Since their inception in 2003, Dutch black metal trio Carach Angren have slowly built up a strong reputation in the modern black metal scene. With all their records to date acting as concept records about Dutch Legends, war and horror the band have the cutting edge. Now, in 2015 the band have unleashed their fourth studio record, This Is No Fairytale. Through a twisted tale of Hansel and Gretel, Carach Angren continue their stories of horror. We spoke to Clemens Wijers to discuss the new record and why Carach Angren are the leaders of black metal today.
Keeping to tradition, This Is No Fairytale is a concept record. Across nine songs, Carach Angren depict a twisted tale of Hansel and Gretel that addresses themes of fantasy and horror. Clemens recalls how this theme became the focal point for the record; “For some years we already had this idea to include fairy tales in one of our stories. When I sat down one day Seregor called me and said “I’ve made this really twisted version of Hansel and Gretel”. In the original tale the children are put in the forest because the parents cannot take care of them but in his version he wants them to flee the house because it’s horrible inside. It’s over the top horror!”
This can certainly be experienced on the new record, Two Flies Flew into a Black Sugar Cobweb is twisted and raises goosebumps where as Possessed by a Craft of Witchery drives fear through the signature orchestration and Seregor’s twisted snarls and roars. It’s an aspect of Carach Angren’s lyrical focus that sets them apart from other bands in the modern black metal scene. Whilst other black metal bands focus on atmosphere, Clemens believes by telling twisted tales Carach Angren are unique and therefore sets them above other bands in the scene. “I think not many bands do it the way we do it. There have always been some concept albums but we really put this in front, we prioritise it. We really try to keep this a focus and a lot of black metal bands focus solely on atmosphere or try to make a point throughout a song. We are story tellers…”
Clemens words ring the truth as Carach Angren’s lyrics are often dark, twisted and cover themes that make the skin crawl. There’s No Place Like Home is a clear indication of the band’s priority to deliver horror in the musical format, so much so that following the release of this track prior to the record’s release that band received death threats due to the subject nature of the song’s lyrics; domestic violence. “We expect controversy about the subjects at hand; like domestic violence”, it’s clear that Carach Angren aren’t afraid to focus on subjects that could be controversial, if anything it helps bolster the band’s grip on the black metal scene today. Black metal was notorious in the early 1990s through church burnings and brutal on stage performances, almost two decades since the early days black metal is considered by many to be tame and simply just another sub-genre of the heavy metal umbrella. Even though Carach Angren don’t resort to actions of an extreme nature outside of live performances, comparisons certainly can be drawn through their twisted lyrics; “of course we included some things stylistically like the vocals and the rhythm guitar playing but that’s just our music as it evolved throughout the years. We don’t try to be like that and if people call us dark metal or horror metal we don’t care.”
That is testament to how Carach Angren have developed in their 12 year musical career, without taking extreme measure to gain notoriety, the band have developed a reputation of being fierce and extreme purely through their sound, a trait that is extremely difficult to achieve in modern music. This is showcased through the band’s live shows, where the addition of unique elements, like a ballet dancer to portray their music of horror or as Clemens states “to spook it up a bit”,this therefore can set the band apart from other bands that fall under the categorisation of black metal. Clemens believes by having unique aspects to Carach Angren’s sound and live performance it can set the band apart in a genre that has steadily become stagnated; “You have to try and find a voice of your own and that can take time. We also had to do this but you have to start somewhere. I think we have a lot of bands that aren’t so necessary, I appreciate everyone trying but I miss bands with their own voice.”
With This Is No Fairytale finally unleashed to the world, the band are ready to bring their horror stories through vast touring. “We are going to try to tour as much as possible. We have some festivals planned and we have good management and good booking agents, so we hope to tour as much as possible.” And despite the challenges of replicating the band’s unique sound, Clemens is confident that it will be possible and a sight to be witness to, “It is a challenge technically because we are a three man group but we did the release show and it really worked well. I’m really sure we can bring this to different countries!”
This Is No Fairtale is available now via Season of Mist