Carach Angren
Death Came Through A Phantom Ship


1.5
very poor

Review

by KriegdemKriege USER (17 Reviews)
December 11th, 2013 | 33 replies | 1,235 views


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: This is why people don't take black metal seriously.

13 of 16 thought this review was well written

Carach Angren is the Dutch black metal band known for doing what every teenage black metal band out there looking to make a name for themselves wishes they had thought of first. Every single one of Carach Angren’s releases, including their 2004 demo, is a concept album based on a ghost story. While certainly an interesting idea, when a group of musicians decides to undertake such an ambitious concept they must realize that there is a fine line between coming across as genuinely scary and coming across as a total joke. Concept albums as a whole can be tricky to pull off, and making an album with as specific a concept as telling a story with the intent to scare the listener can be especially difficult. Unfortunately for Carach Angren, Death Came Through a Phantom Ship embodies everything that is wrong with black metal today, failing completely in making both a well-composed work of music and an album that communicates their concept in an effective manner.

Death Came Through a Phantom Ship, as you may have already guessed from the band’s nationality, is a concept album based on the famous Dutch legend of the Flying Dutchman. It begins with a pseudo-creepy introduction track filled with minor-key keyboard melodies and a recording of a sailor sending a message to a mysterious ship he meets at sea. Unfortunately for this hapless sailor, the only person on board able to receive his message is the ghost of Captain Vanderdecken, infamous captain of the Flying Dutchman. The metal kicks in with Vanderdecken’s response, a foreboding “JIJ ZULT VERZUIPEN IN JE EIGEN BLOED!” This is Dutch for “You will drown in your own blood!”

Sound cheesy enough? I hope not, because Carach Angren is just getting started. This album should go down in history as being one of the cheesiest albums of all time. Just reading the song titles will give you a good idea of what is to be expected from this album. Tracks two and three, which when read together are titled “The Sighting Is a Portent of Doom…and the Consequence Macabre”, expand the story of the sailor by explaining how the sighting of the Flying Dutchman drives him to insanity. The man returns home after seeing the ship to murder his wife and daughter before taking his own life with a shotgun. This could have been a pretty creepy concept, if Carach Angren didn’t write such terrible lyrics.

For some unexplainable reason, Carach Angren insists on playing the one genre of popular music where rhyming lyrics is absolutely unnecessary and including rhymes in every song. This results in some unbelievably lame writing. Here is an excerpt from track two, in which the sailor talks about the messages he receives from the Flying Dutchman: “[I hear] these voices cursing my goddamn name. Hell, is this witchcraft or am I insane?” Unnecessary swear words aside, one would think there would be a better way to communicate that line; maybe one that doesn’t include ending in a pseudo-rhyme. The lyrics only get worse. Taken from the same song is this gem: “The temperature suddenly dropped; my great-grandfathers clock, just ticking, now stopped.” Carach Angren’s lyrics read like they were taken from a bad rap album.

There are many more examples of terrible lyrics on this album, far too many to be addressed here. Track six does deserve mention though, for it stands as one of the cheesiest and most unintentionally funny songs ever written. It had me laughing out loud, and is the only part of this record saving it from an “Awful” rating. It is the album’s only highlight.

Moving on to the actual music on the album, there really isn’t anything here that a fan of symphonic black metal hasn’t heard already. Musically, every song is based around the typical spooky keyboard melodies, tremolo-picked guitars, and blast beats, with a strong emphasis on the spooky keyboards. Strange for a black metal release, the guitar is actually buried pretty low in the mix, making it hard to pick out any melodies on the rare occasion the guitarist plays something interesting.

Besides the uncreative musicianship, Death Came Through a Phantom Ship also suffers musically from featuring far too few instrumental breaks. The vocals are featured heavily on every song, never giving the instrumentalists a chance to show what they’re capable of. Every time an interesting instrumental part comes along, the vocalist jumps in and steals the spotlight. Yes, this is a concept album, and it is understandable that the band wants the vocals to be the focus. But the strongest concept albums have always been the ones that are able to use the music to compliment the vocals and lyrics, creating an effective atmosphere for the album. This makes an album an actual piece of musical art as opposed to a poetry reading.

Addressing the album’s vocals directly, they are unfortunately just another weak spot. Vocalist Seregor delivers uninspired raspy vocals that can be best described as frail. There is no substance, no power or emotion behind the vocals on this album, and for an album that is supposed to be frightening this serves as a major disappointment. Although you can understand every word, this is pretty much the one album in extreme metal where the clarity of the vocals is not a benefit, for already-mentioned reasons.

It really is a shame to give this album such a low rating, but the terrible writing and poor vocal performance really is unforgivable. Everything about this album just screams “We’re trying way too hard”. Whether you’re looking at the unintentionally funny album artwork or listening to the cliché Cradle of Filth-esque keyboard melodies that pervade every single song, the album just comes across as a joke, a good idea performed by an inept group of musicians. It almost makes me feel bad for slamming this album so hard, just for the simple fact that these guys really are trying. It breaks your heart, because you can tell that this is sincere music. It’s just really bad music.

If you’re thirteen years old and still think face paint, harsh vocals, and ghost stories filled with swear words are scary, I encourage you to check this album out. For everyone else looking for quality symphonic black metal, your time would be better spent listening to Emperor, Graveworm, and early Arcturus. Even mid/late-career Dimmu Borgir is a better listen than this.



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user ratings (161)
Chart.
4
excellent
other reviews of this album
J. Ponton EMERITUS (4)
It won't change the minds of those that hate this kind of stuff, but Death Came Through A Phantom Sh...


Comments:Add a Comment 
KriegdemKriege
December 10th 2013



499 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

This is my first really critical review. I spent a lot of time writing this one, and genuine feedback would be greatly appreciated!

CaptainDooRight
December 10th 2013



26376 Comments


great summary

Digging: Deniro Farrar - The Patriarch II

pizzamachine
December 10th 2013



12568 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

"It almost makes me feel bad for slamming this album so hard, just for the simple fact that these guys really are trying. It breaks your heart, because you can tell that this is sincere music. It’s just really bad music."

After reading an entire review of your stated opinions that you gave without hesitation, this is awkward and unnecessary.


Good review overall, I can't really complain. The spelling and grammar is perfect. One pos for you sir!

Oneiron
December 10th 2013



194 Comments


You spent half the review discussing how bad the lyrics are. You don't address the actual music at all except to say it's bad, there are some cool parts, and the vocalist is too present. Sounds more like a rant than a review.

KriegdemKriege
December 10th 2013



499 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Thanks for the feedback guys! I think your criticisms are reasonable. I will keep them in mind for
future reviews.

Nocturnal
December 10th 2013



1177 Comments


You guys should check out a band named dimmu borgir, they pull this style off much better.

Digging: The Contortionist - Exoplanet

GnarlyShillelagh
Staff Reviewer
December 11th 2013



5923 Comments


Recommended by reviewer

Tyrael
December 11th 2013



20394 Comments


I've heard power metal albums that are way cheesier but good job I guess

love this band/album

Digging: Lantlos - Melting Sun

Hyperion1001
Staff Reviewer
December 11th 2013



17337 Comments


metal is one big joke anyways, id rather see a band run with it and make a self aware, fun album like this than take themselves seriously

dumb review by a dumb metalhead

Digging: Monolake - Interstate

Evreaia
December 11th 2013



3742 Comments


Only heard that last album, but if the lyrics are similar they are anything but bad.

Band is lotsa fun

Digging: Plebeian Grandstand - Lowgazers

Mewcopa0
December 11th 2013



1793 Comments


I can agree that 'metal' is a big joke, as a scene....but this album is the exact opposite of self aware...

KingHarkinian
December 11th 2013



435 Comments


what you think is cheesy about this is what I find really entertaining

Shuyin
December 11th 2013



10404 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

completely wrong opinions and rants

thats why im not taking you seriously either

Digging: All the Empires of the World - Sunscraper

KriegdemKriege
December 11th 2013



499 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Well that's mature.

What do you like about the album?

Shuyin
December 11th 2013



10404 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

the riffs, the blend of sympho and metal, the progression, yada yada

carach is a fun band, its not supposed to be taken seriously

KriegdemKriege
December 11th 2013



499 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Check out their website and live footage. They're not a joke band.

Shuyin
December 11th 2013



10404 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

ugh, you dont get it

Futures
December 11th 2013



3367 Comments


They are supposed to be over the top and a little cheesy.

Digging: Jimmy Eat World - Static Prevails

KriegdemKriege
December 11th 2013



499 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

This goes way beyond over the top and a little cheesy.

Anyway, the album blows regardless of the band's intentions.

VisionsFromTheDarkSide
December 11th 2013



1671 Comments


Great review man, pos

Digging: Sport - Bon Voyage



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