Sunday 29 March 2015

Carach Angren - ‘This Is No Fairytale’ (Album Review)

Album Type: Full-Length
Date Released: 23/02/2015
Label: Season of Mist

‘This Is No Fairytale’ CD//LP//DD track listing:

1. Once upon a Time...
2. There's No Place Like Home
3. When Crows Tick On Windows
4. Two Flies Flew Into A Black Sugar Cobweb
5. Dreaming Of A Nightmare In Eden
6. Possessed By A Craft Of Witchery
7. Killed and Served By The Devil
8. The Witch Perished In Flames
9. Tragedy Ever After

Carach Angren is:

Seregor | Vocals & guitars
Ardek | Orchestration & keyboards
Namtar | Drums


Carach Angren is a strange band. I’m not talking about their image or their subject matter, I’m talking about being a bit of an anomaly. They’re an anomaly because they are so good at technical performance, getting a fitting production for their albums, and all of the ancillary pieces an album would need to support great music; yet the songs are never above adequate. The only word I could use to sum up ‘This is No Fairytale’ and Carach Angren as a whole is “fine”. I’ve tried to narrow down the culprit for Carach Angren’s staggering “okayness”, and I believe the biggest issue is in compositional choices and in their instincts for when to swell their strings or go with a syncopated guitar/kick rhythm or anything else, for that matter. On a visceral level, the songs just come and go with no real impact, despite sounding exciting if someone were to describe to you what happens throughout each song. Carach Angren is a great band on paper, but underwhelming in practice.

If we take the example of “There’s No Place Like Home”, it’s a pretty good microcosm of the album’s broader problems. About thirty seconds in; we get a section with a blast beat, busy tremolo guitars and slightly-less-busy strings. The guitars and strings are both vying for attention at once, rather than one complimenting the other in more of a supporting role. After a brief retreat for a verse, the blasting section returns again, only this time vocalist/guitarist Seregor has a semi-rapid vocal line, and the rhythm sounds only marginally connected to everything else happening. He’s on-beat, but he’s also one of now three lead parts, all struggling to stick out from each other and none of them being able to craft a hook amongst all the other noise.

Once the song eases up again and settles into a syncopated rhythm, which takes the song into territory that should sound familiar to anyone who has heard Septicflesh, with timpani drums and deeper orchestra instruments working in sync rhythmically with the guitars and kick drum. Even though it brings another band to mind, it’s the perhaps the songs strongest moment, as there’s a focus that seems missing throughout the rest of the song, as well as a sizeable chunk of the album.

“There’s No Place Like Home” serves as a precedent for the rest of ‘This is No Fairytale’, and the outcome is an album where things are overly complex when they demand a degree of simplicity. Anorexia Nervosa worked while having speedier, intricate string parts because the guitar played more of a supporting role. Emperor worked because everything was composed to either play off each other or let one element shine at a given point. Too often, ‘This is No Fairytale’ sounds like a bunch of great individual performances that don’t coalesce as well as they should because they weren’t delivered with the other players in mind. Even then, Carach Angren are talented enough to make this passable, when the result would be disastrous for just about anyone else using the same approach.

Words by: Daniel Jackson

You can pick up a digital copy here and a CD/LP copy here.

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