The Master of the Macabre once asserted that for something to have exquisite beauty, it needed a proportion of strangeness. Dutch symphonic black metal band Carach Angren, have been chasing that phantasm since back in 2004, when they released their first affliction, The Chase Vault Tragedy. Though noticeably raw and unpolished, it went on to become an honest precursor of Carach Angren‘s ultimate destiny. The haunted tale of Lammendam and its ghostly inhabitant followed four years later, picking up where Anorexia Nervosa left off. Adopting a slightly quicker release schedule, Death Came Through a Phantom Ship, Where the Corpses Sink Forever and This Is No Fairytale followed suite, each more dramatical than the last. Despite some marked hits (“The Funerary Dirge of a Violinist” being their strongest), at this point in the band’s career, it seems Carach Angren have pretty much honed their sound and refined their concepts to the point that they’re bordering on formulaic and rut-like… That leads me to these nefarious characters latest release – Dance and Laugh Amongst the Rotten. Am I anticipating the album’s release despite acknowledgement of the band’s sound heading toward stagnation? My answer is an emphatic yes!

After a lengthy North American tour as the special guests of Kataklysm, beginning in California, traversing the outskirts of Long Island (New York) and wrapping up in Florida, I’m expected some Kataklysm melodic death-isms to wheedle its way into Dance and Laugh Amongst the Rotten. In short I was expecting a shakeup. Beginning with the aptly titled “Opening,” the song is little more than an extension of “Charlie” the following track. Falling somewhere between Harry Potter and “Fear and Wonder” off Dimmu Borgir‘s Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia, the song is cinematic and vivid, climaxing just in time for a seamless transition. “Charlie” takes a few seconds to get off the ground, initially not feeling much different from the band’s earlier works, but further into the track it develops a more striking personality and a heaviness that I’d like to attribute to the time spent with Kataklysm. As one of the shorter tracks on Dance and Laugh Amongst the Rotten, it’s also one of the few tracks that ends right as it’s hitting its sweet spot.

“Blood Queen” and “Charles Francis Coghlan” are the tracks I return to most often on the album. Though both could do with considerable shortening, “Blood Queen” has a nice aggressive little Dark Tranquility-inspired intro and some over-the-top vocal theatrics, a nod to the Swedish style of black metal that I enjoy. “Charles Francis Coghlan,” explores the obscure life and death of Coghlan, a lawyer turned Anglo-Irish actor and playwright, and his “homing coffin.” Passionate keyboards, chunky guitar riffing, haunting violins and dramatic vocal shifts give the song an endearing theatrical flourish. Ultimately, I can’t help thinking that these songs play out as the sinister equivalent of a production destined for Broadway.

The biggest shocker of the album comes about in the form of “In De Naam Van De Duivel.” Not having heard a lick of Afrikaans since leaving South Africa in 2014, I actually did a double-take at hearing what sounded to me like Afrikaans. Since 90% of Afrikaans vocabulary has a Dutch origin, it ends up giving this bombastic and bilingual track an endearing quality that it wouldn’t have had otherwise. Across the remainder of Dance and Laugh Amongst the Rotten, there’s no particular track that makes this a must-have album, though there are moments that entertain enough to keep you listening – The arcade game melody that propels “Pitch Black Box” dangerously close to Vesania territory and the unhinged screeching effect that lurks behind “The Possession Process” bringing to mind Hellwell, are just two examples of what this troupe have in store for you.

Carach Angren have taken their similarity to Dark Tranquility, Dimmu Borgir and Vesania and applied it to frightful atmosphere, uplifting piano melodies and vivid symphonic passages with a healthy dose of corpse paint and melodrama. Though not essential, and somewhat overlong, Dance and Laugh Amongst the Rotten is good none-the-less, and the more I hear this album, the more the songs root themselves into my cranium. The concept, a girl playing with a Ouija board seemed a little thin at first, but Dance and Laugh Amongst the Rotten ends up being a memorable album, built around a series of obscure and interesting stories that on their own have prompted me to read further.


Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Season of Mist
Websites: carachangrenbm.bandcamp.com | carach-angren.nl | facebook.com/carachangren
Releases Worldwide: June 16th, 2017

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  • AlphaBetaFoxface

    Surprised to see this one get a Madam 3. Was expecting a 2.5, maybe even 2. The band is definitely stagnating. Can’t say I really disagree with anything you’ve written but I have found this one quite underwhelming. Fantastic review.

    • This album has a little more staying power than their last effort.

      • Frost15

        Agree, perfect review

  • Tenebrae

    I’ll give this a listen. I’ve enjoyed what they’ve done in the past although they’ve never been essential.

    • Here’s Johnny

      wrong

  • Horrorfiction

    I think it’s a step up from the previous album, and I’m glad they played around with a different sound.

    • They’re headed in the right direction, albeit slowly.

      • Drew Music

        But I didn’t read anything in this review indicating that they were breaking up!

        • Easy, mate. You only have two kneecaps, and you know how easily accidents happen…

          • Drew Music

            It was there and I had to.
            I regret nothing.

    • I think it’s a step down from the previous album, but it’s still good, and Carach Angren is one of those bands where different fans will differ rather widely concerning favorite albums.

  • Jeff Manteiga

    I really enjoyed “…Sink Forever,” but haven’t thought much of anything else they’ve released. Particularly “This is No Fairytale.”

  • rumour_control

    “…built around a series of obscure and interesting stories that on their own have prompted me to read further.” — much like your own writing. Another intriguing and sharp review of a good piece of music. Thank you.

    • Thank you kindly.

      • rumour_control

        You’re welcome.

  • Ta2dlam

    Having listened to the first release and it’s evil carnival sound I wasn’t terribly excited but Blood Queen changes that. The initial riff definitely shows a heavier death leaning that, if incorporated more thoroughly in the future, can give a much needed and refreshing weight to their sound. Great review, Madam!

  • Reese Burns

    Hm, guess I was the only one here who really enjoyed Fairy Tale. I thought they were beginning to stagnate until I heard it. This one’s a step down, in my opinion, but still a nice addition to the discography.

    • thornh

      No, I loved it. It was a great concept album. You really have to listen to it from beginning to end to get the whole story. There may be some individual some songs that stand out but, taken out of context, they are not the same.

    • Hey Reese, you turned me onto Amiensus. Now I’m obsessed with an album, Tarot by Aether Realm. The Sun, The Moon, The Star is an amazing song. (if you’re up for a nearly 20 min song)

      • Reese Burns

        Thanks! I’ll give it a listen post haste, nothing wrong with some longer songs every now and then.

      • Dr. Wvrm

        That album’s been kicked around the AMG backstage. I wish we’d gotten a promo for it, it’s quite good.

        • A shame that. Maybe it’ll get the [Things You Might Have Missed] treatment.

          • Dr. Wvrm

            I wouldn’t be surprised ;)

            As an aside, if you like Amiensus, have you ever heard of Oak Pantheon? There’s some overlap between the two, and they did a split a couple years back that was sublime.

          • I have! I only have the album In Pieces, but I have given it a lot of play time. I’ll have to find that split album, thanks my friend.

      • Teddy

        Wow, now it’s my turn to thank you. I’m currently listening to Tarot and I’m having a blast. Also listened to Oak Pantheon before that (From a Whisper) and it was really good. I was listening to the same stuff for weeks now, glad to discover something new and interesting.

        • Hey, glad you enjoy it! They’re a small time band, support them if you can.

  • Lavatron

    Back in the days, I hoped that CA could fill the hole that Bal Sagoth left. “Haunting Echoes From The Seventeenth Century​” is such an outstanding song. But everything that came after just left me could. Will give this a try, for nostalgic reasons.

    • Here’s Johnny

      they sound nothing like Bal Sagoth.

  • Here’s Johnny

    This album is gonna be huge, so of course the usual(liked their older stuff) fans start filtering themselves out. People saying it should be under 3/5 have no clue…Charlie alone, is one of the best extreme metal songs in a long time.

    I really don’t get some saying they have gotten stagnant, it is clear from FairyTales and now this they are on the upswing. Live they continue to get better and bigger, Nuclear Blast is going to come calling soon. When Crows Tick On Windows has 700,000 views on Youtube. I’m not saying youtube views are a sign of quality but c’mon, all of these things are not going to happen to a stagnant band.

    They have honed their songwriting/musicianship and production skills, its gonna be more streamlined/commercial for some but they now seem to be garnering a huge fanbase. It is basically not very black metal anymore and some are going to have a problem with that, more fool them.

    • Sounds about right. They certainly seem to be the next Dimmu Borgir or Cradle of Filth – i.e. a black metal band that achieve such popularity that they aren’t really considered black metal anymore. And I quite enjoy all three of those bands! :-)

  • Drew Music

    Eh… I get it, I was once a young angry metal lad who thought my devotion to Dimmu would never wane, now… Eh. I’ve wanted to like these guys for years, and just… Eh.

  • Handy Donut Hole

    I unabashedly love this band. I’ve been following their progress since Day 1 and I believe they strike an amazing balance between symphonic elements and the rawness of black metal. Dark, sexy, and fun as hell, I plan to continue throwing my money at this band. ?

  • herrschobel

    the appeal of this is beyond me. cheap theatrics, kitschy, cringeworthy strings and a video that says “we don’t want to be taken seriously at all..:”

    • Horrorfiction

      I know! Heaven forbid we have fun in music! Also everything you wrote is pretty much wrong.

      • herrschobel

        yeah yeah…as if there ever was anything like right or wrong in personal taste… if i want fun i watch cannibal holocaust … it´s simply shit in my eyes and ears but if you like shit i won´t judge you … a lot of people do … see cradle of filth

        • Horrorfiction

          Don’t cut yourself on all that edge.

          • herrschobel

            sleep off the anger fanboy…this is a friendly website

          • Horrorfiction

            Not fanboying, just calling it as I see it.

          • herrschobel

            good ! and you are entitled to do whatever you wish. i´d never call that ‘wrong’.

        • Felchmeister777

          “If I want fun I watch cannibal holocaust”

          Wow…aren’t you dark and mysterious…

          • herrschobel

            don’t be stupid…..it´s a hilarious trashy exploitation movie with dialogue that is borderline Dadaism..like so many movies from Europe in that period…which i happen to collect and watch for amusement ….jesus…what´s wrong with you guys…live a little and stop being judgemental without knowing who you actually talk to …makes you come across like a small minded philistine … and that´s not funny at all !
            you should ask yourself ‘what is my intention to say something like that ?’ says more about you than it does about me….

          • Felchmeister777

            What’s my intention questioning you? Ironically, I’d say it’s more interesting breaking down the subtext of why you mentioned Cannibal Holocaust…

            Rather odd choice to throw out there. Apart from the complete lack of context, you just so happened to cite one of the ‘edgiest’ films ever made.

            If you think it’s fun then fair enough. Fine for a bit of a laugh I supppse, but to refer to it as almost the pinnacle of ‘fun’..(?) Yeah…bit weird.

            As an aside, the cunts who made that film can go fuck themselves. The animal cruelty in it is absolutely indefensible & was clearly there for shock value and nothing more. Or, in your case evidently, for the ‘fun’ of it perhaps…

            But what do I know of course, I’m just a philistine…

          • herrschobel

            i mentioned it because i am sitting in front of a poster of that movie…plus it´s not the ‘pinnacle of fun’ (who ever said that ????) ..neither is Carach Angren (which this would imply)…

            Having shot a movie in Mato Grosso 7 years ago i witnessed the live skinning of a tapir by Natives on 2 occasions…so that was not too far fetched in the movie ..
            and no, i don´t think the movie is fun for those reasons…but mainly ( and i clearly mentioned that) for the dialogue, the trash factor and the whole approach … when you throw around onliners about people you don’t know, yes, you come across ( to me !!!) as a little bit narrow minded…if that is not the case, i am more than happy…but these are the dangers of the interwebs….at least you seem to know the Movie….from a 2017 perspective that movie is also not very edgy anymore…so c´mon …but it does seem odd in the first place that you can´t say ‘ i dont like this’ about a record without someone jumping out of the bush yelling ‘ no no no you are all wrong’…esp. on this website .. i never do that and find this attitude very questionable …

          • Felchmeister777

            Saying ‘if I want fun I watch cannibal holocaust’ is enough to warrant me thinking you perhaps see it as the ‘pinnacle’. Otherwise why else mention that specifically, out of context in a music discussion..(?)

            Anyway, bygones. As for the animal cruelty stuff, I don’t think the fact it’s realistic is applicable. Again, context. This wasn’t some anthropological documentary, it was a film made to gross people out. Cutting up live animals is a cheap way (in every sense) to add to the vibe…& it’s reprehensible.

            So, we’re still gonna disagree about elements at of all this anyway. But, to be fair, you’ve been cool about it & you’re clearly smarter than your initial post implied… ;)

            So, ‘respectfully disagree’ and all that, but I salute the way you’ve addressed it etc…

          • herrschobel

            same same … i am glad we settled this..and the pinnacle of fun would be ‘the mighty boosh’ or ‘Garth Marenghis Darkplace’ for my tastes ..salute !

            ps: people need to be grossed out…because they usually deserve it…there is also quite a bit of cinematic theory about Cannibal Holocaust and a lot of it implies that it was a very calculated attack on the conditio humana and society in general …but who knows now ?…

            Have a good day sir !

          • Felchmeister777

            Hey likewise!

            Impeccable comedic taste by the way. I rate Howard Moon as one of the finest comic creations ever.

            See you in the jazz forums sometime perhaps.. ;)

            {raises glass of Baileys}

          • herrschobel

            lol…or maybe in a Jazzercise class

  • Excentric_13073

    I saw them supportng SepticFlesh, and didn’t know what to think then. I still don’t know what to think, but I’m still sort of rooting for their success anyway.

    • Ha, that explains the Carach Angren vibe in the new Septicflesh track!

      • tomasjacobi

        Yeah, first thing I thought when checking out the new Septicflesh song was literally “Somebody’s been listening to Carach Angren”

  • Death_Black_Metal_Fanatic

    Their first 3 albums, especially “Lammendam”, were killer. The last one was a major drop off, but judging by the new songs I’ve heard so far, they seem to have rebounded nicely.

  • thornh

    This Is No Fairytale was very much underrated in my opinion. I love everything these guys have done so far. They tell great, macabre stories. They are my current favorite “black metal” band and all that term encompasses these days.

  • Teddy

    Wow, another disappointment. This is an even worse feeling than for the previous as I really wanted them to release something better than TINFairytale, but it seems even less enjoyable than the previous one (I listened to it 2 time now, I may be a bit early to state that, but still), wich makes me even more disappointed. I guess this band just isn’t for me anymore. Too bad, I love Where the Corpses and really like Death Came Through a phantom ship…

  • h0ttentot

    Not cool.

  • tomasjacobi

    I’m on my fourth listen now and I must say I really enjoy this one much more than “This is no Fairytale”.
    The songwriting is better and I prefer that they have returned to more “classic” horror themes instead of the modern “drug-addict/domestic violence/incest” stuff which was so gross that it got in the way of me enjoying the album.
    Furthermore, it’s nice that the mastering isn’t downright painfull to listen to this time.

    • Classic horror is not gross?

      Detective Tomas Jacobi has a statement about the murder:

      “The perp is still at large but we’ll catch him. But I must say, I’m so glad this was an old fashion stabbing instead of an OD or some drunk who walked in front of a car Things are really looking up in this city!”

      • tomasjacobi

        Ha-ha. You’re right of course.
        But I do think I’m not alone in having a harder time with descriptions of little girls getting raped by their father than almost any other kind of horror/violence.

        • Teddy

          I get what you mean, I had the same problem with the story of Fairytale. Where the Corpses is gross in a way, same for Death Came Through (and they also use stories or little boys/girls having a real ugly time), but I guess that having the whole album focused around the story of abused children and the death of one of them was maybe too “real” for me. Another problem was that the storytelling wasn’t as good as before, and felt forced on several occasions.

  • Rob

    I like all of CA’s albums to a degree..probably Fairytails to the least. The theatrics and melodrama are great as always, but the narrative style got a little…clunky..on that one. I like this one a lot so far, feels dirtier and less heavily leaning on the synths. The Possession Process is my favorite so far. That all being said, I always find myself going back to Lammendam. That fucker is a masterpiece.

  • gdffgdfgd

    In case anyone still reads those comments, the Deluxe Digibox apparently ended up at DR9 and not DR6 according to the DR database.
    This is pretty cool if it’s true (don’t see any reason why it shouldn’t be though) and means that another band realized that we don’t need brickwalled metal.
    Too bad that version seems to be limited, dunno if there is any other way to get the DR9 (maybe the Vinyl?).

    • Wish they’d given us the DR9 promo.