Ardek takes us behind the curtion on “Lammendam”, as well as telling us a little bit about the live situation, inspirations and the upcoming album that is done these days.
I think, at least to me, that it is important to notify the following; you do not perform the dark art of black metal because your lyrics are not Satanic at all, even though your music can be closely connected with the term symphonic black metal. I’d rather state it as extreme music with major symphonic elements. Now, is this important? Perhaps. Yet, what is important to me is why you chose to write the story via music described as opulently symphonic highest-speed songs?
“Hello Roy and Imhotep, thanks for firing some questions at us! Well, we tend to call our music Haunting Theatrical Black Metal. We all grew up as major black metal fans and we were fascinated mostly by the music in the 90's. Of course Black Metal rose on certain Satanic/ cultural grounds which is in my opinion quiet logical seen the history of Christian terror on (Scandinavian) grounds but anno 2009 the - musical- genre is one of the most interesting and diverse out there. This 'genre' has offered us a musical platform both as listeners and musicians.
Since we are active metal musicians we have been interested in high speed, pounding, melodic music so this became something we felt familiar with. We started out with mid-tempo songs featured on “The Chase Vault Tragedy”. This MCD tells the story of a haunted family grave and somehow we felt that this story needed more simplistic, mid-tempo music and so it happened. With “Lammendam” we all had this feeling of a fascinating, yet very aggressive story so this automatically influenced our writing process regarding “Lammendam”.
So to get back to your question; it is a combination of our (personal) musical history and preferences combined with the feelings we get when we start working on a new album, story.”
Sticking to the music, nobody would raise their eyebrows if you stated perhaps Emperor, Obsidian Gate and Dimmu Borgir as references. And mind you, I’m not claiming that your music is equal to these’s in the term of being anything near to copying any of their albums. Just influences… Which brings me over to the topic, namely how you developed into what you are today? It is not a necessity to start with day minus 9 months (when you were thrown out of your father’s penis), but concentrate more on the musical development…
“I know that Seregor started to get into music at the age of fourteen. Around this time he was a real master in Taekwondo but slowly his passion for music took over. He has always been into horror movies and stories and of course (black) metal. This combination founded his work and creative energy for Carach Angren.
He really developed his voice over the last fifteen years and it was only like five years ago that he started to play the guitar. In my opinion he's not a typical guitar player as you would expect one in the metal scene, I think he's much more free when it comes to composing stuff. He uses his mind and soul to create music and not the other way around like a lot of people tend to do these days.
Namtar is my brother and he started drums around the age of sixteen. When you ask me, he grew to one of the best metal drummers around in a real short time. I really like his style and passion he puts into the job. He listens a lot to black, death & thrash metal but He also likes classical music and some other completely different styles of music.
This is something the three of us have in common I think. We are open to all kinds of influences in music and art as a whole.
I started playing the keyboard at a young age and it sort of grew along with me. I had music education during my childhood. These days I really like to compose music, this is really my thing. I like to compose and arrange all the orchestral parts for the band. A song usually starts with this as a base.
I also write music for websites and other projects but it is through to get opportunities to work with.”
But the horror, yes, the horror. Such a story needed music of horrific proportions. How did you write the music in order to let it become at one with the contents? Somehow I sense that you had the idea ready on beforehand, and let it inspire the music…
“Yes you're right. We had this idea for a long time. The story originates from the region Seregor lives and he wanted to do something special with it. When I started to write the orchestral parts I used the story as a source of inspiration.
The actual lyrics came when the music was completely finished.”
Now, such a complex musical history couldn’t be easy to record or produce. All these details… When you began to record and mix it, did you envision all the work that needed to be done in order to finalize it with the uttermost quality? Yes, I gave it top score and still love the album…, and I am really impressed by the albums hidden gems… …all those details…
“It was a very big job to both write and record everything. We did not really know what was going to happen when we went in to the studio but we knew it was going to be though, haha.
Luckily we had the chance to work with Patrick Damiani (Tidal Wave Studio) in Karlsdorf (DE), thanks to our label boss Philip Breuer (Maddening Media). Patrick is the perfect man for a production like ours. He is always completely focused and his work is his passion. Together with him as a producer this album outgrew our own imagination.
Yes, we worked real hard on all the little details. All the sound effects you hear are recorded real time. We spend like a couple of afternoons scratching on the walls, puffing and yelling and so on and on, haha.
It was really great to do it this way.
Right now we are recording our second album “Death Came Through a Phantom Ship”, again at Tidal Wave Studio with Patrick Damiani. Seregor is actually recording the last vocals in my background while I'm typing this.
I can tell you, this will be a total blast, I think we achieved amazing things with this album. It was very exciting to come back with new material and trying to do better than “Lammendam”. It was a hard challenge but if you want to hear my opinion: I think we all did it, together with Philip Breuer (Maddening Media) and Patrick Damiani. We also got some great help from our friends Erik Wijnands, Rob Fox and Robert Kaufman.”
With “Lammendam” being a debut album, how did you end up with Maddening Media, a newborn label, and yet having enough money to make an album that contains a brilliant sound, while you are, as far as I know, quite young fellows? I mean, from your two demos to the release of the debut, some three years came and went away…
“The contract with Maddening Media and friendship with Philip Breuer was the best thing that happened for us. He gave us an amazing opportunity. Philip and I were right away on the same level from the first email on. We have the same ideas regarding music and art in general. It is an outstanding cooperation!”
I wonder how you manage to transform your music into the live situation? I mean, there’s so much going and if the sound is not good enough, wouldn’t the music end up being just a mess?
“We want to give 200% in live situations so we try to do everything that's possible to give a performance the energy it needs. We work with a great sound engineer and friend, Rob Fox. He really helps to improve the sound during a live performance.
I invite you to come and see one of your gigs!”
There’s so much going on all the time. I’m exhausted when I come to “Malédiction De La Dame Blanche”, and then you top it all with the closer that includes everything I love about symphonic horror extreme metal. How did you work in order to choose what music would come first, which track should be #6 and so on? I mean, “Lammendam” feels like a very conscious album…
“Yes it was a very conscious process. When we created more and more songs and got used to it, it sort of felt natural to put “Strange Presence..” in the beginning of the album and “Hexed Melting Flesh” as an intermezzo, etc. etc. The story and our feelings about the music sort of guided us to this process, not to forget the lyrical approach!”
How have the response been to the album? Aside the more obvious comments about it being too inspired by more known acts like Limbonic Art, Dimmu Borgir and Cradle Of Filth, what have been the best comments about it?
“The comments and reviews have been amazing! Of course you have all the comparisons but in my opinion we do something completely different, expect for some sound aspects of course. When two bands use an orchestra, you hear an orchestra of course.
Especially with this new album, I think we really found our own style even more without repeating “Lammendam”. We have some very special stuff going on on the album and we can not wait to show it to everyone.
For me personally the best comments were those who told me about the emotions they felt while listening to the music. It was really great to hear that the effect we wanted to create through the music worked out.
For example I remember Trystys (guitars) telling me that he had horrific dreams of a white ghost when he first came in to contact with our music. That's great haha.”
Do you have favourite parts that you insist on playing live? Or when you listen to the album, there are perhaps some parts that you’re 100 % content with? I really get the chills from 2.25 and the rest of the amazing “Haunting Echoes From The Seventeenth Century”… I wonder, when you record the songs, can you feel that some parts will highlight themselves throughout the album?
“Yes the first three songs of the album we always tend to play live. I like “Haunting Echoes” a lot, it's really great to play it live from the keyboard side of view. We also like the 'head banging part' in “Phobic Shadows and Moonlit Meadows” a lot.
When I listen to the album, there's nothing I regret. In my opinion an album can never be 'perfect' or something like that. For me it is the best possible summary of what a band created within a period of time. I think you have to do everything you can while you're working on it but it wouldn't feel right to work on it like ten years or so...
In the studio you can't get enough time, especially with the new recordings, there are so many things we like to do. We are working against the clock every day.”
The story is not something we need to elaborate, since it’s essential that people read and listen for themselves. However, I do actually wonder what it is that fascinated you so much the myth, that you decided to put so extremely much effort into this? On another note, still on the same subject, is this only a ghost story, or is there more to it?
“Like I told you before, the story originates from the place were Seregor lives. It is an unknown myth but some people around that area have been talking about it for years. The scary thing is that you can actually visit the place where the story took place. There still is a moat in a forest, pointing out the place where the castle stood. We've been there many times, also for the artworks. It is some kilometers away from the village so you can be completely on your own there and think about what happened. It is very inspiring...
We knew that we wanted to make our first full-length album so the topic had to be something we really liked and this turned out to be it. Also, when we do something, we do it on the best possible way we can, this is something Carach Angren stands for.”
As musicians, how do you listen to other albums? I sense that people who are musicians often tend to focus too much on the technical execution of the music, so… Do you actually manage to listen to albums as fans anymore? And on the same topic, how do you view the arranging of songs in comparison to Carach Angren’s way of doing things?
“Yes, we listen to some stuff but not much in our genre actually. Personally I like to write music all the time, that's listening – and - writing at once. As in writing, we all write from the heart. Of course there are some technical issues you should be aware of but this is definitely not the main thing.
I think these days you have all kinds of extreme ways in songwriting. Some really make dull and simplistic compositions to serve the masses, others lose themselves in a technical journey and come forth with some kind of 'genius' scientific masterpiece but it's not fun to listen to anymore. We try to do what feels right when it comes to the writing process.
If we don't like our own music, we won't record it.”
I gave the album 6 out of 6, and I wonder, how can you be able, in your own opinion, to overdo the debut with the upcoming “Death Came Through A Phantom Ship”? What can we expect, aside more extreme metal music filled with horror and surprises and above all, quality?
“Thanks a lot! Honest and good reviews like yours help us a lot. Well the album is nearly finished and you can expect more metal, more adventure. In my opinion all the ingredients of “Lammendam” are there on this new album plus a lot more!
Keep watching our studio-reports and other stuff regarding the new album!
Thanks a lot for this interview (and the waiting!)"
...all pictures borrowed by total lack of permission from the band's myspace site....
Composed by Roy Kristensen