Dance And Laugh Amongst The Rotten - Carach Angren
Artist: Carach Angren Album: Dance And Laugh Amongst The Rotten Genre: Symphonic Black Metal
Review by Steve Jenkins
Carach Angren, the haunting export of the Netherlands return with their fifth album, Dance And Laugh Amongst The Rotten, as with all their releases it tells a horror story. This time, the band are returning to pure storytelling, with episodes that are centered on a girl playing a little too long with her Ouija board. Carach Angren are painting musical pictures that easily combine the grandiose depth of a Rembrandt with Van Gogh's maelstrom of whirling colours and the utter madness of Bosch. This lusciously seductive dance of death will drag you in and never let go. This album could possibly be the best release from the band yet.
Carach Angren are not doing anything out of the ordinary that warrants such a high album rating. They are neither unconventional nor unique compared to other black metal bands that incorporate some form of symphonic orchestration into their music. Actually, one would find that their music sounds almost the same in style and form as many of the artists that would come up on YouTube by searching the video tag "symphonic black metal". Yet there are aspects of their music that go either unnoticed or unappreciated that largely separate them from the rest of their peers, even if the genre's most elitist of fans fail to acknowledge it. To them the only truly lucid advantage that Carach Angren has over the other bands that fall into their category of style is that they are "doing it better". But to myself and other critical listeners, their music is noticeably filled with interesting hooks and complex instrumental riffs of high replay value that fit intricately and eloquently into the structure of their songs, especially those in which the culmination has been prolonged. This is notably true of their vocals which have a story-book lyricism that adds a conceptual plot to their album new album Dance And Laugh Amongst The Rotten.
So other than the album being illustrated by admirable visual interpretations and representations, the audio content of the release stands on its own as testament to black metal. But what is here on this album is largely the epitome of the rating that accompanies this review. The reason being that there is a clear combination of beautiful baroque symphonic orchestrations, combined with viciously heavy yet equally articulate and skillfully played guitar riffs. Another key element that stands out is the accompanying percussion that adds as much in emphasis to the parts played by the other instruments as it does its own attributes like bass presence and additional rhythm. But if those aspects still leave those who have yet to hear the album skeptical, there is yet more to Dance And Laugh Amongst The Rotten than what has already been mentioned thus far.
Instrumentally, the album does a beautiful blend of classical, baroque symphonies of strings, piano, brass, beautifully composed to contrast with the heavy, fast, pounding black metal side, heavy, technical, flowing riffs and tremolo melodies. Alongside heavy, fast aggressive blast beats and pounding patterns, the songs evolve beautifully as the they progress, never staying on one riff or melody for long, constantly changing, and never sounding forced, simply flowing as it progresses, making the songs much more interesting and engaging. This album maintains a fair whirlwind speed, rarely going slow at all, maintaining a fair pace throughout, though never getting boring at the speed. All the instruments are played brilliantly as well, all the musicians clearly adept at their parts, the riffs are complex and executed perfectly, the compositions orchestrated perfectly, the keys are technical and the drums are fast, complex and unrelenting.
What this album does successfully is create a dark atmosphere, where all the elements come together to create what makes Carach Angren special, and that is the haunting atmosphere that they create with their storytelling style of symphonic black metal. I'd highly recommend this album to anyone who counts themselves as a black metal fan, or even as a gateway for people wanting to get into black metal. It will be interesting to hear what their future albums will be like, and one can only hope that they are as enjoyable, interesting, and influential as Dance And Laugh Amongst The Rotten, an album blessed with the fine love and passion that is so often lacking in contemporary metal music.
9 out of 10 stars.
Dance And Laugh Amongst The Rotten is out June 16th via Season Of Mist. You can pre-order the album here.
Watch this music video for the track 'Blood Queen' below: