CARACH ANGREN is a Black Metal band from the Netherlands that was formed back in 2003. Their style is characterized by a prominent use of orchestral arrangements and Horror stories. On Friday October 28, CARACH ANGREN will fly their horror ship to the Middle East and haunt Dubai for the first time alongside local UAE bands Aramaic, Verdict, and Cathect. It’s going to be a Spooky Halloween night indeed! This event is hosted by Joscene.
Lilas Mayassi interviewed Clemens “Ardek” Wijers, CARACH ANGREN’s keyboardist.
LILAS: Most of CARACH ANGREN’s lyrics establish vivid and horrific imagery. Where do you get your inspiration from?
CLEMENS: We draw inspiration from books, movies, and general discussions about these topics when trying to form a new haunting story. As the story is a main element in all our releases, we really try to work hard on this and be fresh and innovative without losing our identity. I think the fans deserve something spectacular and new every time.
L: What are your favorite horror movies?
C: For me personally a classic like Hellraiser, but I’m also into Asian horror movies, like Ju-On for example and A Tale of Two Sisters. Korean movies in particular are very good in my opinion and definitely underrated. These kinds of movies have a totally different pace compared to Western movies. Sometimes, there can be a scene with only one camera angle for minutes, something that is almost rare in Western movies. But this approach does so much more justice to, for example, coloring in a scene. Also, the slow pace can really work well when it comes to building tension. When you change to this style of filming, maybe you feel impatient at first because you’re not used to it, but if you’re open to it, the reward will be there. Also, I don’t believe that much in the excessive use of special effects nowadays. In my opinion, special effects should be used sparsely and should not only consist of CGI. I mean, the word already indicates this “special”, which -at least to me- means something like ‘only used as an exception’. Nowadays, a lot of horror movies are so stuffed with CGI, that it almost feels like watching a cartoon. The realism is gone and I don’t believe what I see anymore. That’s why a lot of times I prefer the 80s, there they still used animatronics and dolls but they had something eerie over them in itself. You maybe see it’s not real too, but at least there is something ‘real’ that the camera caught. It was not added later on and the actors actually had to act with the props in the scene. I could go on about this for hours haha. For our videoclip, we also used this realistic approach. I had this vision of dancers dancing to the chaotic orchestrations I made for “When Crows Tick On Windows”. Also, we wanted to hint the story through the visuals as the story is already told very explicitly throughout the lyrics. Displaying everything in the visuals would be overkill in my opinion.
L: You’ve been on tour recently, and you guys played at Graspop Metal Meeting last June. What is the best part of this tour and where did you guys enjoy playing the most?
C: Yes, Graspop Metal Meeting was a blast, we introduced our new stage production there and I heard a lot of people liked the show. This is something we are going to expand tremendously in the future. The tour has been going very well so far and one of my personal favorite shows was Los Angeles. The stage was awesome and the crowd insane. But overall, we have such loyal fans everywhere, it really is amazing to meet all of them every night during and after the show. We can’t wait to continue the rest of the tour with Kataklysm next week!
L: CARACH ANGREN seems quite distinctive in terms of sound and musical aesthetics, how hard is it to maintain this sound throughout the years?
C: We have always done exactly what we liked in both creating albums, shows and everything surrounding it. So we never think about it too much… Of course we plan a lot and work very hard but I think when you start to re-recreate your own sound, it might sound very forced. To me, it’s all a very natural and holistic process, plus, we grow/change as persons throughout our careers and therefore the sound changes too, which is how it should be. When I wrote the compositions for Lammendam, I was only 22 years old, so that is like ten years ago. I have learned a lot and incorporated a lot of knowledge and new ideas in my writing, so of course some things that come out now sound different. Besides that, I think we have found our own voice which is very present in all our work, indeed the theatrics and non-linear composition structures in some songs are key elements. Lately, we have been developing a lot in new territories but at least for me I always feel that we are on the path that is Carach Angren.
L: A year ago, you released CARACH ANGREN’s fourth studio album, “This Is No Fairytale”, in what terms do you think this album is different from the previous ones?
C: It is different in a couple of aspects. First, I think this album is very dark composition wise. When I started to compose the songs, I remember that everything that surfaced sounded very dark and “negative” so to speak. At first, I fought it within myself, thinking “no it can’t be like this, it must have more beautiful parts too”. But then during the process at some point I accepted it, like this is going to be one hell of a dark album. Second are the lyrics. This time Seregor wrote the whole story and lyrics by himself and he chose a very direct approach which fits the fairytale-storytelling theme I think. Of course, this was a different approach as there is less room for interpretation and poetic passages. It was a conscious choice, some people prefer this, others prefer the style we had on Death Came for example. For me, it all fits together very well. Third thing that differentiates this album is the sound. The album was mixed by Peter Tägtgren and the sound is right in your face, just what the already dark album needed.
L: What are CARACH ANGREN’s plans for this year in terms of studio releases?
C: We are right now working very hard to finish the songs for the new album and we plan to enter the studio very soon. It is a challenge because we are also touring very much but luckily I had the main compositions ready already some time ago. Usually, I work very fast once I get inspired. Some new material I already wrote before Fairytale actually came out so I am very much looking forward to get the new album out. More on that soon!
Bashar: In your latest video, “When Crows Tick On Windows” , we can see some sort of choreography and dancing going on, which happens to be a very rare and unfamiliar sighting in metal. Is the band trying to break through the preset stereotypes and “norms” of what metal should look and sound like?
C: Like I said before, when I was thinking of a video for this song, the dancing came to my mind immediately. The beginning of the song is very chaotic, depicting the domestic violence happening in the lyrics. You hear the instruments of the orchestra almost fighting with each other and somehow I always saw abstract dancers in my mind visualizing this even more. Also, what I personally think is that a video should add something to the song instead of repeating something that is already there. Because we are storytellers, and Seregor tells the story very directly, it would be overkill to visualize everything on top of that. I think it would be very tiring to listeners/viewers. So the dancers in the video function as a kind of bridge. In the opening, they represent the chaos of the orchestra, you can actually see me conducting them as they wake up. Then later, I had this vision of Seregor drilling them like they were soldiers standing in a row. You can see that throughout the video too. So there they are standing completely still and the dance is gone. Here they function as the innocence of the children in the story, literally being screamed at, like they are screamed at by their parents. It’s an abstract -new- way of telling the same thing that is happening in the song. Then suddenly one of the dancers is playing the role of mother, having committed suicide in the bathtub and being buried by us, the band. So the whole thing is very dynamic and all the important elements (the dancers, the band members, story elements) switch roles throughout. I am very happy with the end result, it is better than I had envisioned it before we started which is very cool. It also came out like this thanks to the amazing talent of Rick Jacops from Backstage Film Productions and of course the professional ballet dancers who came up with a whole choreography for the song. It was intense and amazing to work together on this monster.
CARACH ANGREN – When Crows Tick On Windows
LILAS: You seem to put much effort in the lyrics and stories you choose. CARACH ANGREN does not display any religious, political, or social message in the music, something not very conventional in metal in general and black metal in particular. How important is that to you?
C: The core of what we do is tell horror laden stories through our music, so indeed, there is no room for any of the things you mention. Also, we want to entertain people in the best possible way. People already have so much to think of in their everyday lives and the media is around us all the time. So let Carach Angren be your terrifying break of reality, something that takes you out of the ordinary. That’s what we aim for and will always try to do.
L: I noticed that you always aim to uphold the horror-filled elements in your sound especially the live shows, do you think that sets you aside from other black metal bands?
C: Well for us it feels very natural to develop all these things. We just keep coming up with more and more ideas. We have never been the typical Black Metal band and never intended to be like that. We tell horror stories musically and visually and will do anything possible to enhance that experience for the fans. People attending concerts worked hard to be able to buy that ticket so I feel the responsibility to give 100% every night in every possible way. Not just stand there and play the keyboard like a frozen zombie or something. I want to play every night as it was the last concert I am playing, really. And that’s why we keep growing and building the shows including all the theatrics. People deserve that and we deserve that as we are having the best time ever doing it.
L: Many people classify you as a Black Metal band while you classify yourselves as Horror Metal. To what extent do the members of the band count themselves as members of a black metal band?
C: We started out probably as defining ourselves as a black metal band but now we consider ourselves Carach Angren. We don’t like to be compared all the time to other bands, because we put so much effort in being the best version of ourselves, if you know what I mean. That doesn’t mean that our roots are partly black metal. We were fans of all the big acts throughout the 90s and that’s that. Now we are working hard to becoming the best horror act out there.
L: What is your take on the current black metal scene?
C: To be honest, I don’t have a clue. I don’t listen to music much, especially metal nowadays, let alone research the scene. I think there are cult bands still out there doing very well and they represent the initial musical and cultural first wave of Black Metal, which is something very unique. All new bands, like us, should not be compared to that, we are from a different generation and we are doing different music and shows.
L: Carach Angren is playing in Dubai for the first time ever on the 28th of October, are you excited? And what are you expecting from this night?
C: Yes, I’m very excited to come over and play our show there. It’s something out of the ordinary because it doesn’t happen everyday. I can’t wait to come out there and meet the fans in Dubai!
L: Thank you Clemens for this great interview, is there anything you would like to say to your fans and to Metal Bell readers?
C: Thanks for your support and see you at one of our shows.
Ticket Price: 125 AED
For more info, check out the Facebook event.
Read More by: Lilas Mayassi
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