Dr. Dippel, tried to create life in the footsteps of God. We know how it goes in the movies, where science does the trick and revives a human dead body. In our concept, we used a few other stories to make it more interesting. But also the influence of black magic and forming a pact with the devil was a conscious aspect chosen for our own tale. Unlike the movies, in our case the doctor casts aside his faith in religion and God. Even technology today cannot revive a full-blown corpse so the influence of the black arts seemed to be more appropriate for a CARACH ANGREN concept. It was the only idea we had because from the moment we thought of Frankenstein, that’s when this concept slowly developed, so there was no need to think of other stories loose from this concept.
One example of another story is explained on our bonus track, “Frederick’s Experiments.” It tells of a Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick II, who had a taste for science. For example, he invited two prisoners to his table for a delicious meal. Afterward, one prisoner was ordered to go out hunting, while the other was ordered to go sleep in his cell. After a few hours, both prisoners were disemboweled so that the Emperor and his friends could study their intestines and the effect of exercise and sleep on a person’s digestion system. I was actually googling stories related to Frankenstein, so when I stumbled upon Frederick II the article said “Emperor Frankenstein.” A fitting character that portrays a man of science prepared to do monstrous things.
With Namtar leaving the band, has that affected the release process in any way? Has that made you all consider whether CARACH ANGREN even has a future?
It has affected us as people big time, but when it comes to the release not so much, because the album was pretty much recorded before the moment Namtar decided to leave the band. Yes, there already were some frictions in that area even during the recordings. Actually and logically his problems started to build up a long time before this release. But these are confrontations that could also have happened without him leaving CARACH ANGREN.
And no! That doesn’t make me consider whether CARACH ANGREN has a future or not because this future is already here. With all depths and heights, victories, and sacrifices, I’m still enjoying every breath of it. Why did he give up such a dream? In a way that’s what I’m still considering right now. Somehow Ardek‘s and Seregor‘s dream, unfortunately, became Namtar‘s nightmare. In a symbolic way, I believe he sought to conquer a certain moment so we can sit on a throne, like an untouchable king. To me, only the name “CARACH ANGREN” can sit upon that throne for Ardek and I will always stand in the front line where our sacrifice feels worthwhile so to speak.
You see, in many cases, Namtar described our band as a professional hobby and I never got that until now. To us, CARACH ANGREN goes WAY deeper than that, unto a level where you can consider this a way of becoming immortal, similar to Dr. Dippel’s/Frankenstein’s search for creating life or finding the elixir of immortality. Mary Shelley became immortal this way. You cannot be a successful movement without some friction or disappointment along the way. That’s why Ardek and I don’t believe in the image of sitting upon some throne with absolute power until the end. We can only get a fucking hard on as soon we are in the frontline knee-deep in all the guts and blood. The only way to become immortal is when you burn in hell. Van Gogh, Edith Piaf, and Jesus Christ himself are great examples of this so-called “ultimate sacrifice” in the name of whatever cause you are pursuing.
That doesn’t mean that Namtar didn’t do great things for our band. He sometimes achieved higher goals compared to me, if you ask for my opinion. I still love the bastard with all my heart for the good things he did with us. But okay, that’s why I consider CARACH ANGREN as our personal elixir of life. The only way your grandchildren will remember Dennis, Clemens, and Ivo is through the work they’ve accomplished as Seregor, Ardek, and Namtar in CARACH ANGREN. Success in wealth and fame during life in one thing. Yes, it would crown us kings here! But we become gods there… when your world remembers us for what we stood for, once we are long cold and dead.
What’s your favorite song on the album and which do you expect to be the fans’ favorite?
I think the album title track “Franckensteina Strataemontanus” is one of my favorites because this was a great example of creating that “hit” song, so to say. At least that’s what it feels like personally to us. Like I said before, we focused on the bigger picture because we didn’t want to be limited to any underground restrictions. CARACH ANGREN stands for absolute freedom when it comes to expressing our art of darkness. This track absolutely doesn’t have all the skills we can show as a band when it comes to writing symphonic parts, or the overall complexity of composing that we are known for.
I think also the way this song came to pass makes it special. I remember when Ardek sent me a leftover part of his previous industrial project. He was like, “Here, I don’t know, man, maybe too mechanical, but I still think it’s cool. Just not sure if it works for us.” My first reaction was: “Fuck that factory shit in CARACH ANGREN!” But okay, we work with respect and give things a chance so once I sat down it didn’t take much time to get this idea, which became better and better. Eventually, our album title. “Franckensteina Strataemontanus” was an addendum used by Dippel at his university. And right there is proof enough to me that Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein“ is most definitely inspired by Dippel. Anyway, I was sitting there listening to Ardek’s part, more with a feeling of “Hmm, what excuse can I use to say no to this?” But then it dawned on me! “Franckensteina” seemed to fit on the refrain parts, simply two times, four times in a row. Okay, that seems like something I need to hear. Also, the clean parts on that track were born right there and then. I mean, I wrote a whole lot more complex shit compared to this but as simple as it was, as good it turned out to be. I really started to love what I recorded so you see, sometimes the things you disagree on can completely turn on you. Totally happy I sent it to Ardek and now he’s saying: “Hmm, I don’t know, man.” But after some rewriting chorus parts and more listen-rolls he began to feel it like me. I tell ya, we got fucking heroin-hooked to this song, there was nothing more we could do to change in order to make it better.
These are exactly the things that make writing special and fun. It’s very hard for us as artists to say: “Here! This song represents our whole album” because Johan simply believes “Sewn for Solitude” is the best song while Victor stands his ground with “Operation Compass.” The CARACH ANGREN soldier who expects our typical symphonic complexity will probably disagree with my choice. And I believe that’s just perfect because you don’t want everyone including yourself to be in love with one song. It most likely means that one song is quality while all others are equal to dog-shit.
What song do you think has the best story or one that captivates you the most?
I think they all have their unique storylines that makes them the “best” for where they stand on this album. But I personally think “Der Vampir von Nürnberg” is captivating for its non-fictional and heinous truth. I searched for a monster and I ALWAYS end up studying the real ones – serial killers. I don’t like the typical Frankie, Dracula, mummy, and werewolf ideas for CARACH ANGREN, but one day I stumbled upon Kuno Hoffmann, a German necrophiliac from Nürnberg who was so severely beaten by his father, he lost his hearing and capability of speech. Fictional or not, he believed in Satanism, but above all vampirism, and so he started breaking into graveyards and mortuaries. One time he got caught cheating when a morgue attendant came in and caught him French kissing a corpse. His reaction? He pulled a gun, fired a few times, and ran away like morgue-rat. This one had a sense of humor. One day he followed a young couple to a forest trying to make out. There he shot them both to death and drank the blood from their shot wounds. This is when people get scared and come up with the name – Der Vampir von Nürnberg. After his arrest, he kept pestering his jailers for one last drop of virgin’s blood before being placed into a penitentiary.
Right here lies my pride and satisfaction in concept writing. This is no two-fanged Transylvanian Dracula, but a disturbed, sick fuck literally baptized as a vampire by the German folk. The connection is that just like Dippel, this monster searched for immortality through drinking blood. Also, Darmstadt and Nürnberg are like 2.5 km away from each other and in his occult studies, we added the fact that Hoffmann was studying Dippel’s work under one of his shelter names; Democritus. And here I say the vampire earned his stripes to be on our album next to Frankie, as a true monster. Many more fine examples like this have created “Franckensteina Strataemontanus.”
What are the biggest current musical influences of CARACH ANGREN, if any?
I think we can all agree on the fact that classical music and (black) metal go perfectly hand-in-hand. That must be the biggest influence, but there’ll always be new influences that could work, just like the industrial aspect. Also, a fun fact is when you listen to “Skull with a Forked Tongue” at the beginning (and end) you can hear this typical old horror film sound effect from the 70’s/80’s. On this one, Ardek was also inspired by horror films like “Halloween” and “A Nightmare on Elm Street.” It’s from that time when keyboards and synthesizers exploded the same way mobile devices are doing today. So next to classical music, it’s simply the music from the movies that play a huge part in our band. Death metal and black metal are original influences that will never go away. Let’s simply call it horror metal or metal music. Not sure if I can describe metal as an influence right now but yeah if so, metal and classical music are the leading musical influences in CARACH ANGREN.
Obviously, the current situation means promoting the album as usual is not really doable; are you perhaps planning any online concerts or will you hold out and see whether a spring 2021 tour may be possible?
Yeah, personally I’m feeling it financially all too well! And artistically, I feel pure fucking hatred against this virus on a cellular level, but also on a digital one (social media). I’d proudly love to torture my true enemies but honestly, I have no one I hate that much in person. Fear is the only true enemy in my life and I consider Cobitch-19 the same. Cannot stick a hot needle into their eyes right? Our special live forces, Bastiaan [Boh] and Michiel [van der Plicht], are also fighting their way through this vermin shit. All they want and need from CARACH ANGREN is another show and we can’t wait to release our POW brothers from this cage. Online concerts? Hmm, I don’t know. Maybe we’re lucky in a way because we had a few new songs (lyric videos) released in this time. I don’t believe in a show without a real audience. Sure, it’s a solution and I will always give my best before the camera’s but I need actual souls in front of me to exchange that energy between artist and listener. Let’s hope touring will start this year, but my spider senses tell me 2021 will be more kind to us.
Hopefully, next year bands might be able to tour again; if you would have the opportunity to have a “Franckensteina Strataemontanus” tour, what other bands would you like to tour with to fit the aura of this release?
There are still many names who would fit nicely in a package with CARACH ANGREN, but when it comes to the release of “Franckensteina Strataemontanus,” there are no other acts that would add any value to this concept-wise. So let’s see! Our central intelligence agency will first provide us with a tactical package and that’s when we decide whether we like it or not. I would rather go for some crazy fucked up magician with a creepy act that none have ever seen before. So many things have already been done before. It’s amazing if you discover something new.
Which songs from the album do you expect to be must-inclusions on future tours?
I think the songs we’ve already released so far will be suitable options. The album title track will be there for sure but I also think “Monster” has that same strength for live performances. Playing a whole album entirely has still not been an option so far, because we are still bound to a certain time schedule at shows or festivals, and like said, luckily many people choose a different favorite album. Because also here, I think most of your work is somehow not that successful or wanted if you can pull it off to do a tour and play just that one album. Then again, on a visual and conceptual level I definitely say yes, if It came to a tour where CARACH ANGREN had the ultimate say-so, it would be nice to have all songs one after another telling the actual story. Let’s see!
What’s the hardest thing about the music business right now?
The hardest thing is that Corona makes it hard on us because we cannot perform as hard as we should, and this bullshit certainly doesn’t give us a hard-on.
Finally, is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
Thank you very much for your questions. Hails to those of you out there supporting our monster machine of dark artistry, meant to be alive… when we are all dead.
Interview by Didrik Mešiček