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Symphony In Black: An Exclusive Interview With SEREGOR And ARDEK Of CARACH ANGREN

By Wendy Jasper, Black Metal Aficionado
Monday, March 27, 2023 @ 9:17 AM


"The funny thing about the CARACH ANGREN name was that I had written it down years before I even met the guys and I had put it away"

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Live Photo By Wendy Jasper, Band Photo Courtesy Of Season Of Mist

Black metal fever has swept through the masses in a way not seen since the early 1990’s. Rather than concentrating solely on products of Norway, today’s listener has many choices and subgenres that my generation of black metal fans did not. Symphonic Black Horror Metal masters CARACH ANGREN are unrivaled when it comes to their craft. With a catalog that has met with rave reviews since their inception in 2003, CARACH ANGREN has increased their fan base and intensified their sound with every subsequent release.

The original trio from Landgraaf, a municipality in the Dutch Netherlands, consisted of drummer Ivo “Namtar” Wijers, keyboardist Clemens “Ardek” Wijers and guitarist and singer Dennis “Seregor” Droomers.

The band’s first two EPs, The Chase Vault Tragedy (2004) and Ethereal Veiled Existence (2005), offered them secured footing in Black Metal circles. This led to their signing with German label Maddening Media and the production of their first full length album, Lammendam (2008). The band later signed a deal with their current label, Season Of Mist Records.

This lineup was the core team for the band’s seminal albums Death Came Through a Phantom Ship (2010), Where The Corpses Sink Forever (2012), This Is No Fairytale (2015) and Dance And Laugh Amongst The Rotten (2017).

However, there have been some changes. Namtar left the band after finishing his part of the band’s newest opus, Frankensteina Strataemontanus (2020) and fans have had to wait through Covid to even hear the music performed live. Successful tours with HYPOCRISY in 2022 and ROTTING CHRIST in 2023 have given fans what they crave and Seregor and Ardek are moving forward with intensity.

Historically, bands have looked to literature to create a narrative for what inspires their music and how they personally feel about their particular form of art. For CARACH ANGREN, JRR Tolkien was a major influence and Droomer swas an avid reader. Tolkien’s literature spoke to him in the same way that it has to many other bands and he took his stage name from Tolkien’s Silmarillion.

“For me it was a choice to use the stage name Seregor based on the meaning (Sereg means blood, gor means abhorrent)”, Droomers said. “When I was younger I read the books so mostly it was me that was into it. They were amazing stories and when you look at other bands you see they are also taken with it; bands like GORGOROTH, and DIMMU BORGIR singer Shagrath took his name from Tolkein. They all seem to be inspired and when I got into it, I realized that he (Tolkein) has a good way of representing good and evil and darkness and light.”

Even the name of the band was something Droomers had in mind before it ever materialized; so much so that he forgot about it only to come upon his notes and turn his thought process into a reality.

“The funny thing about the CARACH ANGREN name was that I had written it down years before I even met the guys and I had put it away. Years later, when we became a band, we had to come up with a name and I was cleaning out some drawers and there it was, a slip of paper covered in dust at the bottom of the drawer with the words written on it,” Droomers laughed.

“We were in different bands before and Dennis and I started a side project that became CARACH ANGREN,” Clemens said. “We both liked dark stuff and we really wanted to make the black horror music, so we left the other bands and focused on this project.”

I think we always tried to go dark from the first album. We are very theatrical, but it is also rooted in reality; the last album was based on Frankenstein and I researched and found the story of this real man (Dippel) and not a lot of people really knew about it. So we investigated more and brought the story to the forefront. While there is still fantasy knowing that it was a real person creates fear,” Droomers said.

Frankensteina Strataemontanus works under the premise that Johann Konrad Dippel, a very real person, was the slightly insane creature creator and that story works upon the listener in a way very similar to how Mary Shelley’s famous character worked upon those who crossed his path. As with much of the band’s previously produced music, the concept of the album starts to emerge and hits hard. The shouts of “I am God” to signify the God-complex of Dippel and his turn at creationism creates a disturbing mental image.

The video for the title track of the album creates an even more grotesque aura around the band and song, and the band wanted to personify their version of the creature in a very different way.

“We were working with Zoran (Bihac), who had also done work with RAMMSTEIN, and we had always wanted to work with him. Between us all there is a certain level of twistedness,” Droomers said. “I sent him the songs early on and he picked that one song and we wanted to see what he came up with. He talked about different movies, some akin to the story of Dr. Caligari, and then we add the twins and the dancer, and it creates what we now have as the song and the video.”

“For this album it was pretty obvious this would be the song we used for the video. Even people that maybe weren’t into metal heard and said they liked that one,” Wijers said. “The song is not that long and sometimes we are playing it and then all of a sudden its over! But we took what we had a step further with this and it just jumped out at us. That is when the music is good; when it has this effect on people.”

While they have been touring to support Frankensteina Strataemontanus, three years after it’s initial release, the band has also been in writing mode. New music is in the works and their research into new subject matter has started. “Before Covid we were done with writing and recording and when the pandemic started people were urging us to wait, sort of to put it in the fridge,” Droomers laughed. “Shutdowns lasted for two years but we were so very proud of it that we wanted to release it even though we couldn’t tour. I think we still feel that close connection with it and we are excited to be performing these songs at last; but with that said, we do have six or seven new songs that we are working on for a new album.”

“It is hard to focus when you are not playing and we thought about that and we are very serious about how we go into releasing an album and sometimes it doesn’t matter if we wait two years or three years, we want to put out something that makes sense; so after the tours we have planned we can get back into focusing on something new,” Wijers said.

It isn’t odd for the band to have a span of two to three years between each record so new material is something that is on the horizon. The distance between albums is actually the trend for this band because of the level of great detail within each story line as all of their albums are concept albums.

Packed touring schedules this past month put the band on the U.S. tour with ROTTING CHRIST and the shows were sold out in most of the cities where the tour was booked.

“Touring is like a new life,” Droomers said. “When you are at home and living real life and dealing with real problems you can go on tour and for a while it is like you have a new life. Choosing a tour and working with bands that make sense makes it exciting and you feel like you have a new family for a while. We know the cities here in the US and it doesn’t get boring for us.”

The band will be doing limited shows in Europe and some festivals, while taking time to finish some songs. There are still some travel issues with visas to come to the united states, but it has gotten better, so the band carefully chooses which locales the visit.

The band’s lineup has experienced some change since 2020, with drummer Ivo “Namtar” Wijers, brother of Clemems, exiting the band due to frustration with the commercial and business side of the music industry. While fans were disappointed, the band forged ahead with their plans. While for so many years the brothers Wijers had a family and musical connection, Namtar’s decision was met with the respect of his bandmates. They continued to perform with touring members that continue to include live guitarist Bastiaan “Butcher” Boh.

“Of course I was disappointed and he made his decision, but we also saw that he couldn’t go on and we acknowledged all the things he mentioned in his personal statement, but there is always a time you have to let go of things,” Wijers said. “Everyone is different, and you have to figure it out when there are problems. We were already into this new album and sometimes I would get frustrated and yell and then we get into a song, but it is about balance and working it out. You have to find that balance and he couldn’t do it anymore. It was a shock for us but we knew a couple of months into it he wanted to make this decision and we said to him ‘why don’t you take a year off’ but he said he wanted to make this decision and he didn’t want us to wait. Then he left and the pandemic made things more difficult and he went his own way.”

Gabe Seeber, a name well known to black metal fans, is the band’s touring drummer, who they met at a festival, and it has worked out really well.

“We have had Butcher with us for eight years,” Droomers said. “On drums we have Gabe Seeber, who filled in for us at Mexico Metal Fest. We had never played with him before so we met literally on stage! It was awesome and this tour came up and he is good, and he is wanted, so we are glad he could do it.”

Therefore, sold out shows, massive fan appreciation and the plans for new music is what drives CARACH ANGREN to put their all into their art night after night while on tour.

At home, they work on individual and band projects; Droomers is a creator of horror art and masks, including props for their videos, while Wijers spends time composing music for short films and creating classical masterpieces. Now we can all eagerly anticipate what will come next and with CARACH ANGREN anything is possible.


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