Music is a medium of storytelling. It does not matter if the music is instrumental or not. Sometimes the music lacks the conventionality characterising what we see as storytelling. This is where Carach Angren comes in. The band with their dark and haunting music are master story tellers that blend sublime musical composition and masterful storytelling in the realm of conventionality, in terms of a style that is accessible. Couple all of this with the massive cinematic sound of the band and you’ve got the Carach Angren experience. Throughout their discography, the band has poised themselves as masterful storytellers. Their latest offering ‘Franckensteina Strataemontanus’ takes their prowess’s as storytellers to a newer levels of extremity.
The record is cinematic, blending in various elements of a massive orchestra just to make their storytelling a little more compelling. Starting off with “Here in German Woodland”, the album opens up with an eerie mood, almost to reminiscence about the past with a small narration for an intrude. The music we’ve been waiting for starts with “Scourged Ghoul Undead”. Typical CA riffs, blasts, and orchestral sections mark the start of what would be an intense album. The vocals, despite being harsh are incredibly clear and articulate. Rhythmically they fit really well with the musical passages. This has also been part of the band’s appeal too all the time. The title track follows suit in a familiar fashion, in addition to the orchestral elements, brilliant work on synthesized sounds and keys really make the music shine. This song showcases how well a rhythmic section forms the back end making space for the vocals to come into the spotlight for the sake of storytelling. “Sewn for Solitude” “Operation Compass”, “Monster” make use of a very cinematic style of sound design and compositional arrangement. The song opening always open for massive incoming sections, like a movie opening into a key section of a story. “Der Vampir von Nürnberg” takes one back in time a little bit. The orchestral influences on this one are far from contemporary but so brilliantly fits a horror-esque that the band goes for.
“Like a Conscious Parasite I Roam” is another superb song off the record. The compositional intricate of this song is stellar and is easily one of the band’s best composed and recorded songs till date. The song is a journey in to sections that uplift, into sections that take one through so many moods, setting aside the darkness for a while. The music is feels warmer and gripped with tension in sections that take a break from being uplifting. The album comes to a close with “Frederick’s Experiments”. This is quite a small song that intensifies the band’s style in a nutshell. This song too easily becomes one of the best songs the band has made. Splendid work!
‘Franckensteina Strataemontanus’ by Carach Anngren is a memorable album. The whole album is quite the experience. The album is a well put together cinematic package bringing together compelling storytelling, dramatic orchestral arrangements, tasty riffs, mad drumming and powerful vocals. It is easy to go back to the album over and over again. The beautiful aspect of the band’s music is its accessibility- despite the complexities in the music, nothing is over the top. The band’s sound and style is one that anybody can fall in love it.
The production standards on this album is pretty darn good. The mix is tight and everything sounds glued together while distinctively creating space for each aspect of the music and mix to shine. Personally I thought the guitars tones were a little bit of a downer. It is easy to see the black metal style of guitar sounds that the band is going for, which is also true about the band’s guitar tones in the past too. But in the past, the guitars sounded massive and super aggressive. In the new album, the playing is super aggressive and tight as it always has been with the band, but given the spectacular work on the guitar playing and the instrumental prowess eloquently showcased on the album, the guitar tones don’t seem to do justice. The riffs are memorable but the tones are not. By themselves the tones might work but not doesn’t seem to fit the context of the band’s current massive sound. Something feels amiss because the band set really good standards in the past when it came to the guitar work and tones. Maybe this is a stylistic and artistic choice that we are not ready for, who knows?
All in all, ‘Franckensteina Strataemontanus’ is a great album. Seregor, Ardek and Namtar have never disappointed and this album continues to inspire and impress.