Without any knowledge of what has made the band so successful up to this point, it's really quite easy to pre-judge Carach Angren. The corpsepaint-ridden faces of each band member seems ludicrous to even look at. Cue several mindless comparisons to Cradle of Filth, Dimmu Borgir, Watain etc. Yet Carach Angren has a special something in its system which distances itself from such big-name acts of the same scene, and that is the concrete skill to actually tell a story. Properly. This is perhaps why the band's first three albums have gone down so well with the metal fan-base in general. Sure, the haters are still here in spades, as with every other band meddling with the same metal sub-genre, but at least Carach Angren have a few tricks up their sleeves.
2015 sees the release of the oddly-titled This is no Fairytale
, and if the amount of hype surrounding the album is anything to go by, then it will prove as a gateway to bigger things for Carach Angren. As with the band's previous three releases, lyrical imagery and a grandiose storytelling ethic are the most prominent aspects of the band's sound here. Better still, everything here seems much darker, and that's not just regarding the black hue of the album cover. Drugs, alcohol abuse, domestic assault-it's basically like The Jeremy Kyle Show. Take "There's no Place like Home" for example, which explores all three of the aforementioned themes, and twists them to present one of the most messed up families you've ever heard of. This sense of realism is really quite brutal, and may affect some of its listeners deeper than you'd expect, but without listening to the surrounding music, you can imagine how much effort Carach Angren have put into the whole concept of This is no Fairytale
Putting that aside, Carach Angren also seem to excel instrumentally. For the most part, it is extreme, aggressive, very vicious stuff. Churning extreme metal riffs with classical and Gothic symphonies doesn't sound like anything new, but what's important is how all these ideas fuse into one song. Perhaps the best examples utilizing this musical formula appropriately are the lengthier songs-that is, the near eight-minute opus "Two Flies flew into a black Sugar Cobweb", "When Crows tick on Windows" and "Possessed by a Craft of Witchery". Like the lyrics, these songs aren't worded that well (The band are from the Netherlands, so is forgivable at least), but making up for that is a bucketload of instrumental vigour. And then some.
Every song, as well as the aforementioned, seems to explore different moods and transcends the very idea of what a versatile song can be. Whilst at times the end result can be quite jittery or somewhat out-of-tune ("There's no Place like Home", "The Witch perished in Flames"), the likes of "Two Flies flew into a black Sugar Cobweb" really seeks to impress. "Two Flies...", perhaps due to its near eight-minute length, is awe-inspiring at times, and hurls itself far beyond the monotonous symphonic black metal tag. Even the short interludes (I.e. the album's intro, "Once Upon a Time..." and "Dreaming of a Nightmare in Eden) can match up to the vicious barrage of extreme metal found in "Killed and Served by the Devil", where guitar work certainly seems at its most adventurous.
Yet throughout each of these nine tracks, Carach Angren never seem to lose their edge or indeed what made them so important to the extreme metal scene in the first place. Songwriting is just as important as the influence of lyrical imagery and the compositions which are arranged thereafter, and the band know that all too well. Whilst 2015's This is no Fairytale
won't change the opinions of haters and long-time fans, the album does serve as a real career-definer for Carach Angren. For now, Carach Angren are in a field of their own.