Already the corpse paint must have cost a fortune. Or was it only cheap Photoshop? Just look at the official pictures of the Cradle of Filth crew for their newest record Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay. Impressive, ain’t it? They really knocked themselves out. And the outcome of these darkly ominous paintings fit the theme perfectly.
But now – sadly or then perhaps not – the band left the dark path of Black Metal and went full tilt Gothic Metal. Yet the band still maintains a healthy dose of galloping Heavy Metal style riffs, mixed with some Speed Metal. With a smattering of pretty sturdy Black Metal-esque antics still present nonetheless. This change of direction already raised its ugly head in Hammer of the Witches by the way. So, for those who would like to step away now from such blasphemy and enjoy the true black art, try some Gort, Narbeleth or Isolert. Or turn to Gorgoroth and their brethren.
Yet the product fits. It is comfort in known values of sorts, ain’t it? Cradle of Filth dutifully unleashes records, one after the other. So you kind of know what to expect. However, by doing this the band increases in maturity. And this shows in a pretty impressive self-confidence this band projects.
Yet at the core you know that you get a dose of the CoF brand the way you like it. And Cryptoriana is no different. Down to the three-mile long track names like You Will Know the Lion by His Claw of almost 9 minutes of airtime. You know, the one with the solo. Still more blasphemy, if you are an adept of pure Black Metal. And you will find a score of them solos all about the record.
But then, with this specter finally out in the open, we can breathe more easily. It is a very dark brand of Gothic Metal that Cryptoriana projects anyway. All fears disperse after the somewhat directionless intro. But it will take a couple of minutes of exquisite torments. Heartbreak and Seance solemnly marches off into the dark yonder with a pretty stellar riff. In typical Cradle of Filth fashion with some serious Nymphetamine-esque antics.
The video for this specific track is an absolute must-see, by the way. This decidedly Gothic, and – in a way – Victorian depiction of glorified death scenes and naked bodies is just utterly irresistible. A piece of artwork of delicious gore-laden tableaux of true horror.
All of that is part of a whole, of course, as the name Cryptoriana already attests. The album is relentless in its pursuit of Gothic Metal and horror-infused themes. Sometimes it feels like overexploitation of something that already existed before. But then, all of that is so artfully done that you will forgive the Cradle of Filth crew for decidedly overcooking this dish to a state where it risks to become a homogenous mess. So, to all of you neo-goths out there wanting get into the genre with a female front: Check out this record, Dani Filth will show you the way. This is how to prepare a great sounding metal stew.
And more kudos are in order. Compared to Hammer of the Witches, the vocal performance filters much better into the overall tunes. The noisy screams are still hard to stomach, make no mistake. But this is nowhere near the full load of high-pitched decibels we had to endure on the mighty hammer. Yet, the somewhat tinny, clicky drum work wore my patience thin big time after a while. Not that the execution is bad, but the master’s screams and this constant background clattering breaks down your resistance after a while. And not to some blissful nirvana state of mind.
The band also kept their penchant towards Heavy Metal proper very intact. By lustily employing all of the galloping horses Iron Maiden probably wanted to keep for themselves. I really like that bizarre concoction of Gothic Metal and down-to-earth, die-hard Heavy Metal with some blackened elements in there for good measure. This is the much-needed spice in a hot cauldron of this red-hot magic potion. And not only that; they actually added some Thrash Metal Sanktuary style in the speedy The Night at Catafalque Manor – for example.
To crown the record Cradle of Filth released a cover of Annihilator‘s Alison Hell. You know, the story about this girl who saw the boogeyman. And nobody believed her until she went mad. At first I thought Cradle of Filth ran clean out of ideas. But then I had to grudgingly admit that this interpretation is jolly good. Dani Filth‘s style and range suits this type of sardonic theme really well, doesn’t it? Like one of them spiky outfits he likes to wear.
Frankly, Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay graces us with the best performance we had from this band in a while. Cradle of Filth perfectly portray Extreme Metal in a juicy set of gothic, baroque, overly rich and ghoulish ingredients. All stuffed with enough horror to make It pale in despair. And deliciously overladen with sounds that seamlessly stretch from cathedral to sepulchral.
Cryptoriana directly latches on to Hammer of the Witches like one of them space modules. Only – somehow – the band managed to get better at their game, whilst not destroying their brand. Well done, I thoroughly enjoyed the album.
[Editors note: The record successfully made it onto the Intermittent Digest – Tome VI edition. Congrats.]
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