By Cradle of Filth
A brief intro before I launch into this one. I own Cradle of Filth albums, I have three in my collection, and although they are dusty, they are still hanging in there, like the skin tags you just never get around to removing. Metal music has changed dramatically in the last 9 years since I was last able to say "I've got the new Cradle album" so I am looking forward to what Dani and his circus of goth pot bashers have to serve up next. "Iron Maiden on crack in a graveyard of angels!" says Dani on the press pack... but wait, can angels die? Wouldn't they have a form to be buried? Is that.. is that a buzzword? Stop it. Let's get the CD on.
Straight out of the gates it's a plinky plonky "dad got me a lute for Christmas" introduction... oh dear, now it's some crazy woman giving some unruly spoken word about how she's going to do something to me... this feels like Insane Clown Posse... no wait, no it's not the undercover Christian hip-hop group it's the "Play As Fast As You Can" competition. My poor speakers are looking at me like I just voted for the BNP - disappointed but ultimately more curious as to why this has happened. But come now, let's give Dani a chance.
It sounds like Dez Fafara and the fastest double kick have jumped into a room to shout and thump over a Danny Elfman soundtrack.
I lost myself for 4 minutes as I started to browse through the Cradle, checking through the member's list for any familiar faces: Paul Allender is still hanging on I see and the revolving door of members seems to have stopped and stabilised itself after the inclusion of Ashley "I'm not just the hot girl at the back - I've got a degree! Honest!" Ellyon - which, I can imagine, is nothing short of a good thing for Cradle as their line-up changes more often than a greasy spoon lunch special. But don't worry, Dani is still the amazing goth princess we all love and hate, from his blog "It seems Autumn is well and truly upon us, judging by the deluge of rain and sloppy leaves dancing across the manor lawn." Does he not have a calendar? Or does he prefer to just mince around tearing a page out of Edgar Allen Poe to mark every day? I've caught myself pausing the album a few times, convinced I've opened several tabs with other music screwing my mix up... no, no. That's just Dani. Right, back to it.
The opening five songs of this album are very standard CoF; power drums, inaudible guitars, lots and lots of Dani going on about poisoning, hanging, bit of rape, blood pouring, more poisoning and people talking in third person (imagine The Cat in the Hat drip on crystal meth stuck on the haunted house ride.) The synth is still there as you come to expect it will be, but it has some strangely compelling rhythms to it, perhaps because it's the only notes you can hear over the cranked to 66 bass and treble (note: I have KRK speakers so this might sound like someone throwing mashed potato at you on other systems). BUT - when you get to track 6, 'Deceiving Eyes,' something changes in Cradle... is that... oh my... is that a riff? IT IS! Cradle of Filth are riffing like they're Backyard Babies, and even though the heavier than anti-matter drums are still there, it's got some mega groove to it... but then Dani and the synth machine appear and the riff is KIA. The rest is just repeated jibbering in four-four timing about someone stealing his bat or something... skip.
Inward screaming is a nice addition, but it's no main course. Cite: Chino Moreno.
'Lilith Immaculate' is the closest I have ever heard Cradle of Filth come to really complimenting themselves as a band. The track contains everything Cradle of Filth have ever done well, face scrunching guitars lines, drums and bass sitting in each other's pockets, synths acting as the backing chorus line and yes, a spoken word female voice that sounds like every other female voice in goth metal. But you know what's great about this track; it's the major key that creeps in the background. If you turn it up, you can hear it. It's a positive change that actually makes the band sound very appealing. I don't think Dani notices as he continues to screech without a single note present and accounted for. But this song shows me what Cradle are lacking, the diversity in keys for their music. They sound brilliant in major, Dani comes across as more of a hardcore vocalist, and under such a title we can instantly forgive him for certain elements (not being audible, not being diverse, talking crap etc), and the rest of the band seem to really enjoy the moment as every part of the mix seems to fall into place and actually take a direction.
The remaining tracks are not worth mentioning as they just repeat the standard pattern of a Cradle song, with the exception of the song "Forgive Me Father (.." guess what the next bit is, go on, it'll be fun. Like an interactive review, get a bit of paper and write down what you think the bracket part will say. Done it? Those of you who wrote 'I have splashed ye pigs blood all over me long johns' will be disappointed, as predictably as ever the answer is "(I Have Sinned)". A track which is seems to be a tribute to the late Ronny James Dio, Dani puts some notes behind his vocals for first time in what is the only track which nods towards the prior mentioned Maiden influence. But despite the guitars trying their hardest to duel off each other it still comes back to that was carved from 1998's Cruelty and the Beast. But if that is the sound you really like then you are going to be in for a right treat as Dani Filth does all his favourite Halloween impressions, inane mutterings and BT 1571 messages all set to the pounding 320bpm that will still put old people in an early grave.
The only parts of Cradle of Filth I can fully understand are the breaks, they appear sharp and often as a crescendo to one of the similar Anne Rice lectures I had at University. Let me give credit where credit is due, if they can play this tight live I'm sure CoF would be a marvel to see, noise noise shriek STOP noise noise shriek STOP. Praise to the level of musician that Dani surrounds himself with, this is incredibly difficult music to play - not in parts - but as endurance. Like the Houston 600 (the porn movie, not the race track) after an hour you simply have to applaud the stamina levels of those involved. The rhythms are tight and when it's all in the right place it sounds incredibly powerful, but it just doesn't come together enough. Someone needs to inform Cradle that being 'heavy' does not mean playing as fast as you can until your New Rocks fall apart - but it's worth noting that this is the 9th Cradle of Filth album in 16 years, and the band has had 20 different members (only once have they had the same line-up for back to back recordings), and this is Dani's 19th year of being Mr Filth. They have a formula they aren't going budge from, but after such a long time, surely it's time to shit or get off the goth pot? What do you think Dani? "admist the orchestral melodrama and lush, cinematic production, there sits stalwart a ravening beast of furious riffing, flesh ripping vocals and monstrous, unstoppable percussion."
Sod it, GG Allen was also mental, and if you've been doing anything for as long as these guys have, you might be in Tesco's saying "Is thine cherry and decadent sugared pastry parcel truly reduced to a pauper's one pound and shifty dark forty pence?" - "Yes it is sir." - "[Inaudible shriek - heavy air drumming]"