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Carpathian Forest was formed in the early 90's and with the downfall of many of the original second wave they disapeared for a while, but with the release of their masterpiece Black Shining Leather they showed that Norwegian black metal wasn't dead yet, and I think that since that moment that has been one of their main objectives. Their sound has evolved over time, not really maturing so to say, more like crystalizing. On Black Shining Leather and other releases prior they created a sound somewhere in between old school rock influenced black metal and the more epic Emperor sound with keyboards and an ancient atmosphere. The overall message of Carpathian Forest I think is their disgust and contempt for mankind. The so called porno songs they do about sado-masochism have a certain element of contempt and hatred, using others to display their disgust by abusing them.
This album is no different, combining spiritual darkness with pure hatred, S&M and the peace found in destruction. The sound on here is more old school sounding, with a punk rock vibe at times, but there are some odd songs on here that present Carpathian Forest's true oddness. Though very old school and primitive a lot of the time, they aren't above a slow burning song like Thanatology, that has deep choir keyboards and an almost mystical feeling. This is set between hateful black metal songs. They don't use speed too much, don't expect any Immortal like blast beats. Instead Carpathian Forest play with a more thrashy speed, sometimes breaking into pure blast beats. Usually everything has a rock and roll swagger, with Bathory style riffs mixing with some Celtic Frost slowness and an occasional old school Kreator thrash sound.
Ultimately Carpathian Forest, despite all their old school influences are one of the more original bands you'll hear. Many people try to sound like them, but Carpathian Forest is always distinctive and their own beast. Strange Old Brew doesn't break too many boundaries, certainly not as many as Morbid Fascination of Death did, but it does create enough unique atmospheres to be more interesting then most black and roll style bands.
Carpathian Forest doesn't really appeal to everyone, but if you're a fan this is an essential recording, presenting a movement from Black Shining Leather to the more raw old school sound that they followed on Morbid Fascination of Death. However I will warn you if you don't think saxophone, porno samples and ambience should be on a old school style album, stay away for Carpathian Forest rejoice in messing with your head.