Like a cold wind rustling leaves across a graveyard, Dance And Laugh Amongst The Rotten (Season of Mist) creeps in with an unsettling piano intro. Distant screeching of strings echo as the lights fades, voices erupting from the darkness. “Charlie” then jumps into sporadic blast beats and murky growls. The vocals cry out a tale of a haunting and invading presence, the guitar and drums shredding and blasting in spurts. The track drops to diabolical depths of terror with deeper guitar tones. The feeling of intrusion comes closer as children’s voices call out “Charlie”.
So begins Carach Angren’s Dance And Laugh Amongst The Rotten. Once again tapping into the realm of concepts, the album centers around a young girl’s unhealthy obsession with a Ouja board. The fifth studio release from the symphonic black metal trio, the record excels with the band’s best production. While the orchestration and keyboard components have always pumped with ferocious energy, the guitar and drums jump out with a sharp aggression. There’s more of a speed to this material than in past works, while still containing plenty of those slow drawing moments of chilling dread. There’s a terrific blend of tearing metal energy, that meets terrifying theatrics and aura.
In regards to this balance, one of the best examples on the album is “Blood Queen”. Together, the drumming and guitar take off as delicate strings play in the background. This flow flies away up until the halfway point, where all the instrumentals drop out but piano and strings. In this eerie air, the lyrics speak of terrifying imagery. The album is rife with horror themed lyricism that balances both brutality and feelings of unease. One example from “Blood Queen” is, “And the mirror shows her a newborn child/ She reaches for the infant, so sweet/ but the mirror cracks/ its eyes start to bleed.”
“In De Naam Van De Duivel” opens on searing blast beats and thick guitar chugs. The song plays with chemistry, backing off the speed for eased moments of rhythm, just to throw in some choppy progression. This includes moments of drums with piano, to moments of that straight forward rhythm, back to a crushing darkness of riffs. Amongst all the tracks, “Pitch Black Box” is by far one of the most rip roaring titles amongst them. It’s also a super fucking catchy song, with its triumphant pounding intro. Subtle drum work takes a backseat to vibrant electric riffs, and adrenaline inducing string work. Other than the subtle moments of strings that play with the vocals, the track blasts with this momentum, trudging forward like a march into the underworld. “Three Times Thunder Strikes” is a ripping good time that introduces some of the fastest playing on the record. Punishing drums are backed by ghostly cries as the guitar shreds away. The song then shifts into chaos as the instruments pick up, and the strings shriek in the background.
Dance And Laugh Amongst The Rotten is an excellent combination of theatrical horror that meets brutal metal. Carach Angren have sincerely outdone themselves on this captivating delivery of horrifying auras and relentless mayhem. The music presents itself with an otherworldly and unsettling nature, with each new track keeping things fresh. With the best production the band has had to date, the guys in Carach Angren prove their mastery in symphonic instrumentation. Aggressive guitar work that meets blistering drums, backed by a haunting set of orchestral instruments and creepy vocals, make for one of the best horror fueled records of recent times.