Carach Angren - Death Came Through A Phantom Ship
Maddening Media
Symphonic Black Metal
9 songs (43:47)
Release year: 2010
Carach Angren, Maddening Media
Reviewed by Goat
Surprise of the month

Somewhere between Dimmu Borgir and The Vision Bleak in style, Dutch three-piece Carach Angren (‘Iron Jaws’ in Sindarin, an Elvish language from Tolkien) really put their backs into this, a piece of Gothic melodrama detailing a captain’s descent into madness in the finest Tristania meets Cradle Of Filth tradition. As you’d expect from the bands mentioned, this is brash and bold, yet it’s tinged with a real darkness and almost progressive sense of structure, keeping the listener on their toes and throwing plenty of surprises into the mix. It’s much more Black Metal than The Vision Bleak, as concerned with the hammy storytelling as with the expert symphonic cacophony that the band channels into seven superb songs and two shorter, intro/interlude pieces. Actually, I came away with a strange sense that Carach Angren are closer to the likes of Arcturus and Dødheimsgard (a slower, catchier Satanic Art?) in origin, the frantic rhythmic poundings on first track proper The Sighting Is A Portent Of Doom frequently shifting pace in a nicely complex style. Don’t expect anything too Avant-Garde, however, the band are first and foremost about the traditional aspects of Symphonic Black, much more varied and multi-dimensional than, say, Limbonic Art, yet often coming surprisingly close to the Norwegians’ rampaging attack.

There’s no doubt about it, if you’ve listened to new material from Cradle Of Filth with a scowl rather than a smile, Carach Angren have the answer. The ferocious attack of And The Consequence Macabre alone breaks more new ground than Cradle have in years, welding the neoclassical elements into the spine of their sound perfectly. There’s a great moment amongst many where the band drop the guitars and let the violins take the lead, grooving along before adding piano for a wonderfully ghostly effect. The band are expert at this, Van Der Decken’s Triumph ricocheting brilliantly between different types of gothic melancholy, flutes and violins each taking their turn to describe the captain’s emotional state without losing a drop of catchiness. That’s something you don’t always get in music of this sort, yet Carach Angren are quite happy to catch the listener’s attention with great songwriting as much as musical skill, and the intro to Bloodstains On The Captain’s Log is especially expert, the ensuing speedy gallop proving they’re as good at writing riffs as they are at symphonic parts.

That’s ultimately what made my mind up about this. I first noticed this for the artwork, and put it on the review list as a potential laugh, but Carach Angren have really won me over. This is better than The Vision Bleak on nearly every front, more complex songwriting first and foremost, yet even potentially silly interlude Al Betekent Het Mijn Dood keeping the tension high and helping the following Departure Towards A Nautical Curse hit more epic heights. No doubt I wasn’t the only one, but Symphonic Black Metal had rather lost its appeal lately, even Limbonic Art getting a little too set in their ways – Carach Angren prove that there’s still some good left in the genre, and Death Came Through A Phantom Ship will appeal to any orchestrally-inclined black or gothic metallist looking for fresh meat.

Killing Songs :
The Sighting Is A Portent Of Doom, And The Consequence Macabre, Van Der Decken’s Triumph, Departure Towards A Nautical Curse, The Course Of A Spectral Ship
Goat quoted 86 / 100
Other albums by Carach Angren that we have reviewed:
Carach Angren - Lammendam reviewed by Andy and quoted 76 / 100
Carach Angren - Where the Corpses Sink Forever reviewed by Alex and quoted 78 / 100
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