CARACH ANGREN – Horror is our business

by Edoardo Grieco

Versione italiana

One month before the release of Carach Angren’s new record “Franckensteina Strataemontanus”, we had the pleasure to interview the band’s frontman, Seregor. He kindly and exhaustively answered to our questions concerning the history of the band, its future, and the story behind the new album. Enjoy!

Welcome to MetalPit, we’re extremely happy to have you here with us. First of all, congrats for your new record “Franckensteina Strataemontanus”, which will be released on the 26th of June via Season of Mist.

Thank you!  Yes, if corona doesn’t fuck with us any more it will be the 26th.  

Each new release of yours has something special that sets the differences from the previous ones. Besides the typical scorching guitar riffs, orchestral sounds and pounding drums, I’ve noticed there are several “industrial” elements throughout the whole work, in addition to some clean vocal parts. Is there something you want to achieve in this new record, musically speaking? Are you willing to explore new territories?

Yes, the industrial mark can be recognized clearly. We never have an idea of how an album will sound before the first puzzle parts even exist so all we had was a concept story. The original Dr. Frankenstein (Johan Conrad Dippel). This started actually with a dream Ardek dreamt himself!
Carach agreed so there and then the writing process began and we believe that music shapes and colours according the thoughts you concentrate upon. Ardek did some amazing industrial work on his last solo project and had some scraps left. He send it and said: “hey man, this was pretty cool I could never use before so I don’t know if we can now?” I already screamed in my head “Fuck no! None of that factory sound shit in Carach!” (laughs)
But okay, we always work with respect so I sat down, gave it a couple of spins. For a year now I was staring to this wikipedia of Dippel and right there it was BAM! Dr. Dippel’s university addendum “Franckensteina-Strataemontanus” That slab of a puzzle piece became the refrain for that track. A very simple and determining idea. I send it back and now it was Ardek having doubts “hmm mehhhhh I dunnoooo” (laughs).
Well shit, few hours later he adjusted a few things and had the groove and smile just like I did.

Now that’s how we work. Our true feeling decides if the whole Carach Angren metal tag should be unified by other musical influences. It’s fun how a minute ago it almost meant nothing to me and a minute later I’m totally in love. The Frankenstein novel was published in 1818 so this is exactly the time of the “Industrial” revolution. This goes hand in hand with the doctors laboratory. Just like those vocal parts, it comes on our path as an idea and a feeling will tell us if it works by listening back on a pre-production. So yes in late hours, more weeks and many months we work on this art so if certain thoughts or feelings outweigh all others, then that is the compass telling us which territory to explore.

Nevertheless, you guys have never stopped storytelling, and maybe it’s what some fans are more keen on. This time you’ve taken over a literary masterpiece, Shelley’s classic novel “Frankenstein”, and you’ve brought it to new heights by creating various “parallel” stories that all tie up. Every track seems to be “sewn on” (pun intended) to the next one, and besides the fascinating way you present your lyrics, you seem to be delivering a true “Carach Angren” experience. Do you think the band’s trajectory will continue lingering upon the contrast between macabre stories and impactful music?

Thanks, we always liked Frankenstein as a kid but we never intentionally choose similar timeless masterpieces for our own concepts. At the start we profiled ourselves as a band that will always compose in paranormal concepts, mainly focussed on horror and death connected to ghosts or hauntings. As you can see by now it shifted more into horror in all forms because one day we had a great concept as it was and changing it into a ghost-theme would tie our hands and bring no good to that story. So we decided to clear ourselves from our own spectral name tag. After all; in most cases men turns out to be an even bigger monster made by evil or fear.
Like said there’s a whole process and I still remember Ardek calling me one day about some weird creepy dream he had. A nightmare in a house, strange tones he heard while he was drawn to a painting of an evil face. So he wakes up, runs to his instrument and tries to replay the sounds he heard and drew a face he saw. He’s the rational clear thinking type so when he starts blabbering about seeing ghosts & goblins I better fucking pay attention because I only remember 3 occasions (with this dream) in almost 20 years where he felt the need to explain an event that can’t be explained.  So yeah unless the man’s outside confused, in his underwear, stabbing people… you take your friends word. (laughs)
But okay, yeah weird enough
not to forget. Meanwhile we pretty much decided to go into the Frankenstein theme because we both grew up with it. To me as a kid this was more or less the living room/soft horror I was allowed to watch. Especially when you talk about the old black & white Addam’s family. Were the big flathead goes by Herman monster. So yeah, not the concentrated demonic evil I usually seek but intelligent and fitting to us as artists whether you create an album or a monster. I’m the visual guy feeding on movies so Ardek wormed himself through the Modern Prometheus and did a lot of research. I didn’t have any real hard thoughts to go on so the moment Ardek came running in with his drawing it began to roll. It was a sketch not all too identical but there were similarities and especially Ardek’s excitement confirming this was the way to go. He learned about the infamous Johan Conrad Dippel. So the actual REAL Dr. Frankenstein born in 1673. He had to be the inspiration for Marry Shelly’s novel. From there we slowly built up our own version to make sure it’s not a copy of the film or book. In our version the doctors experiments all fail and he casts aside god. Even technology today can still not revive a full dead corpse from scrap, so to be successful Dippel had to dabble in the black arts. He wanted to create life without death so he bet all that mattered to find the elixir of life, resulting in a pact with the Devil himself.
So that’s how our story got alive like the monster. Books, dreams, movies, real-life tragedies… Who knows where our compass leads us but I’m sure Carach Angren will only work with our impactful music and that darkness instinctively creating fear. Fear creates ghost stories so we might change some clothes, but never the working formula; Metal music & Horror lyrics.

How does the story of the “Modern Prometheus” relate to today’s world? Is there some sort of “morale” or main concept you want to express?

Well, ‘horror’ is our business so we never have any specific messages that should be heard. Our horror is a form of amusement so if Seregor had a true message to the world it would be “You’ll need to die much more inhume death’s” (laughs) yeah, no election for poor Seregor.
But it is interesting, the things you come across, making you think of now and then. Especially Ardek gave some depth into questioning who the monster truly is. If it kills it’s a true monster right? Or…. Would the doctor be a monster for neglecting it ? Yep, evil men will always rise were good men simply do nothing. For me it’s pure art, the respect I have for the artist writing such a great horror and fascination for a guy experimenting on cadavers in the search for eternal life. This was like the first science fiction/horror story that will always be and has all the simple ingredients most people can relate too even today. From artist to scientist, gravedigger or lifesaving doctor. Every villain government tries to create their own ‘monsters’. People always searched for a cure to death or to be equal to their own creator. A father could relate to Dr. Frankenstein knowing if he doesn’t teach and love his own creation, it will turn on him.
So once you start comparing the way of the world, this story, now and then, Frankenstein acts like some kind of wheel that keeps reinventing itself. But there’s no way to do that as good as the original in terms of horror art. I’d feel very dead and successful if people in 200 years from now still would be a Carach Angren fan. Because all our accomplishments in money and power will turn to dust just like our flesh. The world sees you rich, dead and then they forget. The only way to become immortal is to do great work in life and Dippel and Shelley both created enough to become eternal, so here we are reinventing that wheel 2 centuries later.

The vivid imagery of the whole story is meticulously brought forth by the “relentless” approach you used on each track. Concept-wise, how was the creative process different (or similar) to the previous record “Laugh and Dance Amongst the Rotten”, or any other previous release

Technically the approach is always pretty much the same. There’s a puzzle piece in the form of words that needs a musical structure, or the other way around. Because a known theme like this is already huge, it was hard for me to start from scrap on this master work. But once we knew who Dippel was, we started to think like him and fill in blank spaces with our own ideas. Whether you’re a scientist, doctor or artist it’s all about sacrificing your own life for the great work you believe in.  Some albums are harder than others. We always manage to deliver quality and sometimes you feel you are doing great, other times that obvious idea you need is simply not there. Personally I feel better about this one because I was very happy creating it. It’s like a relationship, sometimes things work out, other times you simply miss that click. But once you sign your own painting you’ve accepted the end. Only then I listen and realize how great the whole result actually sounds without that never-ending feeling of thinking you can still make it better.

Throughout the years you could admit having become a “different” band on a series of whole new levels. This record oriented the band towards an even more gory and horror sound. The band’s black metal inspiration is pretty evident, but do you still consider yourself as such?

Yesss. You make these changes in all these years because that’s the path we feel is true. If you don’t because the world says; make another “Lammendam” album, then we’d probably give up after the third one because it’s not enough to us as artists and realistically seen, Carach Angren doesn’t own any metal tags when it comes to literally inventing a new style in (death, black, doom etc.) It’s no sporting game in metal but you know the world will recognize you if you when you are first to invent something never done before. It starts all with simple passion and the moment as a youngster you realize it’s actually possible to make this dream real. I had nothing with music all my life until I discovered extreme metal bands. The boring instrument became a badass spiked metal guitar and as teenage outsider I walked straight into the world of death metal and I felt home when I started listening to Cannibal Corpse and Deicide. These two had it all! Where cannibal cooked up lyrics with a creativity, professionals like Dahmer or Bundy could not even hold a fucking pen, Glen Benton declared total war upon Christianity through Satanism. Rebel behaviour or not, it felt were I belonged. I heard of Black Metal but It was too much theatre for me at that time. I didn’t like the high pitched sounds compared to the lows in Death metal so I was certain this scene was not my cup of blood. I couldn’t understand it’s feeling like I did in Death so It took a few years for me. By the end of the nineties (Emperor, Cradle of Filth, Limbonic Art, Dimmu Borgir…) the new synthesizer-orientated black metal bands completely convinced me because this scene had even more possibilities than Death metal. There’s no other scene of any musical kind that can ever be compared to that of Black metal. You love it or you hate it…  It’s special because of its spiritual depth and endless theatrical value. This devilish scene somehow went hand in hand with classical music making room to express not only pure evil but all the emotions like anger, melancholy, tension, relief etc. even happiness standing for light has purpose here. It shows the absolute contrast when darkness returns. We were just thankful to the scene for finding our true identity and by the time we knew the actual meaning of the word ‘true’ in Scandinavia, some of them saw us as great musicians, others as rapists of their religion the moment we even liked bands using synthesizers. At the time of the murders in 1994 I was not even properly introduced to death metal. So when I read their whole story and saw what happened later on I could understand why some die hard Scandinavians could never agree with bands like us.  Even now when I read back about the black metal scene all in, it keeps existing and unfolding in artistic and even political ways. Bands are bands but sometimes they have that power telling an audience whatever they feel. So they created a nice lil witchcraft hysteria in the nineties by spreading the fear the way they did. Yep! That’s a form of promotion too. Call it whatever you want. The black metal scene has something powerful. To us it means art as it did in a way to Dr. Frankenstein. To others it’s the only free way to express hate and terror upon our own kind and that’s where simple art becomes political and So yeah it’s fair to say Carach Angren will never be a part of how black metal was originated so the name tag changed into horror metal. Also from our point of view ‘horror’ became more honest instead of ‘black’ But do I still consider Carach Angren a Black metal band? Well Yes! A hybrid inspired by a hybrid but when people get all scientific about putting that black tag on us, they get confused and I get a lil kick out of the fact that they cannot place us in one certain spot. It’s like a form of alchemy the world needs to identify you. So again we did not literally invent the black wheel but we picked up that what already existed and all we ever wanted, was to become the band we are today. I’m pretty sure in 10 years from now the scene will mutate into more hybrid viruses even we cannot relate to in whatever way.

Season of Mist has given the opportunity to hold three private listening sessions of the new record “Franckensteina Strataemontanus” before the release. How did these label-organized events help the promotion of the album? Was it an overall positive experience you would repeat?

Yes absolutely! It was one too good to be true. (laughs) Not only did we have a true professional listening session in Castle Frankenstein, Darmstadt. It was the perfect day nature wise, a thick mist lay like a spectral blanket over the forest so there was no better visual to receive the press for this concept. Normally mother nature is not that kind-hearted when it comes to weather and our production. Our thanks go out to Season of mist for investing in Carach this way. We had 2 more sessions after Germany , 1 in our own Dutch country and the last in France, Paris. All great people, interesting questions but especially the Frankenstein Castle itself bound in mist was a sight like some twisted fairy-tale.

Dealing with shows: after the “Pitch Black Summer Tour” you guys pulled off, do you have any major plans for the future, despite the virus-related issues?

As far as I see corona has stopped every form of work and art. To me I hope we can soon be certain about a show or 2 planned in the end of the year but personally, I’m so sure about 2020.
But okay, I rather hear it opens yesterday instead of tomorrow. But as soon one country truly opens others will follow. Only then we can continue whatever plan that’s been made.  

Your live shows are hypnotizing, theatric, eerie, and the overall macabre atmosphere is a key component for the whole Carach Angren experience. Seregor’s acting plunges the audience deep into the story, and it seriously looks like he means every word he says. That’s great. If one day you were to re-invent yourself on stage how would you do that?

Thanks, and interesting question too. I don’t really know, we talked about reinventing wheels so im still turning this one and there are many more miles to haunt and horrify for Carach Angren. At this point Seregor is perfect as it is and you never change a working formula.

Thanks for being with us, it’s been a pleasure! Good luck for the future!
Thank you for the interesting questions and hails to those out there supporting Carach Angren!

Take care and see you on the frontline.

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