"My oath was registered in thunder, and in streams of sulphurous fire. The hurricane burst upon the ship, the canvass flew away in ribbons..." it says inter alia in the key scene of Frederick Mayat's novel "The Phantom Ship". Only one of the sources which carry the legend of the Flying Dutchman into the world. CARACH ANGREN will become yet another...
Well, actually they don't research that thoroughly for their new blood-curdling creation "Death Came Through A Phantom Ship" as
keyboarder Ardek reveals in the interview. "To be honest we didn't do a whole lot of research, simply because we didn't want to repeat artists like Wagner. I also don't know the novel by Mayat. The research we did do was mainly to support our view on the story." Whereas CARACH ANGREN's story doesn't start with the known scene at the Cape of Good Hope but with two tracks which can be seen as some form of introduction to bring the legend of the past into the present. "Exactly, it's an introduction, a prologue situated in the 1960s. We did the same thing on "Lammendam" but much less obvious. With these tracks we wanted to shock the listener, set the mood before telling the 'real' story. You have to know that we realised that this album was going to be a challenge. We wanted to avoid all cliches regarding pirates and ghost ships. I think the first two tracks can really work your imagination... The legend tells, if one sees the apparition of the ship he or she will find death shortly afterwards, drowning or instant cardiac death while standing on deck. Well... the first track tells the story of a man who sees the apparition of an old ship. And oh...!!! The way he finds his death in the second song... Hahaha, yes! We succeeded on the horror part, and I'd really advise everyone to listen to the album while reading the lyrics!"
Once again the lyrics are striking. Yet "Lammendam" impresses with
atmospheric lyrics worded way beyond stereotypes which foster the mental cinema evoked by the music. Singer and guitarist Seregor entirely trusts his own creativity with the prologue. "It's not based on true facts but solely on pure imagination. In some existing stories the ship departs before being cursed. All of a sudden her sails turn into flames and she hovers over the waves like a ghost. We leave these parts out and try to make it more realistic. Like the ship departs and disappears in the roaring ocean. It simply vanishes before the eyes of some witnesses... and later... dark tales of a ghost ship are heard. It's difficult but we try to give our vision of the story a more realistic edge." Thereby the lyrics and the music form an audibly inseparable unity. Seregor starts working on the lyrics when the compositions are more or less accomplished. And once he gets inside the elements lyrics are usually created in a flow. But this time also Erik Wijnands - who is responsible for CARACH ANGREN's atmospheric imagery and artworks with Negakinu Photography - contributes the lyrics for a song. "He wrote the lyrics for the last track on the album which gives the conclusions in the story a different dimension. When the lyrics develop they reflect and work on the musical process as well. Some key elements in the story need certain music and we never had a problem with this. It's always like 'hey, we have this song, this perfectly fits this part of the story'! It always comes together in a more perfect way than we could ever imagine."
Picture provided by Maddening Media, copyright by Negakinu
A tinge of romance can be found on "Death Came Through A Phantom Ship" again. CARACH ANGREN attach great importance to diversification in both musical and storytelling aspects. "We find it very important to create contrasts in our music. In my opinion it'd be very annoying if we created nine tracks about a very very very dark and evil story. Maybe you would fall asleep and have a very evil dream halfway through, haha, but no, we want to take the listener on a journey, let him or her feel different emotions throughout the album. Make you feel very comfortable... to scare you. Make you feel proud to let you lose everything." So it's no surprise that Mayat's novel which ends with the curse being lifted by Hendrik van der Decken's son is no option for CARACH ANGREN. "As I have not read the novel I wasn't aware of this element but yes, you're right, this would not be a 'CARACH ANGREN ending'. We'd probably turn it into something else. The Flying Dutchman is such a famous story that many countries have their own version. We just took all the good parts in order to make our own good horror tale with an ending you will never forget..."
What goes for the ending also applies to the beginning of the narration. Mayat introduces the key scene at the Cape of Good Hope quite early whereas CARACH ANGREN deliberately follow another path.
"Yes, this is exactly what we wanted to avoid. Of course, it's an important scene but there are so many elements to work with in this story. We chose to describe Van der Decken, give the listener insight in the development of his personality. This is the key element in our perspective of the story. After the first tracks we meet Van der Decken as an ambitious young captain, ready to roam the seas. The music is adventurous but dark at the same time, it already reveals a little bit of what is to come. Eventually you'll learn what happens to Van der Decken but I'm not revealing this right here, haha."
For the second time CARACH ANGREN enter the Tidal Wave Studio to record with Patrick Damiani, seeing this as a deadline to be well prepared. Regarding the creational process of their typical sound CARACH ANGREN stay on familiar ground as well. Ardek starts with the composition of classical scores only accompanied by some basic drums before Seregor adds the guitars and the vocals. Then Namtar sets in with his unique drumming while the trio is always hunting for the perfect combination of classical as well as soundtrack approaches and the harsh, pounding metal sound. "This combination tells the story just the way we want it to. The way we work on an album is always very eclectic. A lot of stuff is going on at the same time - music, lyrics, artwork. When we feel the album is gaining shape we try to make arrangements for a recording session. That is our deadline... after that, we try to complete everything before we start to work in the studio. We know that there's always a lot to discuss and review. This album has been a hell of a ride and it wouldn't have been possible without all the help we got from friends like Rob Fox.
When we started working in the studio Patrick Damiani came in and gave his excellent and very useful opinion from the production side of view. We also had Nikos Mavridis from the band Rome again who did an outstanding job on playing his violin. Post-production is a process on its own because we have a lot of layers in our music. Patrick did it again this time, an outstanding job! Meanwhile Erik Wijnands took on the artwork job with Seregor. This guy is magic with the art of photography in my opinion. With his creativity the music has a chance to transform into visual images. Last but not least Philip Breuer (Maddening Media) makes our appearance possible by total and true support."
Carach Angren (left to right Seregor - Ardek - Namtar)
CARACH ANGREN have been cultivating their Haunting Theatric Black Metal since 2003 and always appropriate one story for a concept release. The Chase Family vault, the Lady of Raynham Hall, a lady clad in white in the forests surrounding Schinveld and now the Flying Dutchman offer abundant material to let one's imagination run wild, explore different perspectives and allow the listener at home to participate in the scary events. Unfortunately live shows of CARACH ANGREN outside The Netherlands are scarce commodity except for a few gigs. In November 2009 they enter a minitour which also leads them to Berlin with disgracefully few people attending the show and support bands who strike as a bit weird (the pictures above were taken at this show). "Well, the support band - Abstinenz - actually chose us as the headliner and not the other way around. They arranged the concerts and invited us along. The conditions looked great so we agreed to come over and play. It was only then that we realised that the PR had been a complete disaster. No one seemed to be aware of the concert in Berlin. Only the last of the three gigs was 'okay'."
So much the better that CARACH ANGREN will embark on an extensive European tour with a fat package shortly.
"This is a fantastic opportunity and it came right in time! Personally I really like Dark Funeral and with this package it's going to be a hell of a ride! We played some concerts in France, Belgium, Germany and Slovenia but now we have the chance to present both "Lammendam" and "Death Came Through A Phantom Ship" to audiences all over Europe. The other bands - Zonaria and Nefarium - complete the line-up and turn this tour into one big dark shadow over Europe." Live member Trystys on guitar, who displaces the bassist Brynmor, will support CARACH ANGREN.
"Things didn't really work out with Brynmor so we changed our vision on our live performance. We came to the conclusion that we would actually put the bass on a hard disk recorder because we had a really hard time finding a 'live bass player' who just did what we wanted him to. Then the idea of a live guitarist came up and Namtar introduced Trystys to the band. He does an outstanding job and makes our live performances much more interesting."
And who is Rob whom they seem to face with resentment in the line 'Take Rob and rape'? "Haha, the only Rob we know is a close friend who is really very supportive regarding CARACH ANGREN so it's of course not like that. 'Take, Steal and Rape' sounds less convincing and that would be offensive against all people named
'Steal':-)" So is there anything to be added? "Yes, thank you very much for this in depth conversation! Check out "Death Came Through A Phantom Ship" and we hope to see you on the road in March and April!"
For further information check out the CARACH ANGREN website
or their myspace page.