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Caradras - Schattenkönige

by Oli Gonzalez at 02 January 2022, 8:02 AM

Hailing from Germany, CARADRAS promise to deliver a sound with a rich black metal core, but with elements and features you wouldn’t typically expect from the genre. I was intrigued. I always like it when bands experiment across all genres. The band released their 4 track EP "Ex nihilo" in 2015, whilst “Schattenkönige” represents the band’s first full length album. “Im Nebel”  opens with an unusual bass line. Unusual because I definitely would not associate this fuzz-laden groovy riff with a black metal album. But it works, and the band’s sole guitarist joins shortly after and sits beautifully over the top! That guitar riff evolves into a ferocious KVLT inspired passage and delightful assault on the eardrums! More of this please!

“Siegel, gebrochen” begins with an “Obituary” style more deliberate slower riff. This definitely offers an interesting contrast. The pace quickens and we’re introduced to more blackened style guitar fury! At the midpoint, the pace slows down once again and this time there’s a spoken passage, in German. All the lyrics have been in their native language that this point. Not completely novel but still something fairly rare. This slower section definitely offers another interesting contrast so that when the blast beats kick in later, we can truly appreciate their intensity I was wondering what bag of tricks “Caradras” would have next in the album title track “Schattenkönige”. The guitar is ominous, spine chilling, setting the mood. Again, with these slower elements, you truly appreciate the energy and intensity of the traditional black metal elements, which are on full display in this song. Sadly though, I feel that the production is letting the album down at this point. It feels quite low budget at times and not as crushing or in-your-face as I’d like.

“Kettenhund” gets straight into the action with the guitars and bass locking in to create a solid chugging wall of sound.  This is succeeded by another slower section with a spoken passage over the top. I find it interesting because although my German lexicon has a capacity of around 6 words, I get that Caranthir is in story telling mode hear, or at least that’s the vibe I get. Come to think of it, the beginning riff really is catching, and is going to get lodged in my brain for several days now! Next up is “Prometheus”. There’s definitely a slower more peaceful feel to the first 90 seconds or so. This was just a decoy though, to lead you into a false sense of security. A few hits of the drummer’s snare and the full powered KVLT intensity hits like a thunderbolt! So sudden! Honestly, I had to rewind this several times just to appreciate that moment of magic. That’s one of the most impressive changes in tempo I’ve heard for a very long time! I allow myself to become consumed in the wave of black metal euphoria for the remainder of the song.

“Drums in the deep”  features the same winning formula for the album; slower ominous and moody passages sharply contrasted with much more intense faster motions. The song also features dual vocals, with guest vocals from M.D. of HELRUNAR. This is also the first time we hear English vocals. The simple yet brutal message “We are doomed!” is repeated throughout and delivered with the appropriate spine-chilling emotion. Drummers will admire the tasty fill that closes the song too. I was a bassist (in what feels like a previous life time ago). As such, I was really drawn to the bass fill in the earlier parts of “In den Grüften”, and in other parts where Maximillian really gets to showcase his abilities.

When I heard the clean guitar arpeggio that opens “Von den Sternen”, I’ll be honest, I was wondering if it was getting slightly repetitive. Then CARADRAS make a fool of me and introduce a very much welcomed but unexpected violin! Where did that come from? I wasn’t expecting that. That definitely shows how CARADRAS are happy to keep you guessing and are very good at it too! This orchestral vibe features prominently throughout the song and apart from the occasional spoken voice note, the song is instrumental. It makes for a rather interesting end to the album.

Overall, CARADRAS have delivered on their promise to offer elements from across the metal spectrum whilst maintaining a solid black metal core. There is some very detailed and intelligent song writing on display. It’s just a shame that the production lets the album down. It feels low budget, rushed, and not given the care and attention that it truly deserves. The drums and low end rumble seem to get lost in the mix too. I do wonder if the guitar and/or bass would benefit from extra layers just to add some much needed depth to the sound. That being said, it is only band’s second release. There’s definitely potential hear and I for one will be eagerly anticipating their next!

Songwriting: 8
Memorability: 8
Production: 6

3 Star Rating

1. Im Nebel
2. Siegel, gebrochen
3. Schattenkönige
4. Kettenhund
5. Prometheus
6. Drums in the Deep
7. In den Grüften
8. Von den Sternen
Caranthir - Vocals
Dominik Winter – Guitar/Vocals
Maximilian Stiefermann - Bass
Pelle – Drums
Record Label: MDD Records


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