Carach Angren, one of the finest symphonic black metal bands in the present day is a lot more than just black metal. The band is known for its superlative musicality showcased in its unique approach, in incorporating elements such as elegant orchestration and classical aspects. All of Carach Angren’s studio albums are based on vivid concepts such as horrific stories and folklore and they often feature songs in multiple languages apart from English, such as German, Dutch and French. The band explores a plethora of possibilities and expands the dimensions of black metal through its one-of-a kind perception and delivery of the genre. The latest album “This Is No Fairytale” does just that besides exploring a slew of new styles in its epic theatrical rendition of symphonic black metal.
Metal Wani’s Debarati Das recently did an interview with Clemens “Ardek” Wijers, the man behind the orchestration and keyboards. Clemens spoke about the band’s perception of black metal, songwriting, the making of “This Is No Fairytale” and much more.
I think it is a logical step for us both in composition, storytelling and sound. From the very beginning we had the idea to tell a story surrounding the topic of Fairy Tales and one day Seregor called me and told me a extensive story he had for a song. When he was finished I was completely blown away and said that this could be the whole album.
Before we would always lend parts of stories from existing tales but since our last release we have decided to come up with stories ourselves. Composition wise I think the architecture of the songs is more complex but it still has a lot of catchy moments. I like this balance. Soundwise we recorded again with producer Patrick Damiani from Tidal Wave Studio in Germany but the album got mixed by Peter Tägtgren and he did an amazing job, giving the album the edge it needs!
Carach Angren’s immense musical ingenuity speaks of the rich sources from which the band probably derives inspiration- both aesthetic and musical. Are there any specific influences which you’ve drawn into the new album?
I don’t think there are specific influences. We listen to soundtracks, watch movies and read books but overall we talk a lot about stories or ideas we come up with. That inspires us. It can happen when we tour or just on the phone. I remember thinking about the album cover when we traveled back from a tour. Seregor and I came up with it in the back of the van by just talking and thinking. With this album we wanted to do something different again, reinvent ourselves. We left the poetic approach a bit for what it is and chose the more confronting and direct path. Ironically fairy tales are also very direct, there is little room for interpretation, only fuel for imagination, that’s what we wanted but in a gruesome, sometimes over-the-top way and I think we succeeded haha.
The band’s music features some incredible elements, like the elegant orchestration, the ferocity and the ability to establish a vivid thought process, and concept plays an important role in it. Please tell us about the concept behind “This Is No Fairytale”. How important do you think is ‘concept’ in terms of delivering memorable music?
It is very important, the story with all its elements provides the foundation. Especially the emotions that the story evokes. When I for example sit at the piano and think about the emotions that the children must feel when trying to escape the house, certain ideas start coming up. That’s actually how I composed the song “Two Flies Flew…”. That beginning is very direct with a lot of hidden dissonance in the piano and strings. I wanted to create a sense of hurry and escape. When Seregor added his guitars and lyrics, Namtar the pounding drums it all came together. So yes it is very important!
We started with the basic elements of the story and then I began working on the main compositions by creating orchestral parts with drums. Then I sent it over to Seregor and Namtar to come up with guitars and drums and in the end I re-orchestrated the whole thing so that the orchestra didn’t interfere with the guitars for example. Then the lyrics were added and we perfectioned it.
Yes Costin did an amazing job on those videos, he felt the core of the story immediately. Yes those extra elements are very important but I feel it can also be too much. Sometimes I see bands with 20 projection screens (haha) on stage and then you totally forget there is an actual band playing somewhere between all of that. I feel that visuals should contribute and support what is already there, else it is overkill. These videos I think are perfect because Costin did it in a way that there is still a lot left to the imagination. Some scenes he drew can trigger different emotions in different people and that is an impressive talent. We also try to do that through our music. Some people want to dive in the stories we tell and even find details that we didn’t put there on purpose haha. Others just want to headbang and I like the fact that with our music both approaches are possible.
Well, our record label boss Michael Berberian received some very nice e-mail from underground fans haha. A lot of “true” fans are not happy with the fact that we push the boundaries of our music and lyrics but we really don’t care about that. We got inspired by the early black metal movement but we don’t try to be like that, it’s 2015 now and we included musical elements from the original black metal movement but also elements from the horror world. We just want to make as great music as possible and tell our horror stories and we are very lucky to have an enormous fan-base that really like the new album!
“This Is No Fairytale” also features guest violinist Nikos Mavridis with whom you’ve also worked before. Please tell us about your experience of sharing your individual musical experiences.
Nikos is a very talented musician and great friend. Working with him is amazing and we are always looking forward to that. He even played some shows live with us last year and the year before, those were amazing times.
We worked with a different mix and mastering this time (Peter Tägtgren & Jonas Kjellgren) and felt this turned out really great. The challenge this time was to combine an even crazier orchestral lay out with all the crazy guitars and vocals haha. But I think we did it right. The good thing is that we already worked on that in the early stages of the writing process.
To me the music and story are really connected but of course you can always listen to instrumental versions. This time the story is really direct and provocative so it is hard to imagine the music without the lyrics. On the DIGIPACK we have released an instrumental version of the intermezzo song “Dreaming of a Nightmare in Eden”. In the end the purpose of both the music and lyrics is indeed to create horrifying images and feelings in your mind and body.
It was an amazing experience. We have such great fans and we were overwhelmed with all the attention we got. It was huge, really. The tour was very good for us and we want to come back and bring the horror again soon!