Death Came Through A Phantom Ship
posted on 3/2010 By:
I've been enjoying some decent, relatively obscure symphonic black metal of late, breaking from the usual Cradle of Filth and Dimmu Borgir pack -- Greece’s Unholy Ritual, Israel’s Dagor Dagorath, Spain’s Lux Divina, the Czech Repulic’s Oblomov and the second album from Dutch act, Carach Angren.
As with 2008's excellent Lammendam, Carach Angren continues their love of ghost-story-based albums with a more nautical theme of haunting, based on the Flying Dutchman, but the end result is just as good as Lammendam. While Cradle of Emperors’ Borgir is essentially the template for almost all symphonic black metal, Carach Angren adds an almost audio-book level of theatrics and story-telling to the mix of bombastic blasting and urgent orchestral chaos (i.e. “Al Betekent Het Mijn Dood”). There’s also a certain sense of brooding menace that’s a pleasant change from Gothic tangents, then, although it's underused due to the nature of the album's concepts, a blustery maritime hue surfaces here and there (“Van der Decken's Triumph”), though I think it could have been developed further.
In all, though, the album is centered around glossily produced, bombastic blast beats backed by sweeping string and brass sections that are epically macabre and used to great effect (notably “The Course of a Spectral Ship”). A few slow sections lumber into view here and there to good effect (“The Shining was Portent of Gloom”), changing with the story’s mood, but for the most part the album twists and seethes with a blasting urgency (“And the Consequence Macabre”, “Bloodstains on the Captains Log”) that all contain moments of highly enjoyable even if some of the blast beats seem to cover the same territory.
Two albums into their brief career, Carach Angren remind me a lot of the now-defunct French symphonic black metal act Anorexia Nervosa with their ability to majestic yet menacing and wrap it all up in solid songwriting and atmospheres that bleed in epic proportions without being too hokey. Good stuff, and I look forward to the band's next haunting tale.
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