Carach Angren – Lammendam (Season of Mist Records)

Sunday, 1st September 2013
Rating: 7.5/10

By 2008, symphonic black metal had already become a well-worn thing, and there we met the Netherlands’ Carach Angren.  Their debut is a pretty good album, highlighted by some potent goth atmosphere, crisp musicianship, and interesting songwriting.  Had this been the first of its kind, it could have made bigger waves.  Lammendam is now re-released with bonus tracks not originally contained.

This album solidly keeps my attention and at times it blossoms quite nicely.  There are a couple moments where the band will bend into slightly more quirky territory than the melodic symphonic black metal that they purvey.   What sticks in my craw is “Hexed Melting Flesh.”  This track (not a song) is a means to further this concept album’s story of a ghost woman’s revenge, but it beats the listener over the head with cheesy theatrical narration and is a big bump in the middle of the road on this release.  In fact, I hate it.  Conversely, one of my favorite parts of the album comes in its resolution: the piano, strings, thunderous kick drum and meaty guitars, locked into a nice groove, to close things down at the end.  But, wait.  I guess we’re not done yet.

Enter the bonus material, which is three songs from the Ethereal Veiled Existence EP, released in 2005.  Obviously, there is a difference in recording production, and just when things should have been all wrapped up, we are now introduced to a real Harry-Potter-feeling kind of thing.  Two more songs follow, and this content isn’t bad, but it isn’t necessary, either.

The original length of just over 41 minutes felt like a nice length for Lammendam.  With the addition of the bonus tracks, the album is stretched to almost 53 minutes.  I did observe that “Yonder Realm Photography” contains a melody that the band later co-opted into “Haunting Echoes from the Seventeenth Century,” so in a way, they brought it full circle, after-the-fact.  At any rate, if you are like me and dislike bonus tracks attached to your studio albums, then you understand that less can be more.

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