Carach Angren
This Is No Fairy Tale

For three albums now, The Netherland’s Carach Angren has been arguably the top symphonic black metal band on the block, being the arguable heir apparent to Cradle of Filth or Dimmu Borgir. Dense theatrics, cinematic atmospheres and deft story telling normally of ghost or apparition themed concepts have driven albums like the debut, Lammendam or 2010s nautically themed ghost story Death Came Through a Phantom ShipBut  there appears to have been a shift in the band since 2012s Where the Corpses Sink Forever, and the result is a bit of a step back for the band’s fourth album.

The shift comes by way of the album’s central concept that deals with the real world, but still horrific themes of spousal and child abuse and a couple’s decent into drug fueled depression, madness, death,occult murder and revenge. And while the band’s central sound of over the top symphonics and busy, twisty black metal is still intact, there’s a bit of a disconnect.

The band’s symphonics are still top notch rendering epic, rousing moments, but often those moments are simply backing often convoluted and jarring riffs that rarely settle into any sort of structure. So rather than sweeping, haunting, majestics in the songs, you get a darker, more convoluted structures. Now, admittedly, this fits the subject matter , but also renders the album far less memorable of impactful. And the lyrics, while certainly dark and disturbing, just don’t fit at times.  I mean “Hopes and dreams became nightmares of shame,Abuse and disgust,Assault, assault!Domestic violence!Family battery!Rape, violence, violence, violence, violence!Assault, assault!Abuse, abuse, domestic violence!Assault, assault!” (From opener “There’s No Place Like Home”) almost come across as comical at times, enve more so when spat out over much more chaotic riffs.  Though I get the band branching out from ghosts and other spooky themes. Also, bringing these busier, more dense, almost tech death metal riffs to the forefront is the shift in mixing, mastering to the big time duo of Jonas Kjellgren and Peter Tagtgren who has made the effort far more guitar driven.

Now, there still some stellar moments here and there when the band settle down just a bit, become more controlled and measured and  when the symphonics are brought to the forefront such as the heart breaking last couple of minutes of “When Crows Tick On Windows”, last 2 minutes of “Possessed By a Craft of Witchery” or “even the spooky Tim Burton whimsy of interlude “Dreaming A Nightmare in Eden” and fittingly somber but waltz-y closer “Tragedy Ever After”.

Of course my comments the album is only step back is my opinion only, as the band’s slight shift may appeal to a newer, less cheesy, Gothic audience, and not those who wear capes and corpse paint in graveyards at night. Now if you excuse me, I have a cape to put on.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
April 2nd, 2015


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