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The Netherlands is a country that has pumped out seemingly endless progressive metal bands with concept albums and female fronted post doom death bands. The Dutch may have found another niche to claim, as Carach Angren have released a bear of an album in the aptly named symphonic black metal genre, which is pretty much uncharted waters for their home country. Boasting nine years of experience in the sympho black genre, Carach Angren are not strangers to the scene and have now learned how to consistently make exceptionally entertaining and captivating albums: “Lammendam” and “Death Came Through a Phantom Ship” (both Carach Angren's previous albums) have garnered almost all positive reviews, and it seems that there is nothing stopping the Dutch trio.
“Where the Corpses Sink Forever” is Carach Angren's third full length album and first album for the notorious Season of Mist Records. Being in the symphonic black metal genre, one might begin to think of the Dimmu Borgir's and Alghazanth's of the world, but Carach Angren is portraying a different side of the symphonic field. Rather than utilizing densely layered keyboards and bombastic orchestral sections, Ardek (keyboards / orchestration) paints a backdrop using singular instrumentation, such as a violin or piano, backing the heavy riffing.
The guitars are pretty standard, alternating between extreme metal chugging and black metal trem picking. There are a few tasteful lead licks thrown in throughout, but the guitars definitely take a back seat to every other instrument on the album. The drums are nonstop, double bass running throughout just about the entire album. Even when all other instruments slow down, the double bass is still firing away. The drummer can definitely play fast, but speed aside, there isn't anything groundbreaking. They are quite a few sections that border on groove metal, with the chugging guitars and the maniacal drumming matching perfectly, and I highly doubt any metal head could resist the urge to head bang during these parts.
The vocals are raspy and shouted, but unlike most black metal singers, it isn't very difficult to understand what Seregor is screaming about. There are some really eerie sections, when the vocals fly solo, with only violin or drums backing the monologues. Seregor's vocals range from pissed off, angry screams to despair ridden shouts, remaining, for the most part, in the mid range. The vocals are so far in the front of the mix that it is impossible to ignore them.
Carach Angren's general song writing structure revolves around whatever story they are trying to tell. So rather than a verse, chorus, verse, chorus, standard rock style, there is a very free form feeling to the entire album. This makes for a very interesting listen, as you really can't expect what is coming next. The only problem is the unrelenting drums and constant chugging start to get a little monotonous with repeated listens. Yes, the band does slow down and let some of the orchestral sections shine through, but they are the exceptions and definitely not the norm.
Carach Angren continues to be an interesting addition to the symphonic black metal genre. “Where the Corpses Sink Forever” may not be the greatest album to ever come out, but it is enjoyable and listenable. While, Carach Angren are not reinventing the wheel here, they have released an album that a lot people should enjoy. This is highly recommended to fans of symphonic black metal and fans of extreme Gothic (a la Cradle of Filth). If you like your metal heavy, and don't mind piano and violin accoutrement, then check this out.
Written for The Metal Observer: