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Atmospheric black metal meets traditional horror tales - 95%

kluseba, July 4th, 2020
Written based on this version: 2020, CD, Season of Mist (Deluxe edition, Limited edition, Digipak)

Carach Angren's Franckensteina Strataemontanus is an elaborate conceptual record inspired by German legends that oozes with atmosphere, creativity and energy. The sixth studio album of the Dutch symphonic black metal trio might even be the group's greatest album to date.

The record starts with a dreamy, melodic and ominous overture in form of ''Here in German Woodland'' that fluidly combines symphonic soundscapes, fitting sound effects and atmospheric narrative parts.

''Scourged Ghoul Undead'' continues the narrative parts and increases the intensity of the symphonic elements before a fierce black metal song breaks loose. The combination between atmospheric passages, melodic elements and unchained energy works splendidly. The final result makes for a versatile, creative and cinematic experience.

'Franckensteina Strataemontanus'' then comes around with sinister piano sounds, heavy riffs and gloomy vocals that slow the musicianship down while increasing the record's conceptual elements.

The album overall convinces with such subtle changes and offers a balanced mixture of aggressive, epic and melodic songs. Black metal collides with symphonic metal but also elements of contemporary gothic metal. The creative songs vary between running times of one minute and a half and eight and a half minute that unfold further with every spin.

Each song works splendidly on its own but the sum is even greater than its parts as Carach Angren's Franckensteina Strataemontanus might be the most efficient conceptual record since The Vision Bleak's gothic metal masterpiece Carpathia: A Dramatic Poem released a decade and a half ago. This detailed, imaginative and intellectual record grows with every spin and is one of the very best black metal records in recent memory that might even compete for album of the year. The production needs to be pointed out as well since it integrates the numerous soundscapes fluidly without inducing headaches. If you like atmospheric black metal and traditional horror tales, you should definitely get your hands on this excellent output that deserves more attention, praise and support.