Carach Angren – Franckensteina Strataemontanus Review

It’s to no one’s surprise that I’m a fan of Carach Angren. Being a fan of the gothic and symphonic black metal elements of Anorexia Nervosa, Dimmu Borgir, Cradle of Filth, and The Vision Bleak lends strength to the notion that I’d dig these Dutchmen. Not to mention my infatuation with concept albums. Especially the ones with campy, terrifying, or Hollywood horror storylines. You know, like Cradle, Iced Earth, and… oh yeah, King Diamond. In the case of Carach Angren, it was 2012’s Where the Corpses Sink Forever that had me glued to their story ideas, sweeping orchestrations, chaotic vocal deliveries, spooky voice-overs, and lyrics that read like a narration of my every step and contemplation as I walk from my bedroom to my kitchen to make a cup of coffee. But, as of late, their releases have been mediocre or disappointing. And, like Madam X, I’ve kinda written this trio off. But, if anything, an album title like Franckensteina Strataemontanus has my interest piqued. I wonder what Monster awaits…

But Franckensteina Strataemontanus is not a true retelling of Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley. If any of you know the myths and legends surrounding the creation of this story, you know that there’re a lot of tales that involve Johann Konrad Dippel. There’s no proof that Shelley was ever inspired by this strange individual, but the connection is hard to ignore. An individual who reportedly invented nitroglycerin,1 experimented on dead animals and human cadavers, and created an elixir that would allow him to live until the age of 135.2 Here, Carach Angren provides us with a slight reinvention of the classic Frankenstein story. One that uses artistic license to make Dippel the psychotic creator of an unloved monster.

As for the album itself, it begins as most Angren albums do. With Sleepy Hollow-ish orchestrations and a booming narration, we find ourselves in a beautiful German forest. But, there’s something lurking up ahead. A suspenseful veil covers the future. The tension foreshadows impending doom. This Grimm Brothers-like introduction transitions into the musical opener, “Scourged Ghoul Undead.” The suspense breaks as vocalist Seregor unleashes his signature mix of rasps, gruffs, barks, and heavy breathing. This time, mirroring Dani Filth (Cradle of Filth) more than he’s ever done before while the guitars buzz around the orchestra like a thousand flies attracted to decay.

Along with “Scourged Ghoul Undead,” the back-to-back “Der Vampir von Nürnberg”3 and “Skull with a Forked Tongue” are classic Carach Angren. All with crushing symphoblack, building orchestrations, and moody spoken-word passages. Like “The Necromancer,” each of these helps to lend its weight to the album’s story. Even if they aren’t the most memorable tracks, musically. Yet, like “The Necromancer,” “Monster” and the title track are mid-paced plodders that do wonders for the storyline, adding heft with their memorable choruses, respectively: “Monster!” and “I am God!” Both songs attack with an almost Rammstein-like quality, with “Franckensteina Strataemontanus” adding some Reign of Light-era Samael to the mix.

As one would expect, there’re a couple of bombastic numbers on Franckensteina Strataemontanus. “Sewn for Solitude” sees the creature realizing what he is and how all mankind disgusts him. Or is it Dippel that feels this way? It’s a sad, gorgeous piece in the same realm as Dance and Laugh Amongst the Rotten‘s “Song for the Dead.” Like most of Angren‘s closers, “Like a Conscious Parasite I Roam”4 is a monstrous5 song whose mostly-instrumental character combines piano, violin, and orchestration with the drums and guitars, much as Dimmu Borgir did with “Perfection or Vanity” from Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia.

To be honest, I haven’t had this much fun with a Carach Angren album since Where the Corpses Sink Forever. While Franckensteina Strataemontanus captivates me with its story, it doesn’t fully captivate me musically. “Monster” and “Franckensteina Strataemontanus” are my favorites because they’re concise, display control, and contribute in a big way to the classic Frankenstein story. “The Necromancer” is a massive contributor as well. Especially the infamous line, “It’s alive!” But it’s not a standout track. And “Operation Compass” has nothing to do with the story. Which confuses me greatly. That said, if you’re looking for more horror in these uncertain times, Franckensteina Strataemontanus is for you.


Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kb/s mp3
Label: Season of Mist
Websites: carachangren.bandcamp.com | carach-angren.nl | facebook.com/carachangren
Releases Worldwide: May 29th, 2020

Show 5 footnotes

  1. That led to the destruction of one of the towers of the actual Castle Frankenstein; where Dippel was born.
  2. Spoiler alert, it didn’t.
  3. Presumably about the necrophilic, vampiric murderer, Kuno Hofmann.
  4. The true closer if you ignore the album-closing bonus track, “Frederick’s Experiments.”
  5. See what I did there?
« »