Let me start by saying that I like musicals. Repo! The Genetic Opera, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-a-long Blog, The Lord of the Rings Musical, and most definitely the musical episode of The Legend of Neil are all musicals that have blown my mind and have my fandom forever. Hailing from the Netherlands comes the symphonic black metal trio Carach Angren (translates to “Iron Jaw” in Tolkein’s Elvish language. Awesome.) with Black Metal: The Musical!
Its real name, Where the Corpses Sink Forever (WtCSF) is like, a gazillion times cooler/ more brutal than Black Metal: The Musical, but essentially it’s a musical or opera written in a symphonic/ orchestral black metal style. Yeah. Fuckin’ A. Coming with the musical label, obviously WtCSF is a concept album. Now even after a couple listens I’m somewhat shaky on the details of the story, from what I do know, it’s probably like, one of the most brutal and twisted concept albums I’ve listened to, ever. As per usual, I’m going to keep the plot pretty under wraps.
It’s a little difficult to conceptualize something that only consists of audio to be a musical. Normally musicals are something visual (like a movie or theatre production) and the music accompanies it. The main reason WtCSF feels like a musical is the vocal delivery and lyrics. The lyrics are laid out more so in paragraphs than in stanzas, but each line delivered usually rhymes with another. I’m doing a terrible job describing it, but you can just listen to “Lingering in an Imprint Haunting” on the official Carach Angren YouTube channel here and hear what I mean first hand.
The instrumentation on WtCSF is beautiful too. The guitars turn on a dime from ripping away with shredding riffs to beautiful arpeggiated passages. The drums pretty much follow the guitars throughout the whole album. While nothing new or innovative is being done on the drums here, they always seem to accent the music perfectly. Lead vocalist Seregor’s screams blow your ears off with their venomous delivery. One thing that I really enjoy about his vocal style is that he sticks around the mid-range black metal vocals, and even ventures into death metal-esque guttural vocals. To top it all off, massive orchestral arrangements soar over top of everything else. Even though the symphonic bits are synthetic, it truly does feel like a real orchestra playing with the band.
Production really helps this album. Everything’s got so much low end, which adds to the dark and twisted atmosphere the album already conveys. All the instruments are pretty well mixed as well, with the only exception being the snare drum at certain times. For some reason, whenever there are blast beats, the snare seems to drop in volume significantly. It’s still audible, but I feel that it takes away from the chaotic effect of the blast.
Lingering in an Imprint Haunting: From the first string section, building up to the explosion of metal when Seregor screams “Kill!” all the way until the song’s final choir chant and beautiful guitar passages, this song blows your brains out the whole way through.
The Funerary Dirge of a Violinist: Clocking in at just over eight minutes, the longest song on the album is also the most epic in scope. The song writing here is top notch. Twisting and turning through different tempos and rhythms seamlessly, “Funerary Dirge” is probably my favorite song on the album.
These Fields are Lurking: The closer to the album just sends shivers down my spine. When I went through this album, I was reading the lyrics all the way through, and by the end of this song I was just slack-jawed.
On a Playlist With: Ne Obliviscaris, Fleshgod Apocalypse, Dimmu Borgir
Where the Corpses Sink Forever is a dark and twisted story shot through the thematic lens of black metal. Fans of black metal, symphonic metal and progressive metal can all find something to enjoy on this album. It’s something disgustingly beautiful.