Dutch symphonic black metal trio Carach Angren are a band that aren’t afraid to embrace the imagery their music evokes. One only needs to see a live show or video, or even a photo of the band, to understand that these three men are deeply devoted, on a scale to rival even Behemoth, to the mystique of their music. This band is the real deal. Thankfully, they’ve delivered three times so far, with each album being a considerable improvement on the last, culminating in the supernatural World War One horror story present on their previous album, Where The Corpses Sink Forever.
This Is No Fairytale bucks the trend of improvement somewhat, in that it’s not better than Where The Corpses Sink Forever, falling just short of the brilliance displayed on that album. Rather, Carach Angren seem content to expand on the formula of that album and use it to weave a more personal, and more disturbing, tale featuring such cheery themes as child abuse, rape and drug addiction. This isn’t an album to listen to if you’re looking for an uplifting experience. Instead, it’s another genuinely enticing story presented through the medium of a symphonic black metal concept album. That sounds a bit far-fetched and ridiculous, yes, but it works, and works well. There are moments on this album that are genuinely emotional in a storytelling sense, and the music always complements them, rather than working against the story or seeming like background noise, a pitfall so many other concept albums seem to fall into.
The highlight of the instrumentation, besides the excellent guitar leads and melodies, is the impeccably composed orchestration. Few bands use full orchestras to this effect, and it’s mixed so well that the listener never has to strain to make out any element of the music, which is an impressive achievement in itself, as metal with orchestration is one of the hardest things to achieve a listenable mix with. The orchestration is perhaps most impressive in the album’s quiet moments, when it’s used to build an atmosphere that is genuinely eerie, something metal has long grasped at but so very rarely achieved.
The way the album effortlessly swings between eerie and quite and intense and bombastic without feeling forced or uninspired is par for the course for Carach Angren at this point. While This Is No Fairytale isn’t exactly new ground for the band, it’s so masterfully composed and written, and effective at telling it’s story, that little criticism can be leveled at it. Carach Angren certainly aren’t stagnating, rather, they’re continuing to develop and hone a formula they’re arguably the undisputed masters of. This Is No Fairytale has moments that are the pinnacle of what a concept album can be, which is impressive, because Where The Corpses Sink Forever already raised that bar quite high. The band will have to be careful to not become complacent, which is always a danger when you have little competition other than yourself. This Is No Fairytale is highly recommended, doubly so to fans of the band and style.
Carach Angren – This Is No Fairytale gets…