Oddballs Carach Angren aren’t the only band to hit black metal upside its atavistic cranium with a bit of left-brained mania, but they might stand out as one of more creative to posit a horror score/classical psychosis on its corpsepainted pate. Franckensteina Strataemontanus extends the Dutch fiends’ foray into the theatrical, the musical and the entertaining with all the musical heft they could muster on album number six.
Much in the same way that Cradle of Filth are storytellers while also adhering to the tenets of the genres that influenced them, Carach Angren—now a duo with the recent departure of drummer Namtar—are perennially overjoyed to be at the lectern, gesticulating psychotically to the telling of large tales of horror, gore, ghosts and the supernatural. Musically, Seregor and Ardek have crafted an album that feels like a Benjamin Wallfisch piece (It, A Cure for Wellness) with the preternatural thrust of 1993-era Morbid Angel.
On the surface, Carach Angren’s lament configuration may sound as if a joke. Indeed, for the furrowed brow, pants-up black metaller, songs like “Scourged Ghoul Undead,” “Monster” and “Der Vampir von Nürnberg” would appear as a (circus) screamer for the happier populace, but they’re just as dark and horrific. Dig deeper: “The Necromancer,” “Operation Compass” and “Scourged Ghoul Undead” could’ve been the between on Illud Divinum Insanus had its chief nutty professor not been stuck in a Quake III Arena time warp.
What’s interesting about Franckensteina Strataemontanus is that the traditional black/death lays feel pedestrian compared to “Monster,” “Like a Conscious Parasite I Roam” and the title track. In many ways, the more playful Carach Angren are, the better (and crazier) they are.
Review taken from the June 2020 issue of Decibel, which is available here.