It’s kind of baffling that not that many in the metal community are aware of Carach Angren. Having been familiar with them since 2010, there’s been something really special about them that I can’t quite put my finger on. Either way, the band are still at it with another sinister piece crafted by their hands under the title of “Dance and Laugh Amongst the Rotten”.

All the way through its course, “Dance and Laugh Amongst the Rotten” is presented as yet another conceptual record from the Dutch troubadours. After the Opening makes its move to make the record feel progressively unsettling at the beginning, Charlie is where the real malevolence kicks in, which tells the story of a spirit that was contacted by a Ouija board and who wants to kill the ones who called him.

Blood Queen follows a more tragic and dramatic approach, where we’re told of a murderous queen whose only wish is to conceive a child. She then sees her infant through a mirror before it breaks, only to then scream in pain and get thrown to the floor by the mist shrouding her. She sees as the newborn dies in front of her after she attempts to grab it. Fourth track in and Charles Francis Coghlan mentions a ‘rising star’ actor that moved from Ireland to America who was killed in the midst of a performance and has his coffin sent out to sea and is then founded on the Canadian shores.

No Queens of the Stone Age reference, but Song for the Dead follows a Tim Burton-inspired rhythm that Seregor recites for the lyrics. He talks about a king that obsesses over the dead in a manner that makes him laugh at them by wearing their clothes, which possibly leads to the reason behind the album’s title, “Laugh and Dance Amongst the Dead”. That’s just a rundown of a few of the tracks as to what kind of concepts Carach Angren try to inculcate.

Though there are plenty of symphonic black metal bands that can make you feel like you’re experiencing a Satanic opera with front row, VIP seating with Lucifer himself, Carach Angren is able to make it feel like you’re part of an opera that’s also a truly historical event. It’s a kind of record that reincarnates the darker half of a lot of Satanic poets but also develops a realistic and claustrophobic sensation as each song goes by. By the end of it, you still want more to decipher more of what it was that Carach Angren was trying to tell, in order to understand the entire story.

It’s not difficult to interpret a lot of the lyrics if you’re someone like me and want to discover the metaphors and meanings that are brought into the text. But music-wise, there are heaps of abrasive and chunky riffs that play with the orchestrated arrangements by Ardek quite well. There’s also the fact that Seregor and Namtar work together like rhythmic machine guns. No matter the speed, they both can not only keep up with each other, but the mixing of the record shows that they’re also not above one over the other. Carach Angren also like to keep the production rules to themselves and they seem to have no trouble in doing so, especially with the last few releases being produced by the band, as well.  

It may seem like some have treated Carach Angren as an alternative while others wait impatiently for the next Dimmu Borgir record, but for me, it feels more like Carach Angren have actually taken over Dimmu’s spot. Because goddamn, they know how to make an album really shine. The album cover might not convince you, but trust me, once you get to the listening part, you’ll understand why.

“Dance and Laugh Amongst the Rotten” is OUT NOW via Season of Mist. Grab your copy HERE.