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Carach Angren

With 'Lammendam' Carach Angren has an outstanding symphonic black metal record under their belt which will give them international recognition. And this is for a Dutch band quite remarkable since the Dutch-black metal haven't got much accolades in the scene. And thus does Carach Angren deserve the much needed positive credit. Ardek & Seregor spoke out on this and other matters...

By: Roel de Haan | Archive under black metal

Hails! How are you doing?
Hails! We're doing just fine, thanks for asking. As the matter of fact, We're stuck in some sort of weird dark interview-answer-mode since the questions keep flying around my ears these days haha. But of course we will do our best to answer your questions in a good way!

Finally after long and hard work (I presume) your first album 'Lammendam' is released. Are you satisfied now it's done and out in the public?
Ardek: Yes this album really cost a lot of time and energy, not only from us, the band members, but also from everyone else involved like Philip Breuer (head of Maddening Media), Patrick Damiani(Tidal Wave Studio) and Erik Wijnands (Negakinu photography). Overall, we had a really great time in Karlsruhe @ Tidal Wave Studio. We were given all the time to record the album within certain borders. We've worked very very hard but didn't forget to occasional partying (almost every day haha). When we first heard the end results we were really overwhelmed! It sounded incredibly, it was beyond our imagination! So we are completely satisfied. The album will be released within two weeks (18.04.2008) so exciting times are awaiting us. We already had lots of very good reactions on the two songs we uploaded on our myspace page ('A Strange Presence Near The Woods' & 'Haunting Echoes From The Seventeenth Century').

Did you already get feedback on the album from the press and people?
Ardek: The album will be released on 18.04.2008, but the promo-packages are already out there. The first reactions we got so fare are really good! We really like the reviewers who took the time to -really- listen to our release and try to get into the story. It's a very satisfying feeling when you read stuff back that you originally intended to transfer through the music, like certain emotions (fear) combined with certain passages in the music. We already started to promote/ announce the album in 2007 by putting up a 'teaser' video for example. We uploaded more and more gadgets in the time before the release, including two full songs from the album. They are featured on our myspace page. All our fans and people on myspace reacted very enthusiastic on these songs so hopefully this will be the same thing for the whole album!

'Lammendam' is a concept-album dealing with a Dutch myth. Could you tell us something about the myth and why this particular one interested you so much that you devoted a whole record to it?
Seregor: It's a legend I have known since I was a child. I live a few miles from Schinveld, a little Dutch village in the southern parts of the Netherlands. From there, you have to walk through some fields for fifteen minutes before you enter the woods. Choose the right path and you walk right into the Lammendam. The only thing you will find is an old forgotten moat. Once upon as time, there stood a farmstead looking like a castle. The place once was called 'De Leiffarthof'. Somewhere in the 17th century, there lived a young, gorgeous lady who gave her love to two lads. Both thought they were her only lover, but she could not choose. One day, one of the lads found out. There were threats and fights. On a certain night the castle burned like hell during a full moon. There was not enough water from the moat to extinguish the fires. The mistress found her death. Because of the French revolution, French farmers came to work on the fields. They and many other locals saw an apparition of a white ghost. Only at nights, when a full moon appeared. She used to wear long white dresses. That's how she kept appearing, according to the legend. The farmers called the phenomena; “La Madame Blanche” This ware transformed by the Dutch into 'Lammendam'. A year after the women's death, the two lads died in weird unexplainable accidents. The great thing about this legend is that it can get really personal. Only the elder Dutch farmers kept the story alive by telling on. It is, for example not as famous as story of “The brown lady of Raynham Hall” which we described on our previous release. 'Lammendam' is an almost buried story. The place keeps giving me the fucking creeps. It's just a legend…but every time when I'm there by myself, I somehow keep looking over my shoulder. Inspiring...

Your bandname by the way is taken from Tolkien's 'Lord Of The Rings', but as far as I can see you have not written anything that deals with Middle Earth. One would say that a different bandname would have been more appropriate…
Seregor: Yes, normally you would suggest something with ghosts. Maddening Media also asked us to consider this point at the beginning of our cooperation. But we stand 100% behind it. The name Carach Angren goes back in the nineties, when I was active in a melodic black metal band called Inger Indolia. I got familiar with Tolkien (way before the movies) and found out that his books where like bibles to some black metal bands. Think of Gorgoroth and Morgul etc. The name Inger Indolia was chosen and Carach Angren kept collecting dust in my head for some years heheh. Then Ardek and me hooked up in trash/black metal band Vaultage (rip). That's when we decided there's was not enough horror and mysticism for us, so Carach Angren was born, first as a simple side-project though. You can say; It is too much to use a name from Tolkien, because lot's of bands already did it. But for some things it's maybe better to stay with the tradition. Tolkien is a perfect way to describe good and evil. So we where not filthy of using a Tolkien based name. We did not agree right away about using ghost-stories for all our upcoming releases. Now you can say. Carach Angren is a very well chosen name. If we decide to switch to another frightening concept in the future, Carach Angren will always be an appropriate name. It gives an underground feeling. It stands for strength. It sounds dark and once you remember the name after a few times trying… It won't leave your mind.

band imageCompared to 'Ethereal Veiled Existence', 'Lammendam' is much more oriented on speed and aggression. Of what was is this a consequence? Perhaps a shift in preference or was it the subject that needed more aggression?
Ardek: Well, when I think of it, you can can indicate a few different causes for this. First of all, you can indeed hear a very big difference in speed through all our releases. 'The Chase Vault Tragedy' was almost completely done in mid-tempo. 'Ethereal Veiled Existence' featured much faster songs and 'Lammendam' features a lot of blastbeat parts at very high speed. This change was a logical consequence of our creative process with Carach Angren. We were really looking and trying different things. And thise whole creative process somehow formed its own path. We have some really obvious elements in our music that we really like and they keep coming back naturally in almost every new composition. A good example for this is the 'full instrument stops', you can hear in songs like 'The Ghost Of Raynham Hall' and 'A Strange Presence Near The Woods'. For us this is something very energetic, it is also a very cool contrast with all the complexity we put into the music. Sometimes lots of melodies are doing their own thing within a certain spectrum but all at once everything is played unisono, and, for example stops. It shows the unity and spirit of our band.

We like to put dynamics into our songs, although it's not very obvious when you first listen to us I think. And of course we have Namtar. His skills were, in my opinion outstanding right from the beginning. He is my brother so I witnessed his development and creative process from the very beginning. He's very, very energetic, always thinking of new stuff to try, especially within the rhythmic spectrum of course but it sort of flows into the rest of the creative spectrum. These days he is a heavy legged tarantula beating the hell out of his kit and 'Lammendam' proves it haha. But seriously, when you talk about speed and aggression in Carach Angren, he's the major fundamental condition to this. A third cause for the change is the feeling we all got when diving in to the story of 'Lammendam'. Basically it is a love story but somehow I personally felt so much anger and fear when visiting the place and thinking about/ researching on the story. For me the most fascinating this is the fact that this legend, or saga, still lives these days. There are still people in Schinveld talking about the 'Lammendam' and for me this is an indication of it being something very powerful. It doesn't matter to me if the story is 'true' or not. It is about people, interpreting things, having certain feelings and communicating it, resulting in a black spot marking the history of that place. That is something powerful that really needs powerful music. Like a grudge haunting you. All this happened in a natural way, it's not like we sat down and talked about it like 'hey lets make fast music to this story'. It just happened this way and we're very satisfied with it.

Keyboards have always played a big part in your music and 'Lammendam' is no exception to this either. It's being used quite a lot, even being dominant often. What are your views on the use of keyboards in black metal?
Ardek: I started playing keyboards when I was ten years old. It was only when I became fifteen that I came in contact with metal. I only found out about the possibility to combine horror music with metal when I first listened to 'Cruelty And The Beast' from COF. I started to experiment with drum computer stuff with someone back in 1999, this ended up in the band Dark Mutation. At a certain point we had some really cool, almost progressive kind of death/ black metal, but we never came to the point of recording an album. The band fell apart after a couple of years. So how is this related to your question haha?

Well, my point is that I, as a keyboard player never had the pure intention to follow the line of melodic black metal bands in the 90's. I just tried all kinds of stuff but I got really attracted to dark (classical) music more and more over the years. I started to develop my composition skills more and more by writing different kinds of stuff. That is what I like best, compose dark atmospheres, complex but sincere melodies that hit you in an emotional way. Lots of the composition work in Carach Angren can be defined as orchestral structures that follow and repeat each other in a logical way. This ends up in the major presence of keyboards and orchestral arrangements in Carach and that is how we all like it. It is a big and important part of Carach Angren.

So this personal part may give some insight. Personally I think that we, as Carach Angren try to musically communicate things we like and admire. For example the ghost stories we stumble upon, but also the fascination for human fear, horror, psychological and philosophical themes. It was never our intention to start a 'black metal band with keyboards'. No, we came together as people with the same fascination for these topics and we started to write music, as a singer/ guitar player, drummer and keyboard player respectively. Maybe with this knowledge in mind, people can listen differently to our music. Generally seen, the use of keyboards in black metal is ok I think, why not? Who decided that the use of drums was ok in black metal? I mean, this whole 'trueness' stuff turned the whole world upside down in my opinion. Black metal, as a music style, started originally as a reaction to certain anger people felt. They wanted to express those feelings, make a statement, against religious ideas for example. Later on it expanded beyond emotional experiences into philosophical views, statements or as a pure form of creating art. I think there are no boundaries in the ways to express your own feelings and that's what we try to do as well. Some people look back at this period, virtually take a picture and say "hey, this is the way it should be done, this is what black metal should be like'. For me this sounds like nostalgia, and that's ok of course. Back to my point, I think we should be careful to not mix up the goal or intention of something with -ways- to get to that goal.

What is it that influences you, musically and lyrically, and in what ways can that be heard on your releases?
Both: In the musical spectrum we like bands like Mayhem, Dark funeral, Emperor, Limbonic Art etc. Also Cradle of Filth and Dimmu Borgir are bands we grew up with. There are lots of acts and bands with inspiring aspects. Main thing is that we don't try to sound like anything, but our own idea of black ghostly metal. Black metal is a beautiful music style to express horror. I also use deep grunts in my vocals. In the old days I began singing death metal. It stayed there a bit. I still like bands like Cannibal Corpse and Deicide. We want to be a ghostly horror movie/event in the form of a band, expressing itself through black metal, to create that warm mysterious atmosphere. Of course the stories we use in our musical concepts were/ are very inspiring to us. They often trigger us to really pull of something new.

The sound of 'Lammendam' is massive! I take it that the studio experience was a very positive one?
Ardek: We worked with Patrick Damiani (Tidal Wave Studio) on a very natural, free and solid basis, right from the beginning. Patrick had a very natural view on recording an album or music/ sound in general. This is something that fits our view. There are lots of things going on in our music at the same time so it's really a hard job to make this come out in a good, natural way. Patrick pulled this off; we were overwhelmed by the end result! Besides all this, we had a very great time in the studio, we worked very very hard but also partied until we dropped, haha.

You're on Maddening Media, how did you come into contact and how is the collaboration with them so far?
Ardek: Well, we came in contact with Philip Breuer in the beginning of 2007. The contact was more or less established by Rahab, one of the guitar players from the Dutch band Ordo Draconis. He made Philip Breuer (Maddening Media owner and vocalist in Le Grand Guignol) aware of our existence. Philip was very enthusiastic and we got in contact through email. Things felt good right away from the beginning. So we started talking about our future cooperation and plans for an upcoming release. The cooperation is fantastic and will only get better I think. We got all the artistic freedom we wanted and every topic was an open topic to talk about. This cooperation really helps us as a band. It's also cool following the process of other bands currently on the label. (Le Grand Guignol, Abstract Rapture, Uninvited Guest). So being connected to Maddening Media has got all kind of advantages, it's not only a good way to present our music to more people, but also a solid and fun networking basis within the music scene.

What are your expectations for the album?
Seregor: These days we are sitting excited behind our PC's waiting for the next review. I have to say that it is still looking good and very promising. It's not easy to get some credit in this melodic black scene, were so much has happened already. All reviewers have given us pretty good reviews so far. Of course, it also depends on a persons taste and vision writing that particular review. In black metal it has always been sensitive to do what you really want. I feel there will be a lot of comparisons with Dimmu Borgir and Cradle of Filth. I take that as a compliment. Hey… we grew up with these bands. When we write songs off course we always consider if things are not to Dimmu or Cradle... Now I'm not into them anymore but I was truly impressed by their older albums and images. Your musical personality partly becomes what you have listened to. I believe we now have a style of our own. We will keep on throwing ghostly concepts at your head. If we stick to that ghostly, theatrical image and the music is evolving like it is, everything will turn out fine. I sense fear in the opinions of people who try to explain the music we make. Maybe because of that true black metal thing? I don't know. I'm rather excited. It's very challenging to come up with something interesting in a scene, where already too much has been created. So… I expect different kinds of opinions. Lot's of discussions. The way it goes in black metal. Main thing is that I have a good feeling with it. I am proud of my product and it's worth being out there. Let see what the world makes of it.

What are the ambitions and future plans (long-term as well as immediate) for Carach Angren?
Seregor: At this moment we are rehearsing for our release. Meanwhile we will develop some appropriate ideas for shirts and other kind merchandise. The internet site will get a tremendous update in the style of 'Lammendam' Then we shall play the right amount of gigs. And that's the point were we also want to grow. Slowly we are developing into this theatric performance. We don't want to be just a band playing music about ghosts. We want a complete haunting on stage hehe. Lot's of details. The audience needs to see what we have to tell. So everything is now under the sign of getting 'Lammendam' into the world. It's a new and big step for Carach Angren. We'll wait, see and react. I can tell you; We have new material already. Some good compositions waiting to be worked out. Oh yes! Ghosts it will be again. We treated hauntings in houses, graves and forests. Next time it will be something cursed from the waters...

Are you going on a tour to promote 'Lammendam'?
Seregor: We have not planned any tours yet. For now we have a few gigs planned in Holland. We are still working on getting the Lammendam-performance tight and right. We have our jobs and everyone has planned their vacation already. But we are still waiting. Maybe there will be a little tour in the summer. That's were we need the free days for hehe.

That's it for now, any final words?
Thanks a lot for this great interview! We have good experiences with Lords of Metal. You guys are always interested in our stuff and that's a good thing that helps us as a band! Prepare for 'Lammendam'!

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