Published Jun 25, 2020Nearly two decades into their career, the Netherlands' Carach Angren have earned themselves a respectable reputation in the world of extreme metal, even if they have yet to reach the same heights as their forebears. Franckensteina Strataemontanus is, however, a stride towards doing so, and with possibly the most accessible sound they've exhibited to date, it's entirely likely this record will catapult them forward.
The album opens with a spoken intro, "Here in German Woodland," which is almost as corny as it is creepy, and the record continues to delicately tread a thin line between goofy and badass — but sometimes in black metal you just have to embrace that inevitable goofiness, and it seems that's exactly what Carach Angren are doing. The 10 songs follow a seamless progression, all building off of each other but no two sounding the same. While there are standout tracks, particularly singles "Der Vampir von Nürnberg" and "Operation Compass," Franckensteina Strataemontanus is best experienced in its entirety.
Similarly to bands like Cradle of Filth and Dimmu Borgir, Carach Angren take a black metal sound and make it more accessible to new listeners with musical hooks and clear production. The band can never seem to escape comparisons to Cradle of Filth, though these comparisons aren't entirely fair, as the Cradle-esque style is only one of many in which Carach Angren prove their proficiency.
Franckensteina Strataemontanus contains an impressive and refreshing amount of variety, from the ethereal stomp of "Monster" to the heavy blast of "Scourged Ghoul Undead" to the symphonic elements littered throughout the album. The strings and horns add a nice touch of atmosphere to each of the songs, but at their core, they are all still metal tracks that could speak for themselves without the added flare. (Season of Mist)