"Thornography" (Roadrunner; 2006)

Reviewed by Mike SOS

The ever-controversial Cradle of Filth return with yet another symphony for the devil with "Thornography." 

Providing the elaborate orchestration, speed metal antics, and dramatic flare like no other, this CD once again cascades over the top of metal's normal excesses, making songs like "Under Huntress Moon" and "Libertina Grimm" surefire diehard fan pleasers. But as always, Dani Filth and company always have something up their sleeve, and their movie soundtrack cover of Heaven 17's "Temptation" is just one of the many treats you'll get on this 12-track offering. 

Staying true with all usual tactics in tow on cuts like the Maiden gone black metal vibe of "The Rise of the Pentagram" and the breakneck rhythms and demonic vocals on "Lovesick for Mina," Cradle of Filth triumphantly retains its corpse-painted stripes while showing no fear or repercussion in their experimental dabblings such as working with HIM vocalist Vile Valo on "The Byronic Man."

"Thornography" does the job in turning extreme metal on its ear with the unmistakable Cradle of Filth artistry beaming bright. 

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"Nymphetamine" (Roadrunner; 2004)

Reviewed by Mike SOS

Cradle of Filth are one of the longest running yet most misunderstood metal acts in the world today. Finding a home on Roadrunner after a decade of label-hopping, this latest installment of depraved majesty and horrifically powerful headbanging music is still long on the dramatic yet there's an imminent sense of violence displayed here, the likes of which have been previously unheard from these merchants of evil, especially on tracks like the unflinchingly entitled "Gilded Cunt."  

Like any well-respected black metal band, the surge of evil is very much apparent, as are the seething riffs and bruising rhythms that made COF the underground entity that they are today. Maybe being on a purely metal label will help this band realize its full potential and give them the mainstream recognition they so richly deserve, even if your siblings, neighbors, and whole damn community will be scared to death. 

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"Damnation and a Day" (Epic / Red Ink; 2003)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

COF's major label debut is a vision of horror, that much is certain. From Dani Filth's blood-curdling screams to the painstakingly pseudo-Satanic lyrics to the atmospheric sound effects and eerie musical instruments, "Damnation and a Day" is like a horror movie caught in audio form.

Perhaps this particular credit on the back of the CD describes "Damnation" best: "Over produced by Doug Cook and Cradle of Filth." As the band's major label debut, "Damnation" is slickly produced indeed. It's a well-blended amalgram of evil and rock'n'roll that, in the end, comes off more like "White Zombie" or "Black Cat" than "The Exorcist" or "Rosemary's Baby." In other words, despite its apparently very serious lyrics, "Damnation and a Day" is fun to listen to. Some may have issues with its huge production; me, I think it fits the band's image and music well. (Speaking of which, the band's image and music fit the Ozzfest bill perfectly).

Much of the CD's success has to do with Dani Filth, whose vocals, as Mr. Kelter mentions many times below, take a bit of getting used to. They're very appropriate on "Damnation," and their blood-curdling timbre shatters many a normal rock'n'roll moment here, transforming it from a bang-your-head beat to a "suddenly freezing, eyes open wide, wondering what the hell was that?" situation instead.

I haven't paid much attention to Cradle of Filth in the past and, frankly, I may never listen to "Damnation and A Day" again. Still, at least now I finally know what all the fuss is about and, if nothing else, if I feel like enjoying the rock'n'roll equivalent to a Clive Barker novel, now I know where to look.

Cradle of Filth: Dani Filth - Scripture and howls; Paul - Unrepentant white noise; Martin Foul - Keys to Ransacked Eden; David Pubis - Poisoned Heart Throb; Adrian - Savage Repercussion.

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"No Time To Cry" (Koch Records/Music For Nations)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

"No Time To Cry" is a three-song sampler for the upcoming double-CD "Live Bait For The Dead." "Live Bait For The Dead" will contain live material as well as other non-concert material. The three tracks on this CD sampler do not hint at the quality of the live material, but rather provide a sneak peak at its remixes.

"No Time To Cry (Sisters Of No Mercy Mix)" features the most gothic sound I've heard, or at least that I can recall, from Cradle Of Filth so far - it sounds more gothic than the original. Of course, since the song is a Sisters Of Mercy track, it's going to have that original goth style in its favor.

"Born In A Burial Gown (The Polished Coffin Mix)" is by far the best track on this sampler. The musical performance is top-notch and the arrangement has the feel of an epic black metal songs. How does this mix differ from the original version that appears on the CD "Bitter Suites To Succubi" you might ask? Well, for starters it's longer and sounds like it has been re-mastered, but otherwise is pretty close to the original.

"Deleted Scenes Of A Snuff Princess" is a techno-laden track that actually rubs me more raw that Dani Filth's voice (who would have thought that was possible?). While I might be used to the inclusion of electronica and techno elements to black metal bands such as Aborym, this kind of track is completely uncalled for in my opinion.

In all three cases it is the raspy screech of Dani Filth that just rubs me the wrong way. I figured I'd be used to it now, but I'm not. The bottom line is that while Cradle Of Filth are adept at producing a plethora of material I see no reason to gather up their catalog for my collection.

As "No Time To Cry" has been issued as a promotional single it won't be available in stores; however, avid Cradle Of Filth collectors will want to take notice and track it down to complete their collections. The double-CD "Live Bait For The Dead" is now available in stores and features more than 90 minutes of live material, four remixes, one video, and various other multimedia goodies.

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"Lovecraft & Witch Hearts" (Koch Records/Music For Nations; 2002)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

Cradle Of Filth recorded three albums, one EP, and various singles and what-not for the Music For Nations label. "Lovecraft & Witch Hearts" is a twenty-four track retrospective of Cradle Of Filth's tenure with the label (1996 through 2000). The sampler promo disc of "Lovecraft & Witchhearts" that I received only features ten of the retrospective's twenty-four tracks; however, it appears to be a fairly decent sampling of the band's assorted tracks, singles, remixes that appeared on soundtracks, import singles, and other stuff never before released.

The double CD set features a techno remix ("Dance Macabre"), cover songs (see the paragraph below), bonus tracks from international versions of the band's CDs ("For Those Who Died" from the Japanese version of their "Midian" full-length), and plenty of the band's better known material.

Cradle Of Filth's cover songs are well represented on "Lovecraft & Witch Hearts." The band covers Slayer's "Hell Awaits," Sodom's "Sodomy And Lust," and Iron Maiden's "Hallowed Be Thy Name." Of these, the best, by far, is the cover of "Hallowed Be Thy Name" even despite that fact that it is a pretty faithful rendition of the original.

The instrumental "Camilla’s Mask" was the best track in my opinion if only because I didn’t have to hear Dani's raspy screech (which I am not fond of as you can tell from my previous reviews of Cradle Of Filth).

I'm certain that "Lovecraft & Witch Hearts" will appeal to all Cradle Of Filth fans due simply to the fact that all of the band's special tracks can be purchased on this one volume as opposed to having to hunt for all of the individual singles and soundtracks. However, if you are not a fan of Cradle Of Filth, "Lovecraft & Witch Hearts" will do little to change your opinion of the band. 

While I may not care for Cradle Of Filth's sound, style, or image I can appreciate their influence on the extreme music scene. "Lovecraft & Witch Hearts" is more than ample evidence of Cradle Of Filth's progression and evolving style from their origins through the year 2000.

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"Heavy, Left-Handed & Candid" (DVD) (Abracadaver; 2001)

Reviewed by TBJ

This is Cradle's first foray into DVD and I must say I was really impressed. How can a Black Metal band be so stylish and so professional? I'll never know. I remember reading that Dani once said that when and if they ever made any money from the band it would be invested in the band itself. I thought he was bullshitting but, as you will see on this DVD, he wasn't.

This is a Grade A music and video experience you won't soon forget. Everything is classy: the packaging, the contents. Oh yes, the contents! Well, you get a live concert (over an hour long), some videos, a shockumentary (awesome) and some other goodies. 

On the documentary you will see the band in its rawest form - no makeup, no glitter, no costumes. It sounds very strange to say it but they seem to have fun in very cool ways. Of course, there's the obligatory butt shots, pot, illicit sex, scandalous language, meaningful explorations of the mind and, well, all that you would expect from a band called Cradle of Fucking Filth. Hell, even Sarah (their female singer) is just as wacky as the rest of them. 

Included are videos for "Born in a Burial Gown" and "Scorched Earth Erotica" (both versions, nasty and very nasty, are awesome). 

The frosting on this bloody cake is, of course, the live concert. Is it me, or have these guys seen Iron Maiden's "Live after Death" too many times? Why do I say that? Well, their live act reminds me of a classic band and that is very good thing. 

The band sounds much tighter than in "PanDaemonAeon." I didn't think much of their new drummer (Nick is God), but after this I can say they have nothing to worry about. The song selection is awesome, but where's "Malice Through the Looking Glass," and "Beneath the Howling Stars"?? (Actually, I can understand why they weren't included).

Dani's voice is in fine form. I didn't think he could pull off those screams live but I was greatly mistaken. He can do the scream and the growl, and I think that is just awesome. The guitars are heavier and clearer than on CD (huh?!), the bass is more prominent. My only qualm is that the keyboards weren't as loud as they could've been but maybe that's why everything sounds a lot nastier.

I will say that this is a great buy for all you devil-worshipping people (and some of you Christians, too), but beware - Dani's voice is grating; you have to get used to it. 

I see great things coming from this band, I hope their Sony deal provides them with enough money to warrant the continued awesome production on both new disk and live settings.

Cradle of Filth: Dani - Vocals, Gian - Guitar, Paul - guitar, Adrian - drums, Robin - keyboard.

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"Bitter Suites to Succubi" (Spitfire; 2001)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

Since I found it difficult to listen to Cradle Of Filth's previous effort, "Midian," all the way through in one sitting, it occurred to me that Cradle Of Filth are like an annoying slow leak that just doesn't go away no matter how many times you try to fix it. I actually found it a challenge to try and listen to "Bitter Suites To Succubi" with a clean slate and open ears.

Controversy aside for this particular CD (video tracks that were supposed to be added weren't leading to a spectacular war of words between the band and those responsible for manufacturing), "Bitter Suites To Succubi" blazes down the same path that Cradle Of Filth have tread before. Dani Filth may have a limited vision for his band, but it is a unique and visually and aurally stark experience.

There is still no mistaking Dani Filth's voice or Cradle Of Filth's singular style. Dani Filth still double-tracks his voice to great effect and "Bitter Suites To Succubi" incorporates a healthy dose of female vocals for added relief. I actually enjoyed the balance between the raging black metal parts and the more gothic, keyboard-heavy sections on the mixed bag of old songs re-recorded on "Bitter Suites To Succubi." The departure of Nick Barker continues to haunt the overall intensity of Cradle Of Filth, but to the untrained ear it probably doesn't make a difference.

As usual, there's no denying COF's attention to detail: impressive, extensive artwork is included which unfortunately lends its appeal to pre-pubescent boys looking for titular thrills from the occasional naked woman.

"Bitter Suites To Succubi" was produced by Doug Cook. The production is thankfully above average; and it would need to be to hear all that stuff that is going on.

Cradle Of Filth is Dani Filth on vocals and whoever else he's hired at the time of recording - it's impossible to stay current with the line-up changes in Cradle Of Filth.

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"Midian" (Koch Records; 2000)

Reviewed by TBJ

If you don't get goose bumps the first time you hear "At the Gates of Midian" (the first cut on this CD), you better check your pulse - ‘cause you are probably dead.

Cradle of Filth has basically kicked the black metal community right square in the ass with this outing. Having been criticized for not being "black enough" or for being "too soft" and for probably selling out, these "Heaven’s Mutant Children" (as they call themselves - as always led by Dani/God,) bring upon us an apocalyptic dose of pure metal of the heaviest, fastest kind. Instead of taking the easy way and writing a verse/chorus/verse/chorus type of record, these guys decided to improve on the heaviness, speed, and melody of their sound making the most complete record of their career thus far.

Starting things off with the keyboard intro, "At the Gates of Midian" (THE best intro I’ve heard EVER), Cradle of Filth prove they didn’t lose a step with the departure of drum god Nicholas and guitar hero Stuart with songs such as "Cuthulu Dawn," "Saffron’s Curse" and "Death Magick for Adepts." Things move further on with probably the heaviest track they’ve ever written ("Lord Abortion") and the most "commercial" if it can be called that) Cradle song in "Amor e Morte." The latter being the best song on the album in my opinion, those guitars and keyboard laden verses actually making Dani’s voice sound not-so-grating, and the explosive/melodic chorus making it an instant classic (and probably a live favorite, IF they can pull off those choir voices). And let's not forget those guitar solos (yes, guitar solos! Stuart who?!). We then wander into a moody, spacey keyboard solo, "Creatures that Kissed in Cold Mirrors," (Martin being the most talented keyboardist they’ve had yet). Which leads to another surprisingly melodic song, "Her Ghost in the Fog" Sarah should become a permanent part of the band, she would look cool in their make up!). We then finish things of with "Satanic Mantra" (really cool to listen to after watching "The Exorcist" or something like that), "Tearing the Veil from Grace" and "Tortured Soul Asylum," both having some more female participation.

There we have it, a new classic in a time where it only matters how many cuss words you can fit in a senseless verse. Fuck that. THIS is what metal is all about.

Cradle of Filth is: Dani - Serpent Tongue; Paul - Despondent Night Chords; Robin Graves - Nocturnal Pulse; Martin - Ouija Boards/Cobwebbed Organ; Gian- Blade; Adrian - Vampire Battery;  Sarah Jezebel - Diva; Mika Lindberg - female vocals.

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"From the Cradle to Enslave E.P." (Metal Blade/Music For Nations; 1999)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

Cradle Of Filth have let loose an EP of melodic gothic black metal to satisfy their fans until the next full-length is ready. Wielding their rights to "freedom of speech," Cradle Of Filth purport enough X-rated themes and lyrics on "From The Cradle To Enslave E.P." to make conservatives scream in horror; Cradle Of Filth wouldn't have it any other way.

There will be plenty of scrutiny applied to "From The Cradle To Enslave E.P." due to the legion of fans that await every new release with great anticipation as well as the gamut of critics that are probably lining up to trash Cradle Of Filth's latest offering.

The three original songs here are solid, yet not groundbreaking. The trademark use of double-tracked vocals gives the new songs some added depth. In fact, Cradle Of Filth use this technique on nearly every track much like Guns 'N' Roses did on the "Use Your Illusion" CDs.  Female vocals are added to the original songs as well and it is always a pleasant aspect of Cradle Of Filth music. 

Three cover songs make up half of the songs on the "From The Cradle To Enslave" EP. The straight-forward punk riffing of "Death Comes Ripping", originally done by the Misfits, gets a heavy dose of black metal treatments. Doom masters Anathema's "Sleepless" is rendered in a more punchy manner. A cover of Massacre's "Dawn Of Eternity" has the band's ever-present gothic influences, yet incorporates death metal and thrash components that may hint, as rumor has it, at the future direction of Cradle Of Filth. 

This U.S. version is slightly different than the European version; the European version doesn't have "Dawn Of Eternity," but has a song called "Perverts Church." Happy hunting for those of you who must have everything related to Cradle Of Filth.

There's nothing particularly amazing with "From The Cradle To Enslave EP," but nothing terribly bad either. If you like gothic black metal then head directly your favorite local CD store; if you don't like gothic black metal, spend your money on Van Halen CDs - apparently Van Halen needs the money to recoup their costs from "VH3." 

"From The Cradle To Enslave" was produced by Cradle Of Filth.

Cradle Of Filth are Dani Filth on vocals, Stuart Antsis on guitars, Gian Pyres on guitar, Robin Eaglestone on bass, and Les Smith on keyboards. Various drummers were used including the recently departed Nick Barker on one track. 

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"Cruelty and the Beast" (Mayhem/Fierce; 1998)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

Most of us are well aware of the notoriety that Cradle Of Filth has gained over the last few years, but how does the music stand up? Everything holds up fairly well although one might begin to wonder if the aura of the English band actually outshines their musical ability.

"Cruelty And The Beast" is a competent and decent work, but it slips into monotony a bit too often. The disc lacks many things that other black metal bands can distinguish themselves from each other. The one thing that Cradle Of Filth has done that other black metal bands haven't is sustain a sense of story and drama throughout the entire sequence of songs. However, I'd still rather listen to Russian metal heroes Mental Home. 

Although the keyboards still play an integral part in Cradle Of Filth's musical tapestry, it is no match for the fluid keyboards heard in Children Of Bodom or the blazing ivories found in Dimmu Borgir. The guitars are used with economy and are sometimes not even heard for long stretches - this gives the music a chance to breathe and evolve in the listener's mind.

The lyrics are steeped in sexual imagery; however, I find it hard to take the band seriously. The band refers to its sexual imagery as erotica, but that's nowhere near the truth. 

Dani Filth's vocals are a bit too raspy at times, but his rapid-fire delivery suits the music just fine. Guitarists Gian and Stuart are often relegated to playing standard black metal riffs, but often they do break out with some otherworldly and wild lines (check out the beginning of "Desire In Violent Overture"). The bass and keyboards are done in perfect black metal style although I hear nothing to suggest that we'll ever be saying "how about that great Cradle Of Filth bassist" with mist in our eyes. Nicolas Barker, on the other hand, is one hell of a drummer; now that he's permanently in Dimmu Borgir it's all too easy to say he's better suited to the Norwegian outfit's style. 

"Cruelty And The Beast" was produced by Jan Peter Genkel and Cradle Of Filth. Overall the production is average at best; however, repeated listens does allow the listener to pull out certain aspects of the music and spoken words by various characters that gives the disc a little added depth. 

Cradle Of Filth is Dani Filth on vocals, Stuart Antsis on guitars, Gian Pyres on guitar, Robin Eaglestone on bass, Les Smith on keyboards, and Nicholas Barker on drums. 

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"Dusk and Her Embrace" (Fierce; 1997)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

I like to stretch my musical borders every now and then and sometimes I look over the edge just a little too far and fall into a realm of the unknown. Without knowing the language of "Dusk and Her Embrace," I find myself without the proper vocabulary to communicate what I’m experiencing. Still, I'll do my best.

Cradle of Filth has their followers and, although I’m not one of them, I feel that I have been infected by their style of music after listening to "Dusk And Her Embrace." I had some idea of what they are about (black metal), but I was hoping for a little more Metal than Black. Still, I stepped into their forest full well knowing what might be lurking around the corner or hanging from the branches.

"Dusk and Her Embrace" is very interesting. It's got a symphonic sound while incorporating devil screams from Dani and the growl of beasts over the screams. I made sure all the lights were on so I could easily see any shadows that might sneak up in my peripheral vision. When the guitar is going it sounds good and I’m sure the more theatrical the better for this Goth gang.

The lyrics are harder to read than a British tabloid ... why doth they explore such trifle with haste I beckon? (See I told you I lack the proper vocab). I will say this: each song is lengthy and you are forced to listen while it unfolds and envelopes you. 

Although "Dusk and Her Embrace" may not be my cup of tea, at least now I know what the darker side of music sounds likes.

Cradle of Filth: Dani – Desires Better Unsung; Stuart – Requiems of War and Woe; Damien – Orchestral Manoeuveres in the Dark; Robin – Nocturnal Pulse; Nicholas – Hammer of the Gods; Gian – Ravening Black Massacre.

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright © 2007 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
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