Dreadful Uniformity: A Conversation with Ardek of CARACH ANGREN

The band's compositional mind details their approach to a signature persona.

Carach Angren Stefan Heilemann
Photograph by Stefan Heilemann

The realm of theatrical metal has a special place in metal's expansive history. From KING DIAMOND to ALICE COOPER and GHOST, these creative powerhouses have been able to immerse audiences into new worlds that play as one with the riffs they deliver. Of those who have excelled in this theatrical take on heaviness is symphonic black metal unit CARACH ANGREN.

CARACH ANGREN continued their storytelling prowess and further positioned themselves at the height of symphonic black metal with their recently released effort Franckensteina Strataemontanus. The Dutch duo incorporate their defining gruesome allure to symphonic hymns, hymns that are characterized by horrific storytelling and dynamic black metal. To give way to the band's Frankenstein inspired tale, the band worked with photographer Stefan Heilemann for thematic photo shoots and an album cover that very well represent the frightening nature of it all. That said, Franckensteina's embodiment of said qualities is top tier and speaks to the band's mastery of the sub-subgenre of horror metal.

We talk to keyboardist/composer Clemens "Ardek" Wijers about CARACH ANGREN's approach to visuals:

From the album covers to the photography and stage person, visuals are a key component of the Carach Angren experience. Do you feel as though they’re as essential as the music itself?

Ardek: Yes, we are storytellers and the story presents itself through music but also art. Both have to work together perfectly. The main element is of course the music and we try to get you to make images in your mind while listening to our music and stories. The artwork and visuals connect to the music and fill in gaps -or- add an additional dimension. I like it when there is something extra instead of the same thing both in audio and visuals. That’s why for example in our videos, we do something different than purely telling the story as it unfolds during a song.

Photograph by Stefan Heilemann

The Carach Angren identity is one you’ve built successfully with each passing record, garnering praise in the form of cosplay, make-up tutorials, fan art and more over the course of nearly two decades now. To what do you attribute this?

Ardek: Thanks. Actually, all of this has sort of happened organically. We never forced any of these things to happen but followed our intuition and creativity. Along the path, more and more people liked our music and a fan community grew, which is really amazing. We never take any of that for granted and try to reinvent ourselves with every release. The movements and theatrics during our shows evolved along the same lines actually. Sometimes people ask where we developed our choreography but actually it just happened by playing a lot of shows, haha.