Carach Angren always fascinated the RMR crew. This band will stuff your face with unabashed, out-of-this-world theatrics. Bombast with a terrifying facelift delivered on a thunderous platform that makes the term epic pale like so much weak tea. A band that facetiously liveth on a horror-filled territory that not many other bands dare venture into. Because – usually – they don’t have the goods nor the capabilities.
But this band does.
In their relatively short career, Carach Angren produced some pretty sturdy pieces, like Where the Corpses Sink Forever1) or the bloodthirsty, yet unpronounceable Franckensteina Strataemontanus of 20202).
So, the RMR deck crew decided to move back up that dark river of theirs and return to the source of the success story this band has become. That is when Lammendam saw the light of day back in 2008. This record indeed appeared on the scene like a thunderstorm. Much to the dismay of some who tried to discredit this new band as some sort of a phantom of the metal opera, but surely not a black metaller.
As has become custom over the years, this first record bases itself on a well-traveled story. One of the many tales of a White Lady. But this time located in the band’s native woody realm of Schinveldse Bossen in the Netherlands. A place where a castle farm called Lammendam3) was the site of passion-filled drama. It looks like some sort of a ménage-à-trois took place with the final result that the girl in the play died in the fire. And now she is said to return by the full moon and haunt the place forever.
I find it interesting that Carach Angren did not choose a storyline from Tolkien, as their name would suggest. But – instead – they chose a first gruesome story right in their very own backyard. Something that – by the way – was to become a fil-rouge for all other later records. Gore-filled, yes, but never a peep from fantasy land. A facet that I truly appreciate because it keeps their content fresh. Or continually freshly rotten, if you get my drift. By contrast, too many other Extreme Metal bands, unfortunately, chose to till that particular field of fantasy and goblins.
Lammendam immediately makes it known that this truly is a Carach Angren record. You’ll find those familiar soundscapes with Seregor embarking on his story with no regard to rhymes or verses. This was to become one of their prime trademarks. And it is storytelling at its finest, with no convoluted words that need deciphering first.
Now, the carriage the band chose as a conveyance over those putrid and misty roads was Black Metal. Symphonic Black Metal to be precise, not something the hardcore fans of that unholy genre really relish – to this day. And true enough, the band took some more flak4) for that direction that veered off the dreary path of the trve blackened metal lore.
Lammendam only contains scarce use of those overdone abuses of full orchestras, though. Instead, Carach Angren often prefer single instruments like the violin or cello to great effect together with abundant use of riffs and a scarce solo here and there.
This leads to a precise and delicately clear arrangement that other bands in the Extreme Metal area often have trouble with. If you need an example, move no further than A Strange Presence Near the Woods. This is indeed one of the most sublime tracks on this record. Complete with something resembling the infamous screams of one Dani Filth. But then, they probably meant to freeze our souls with a woman’s terror. Which is – thinking about it – the whole point of Lammendam.
Yet, the nearness to Cradle of Filth is sometimes undeniable. For instance, the horrible monologue Hexed Melting Flesh sounds so deliciously filthy it could step straight out of one of Dani’s Victorian tableaus.
It was indeed an interesting journey to explore the beginnings of one of the most established and – I daresay – controversial Extreme Metal bands out there. Lammendam really is the beginning of a career. A record that already established a style for this band that holds true to this day.
If anything, their delivery more than a decade ago was – by far – more frugal and less bombastic. And indeed, their early style does not sport this lush richness yet that we have become fond of in the meantime. But that is not a bad thing per se, as all that metallic geekery demonstrates a maturity that few debut albums display that way.
And nothing takes that uncanny knack for bloodred horrors and haunting stories away. A trait that was to endure and become a true asset for Carach Angren in the years to come.
Finally, Lammendam is that one perfect departing shot for a new brand of Symphonic Black Metal. A project built on stories, tasty theatrics, and – last, but not least – excellent musicianship and songwriting skills. A record to behold that should live in every metalhead’s music gallery.