Dutch masters of horror, Carach Angren, have been releasing gruesomely haunting music for nearly 15 years now. From the 2004 demo, The Chase Vault Tragedy, up to the 2015 full-length, This is no Fairytale, Dennis Droomers and the two Wijers brothers, gave the world their own brutal twist on original stories and events through Symphonic Black Metal, Death Metal, and horror. Now only a couple years later, the creative trio will be releasing their fifth full-length album, Dance and Laugh Amongst the Rotten, through Season of Mist on June 16th.
The opening track of Dance and Laugh Amongst the Rotten, is literally entitled Opening. But it is far from a disappointing start, and it’s actually my third favorite song on the album. With a piano that sounds like it’s being played in minor, an eerie sound like something from a horror movie, and a beautiful orchestration, it gives it the contrast of chilling yet sort of uplifting, and it really grabs your attention. The ending of the song has something that sounds like a violin being played to sound very creepy and goose bump-inducing. Ardek did a great job on the composition for this intro piece.
Charlie, the second song, and the second single released from the album, opens with that weird and creepy violin sound that Opening ended with, along with another eerie and ghastly sound. I can’t decipher what Seregor is whispering before and during the “Oui-ja, are you there?” part, and it makes me really curious. I’m also curious if the clean vocals, which represent the person using the Ouija board, are Ardek‘s or if they come from someone else even because it doesn’t sound like Seregor‘s vocals (in my opinion). But I like that the spirit of Charlie‘s answers are represented with Seregor‘s harsh vocals. It really gives more to the feeling of Charlie‘s spirit being evil, especially during the part where “the atmosphere began to change,” and “kind answers became evasive, dark and strange.” Another thing I’m curious about is if this song is about a family contacting the spirit of Charles Francis Coghlan since there’s a song about him on the album, or if it’s about the spirit of another person… so, many, questions already, haha. But I also really enjoyed the bass line from 2:42 to 3:19, and it’s my second favorite song of mine on this album.
The third song, and third single released from the album, Blood Queen, caught me off guard with the intro when I first heard it. The opening guitar slide from Seregor, and the cymbal playing from Namtar gives it a more Thrash or Heavy Metal type of vibe. Even the riffs that follow after Namtar‘s drum fill kind of sound more Thrash-like. The music video for this song was created by artist Costin Chioreanu, who also created the cover artwork for this album, and it perfectly illustrates the story of the song. Costin also created the videos for There’s no Place Like Home, and Two Flies Flew Into a Black Sugar Cobweb, from This is no Fairytale. This song was confusing to me at first, because I had no idea who the Blood Queen was, and when the part where Seregor sings “Blood Queen: She comes, through the mirrors” I thought, “So wait, since when was Bloody Mary a Blood Queen?” haha. So I had to do some research, and found out that the Blood Queen was Anne Boleyn, the queen of England from 1533 to 1536. It just goes to show you how much I didn’t remember from my Junior year British Literature class, and that I always thought Bloody Mary was some fake ghost made up for the purpose of that game we all played as children to try to get Bloody Mary to appear in our bathroom mirrors.
Song for the Dead, the fifth song, and the first single released from the album, is actually my top favorite song on Dance and Laugh Amongst the Rotten. When I listened to it for the first time I was like, “Meh, I don’t think I like this, it feels really simple.” But then I quickly thought it could be like an interlude piece similar to Carach Angren songs such as Al Betekent Mijn Dood, and Spectral Infantry Battalions. Then a few days later, the track list to Dance and Laugh Amongst the Rotten was posted on a Carach Angren fan page on Facebook, and I saw that Song for the Dead was placed in the middle. Even though this track is only a transition piece, to me it feels like the most haunting, spooky, and gruesome song on the album. I’m still unsure of what character Seregor is depicting in this song, but I really like the lyrics: “I wear their clothes so warm and tight, you think it’s wrong, I know I’m right. ‘Cause even their hair, so soft and fine, once draping their skulls, now looks good on mine.” I also like some of the more noticeable bass riffs, just like in Charlie.
The last song on Dance and Laugh Amongst the Rotten, Three Times Thunder Strikes, also sounds more Thrash/Heavy Metal with some of the riffs from Seregor and drumming from Namtar at parts. I really enjoy Ardek‘s orchestral and keyboard composition piece from 3:00 to 3:26. It’s like it’s his solo part in the song. The outro of the song is accompanied by orchestration and keyboard playing, a fast paced guitar riff, and slow and simple drum beats that fade out until the end of the song, which makes it a beautiful ending to another ghastly album by Carach Angren.
In conclusion, I’d like to say that while I appreciate Carach Angren seemingly incorporating more elements from other Metal sub-genres in their music, I’m not very fond of this album just yet. I’m not sure what it is, but I think the more Heavy/Thrash sounding parts in some songs on Dance and Laugh Amongst the Rotten may take away from the Black and Death Metal elements in their music, or it adds just a bit too much to their regular, and already complex sound. However, I wasn’t really fond of This is no Fairytale at first either, and I only liked a few songs on the album as well. But with time and reading the lyrics from the lyric booklet of the album over and over again while listening to the songs, I grew to love it, and appreciate the modern, brutal twist on the Hansel and Gretel story. And I felt stupid for not liking it too much at first, so I think the same thing will happen with this new album, especially when I understand more of the overall story of the album, and learn all of the lyrics.
I even recall Seregor saying in an interview that Carach Angren‘s music takes some time to think about, or something along those lines, and it’s so true. Plus Carach Angren‘s albums are always very complex or detailed with many elements, and are always question and thought provoking, even though their last two albums may seem like a bit of a “step down” from the first three albums. Right now, I just kind of feel lost and disappointed with Dance and Laugh Amongst the Rotten, and it makes me a bit sad, because Carach Angren is my favorite band, and I really wanted to love this album. But I’m still very excited to get my Dance and Laugh Amongst the Rotten digipack box, and looking forward to hearing the new songs live when the Dutch horror masters haunt the US again.
- Blood Queen
- Charles Francis Coghlan
- Song For The Dead
- In De Naam Van De Duivel
- Pitch Black Box
- The Possession Process
- Three Times Thunder Strikes
Genre: Horror Metal
Label: Season of Mist
Playing Time: 41:17
Dennis Droomers aka Seregor: Vocals and guitars
Clemens Wijers aka Ardek: Orchestration and keyboards
Ivo Wijers aka Namtar: Drums