Carach Angren - Death Came Through A Phantom Ship

Carach Angren are one of those unique symphonic black metal bands that really know how to make their music epic without sounding like anything else (too much, at least). Hailing from the Netherlands, they've been known for creating interesting concept albums and stories while weaving their own soundtrack to go along with the lyrics. It is almost like listening to a really metalled-up audiobook. With Death Came Through A Phantom Ship, Carach Angren take the oceanic and science fiction route to new heights by creating a grim horror story that will please anyone who is a fan of 'story CDs.' As far as music goes, they've injected even more melody and symphonic elements into their music to really flesh out the feeling of grand and majestic black metal, while keeping up with their aggressive side.

The opening track begins the story with a very sombre, creepy orchestral arrangement and some spoken word passages that involve a ship's captain calling for help. The stage is set, and then "The Sightings Is A Portent Of Doom" kicks in and the black metal fun begins. At first, the guitar arrangements and vocals sound quite a bit like Dimmu Borgir, and even the symphonic arrangements sound like them as well. But, Carach Angren are just warming themselves up to show just how they can create a much better symphony. It's the track "And The Consequence Of Macabre" that really shows the band's symphonic side. There's plenty of piano mixed in with the orchestra as the track flows like a writhing ocean between black metal and classical music, each note falling into the right place. The vocals range between the usual black metal rasp and some backing chorus vocals to make the track sound even more epic. The drums keep things intense along with the guitars as they blaze their way through, allowing the orchestra to cushion everything. "Van Decken's Triumph" sounds almost like a waltz with the orchestra and guitars are arranged, adding some new flavor to Carach Angren's music and sets the tone for "Bloodstains On The Captain's Log," which is a bit more aggressive than the last two tracks but still keeps the symphonic elements to a tasteful advantage.

Things are broken up a bit by "Al Betekent Het Mijn Dood" which features more sample words backed by a haunting symphony, and then the black metal vocals are the only thing one hears. For some reason, this is very dark, and very effective, and a style that more artists of the genre should use because the power of black metal vocals are underestimated. Alone, they're a terrifying instrument unto themselves. "Departure Towards A Nautical Curse" is the climax of the story, and is bit more 'black metal' than symphonc. The guitars feature a slow, chugging pace towards the end of the track, and sounds a bit more like generic black metal. But, Carach Angren add some very creepy 'woo' synth in to really put the spin on the listeners. "The Course Of A Spectral Ship" brings things back to the symphonic side, but this also features some of the best vocal work as they give their all with each scream. The drums just sound like cannons going off during a battle while the orchestra builds the tension, and then explodes at the end. Hence, fans are left with the almost doom metal like pace of "The Shining Was A Portent Of Gloom." This is the perfect closer as everything flows seamlessly. The guitar notes hook together with no breakdowns and then leave the symphony to bring the last closing minute, which sets an ominous tone for a possible second album...

By far, this is one of the better symphonic black metal albums out there. Fans of Shade Empire and earlier Keep of Kalessin will eat this up like candy, simply for the beauty of the songs arrangements. There is just as much power in the music as there are in the lyrics that tell the story, and hopefully Carach Angren will continue this tradition throughout their career.

  1. Electronic Voice Phenomena
  2. The Sighting Is A Portent Is Doom
  3. And The Consequence Macabre
  4. Van Der Decken's Triumph
  5. Bloodstains On The Captain's Log
  6. Al Betekent Het Mijn Dood
  7. Departure Towards A Nautical Curse
  8. The Course Of A Spectral Ship
  9. The Shining Was A Portent Of Gloom

Maddening Media
Reviewer: Colin McNamara
Aug 2, 2010

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