Wednesday 16 August 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: Carach Angren, "Dance and Laugh Amongst the Rotten"

By: Ernesto Aguilar

Album Type: Full length
Date Released: 16/06/2017
Label: Season of Mist

If you had hopes Carach Angren could dig that hole back in your heart that their previous full-length could not, you will certainly not walk away disappointed.  The overall composition is simply superlative.

"Dance and Laugh Amongst the Rotten" CD//DD//LP track listing:

1. Opening
2. Charlie
3. Blood Queen
4. Charles Francis Coghlan
5. Song For the Dead
6. In De Naam Van De Duivel
7. Pitch Black Box
8. The Possession Process
9. Three Times Thunder Strikes

The Review:

Black metal has many signifiers. The harsh thunder of the music itself. Lyrical themes oriented around the darkest corners of our imaginations. A vocal style that is unmistakable. Lost in this cacophony – and to history for some – is a cornerstone of what we regard as black metal, a flair for the presentation.

Consider the classic black metal image in your mind’s eye. Performers like Venom, Bathory and, of course, Mercyful Fate surely spring out first. Their fidelity to the visual even before the ascendance of music visuals made them infamous. Today, with all manner of indie and international horror films engulfing what would otherwise be our wildest mental pictures, not as much black metal is as adept at setting the blackened altar as back in the days of the founders. That assertion could be heresy to some devotees. Still, many black metal bands are gifted at carrying on the story just inside the fearless, and feared, basement of a house that metal music built.

Dutch black metal trio Carach Angren offer their fifth release, "Dance and Laugh Amongst the Rotten," amid much anticipation, not to mention high expectations. The multilingual act is lauded worldwide for its symphonic brand of black metal musicianship. Although its 2015 recording, "This is No Fairytale," was regarded by critics as a disappointment, the band’s body of work is enthralling. Blistering guitars, an ominous build, delicate violins and a dash of piano have long been part of the canon. It was nevertheless unclear if this nine-song release would return Carach Angren to form.

In addition its music, Carach Angren has cultivated a rabid following through their incredible music video presence, which combine crisp, quality visuals with crushing and often sublime music. No sleeveless t-shirts in an empty warehouse here. The group carries forward textured storytelling in the vein of some of the many greats. You can find online many terrifyingly dazzling visuals already for songs from "Dance and Laugh Amongst the Rotten," and they’ll be worth your search, if you do not mind a sleepless night or two.

Many of Carach Angren’s best music has been rooted in folklore and other tales. Such is the case with "Blood Queen," a sonic departure for the group though its themes of death, despair and infernal dealings appear in other cuts here. The specter of a Ouija board floats through the many stories here too, mostly as an usher to that aforementioned despair. It is the vehicle for a malevolent spirit in "Charlie" and reaches its zenith in the album’s closer, "Three Times Thunder Strikes." "Scrambling for matches/Determined to burn it to ashes/She threw the Ouija board to the flames and kneeled to pray/’I wish I never ever, ever listened to my friends’/’Who had said it would be fun to play’/’Now the one that follows me’/’A predator, and me its new prey.’

There’s so much than can be said about the performances, completely separate from the group’s imagery or lyricism. The overall composition is simply superlative. Guitar and drums are fierce as they are jarring on "In de Naam Van de Duivel" (“In the Name of the Devil" in Dutch, though the song is in English). The orchestral crests in "Song for the Dead" are haunting. If you had hopes Carach Angren could dig that hole back in your heart that its previous full-length could not, you will certainly not walk away disappointed.

"Dance and Laugh Amongst the Rotten" is available here:

Band info: bandcamp || facebook