Carach Angren – Lammendam (2008)
Unlike many of the bands I’ve discovered, Carach Angren was recommended to me when I made a post on the Encyclopedia Metallum forums asking for extreme metal with heavy symphonic elements. This is also how I learned of Anorexia Nervosa and Septicflesh, who both share some surface similarities. Carach Angren emphasizes their horror aesthetics in ways that become apparent when you analyze this album. Notably, the band specializes in paranormal stories that have to walk a fine line between Suspiria and Scooby Doo…
Regardless of theme, Lammendam‘s music is composed of symphonic black metal of varying intensity – it reliably remains within the traditions forged by bands like Emperor and Cradle of Filth, although the aggression level is usually closer to the former than the latter. It also has the dignity of not suffering from Theli syndrome – while not an incredibly complex album, Carach Angren’s metal side has plenty to do (including performing some of the important melodies), and the band members can carry their weight when the symphonics occasionally drop out. Production and mixing are accomplished enough that I notice them – I see it as crucial to good symphonic metal. Regardless, the underlying substrates of this album have been done, and done well; that in itself is not particularly new.
What may be more novel is the horror angle I mentioned at the beginning of this article. It is well-integrated; whether the theatrical, melodramatic compositions will interest you, the reader is not something I can determine from my own writing, because that’s not how it works. I’ve noticed that this often manifests as a great deal of symphonic ornamentation – short runs of 2-3 chromatic or scalar (term?) notes, dissonant sting chords for emphasis, etc. The vocals, which are often quite comprehensible, also follow this trend with their lyrical ornamentation. Lammendam is a loose concept album about a legendary ghost in the Dutch province of Limburg; the lyrics occasionally collapse into goofiness even if they don’t ever really lose the concept. Seregor’s vocals show reasonable range – he has a tendency to emphasize words during song transitions that, at its worst, has him shouting “Slut!” in the middle of “Haunting Echoes from the Sixteenth Century”. I don’t know why that makes me groan/giggle, but it does. The rest of the music also sometimes suffers from this.
To be honest, I don’t know how seriously Carach Angren wants me to take their music. It sometimes sounds more silly than convincing, but the compositions are good, solid metal that demonstrates knowledge of musical theory and songwriting technique. Since I enjoy this style of metal, and I feel the band executes it well, I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and say that Lammendam may be at least partially tongue in cheek. After all, it’s not like ghosts are real, right? The studies paranormal ‘experts’ mention fail to demonstrate sufficient rigor… and… and…
There’s one right behind me, isn’t there.
Recommendations from beyond the grave: “Haunting Echoes from the Sixteenth Century”, “Phobic Shadows and Moonlit Meadows”, “Corpse in A Nebulous Creek”