It has been a decade now since I first saw A Forest Of Stars at their debut gig in Leeds, and they’ve always occupied a special place for me in music since then. They mash-up progressive Black Metal with a folky presence and wrap it up within a steampunk inspired Victorian based package. What results from this can sometimes be a little hit and miss, but generally contains many objects of wonder. Grave Mounds and Grave Mistakes, marks their third full length released on Prophecy Productions. Continue reading
Fortune favours the brave, and Carach Angren are forging something of a name for themselves by putting effort into the narratives of their albums, and looking to create something that at least pokes a toe outside the rigid walled box labelled “Black Metal”. A concept album that unfurls telling a story of two children caught up in a chilling horror (no spoilers here, if you want to find out the full extent of a tale that makes King Diamond’s tales seem like bedtime stories you will need to find out the hard – and heavy – way), This Is No Fairytale (Season of Mist) is the Dutch orators most compelling release to date.
Eschewing the usual black metal practice of ripping off thirty year old albums (praise be the dark lord!), Carach Angren are trying something different, with reference points of Abrahadabra (Nuclear Blast) and Grand Declaration of War (Necropolis), This Is No Fairytale takes the blood-curdling scream of black metal, and mixes it in the cauldron with a caustic steampunked Nachtmystium, darkened Imaginaerium (Nuclear Blast) symphonics and a liberal dose of Tim Burton.
While the resultant “whole” unfortunately doesn’t quite equal the sum of its parts, there are some very good parts here. The Dutch trio’s fourth album is an ambitious and enjoyable album, though at times it does allow certain tracks to outstay their welcome (‘Two Flies Flew Into A Black Sugar Cobweb’) and perhaps lacks a certain je ne sais quoi in the hook department.
This isn’t to put This Is No Fairytale down, because “when you reach for the stars, you may not quite get one, but you won’t come up with a handful of mud either” (Leo Burnett) and this stomping, frictional theatrical album conjures twisted Burton-esque images, especially during interlude ‘Dreaming of a Nightmare in Eden’. Carach Angren are at least looking to carve their own niche, and they aren’t too far from pulling the twisted nails of faith together to make their own maddened masterpiece.
Patience be thy virtue, Carach Angren.