The uniqueness of the Dutch symphonic black metal band CARACH ANGREN cannot be overstated and after almost a month’s delay due to the current global situation, we’re finally about experience the next chapter in the haunting story of CARACH ANGREN – another concept album – which this time focuses on a story that resembles Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein.” The album is due for release on 26 June 2020 via Seasons of Mist.
As customary for CARACH ANGREN, the album opens with an intro, this time one of a man calmly narrating a story that sets up the album while an ominous, spooky piano plays in the background. The narration continues a bit into the first proper song of the album, “Scourged Ghoul Undead.” The sound quickly shifts into what’s become a very familiar sound from the band over the years – fast-paced drums with blast beats and Seregor‘s signature mix of screams, growls, and breathy noises that make him one of the most engaging vocalists in extreme metal. The story, disturbing as ever, talks about a young boy who was buried and has come back from his grave and visited his family – now as an undead ghoul.
The titular track, “Franckensteina Strataemontanus,” which has only taken me seven tries to type correctly, is quite a bit slower than I would have liked and goes a bit into the territory of industrial metal, especially in the middle of the track. Towards the end, there’s a clean vocal part, which is actually kind of reminiscent of GHOST… not exactly a sound I had hoped to reference with this record. Sure, the song is catchy, but it’s really not what I personally want from CARACH ANGREN, although it does somewhat make sense taking their last album, “Dance and Laugh Amongst the Rotten,” into account, which has already shown that the band’s sound is changing and turning less black metal.
“The Necromancer” is actually quite groovy, but unfortunately somewhat monotone vocally and there could be more emotion in Seregor’s voice as he describes the creature coming to life. “Sewn for Solitude” opens with fantastic symphonics and features a violin mixed with blast beats; and it’s great, but then that’s all slightly ruined by the chorus that’s sung with cleans vocals and somehow just doesn’t seem to fit at all.
The album continues with all three of the singles. First up is “Operation Compass,” which is the only song on the album that feels quite out of place thematically. “Monster” starts off eerily, adds some really nice guitar work, and overall really reminds me of “Song for the Dead” from their previous release. However, the album has entirely too many of these interlude-like songs and I keep wishing there was more intensity, rage, and horrifying parts. “Der Vampir von Nürnberg” features really nice symphonic work, but otherwise again doesn’t really fully develop into a song that would belong on earlier albums such as “Where the Corpses Sink Forever.”
“Like a Conscious Parasite I Roam” is the album’s behemoth, clocking in at over eight minutes. It’s the musical high point of the album with profoundly beautiful orchestrations from Ardek. The song also features a cool vocal exchange between the choir and Seregor and comes to a complete halt at the four-minute mark before continuing with only the piano and some creepy background music, which are then joined by the violin as well.
I’m not sure what to make of the fact that the album’s bonus song – “Frederick’s Experiments” – is actually what I’ve wanted from this album all along and is easily my favorite. It simply gives that same feeling that the other songs lack – it’s chaotic with a terrifying theme and feels more alive with more vocal diversity and a great tempo.
Admittedly, this was a hard review to write. I struggle to say anything bad about the actual music, but I just don’t feel this album. It’s not the CARACH ANGREN I fell in love with, but there’s a case to be made about Ardek‘s orchestrations being better than ever. Somehow it all still feels uninspired though and overall it’s definitely my least favorite album from the Dutch trio so far.
Written by Didrik Mešiček
- Here in German Woodland
- Scourged Ghoul Undead
- Franckensteina Strataemontanus
- The Necromancer
- Sewn for Solitude
- Operation Compass
- Der Vampire von Nürnberg
- Skull with a Forked Tongue
- Like a Conscious Parasite I Roam
- Frederick’s Experiments
Seregor – vocals, guitars
Ardek – keyboard, orchestra, guitar, bass, backing vocals
Namtar – drums
Season of Mist
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