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It's almost Halloween as I'm writing this and that holiday may prompt many listeners to listen to some of their favorite albums/bands that remind them of Halloween, because it's a very fitting thing to do for that time of year. Such bands can be anything from Hecate Enthroned, to early Graveland, to Amaka Hahina. But if you want to add more to your arsenal and get in touch with the holiday spirit, then I would definitely advise you to check out Carach Angren's first EP, Ethereal Veiled Existence.
Ethereal Veiled Existence is a good example of symphonic black/gothic metal. The music is rich, the production is solid, and it creates a haunting atmosphere. What makes Ethereal Veiled Existence (EVE) different from other releases is that it's a well done concept album. Bands advertise some of their releases as concept albums, but most of the time the band comes off as pretentious and/or pseudo-intellectual. I cannot say the same about Carach Angren, because within EVE, they've constructed a well flowing story that fits well with the lyrics, songwriting, and the way the music is played. Not only that, but their topic is about something most people don't know or think about, so at the very least, it's actually pretty educational in a sense.
The main theme is about the ghost of Raynham Hall. If you don't recognize the name, I'm sure if you searched the internet for some pictures, you'll see that the ghost of Raynham Hall is that famous picture of that ghostly lady standing on the steps in an old mansion. I'm sure many of you have seen it before. What's interesting here is how the lyrics try to bring up ideas on not only who this lady was, but also her fate and her legacy. You can sort of get a perspective behind the ghost, the inhabitants of the mansion, and even the photographers who supposedly took that picture. Normally I don't bother to read most lyrics of even my favorite albums, but EVE has really prompted me to look into them. I found myself following the lyrics while listening to the tracks to get an idea of what was going on and any interpretations I could make. Listening to the music at the same time really makes it easier to understand what ideas are illustrated in the lyrics - everything is well in sync. Carach Angren actually do a better job of this in later albums, but here they still manage things well.
Now, about the music - you can expect well produced symphonic black metal. Keyboards really take the point here and do a tremendous job fitting in the style of pre 1700's European culture. You're put in the right time and place for the events depicted in the lyrics. There are occasionally some blast beats which will surely welcome many people, for they aren't too intrusive, but give the songs some meat. Even guitars aren't pushed too far down - they really shine on the title track and make the music that much more catchy. The vocals are interesting because the singer has sort of a croak going on and there seem to be back up vocals that make the sound of his growls richer. Actually, I haven't seen any other band besides Carach Angren utilize this kind of effect on vocals, so it's sure interesting.
Overall, Ethereal Veiled Existence is a fantastic EP if you're looking for something spooky that mentally puts you into an old mansion populated by ghosts. This EP goes a lot deeper than the average symphonic black/gothic metal album. It's a worthy release that will hold its own for years to come and more.