Carach Angren - Lammendam
Season Of Mist
Symphonic Black Metal
13 songs (52' 59")
Release year: 2008
Carach Angren, Season Of Mist
Reviewed by Andy
Archive review

Symphonic black metal is somewhat of an acquired taste for me. I'm not a huge fan of many of the examples of this genre, but I've liked some of the lesser-known acts and can see why someone could get into this. Lammendam, being re-released by Season of Mist Records at the time of this writing, is a fairly good effort of this sort; it is an over-the-top album, but certainly covers a lot of ground in an interestingly theatrical way.

And "theatrical" is the best way I can describe it. Carach Angren's themes have nothing to do with J.R.R. Tolkien, as I half expected the first time I heard them because of their band name, or even that favorite subject of black metal, the Prince of Darkness. Their theme is a ghost story, and the first instrumental track gets the listener in the mood with tense bursts of strings mixed with tinkling piano (and the sounds of a person fleeing for his life), which is continued, now with fierce black-metal tremolo picking and blastbeats in the next song. As each song unfolds, we get a new chapter of the story, a tale of a girl who, burned to death by a jealous lover, returns as a ghost and does both of them in with some well-placed shoves at inopportune times. The pacing of the music, the piano accents, and the light string touches every few seconds make this a sort of soundtrack to a horror ballet.

Though "black metal", this is symphonic, so it's a lot slicker and more ornate than what most people expect from this sort of music. The guitar is smoothly mixed and far from the extreme blasting of old school black metal, becoming more like another instrument in the symphony of flutes, horns, and violins that fill the tracks. Guitarist/vocalist Seregor has a harsh, grating voice, in keeping with black metal, but really a lot of what would be a croak or a shriek in other vocalists comes out as a sinister hiss, as if he is whispering the ghost story he is telling through a vent in the next room over. Hexed Melting Flesh, in which he chants a poem in a grating voice, he does sound quite creepy, but so much effort is put into sounding that way that it can start getting ridiculous.

That being said, there is such elaborate effort put into these tracks that one can't help but admire it, especially on the faster tracks. The Carriage Wheel Murder, faster than the rest, packs a lot of instrumental range into a fairly short track, and Corpse in a Nebulous Creek is also very good, starting at high speed and then slowing to a crawl for effect, with Seregor in his character as one of the doomed former suitors realizing that the lady's ghost is after him, then jabbering his way through a list of methods he's considering to use to kill himself to escape. The three bonus tracks, taken from their 2005 album, are similar in sound to the previous tracks but with a little more emphasis on the guitar with less on the "symphony" part.

This is a complex album that is hard to appreciate with the first listen and has some weaknesses rooted in the ambition of the songwriters, but it can't be denied that Carach Angren's very detailed take on mixing black metal and the symphony is interesting. Fans of the sort who like a theatrical, romantic approach to metal (Cradle of Filth comes to mind) should probably check this one out.

Killing Songs :
The Carriage Wheel Murder, Corpse in a Nebulous Creek
Andy quoted 76 / 100
Other albums by Carach Angren that we have reviewed:
Carach Angren - Where the Corpses Sink Forever reviewed by Alex and quoted 78 / 100
Carach Angren - Death Came Through A Phantom Ship reviewed by Goat and quoted 86 / 100
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