"Franckensteina Strataemontanus"

By Dr. Abner Mality

As a well known lover of all things ghoulish, the Dutch horror mavens CARACH ANGREN should be right up my blood-soaked alley. I don’t think there is a more horror-obsessed band on Earth than these creeps. But listening to their extreme symphonic horror metal creates very schizophrenic feelings in me. To be ironic, “Franckensteina Strataemontanus” (what a jawbreaker that is!) is a virtual Jekyll and Hyde of an album.

This is a band where the symphonic overpowers the metal...totally and utterly. Much of the music here is pure cinematic horror movie soundtrack stuff, full of lush keys, strings and horns. Despite the complete black metal visual look of the band, black metal makes up only a tiny portion of the album. There’s a kind of Goth-industrial vibe akin to RAMMSTEIN or even MARILYN MANSON and also some epic power metal. The BM is like a watered down CRADLE OF FILTH that is mostly communicated by Seregor’s raspy vocals.

If it sounds pretentious and overblown, it is! It’s too much. Think of the band THE VISION BLEAK, an act CARACH ANGREN has much in common with, and amplify that band X 100. There you have CARACH ANGREN. It’s enough to make you roll your eyes. And it’s actually the black metal that’s the least impressive part of the band. Namtar’s drumming is that stupid clicky clacky triggered shit that annoys the hell out of any metal fan. I don’t care how fast it is, it just lacks power. The guitar work comes across as sometimes quite powerful, sometimes rather average.

Why, then, does this cast such a spell on me in some spots? There are times when these guys hit such a perfect note of horror-soaked weirdness that it becomes hypnotic...the industrial/symphonic dirge of the title track is a good example. The flat out epic keyboard soaked atmosphere of “Operation Compass” and “Der Vampir von Nurnberg” is fascinating to listen to, creating actual visions inside your mind. The last track “Like A Conscious Parasite I Roam” is a true piece of occult symphonic art, with avant-garde percussion and beautiful piano. It really works better as cinematic music than “heavy metal”.

In fact, this is impossible to recommend as a straight metal album. But as an exploration of atmospheric horror based music, it is really intriguing, overdone as it is. Use your own taste to figure out of my review is a rave or a slam.