Carach Angren - Where The Corpses Sink Forever [Season of Mist - 2012]Where The Corpses Sink Forever is the third full-length in the discography of this Dutch symphonic black metal act, an album which marks an attempt to distinguish itself as a continuation of the bands development toward an increasingly “theatrical” approach. I daresay this descriptor is a bit empty however, unless perhaps it is intended to describe their live performance (which I have not seen) or maybe the lyrical content of the album (which I have not evaluated). If this “theatrical” term is meant to regard the music itself, however, I feel that it is misdirected at best and self-aggrandizing at worst.
The band's sound is more inherently symphonic rather than theatrical being that they utilize a wide array of orchestral timbres and flourishes to support their base sound of melodic and sweeping black metal. While the aforementioned utilization of complex symphony timbres is a definite plus for the band, the overall production, songwriting and melodic construction are elements which undermine this strength.
Firstly, the production has taken the clean and sheen route – a development which some practitioners (and fans) say is a major disparity inconsistent with black metal's origins. This context is probably beneficial for a band with so many different layers happening but I find that it tends to give me a sterile feeling which creates a barrier to overcome in connecting with the songs. This is not to say the recording needs to be “KVLT” and sound like a 15th generation cassette duplication so popular in the bedroom production environment; I just think a bit of rawness could greatly benefit the band's presentation.
Musically, the album starts off with a bit of a serious, film-like monologue and moves into an interesting string introductory movement. This promising start drops quickly into a blasting section but the track falls apart quickly because the band is trying to cover way too many areas (melodic gesturing, un-black metal “chugging parts”) in one song. The wonderful string opening's melody is never revisited (wouldn't that be more theatrical – reprising a theme?) and indeed the album as a whole has a linear structure. This is a major failing when nearly every one of the melodies lacks real character. Indeed, almost every part (except for the band's penchant for contrasting 3/4 time against 4/4) sounds as if it is an amalgamation of stereotypical cliches – albeit competently performed cliches.
This triad of flaws really kills it for me and listening to the album is a bit of a chore since the feeling of “waiting” for a stunning melody to arrive is never resolved. Others who are more inclined to enjoy the album for its contrasting tone colors and adept performances (as well as the plot) are likely to be less criticalScott W