Dutch Horror Metal masters, Carach Angren, released their fifth full-length album entitled, Dance and Laugh Amongst The Rotten, through Season of Mist on June 16th. Since then, they have performed at Nummirock in Finland, and With Full Force Festival in Germany, unleashing some of their new songs onstage. We had the pleasure to chat with keyboardist, Clemens “Ardek” Wijers, about the new album, comments made by some Carach Angren detractors, and plans that the band has in store for the future.
With Carach Angren being my favorite band, I was really stoked to be able to review Dance and Laugh Amongst the Rotten and to be able to hear the rest of the new album far in advance of its release date. Before then, I had heard both Song For The Dead, and Charlie, which were the first two singles the band had released off of Dance and Laugh Amongst the Rotten. While I enjoyed both, I was more intrigued with Song For The Dead, and the meaning of the gruesomely haunting track. However, when I listened to the rest of the album for the first time, I wasn’t really understanding the songs fully, and I wasn’t a huge fan of the newly incorporated Heavy/Thrash elements in songs like Blood Queen and In De Naam Van De Duivel. After the first listening of the new album in its entirety, it was concluded that my favorite songs were Opening, Charlie, and Song For The Dead. As stated in my album review, I was disappointed that I didn’t really enjoy this album, and it wasn’t catching on with me, but I did respect Carach Angren for trying new things, just like with their previous album, This is no Fairytale.
Since then, Dance and Laugh Amongst the Rotten has actually grown on me quite a bit, just like I knew it would. I actually got my copy of the CD in the pitch black box two days before the release date and was stoked to finally be able to have all of the lyrics in front of me to read while listening to the whole album again. I started piecing more things together and was happy to understand it more clearly than before. But it still wasn’t catching on as much as I wanted it to. However, I started watching the music video for Charlie repeatedly throughout the days, In De Naam Van De Duivel would get stuck in my head, and I would have lyrics from Pitch Black Box randomly pop into my mind. Now, just like with This is no Fairytale, I enjoy Dance and Laugh Amongst the Rotten, and I wish I could do my review for it over again, haha. I, along with many other US fans, are very eager for Carach Angren‘s return to the states, and to hear these brutally haunting songs live.
The Age of Metal: For This is no Fairytale, there was a vinyl cover with an Ouija board on the inside of it. Did that by any chance have any influence on the inspiration for the theme of Dance and Laugh Amongst the Rotten?
Ardek: Well, you could see it as a nice warning sign of what was about to come haha. The thing is that we have always been inspired by the paranormal, hence the dead and contacting the dead has been a part of our storytelling ever since the beginning. The girl playing with the ouija board on this album offered the perfect introduction and portal to introducing all the other characters you meet on the album, plus there is a major clue revealed towards the end.
TAOM: All of your albums leading up to Dance and Laugh Amongst the Rotten have mostly included Symphonic Black Metal and Death Metal elements. But Dance and Laugh Amongst the Rotten seems to have some Heavy/Thrash Metal elements in certain songs such as Blood Queen. What inspired the band to include those elements in this new album?
A: I think this evolved naturally. When composing this time I came up with some guitar riffs as well but as I’m working from my keyboards they tend to be a different approach, like in Pitch Black Box for example. When composing I always look for what is working in a song and in the case of Blood Queen I remember coming up with the strings in the beginning and Seregor played this thrash riff on one occasion and I spotted it as something that would work throughout the entire opening of the song. I always explain that we want to keep what is working for us but also expand into new territories gradually to keep things interesting for us and the fans. The fans deserve that!
TAOM: In the music video for Charles Francis Coghlan, Seregor’s tombstone says “Hector Droomers.” Why didn’t Seregor use his first name instead, and who is Hector?
A: Good question haha. Well, first of all, I want to explain that everything you see in the video is built and created by us. It took us two months to work on everything almost full time and we are extremely proud of it. The gravestones were created by Seregor as he is extremely creative on this end. He now has his own web shop offering handmade masks. So when it comes to the names on the gravestone we decided to use little references as this is the perfect place to do that kind of thing. Hector, points to a song on Where The Corpses Sink Forever called Little Hector What Have You Done. On another gravestone, the name of the director is written, also a cool reference. There are many things hidden in the video as in our lyrics. We love to do that kind of thing. There is always more to discover for those who like it.
TAOM: This is no Fairytale has two official lyric videos and a music video, and Dance and Laugh Amongst the Rotten has one official lyric video and one music video so far. Are there any plans to do another lyric video for Dance and Laugh Amongst the Rotten?
A: Right now there is no plan but we have to see what we will do in the near future to further promote the album. You are right, for the last album we did two but maybe for this one, two would be too much, also because we were ready to immediately release the official video for Charles Francis Coghlan. I’m very proud that we got everything done in time. We have been touring months in a row last year, came back and went into the studio immediately and went on tour again after that for a month. When we came back it was right into the video process so now is the first time that we can reflect on things a bit and make plans for the future. But there will certainly be more horror to come…
TAOM: In certain songs such as Carriage Wheel Murder and Al Betekent Het Mijn Dood, there are verses in Dutch. But overall your lyrics are mostly in English, besides those songs and some others that have German and French lyrics. What made you decide to not have all of your songs in the Dutch language?
A: Well, we feel the English language is perfect to communicate our stories internationally. We aim to reach as many people as possible so that makes sense. You are right about the inclusion of other languages on certain occasions. We do that if the story invites us to do it. The story is therefore always the leading factor. In de Naam van de Duivel is actually a tale coming from our region here, like Lammendam. So we immediately felt it was a great opportunity to do it like this. It is repeated throughout the song and actually turned out very strong I think.
TAOM: Although you guys have stated in interviews several times that Carach Angren is more of a Horror Metal band rather than the typical Black Metal band, there are still Black Metal fans who post comments on social media stating that you guys are like “Disneyland Black Metal,” and “Not real Black Metal.” But have you guys ever had such things said to you in person?
A: Haha, no never, people who post that probably secretly dress up like the little mermaid when mommy is away. The thing is that we have never claimed to be a “true” black metal band, whatever that is. So what these people are doing is basically getting offended over something that is totally ridiculous. What intrigues me is that in the core of the matter they seem to get so insecure about themselves that they have to post something about it. I mean, think about it: If you really don’t like a band, you don’t care, you don’t go to their page at all, you basically ignore them. These people get triggered and visit our page and go lash out at other fans even. It’s stupid and meaningless if you ask me.
We have great respect for other bands, especially bands that stood at the creation of the genre so to speak. We toured with these bands and all is great, but in the end, Carach Angren is a different kind of beast. We evolved into a horror music act and will keep growing and growing.
TAOM: Many fans including myself believe Carach Angren’s albums would be great as movies, like maybe a short film kind of thing for each album. I’ve also seen fans say that Seregor would be a great actor in a horror movie. Would you guys ever consider doing something along those lines?
A: Yes it could happen sometime but it has to make sense from our point of view. We always have had and will have a strong vision on -what to do next- and if making a movie is part of that it will certainly happen. However, I always feel that less is more, the cliche that often turns out to be true. It’s like the lyric videos, we could make 8 or 9 of them which would be very interesting to a select group of people but the majority would maybe not watch all of them. It’s nice to see something really cool that keeps your mind and heart longing for more. Our last videoclip is basically a short movie if you look at it so we are already moving into that direction naturally it seems.
TAOM: While in tour in the US last fall with Rotting Christ, and then with Kataklysm for select dates, Carach Angren had Jack Owen of Six Feet Under, formerly of Deicide and earlier on in Cannibal Corpse, fill in on guitar. How was that overall experience, and would you guys do another US tour with him on guitar duties?
A: It was a great experience, Jack is a really cool guy and we had a lot of fun. Right now we are steadily working with the guy that has been helping us out for over two years now. We call him “The Butcher” haha. An incredible guitar player who has his own band called Mescaliner. Both of their guitarists have been helping us out greatly on the live front actually.
TAOM: Besides doing some festivals this summer, do you guys have any plans to do European or North American tours later this year or maybe the next?
A: We must and we will! actually, things are shaping up more and more every day. We have a great team surrounding us working on new touring opportunities right now and we are focussing on creating a new live show that will impress our fans once again.
TAOM: Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to do this interview. Is there anything you’d like to say to the fans, or can you give us any insight as to what’s next for Carach Angren?
A: Thanks for the great questions as always. Buy our new album and see you all soon during a haunting near you!