Concept driven Dutch symphonic black metallers Carach Angren have always been an interesting prospect constructing albums in a similar style to a stage play or an opera. There aren’t lyrics as much as there are lines of dialogue and narration to move the story along. It’s a method of writing that has proved not to be without it’s risks but if “This Ain’t No Fairytale” is anything to go by it’s certainly a risk that can pay off.
Opening with a violin intro reminiscent of a Tim Burton film the tone is set perfectly as the band launch into their usual dark symphonic black metal attack. The constant strings section give a very solid feeling of some form of pursuit from beginning to end which really keeps you on your toes. The vocals range from harsh guttural barking to more traditional black metal snarls but always remain clear and perfectly enunciated which is essential for following the story.
At times it can get a little too Cradle of Filth; overblown pompous grandiosity and a habit of getting a little bit too cheesy, but there is a darker edge to Carach Angren. There are references to several fairytales, in particular the Gingerbread House (Hanzel and Gretel) giving the impression that most of the tracks are observed through the innocent eyes of a child. This adds a new distressing edge to the albums already powerful themes of domestic violence and rape.
Carach Angren have released a real jewel of an album here that is unlikely to be as widely appreciated as it should be. “This Ain’t No Fairytale” is an album that can lose you part way through if you aren’t concentrating, it requires patience and repeated listens, but in the end your dedication will pay dividends.
Review By: Seth
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