Carach Angren

Death Came Through A Phantom Ship

Written by: PP on 05/05/2010 23:34:31

During the past few weeks, I've spent a listen or two a day with one of the most thrilling and interesting symphonic black metal albums that has ever landed on my review plate: Carach Angren's "Death Came Through A Phantom Ship". Not because the band reinvents the wheel in the genre - in fact they are clearly influenced by both Dimmu Borgir and Emperor - or because of immense technical prowess, but because the band's lyrical universe is simply one of the most grabbing, most interesting ones I've come across in any genre. Are any of you familiar with the famous ghost story of the Flying Dutchman? The ghost ship that can never go home and is doomed to sail the oceans forever, causing certain doom to any ship that sights the vessel? That legend forms the concept behind "Death Came Through A Phantom Ship", a fascinating story that feels both compelling and distraught in just the right proportion.

The way in which Carach Angren attacks the concept is mind bogglingly ambitious. Full scale cinematic theatrics meet tremolo shredding and blast beats, all synchronized with the storyline, which is told from several different points of view. My favorite tracks are those told from the perspective of the captains, either by those who sight the ship or the cursed captain of the ship itself. The dramatic theatrical effects build suspense, the rapid-fire blast-beat drum patterns enter right in the middle of the most intense moments during the story, and the rhythm changes fit surprisingly well with what's going on in the story. The story is made accessible to the listener by the band's fantastic vocalist Seregor, whose black metal shriek has just the right amounts of horror-induced distress in it to make the story sound so convincing, but at the same time he keeps his monstrous vocals at a crystal clear level where it's possible to hear every word of his lyrics. And I repeat, this album is a lyricisist's album as much as it is a symphonic black metal album. Just check out this mouth-watering introduction to the story in the first song "The Sighting Is A Portent Of Doom":

"Several attempts to contact that what appeared to be the size of a ship. No response 'till I receive transmissions of hostile nature. These voices cursing my goddamn name. Hell, is this witchcraft or am I insane? All of a sudden a dark silhouette ascends through godlike mist. While it comes closer, I recognize the image of an old deserted ship. I am aghast at the sight of a derelict vessel sailing this awkward night, appearing like a black floating cadaver"

The story then starts developing like one of the best ghost stories you've ever read, building suspense throughout the song, which is followed by the magnificent "And The Consequence Macabre", where the tale shifts into the perspective of the crazy captain of the phantom ship. For nearly 7 minutes, the song goes through an entire arsenal of the best aspects of symphonic black metal, while telling a story so captivating that you have a difficult time convincing yourself to move onto the next track instead of just listening to it again....and again...and again. The ending of the track, in particular, shines: "Imagine the shotgun, standing upside down, with a barrel in my mouth....the sighting was a portent of doom, and the consequence definitely.........MACAAAAABREEEE", where the last bit is screamed with so much intense horror that it sounds like Carach Angren were actually there, living their last moments before doom.

And that's just one example from the record. "Bloodstains On The Captain's Log", "Departure Towards A Nautical Curse", and the dramatic "The Course Of A Spectral Ship" all give Dimmu Borgir a run for their money at the throne of the symphonic black metal genre instrumentally, and better yet, the story doesn't fail to be interesting at any point throughout the record. I don't wanna spoil you any more, but "Death Came Through A Phantom Ship" is retardedly ambitious, and the band actually pulls it off to near perfection. As a concept album, it's right up there on my list with Boys Night Out's "Trainwreck". I'd even consider picking this over reading me some Dickens or Crawford.

Download: And The Consequence Macabre, Bloodstains On The Captain's Log
For the fans of: Dimmu Borgir, Emperor
Listen: Myspace

Release date 26.02.2010
Maddening Media

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