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Carach Angren: This is No Fairy Tale

This is a very challenging album, one that may require a couple of strategic ways of introducing it before potential listeners will discover it. The first way is to follow the statement found in the album's promotional materials suggesting that it is not for the faint of heart. Normally, I would interpret such a warning as a simple act of bravado, nothing more, the kind of thing that makes heavy metal seem that much more extreme. With this album, though, the statement seems less about posturing and more about a creating a real warning. Don't get me wrong, this isn't a recording that's going to cause a moral panic or lead to years and years of therapy. It is, however, a recording that deals with some pretty dark issues—domestic abuse, violence toward children, murder, and so on—in frank and challenging ways. At times, the music and words may even scare listeners a little.

The second way to approach this album is to consider that the lyrics, at least in the PDF form I have, take up about eleven pages of text. The length doesn't really matter, but it does help me make the point that this album is heavy on words. The reason is because the lyrics tell a complete story, just like you'd expect to see in a book. And, as the title suggests, it certainly is no fairy tale, though it often takes on the feel of one. I recommend that anyone who listens to this album does so with the lyrics in hand. They are central to the major themes being addressed and, as I said, make up a complete story.

Now that I've pointed out a couple of preliminary things, let me get to the point: Carach Angren is a symphonic black metal band with a penchant for retelling (and retooling) fairy tales. Like the original versions of the Grimm tales, these stories are dark and foreboding, completely devoid of the charms of a Disney retelling. Not everyone will enjoy what they hear, but I think Carach Angren is doing interesting things with their materials and doing them well. Although I don't want to spoil the story, the lyrics to this album examine the ugliness of the world, particularly as it shows up in close-knit human relationships, without pulling any punches. It's rough going at times, but it makes for a fascinating listen overall. Remember, though, the music and lyrics create a very dark world, a world where people suffer and die remorselessly. When sleep comes, dreams also come, but they only heighten the anxiety and deepen the pain.

Musically, things are just as dark as the lyrics. Since this is symphonic black metal, the music contains quite a bit of orchestral passages that lend plenty of darkness to the already gloomy atmosphere. The band has been praised for its use of orchestral arrangements. I'd have to agree with such praise. These guys create stirring passages the complement the guitars, bass, drums, and vocals, very well. It took me some time to adjust to Seregor's vocals. He is very good at creating death growls that lie between singing and speaking. Listening to him is like listening to a gifted storyteller, only this one is from beyond the grave. Once I got used to his style, I liked it more and more.

I'd recommend this album to fans of black metal looking for something a little different than the usual fare. I'd also suggest it to fans of symphonic black metal, a style that Carach Angren has not only mastered but also taken in new and interesting directions. Check out the band online, too. Their take on corpse paint is pretty great. As I said at the beginning, this album probably won't appeal to everyone, but it is certainly an example of dark materials being handled with just the right amount of horror and dread. Give it a try!

Track Listing:
1. Once Upon a Time
2. There's No Place Like Home
3. When Crows Tick on Windows
4. Two Flies Flew into a Black Sugar Cobweb
5. Dreaming of a Nightmare in Eden
6. Possessed by a Craft of Witchery
7. Killed and Served by the Devil
8. The Witch Perished in Flames
9. Tragedy Ever After

Added: April 27th 2015
Reviewer: Carl Sederholm
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
Hits: 1814
Language: english

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