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Not your average Symphonic Black Metal - 85%

JTR4, July 6th, 2012

A friend of mine revealed this band to me some time ago, and upon first listening to them, I found the group rather lukewarm in the music department. I certainly wasn't impressed beyond belief, and Carach Angren remained off my radar for quite some time. One day, whilst wandering the land of iTunes, the idea struck me to check out the band again. I noticed an addition to their discography in the form of Where the Corpses Sink Forever, and decided to check out the bands' most recent sonic creation. It was reminiscent of what I remembered the band to sound like, but I found the album to be strangely more memorable. The album sparked enough of my interest to listen to it in its entirety, and I actually find myself writing this review with praise I never thought I would direct towards this band. Kudos to you, Carach Angren, for making an album that is both interesting and fun to listen to in the midst of an otherwise uninspired genre.

The album intro, "An Ominous Recording", has sounds effects and atmosphere to live up to its wonderfully creepy title. A combination of rain drop sounds, piano, a voiceover narration, a gun being loaded and later fired, as well as creepy orchestral arrangements set the tone of the unabashedly haunting album. It's a smart move to place this track first so that the listener can become immersed in the tone Carach Angren is aiming for.

The first real taste of black metal comes with "Lingering in an Imprint Haunting." Trademark qualities of the genre, fast riffs and drums, make their entrance and are joined by the harsh vocals of Seregor. While on the topic of Seregor, as a vocalist, he does a magnificent job of speaking with clear diction despite turning his vocals into a harsh rasp. Words are heard very clearly, which is an obvious plus for this album considering how it's mainly a dark narrative. A good narrative ruined by poor diction would certainly have caused this album to receive a lower score from me, but the band uses the vocal prowess of Seregor to their advantage.

The album continues its onslaught, and does a fine job of weaving symphonic elements into the black metal being played. The album begins raising the bar a bit higher with the track "The Funerary Dirge of a Violinist." The song captures a very melancholic mood, and features somber violin playing.

The next track which really caught my eye here was "Spectral Infantry Battalions." A short, but very well put together song, it's one of my favorites off the album. The song provides a nice break from the speedy music which has already made itself known, and instead takes a more anthem-like approach. The song is brief, to the point, and still manages to retain a convincingly dark atmosphere. It's the kind of song one would expect to hear during a war as troops march to their doom. A perfectly fitting and ghastly track for an album which deals primarily with World War events.

The album has a couple more tracks thrown in which continue with the album theme and eventually, the final track, "These Fields Are Lurking (Seven Pairs of Demon Eyes)", ends the album on a grand note. The album ends with piano being played as rain falls overhead, and the black metal jewel is complete.

Carach Angren is a unique band in the respect that they excel in areas most black metal groups don't. Seregor's vocals have excellent diction and work fantastically with the lyrical content he must present. The band writes intelligent and thought out material which showcases their storytelling abilities. The band does fit under the category of "symphonic black metal", but doesn't hinge their sound solely upon their symphonic arrangements. The band themselves write interesting material and add symphonic elements to create atmosphere instead of relying only on the symphonic elements to make their sound more interesting.

The album does suffer from one factor, and that is being rather monotonous after several listens in a row. The band adds enough symphonic material to remain interesting throughout, but the tremolo riffs and quick drums can become a bit droning after a while. The group does manage to change pace and add some moments of rest, but it's still a quality worthy of mention. For black metal fans, a band like this is an excellent find, and I highly recommend that people who get enjoyment out of the genre to check this band out.