Logo Carach Angren

Cultivated horror in symphonic franticness

After two demo releases with haunting stories about the Chase family vault and the Lady of Raynham hall, CARACH ANGREN take us into the forests surrounding Schinveld where the apparition of a lady clad in white is said to be still seen...

Before talking about the present let's have a quick look at the history and lyrical concepts of the story so far. Originally Seregor (guitars, vocals), Ardek (keyboards) and Namtar (drums) decide to focus on songs based on Limburgian ghost legends and come up with some tracks with different concepts. Picking the best songs CARACH ANGREN create their first demo "The Chase Vault Tragedy", already featuring one ghost concept for an entire release which is about the Chase family vault on Barbados. A cursed vault. Every time this sealed tomb is opened previously added coffins of family members are found in chaos and disorder. Covered by a gigantic slab and sealed with mortar so no man could remove or remake it, and the Governor himself marks the mortar with his personal seal. They even throw white sand over the vault's floor to make footsteps visible. And whenever a family member dies and the untouched grave is reopened it will be found in disorder again but neither footsteps nor other traces can be found. CARACH ANGREN like this kind of tales and agree to continue... 2005 sees the release of the second demo "Ethereal Veiled Existence" about a famous ghost photograph taken in 1936, unveiling the story of the Brown Lady of Raynham Hall. Raynham Hall is a great mansion where many people see the ghost of a woman who once had been locked until her death in one of the rooms for her husband suspects her of infidelity. She is imprisoned and never sees her children again but her ghost keeps searching. Several famous confrontations with the apparition can be found in the four songs on "Ethereal Veiled Existence", and it is a well received mini CD. Asked how a band name taken from Tolkien's works goes along with such tales Seregor leads us back to the early days of the Dutch. "The name CARACH ANGREN goes back to the nineties when I was active in a melodic black metal band called Inger Indolia. I got familiar with Tolkien (way before the movies) and found out that his books were like bibles to some black metal bands. Think of Gorgoroth, Morgul, etc. The name Inger Indolia was chosen and CARACH ANGREN kept collecting dust in my head for some years. Then I hooked up with Ardek in the thrash/black band Vaultage (rip). That's when we decided there wasn't enough horror and mysticism for us... so CARACH ANGREN was born... first as a simple side project. Certainly one could say already too many bands used a name from Tolkien but for some things it's maybe better to stay with the tradition. Tolkien is a perfect way to describe good and evil. So... we were not filthy of a Tolkien based name. And we did not agree right away on using ghost stories for all our upcoming releases. The ghost concept came in during "The Chase Vault Tragedy". It turned out great... and it kept returning. Oh yess!!! We have lots of ghost tales to tell. Now you can say that CARACH ANGREN is a very well chosen name. If we decide to switch to another frightening concept in the future CARACH ANGREN will always be an appropriate name. It gives an underground feeling. It stands for strength. It sounds dark and once you remember the name after a few times trying it won't leave your mind." The translation from Sindarin means ´Iron Jaws´ and also finds a close match in the music as well as the lyrics which catch the listener and won't let loose again. "I think there are many catchy things in CARACH ANGREN. Musically it's the way of the melodies. Ardek composed many sounds and melodies that stay in the mind. Everyone who listened to his new parts walks away whistling those damn tunes. The lyrics are not too difficult but right in the face. Cruel and sick at the right moments but those who search for constant gore will search in vain. I would say that we are constantly working on trying to catch listeners with our horror feeling in every way, may it be music, artwork, lyrics, images, shows, concepts, etc. Yeah... we hope those fucking jaws to bite very hard!"

The lyrics are rather of cultivated horror than a butcher's platter, and it is this ghostly twist which adds a dark kind of romanticism and charme to the concepts. "Yes, I think so. It's just our style I guess. We keep going back to the old times... "Once upon a time"... In our three concepts up to this day you automatically cross classic times. There's always the story of love. And for "Lammendam", the lady in white could not choose between two guys. They found out about each other and became enemies. There you have the romance part again. Somehow we think that romance and charming aspects are one with most hauntings. You have to play with emotions. Ask yourselves: How can you give people a certain story in a way that their fantasies can make the whole thing complete. If you are a story teller you can tell that there was a woman who was murdered but if you first give information on what a nice charming human being she was... Then the murdering part would have more impact because you can put yourself in that character's position. So you just need a good balance in your concept. When you start with horror and end with it, then it could be boring. Like an entire CD full of blast beats and the same chords. It's like black and white. You also need the charming white to make that dark blackness come up in a successful shocking way." With the permanent blast beats and never changing chords Seregor raises an issue which cannot be found with CARACH ANGREN - monotonousness. Apart from numberless changes of tempo and riffs rich in variety Ardek's abilities on the keyboards play a decisive role for he doesn't leer at modern sounds. His arrangements rather appear to be inspired by classical works and seem to build a bridge between old and new. Ardek rightly takes this for a compliment as "this illustrates that we really intend to make something different resp. new. The synths and orchestral parts are not written with a different intention than the rest of the music. I just catch myself composing some stuff and sometimes it ends up as a blast beat part and other times it just appears to be more of an intro or something like that. When I listen to our music and compare it to some pop music for example, the first thing that strikes me is the difference in use of tempo and tonality. Modern music tends to be more steady and ongoing which is something I find quite boring. I think music must hit your emotional self and carry you away. With our fantasies and musical goals this is best achieved with lots of story telling elements in the music - hence the tempo differences and changing tonalities."

Carach Angren Band
Picture provided by Carach Angren

So what seperates a Haunting Theatric Black Metal band from the average symphonic black metal band? For Seregor it's difficult to give names nowadays as the importance lies on giving the listeners the right information which kind of music a band plays. "Haunting stands for the ghostly aspects. Theatric stands for the fact that we try to make a horror show of our performances and productions. Black metal is the music genre where we fit in best because we also use corpsepaint, blast beats, high screams, etc. And we love bands like Emperor, Mayhem, Dark Funeral... you name it. I also use symphonic black metal as a big name to us. To me it feels like hard music with high screams, keyboards and melodies. It can be anything these days. With or without paint, fast or slow music. I think ´Haunting Theatric Black Metal´ is a clearer definition to describe what we do. And regarding influences - not only musical ones and in the metal genre - Ardek adds that "of course, we're all influenced by metal at certain points in our lives. On the other hand we're all fans of mysterious, horrific, psychological and philosophical themes. I think everything we experienced in our lives so far connected (or sometimes not) to these themes affects our creativity regarding our music. Think of movies, other music but also games, books and conversations with other people and each other." Their unique sound combining so many influences finally draws the attention of a label. It can happen that Maddening Media boss Philip Breuer stumbles across a band on myspace, gets in touch and offers a deal which shows quite some dedication to music from a label nowadays. Ardek praises the cooperation hitherto highly with "Very Fucking Great, haha! For us it was like a dream come true, meeting someone who was very interested in our music and showing us this kind of dedication and trust! Philip is an extraordinary guy with a very sincere and honest view on music and art in general. If he likes something, he really likes it in an authentic way. This is something rarely found within musical business these days I think, and it makes working together so much more fun because you are really on the same level. So the cooperation is fantastic and will only get better I think. We got all the artistic freedom we wanted and every topic was an open topic to talk about. This cooperation really helps us as a band. It's also cool to follow the proceeding of other bands currently on the label (Le Grand Guignol, Abstract Rapture, Uninvited Guest). One by one very good musicians and artists in my opinion. So being connected to Maddening Media has all kinds of advantages. It's not only a good way to present our music to more people but also a solid and fun networking basis within the music scene." Just as enthusiastic Ardek reflects on the recordings at Tidal Wave Studios which, of course, cannot be compared in any way to the previous home studio recordings. "Again, very very great! The things I told about artistic freedom also apply to this question. We worked with Patrick Damiani on a very natural, free and solid basis, right from the beginning. Patrick has a very natural view on recording an album or music/sound in general. This is something that fits our views. There are lots of things going on in our music at the same time so it's really a hard job to make this come out in a good, natural way. Patrick pulled this off, we were overwhelmed by the end result! Besides all this we had a very great time at the studio. We worked very hard but also partied until we dropped."

The release for this overwhelming result called "Lammendam" is scheduled for April 18, 2008. And with ´A Strange Presence Near The Woods´ CARACH ANGREN offer a teasing track on myspace which gets consistently positive feedback. As it is still a bit too early for talking about the media resonance, let's talk a bit more about the album. To elaborate on details like the origins of the two lads who are part of the story CARACH ANGREN avail themselves of several languages. In ´Phobic Shadows And Moonlit Meadows´ the attentive listener will find German passages whereas CARACH ANGREN use some lines in their mother tongue in ´The Carriage Wheel Murder´. "Hehe, great you notice!", says Seregor "Yeah, first of all to point out the origins of the German and Dutch lad. It seemed also a good idea to use these languages and speak some depressing words. It makes things a little more personal. Maybe nice aspect for Germany and Holland. The two lads were both cursed, yes. One night the white lady's farmstead - looking like a castle - burned like hell. If one of those guys did it? No one ever knew. One year later, after her death... Jan-Willem died. He drove off with horse and carriage... and was pushed into the spinning wheels by an invisible entity. One week later Manfred broke his neck when he jumped over a creek in Schinveld. These two death events became ´The Carriage Wheel Murder´ and ´Corpse In A Nebulous Creek´." The last track ´La Malediction De La Dame Blanche´ tells the story from the angle of the French peasants so the French title also isn't a coincidence which Seregor confirms. "It is the language that made Lammendam exist. In that time... some French peasants worked here on the Dutch fields because of the French Revolution. They were the ones who saw a white shade along the fields and the forest. And they warned people to stay away from that place when it becomes dark, especially during a full moon. They called the apparition ´La Madame Blanche´ which was turned into ´De Lammendam´ by the Dutch folks over the years."

Carach Angren Band
Picture provided by Carach Angren

Some time may pass until CARACH ANGREN take this ghostly work to German stages but a bass player for live performances has been found for the time being. Only a full member for this post seems to be nowhere in sight. Seregor and Ardek answer in unison that this is "very difficult! We know how hard it can be in a band with different band members. When people do not share the same emotions to accomplish something like "Lammendam". It was just the three of us from the beginning with a special feeling about what we wanted. We created two demos, a fine CD and played awesome gigs. That was a lot of work and fun. With this fine result... it's a fact that the three of us know that we're the right line-up to fuel this engine. We kept it that way. Precious! There were a few bass players in our rehearsal room but none turned out to be the one and we got used to playing gigs without bass. Now we have recruited Brynmor for live performances. He worked with me, Seregor, in a former band and turned out to be the right guy for the job. So we have another demon on stage and his cold final touch of the bass guitar." Well, Brynmor can certainly prove this at one or another gig in the near future. After finishing the production of "Lammendam" CARACH ANGREN now have the time to rehearse and prepare the release. "But we can ensure you that we will show up in many places in the future. We will play gigs. In the meantime we will expand these performances to greater acts. Not just a band playing but more like a theatrical horror show. Maybe we will add video projections or different persons performing some kind of act. We will see." And finally Seregor reveals some details on a possible concept for the next release. "Well, there are already new ideas for the next concept. We began with a ´family vault´ on our first demo. Then we described ´the ghost of Raynham Hall´ on our second demo. So we had graves and haunted mansions. This time, "Lammendam" takes place in the woods. And now we are brainstorming about using the ocean in the concept of the next album. Apparitions and hauntings remain central but the environment switches. I read tales of men who once drowned. Their souls could not rest and their ghosts kept wandering from the waters each night to knock on our doors. Only watery footsteps could be seen when doors were opened. I feel this concept idea already as a beginning process. The sea can be a cruel and dark element. Nothing is clear yet, though... but our next production will be a combination of hauntings in the timeless riddles of the ocean. Yes... another single myth for a whole release. Maybe in the future there will be one release with twelve songs and different concepts. You never know with CARACH ANGREN! All I know is that ghosts will stick with our concepts for a long time. I think it's more realistic and frightening than werewolves and vampires. There are real stories and articles. For example: Four college girlfriends studying at university gathered one night and started fucking with spirits. You know the game with the glass or wicca boards. Three of them committed suicide within two years! On many internet sites they recommend NOT to play these games. I mean... even if you are not instable and sensitive. There's a strange relation between summoning spirits and many persons ending up dead or in asylums. Hehe... mysterious... and good enough for CARACH ANGREN!"

For further information check out the CARACH ANGREN website or their myspace page.

Interview done by Endrew. April 2008.

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