Formed in England in 1991, Cradle of Filth’s early demos generated an immediate underground buzz, before they stamped their authority on the UK’s burgeoning black and death metal underground with their debut album “The Principle Of Evil Made Flesh”, in 1994. Now, 26 years after their formation and with Dani Filth the sole remaining original member, Cradle of Filth are set to release their twelfth studio album, “Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay” on September 22nd, 2017 via Nuclear Blast.
The album starts with Exquisite Torments Await, a short (2:15), sharp intense blast with cinematic shades of black, coming off initially as something out of a horror movie. I expected something to jump out of my speakers at any moment. With big choral arrangements, double bass drumming and Dani’s signature shriek, this track is essentially an overture for what is to come. Grandiose, symphonic, heavy metal.
The first single to be released, Heartbreak and Séance showcases the deft interplay between guitarists Marek ‘Ashok’ Šmerda and Richard Shaw, who really standout on the album as a whole. There are moments where the tasteful guitar parts lends the track a ballad type of feel as the drums provide the perfect framework for those emotional moments, when not spitting out vicious blast beats. Gothic vibes spread throughout and it’s a very melodic track.
Up next is Achingly Beautiful with its misleading title! This is a fast, hard hitting song, full on with its intensity, described as a scorching holocaust of the heart. Keys player Lindsay Schoolcraft adds backing vocals, and whilst she has stated that her contributions to the album were minimal, she certainly does make her presence felt throughout.
We start with a choir and a piano before heading into thrash-driven grandeur on Wester Vespertine. This sounds a lot more complex than the previous songs, not to say that they are simple, but there seems to be more in the way of tempo changes and all around madness. Once again Lindsay Schoolcraft’s vocals add another dimension and a soothing element to the harsh, grim Victorian horror and the guitar work is superb, tying everything together.
The title track, The Seductiveness of Decay, starts off slow and weighty, before giving way, seamlessly to a thrash metal vibe and a gallop that wouldn’t be out of place on an Iron Maiden record. Martin Škaroupa’s hard hitting drumming is fantastic, as it is all the way through “Cryptoriana”, and his energy drives the song to its conclusion. The keys and strings aren’t as up in the mix here as on other songs, preferring to be more subtle and delicate, hovering in the background, adding that unsettling element as the razor sharp precision of the guitars and drums take control. Choral parts come into play towards the middle before a fast paced, lead guitar solo.
Vengeful Spirit is one of the albums standout tracks and it features guest vocalist Liv Kristine trading vocals with Dani, utilising the “beauty and the beast” style that she helped pioneer. Clean, chorused guitars and keys start the song off with a slow tempo before we’re treated to more precise, thrash metal riffs. The chemistry between both vocalists sees them deliver a very ghoulish, almost seductive duet with the track itself once again providing that wide cinematic scope and symphonic grandeur. Haunting backing vocals float in and out alongside big orchestral moments.
Moving on to You Will Know The Lion By His Claw which was the second single released back on August 8th. Lyrically and musically, this is one of the best songs on the album. Deep, guttural vocals and glass shattering shrieks from Dani Filth do not disappoint and once again the epic nature of the arrangements sweeps majestically across the sonic landscape. This song probably also has my favourite guitar solo of the bunch too.
The album closes out with the longest track, Death And The Maiden, with the dark tone of the vocal giving a sense of dread, whilst the keys, strings and choir builds throughout, getting more sinister as we progress through the songs 8:48 length. These elements set the tone from the off, once again coming off as a soundtrack to a horror movie, and you just feel that something evil is about to occur. A perfect way to finish the record as it encapsulates everything that has gone before it, finishing up much in the same way that the album started with unsettling, cinematic soundscapes.
“Cryptoriana” is deeply infused with Victorian Gothic Horror both lyrically and musically and should satisfy both old and new fans alike, as Cradle of Filth marry up a perfect balance between their old and new sounds, building on the foundations laid down from their last album “Hammer of the Witches”.
There is plenty to enjoy on this album, from the fast paced, precise, intricate guitars, the incredible drum work, the rich bass, the perfect use of keys and orchestration to the vocal performance. I can’t fault Dani here at all, and with the addition of Lindsay, it truly makes for an epic listening experience.
Sweeping orchestration, heavy, thrash infused guitars, bombastic drumming and Dani’s signature shrieks. It’s all here, wrapped up in a Gothic Horror masterpiece. “Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay” packs a sonic punch and shows that Cradle of Filth is still able to make an impression.
Cradle of Filth are:-
Dani Filth – Vocals
Richard Shaw – Guitars
Ashok – Guitars
Daniel Firth – Bass
Lindsay Schoolcraft – Keys
Martin Škaroupa – Drums