Epic. This denomination sometimes comes to mind for records in genres like Symphonic Metal. But very often with a pretty negative connotation attached to it.
Because time and again, many of those bands really go way over board with whatever it is they try to achieve. To the point of an identity crisis full of molten cheese, where these outfits cannot decide if they want to be an opera or not.
Now, to project such a prodigious award on an Extreme Metal or Black Metal band is relatively rare. The epic label is not unheard of neither. But you’d often find them in electronically and atmospherically challenged regions like Caladan Brood, Sojourner or Summoning. Nowhere near an opera of sorts.
But – as usual – there are exceptions. Those that defy norms and go full scale epic blast. Right through the darkest realms of Black Metal in total theatrical mode.
The ghostly haunt of Carach Angren is one of them.
This is one of these bands, where the mood must be right, so that you are ready for some serious and horrible hauntings. We had to really give their 2012 piece Where Corpses Sink Forever a few very good listens. Until the truly dark side kicked in, very necessary for such a dreary soundscape. And once we got there, the record really got its icy hooks into me, like seldom an album did over time.
As is custom with Carach Angren, this is again a story told, one that neatly embeds into a theme. Which leads to lyrics delivered in this unusual staccato fashion, with seemingly no reason or rhyme.
And Where Corpses Sink Forever tells a rich and complex narrative.
This time Carach Angren chose war and violence in all its gory glory as their subject matter. Be gone Sabaton or HDAW, the competition here is just too pungent for ye.
And indeed, Where Corpses Sink Forever just takes this theme to the next level. But this time, it is done by men in corpse paint, not pseudo warriors wanting to impress us with corny metal tunes.
And for once, even the intro is painless. Because An Ominous Recording just moves straight into the tale, almost devoid of bombast.
A story of an execution in wartime that goes awry, complete with a monologue, rainy weather and realistic gunshots. Very Orwellian in a sense. Something so unthinkable in today’s whitewashed times. Ain’t it?
And then the visions of war begin.
But – true to their credo – there’s more to the account. The seven prisoners turn out to be demons that take possession of the perpetrator and make him suffer. Like forever in a time loop of war, horror and destruction. A pretty good and epic tale that neatly fits into that background of meaty Black and Extreme Metal.
This is a bunch of zombies kinda rolling battle history back to its beginning. Run by the minions of hell, reliving the joys of combat with relish, in a rotten kind of way. From a gory and brain-eating point of view, sending the contender into a loop of horror and madness. Just lovely.
To do that Carach Angren really pull all registers.
Like the mad piper in this church of hell, where anything unpleasant comes to life, in an undead and unholy fashion. Mixing meaty chugging with classical instruments, and then using down-turned guitars with a frantic Black Metal rasp really fires up them metal juices. And let’s not forget these ever returning micro sound themes that are played madly on almost all of the tracks.
To the point that – at times – this mad scrambling around this universe of harsh sounds almost overwhelms. But whenever that happens, in comes this maniacal laughter that always gets the best of me. Or some other element that really glues everything back together again.
Also, the production appears pretty flawless. An amazing feat, once you consider the enormous number of instruments, elements, sounds and what not in every track. That this did not disintegrate into some sort of a tower of Babylon never ceases to amaze me. But it did not.
Let’s wrap this up..
The 2017 piece Dance and Laugh Amongst the Rotten was brutally pointed, sharp and epically metallic. Where Corpses Sink Forever – by contrast – gets you a much more refined brand of Extreme Metal. A rich stew of elements of all kinds, all artfully interwoven into a juicy soundscape of darkest Horror Metal.
No doubt, Carach Angren is something for the trve metalhead. Those who find this steely mix and level of dissonance refreshing and invigorating. But then, I guess the authors of this whole package of ghostly stories never intended to create anything else.
And is Where Corpses Sink Forever epic? Damn straight it is. With a sauce of seasoned bombast served with it. A metal dish done just right.