The Pitch: Season of Mist delivers the next concept album from Dutch symphonic black metal group, Carach Angren; this one revolving around a girl playing too much with her Ouija board. FFO: Dimmu Borgir, Fleshgod Apocalypse, Septicflesh
What I Like: As usual, Carach Angren bring a certain campy, Tim Burton-esque performance filled with whimsical Danny Elfman-inspired orchestrations and macabre story-telling. The piano, violin, and other creepy symphonic elements join nicely with the grim, theatrical vocals; vocals influenced just as much by spoken word as their black metal peers. If the genre purists don't mind me saying, the delivery makes me think a lot of Mikee from Sikth during one of his verbal interludes. Filling out the heavier aspects of the album are the guitars, which favor midpaced, layered tremolos and neoclassical melodies as well as some driving palm-muted hooks. There are a few cool basslines of note too ("Charlie").
In comparison with the previous album, I feel that Dance and Laugh Amongst the Rotten is a more reserved outing; one that avoids some of the more over-the-top elements that have irked me in the past. The story itself is still plenty melodramatic, but ultimately feels less forced; and I genuinely enjoy the idea of each song serving as a biography of sorts for each spirit being contacted. I feel a strange sense of laid-back comfort that lends itself well to the audiobook feel of the record. This is what Poe should sound like via Audible.
Critiques: While I am glad that the vocals and lyrics are less overtly laughable when measured against This Is No Fairytale, the tempered compositions can be a bit on the generic side. I don't find myself banging my head or raising the invisible orange in grim celebration as much as I have in the past (aside from "Pitch Black Box"). Furthermore, a lot of these tracks start to run together and can feel a bit sloppy when transitioning between riffs and movements. The second half is much stronger than the first overall.
The Verdict: An unspectacular album, but an overall improvement from recent material and with certain elements that bode well for the band's future. Carach Angren continue to distance themselves from their peers, and what has at times been considered "Dimmu-lite" is now blossoming into something beyond comparison. Longtime fans will likely still prefer Death Came Through A Phantom Ship or Lammendam, but I think that the band's search for new ideas and directions will ring truer than simply rehashing old territory.
Flight's Fav's: The Possession Process, Charlie, Pitch Black Box