‘Thou shalt not hunt the dreaded mainstream‘. That’s one of our iron rules here over at the RMR office buildings. Well, to be truthful, you will find it mostly poured in lead than forged into cold, hard steel. Because sometimes, just sometimes, management here will make exceptions.
Because there are some Extreme Metal bands out there that we have taken a truly unholy liking to. And one of those is Cradle of Filth.
I am frankly unsure what drives us back to Dani Filth‘s often annoying screams that after a while sound like a caffeine overdose. But methinks that the often Victorian tableaux CoF‘s records depict in stark colors are the main reason to return to this particular poisoned well. And besides, nobody quite does it like Dani Filth. That’s an established fact since Dusk… and Her Embrace hit our turntables many years ago. Right?
Now first off, another remarkable thing happened. CoF has been somewhat infamous for their turnover with a sometimes spectacular number of lineup changes. Yet this time, the Filthy One managed to keep things intact, apart from Lindsay Schoolcraft who left for a solo career1) and got replaced by one Anabelle Iratni. You know, the one that sometimes looks like a younger incarnation of the former female vocalist Sarah Jezebel Deva. And stability pays, no doubt about it.
Now, Existence is Futile doesn’t just talk about the usual obscure magick and other ghoulish shenanigans this time. The record takes on the demise of mankind, no less. And it does that in all its vividly dreary colors. Gaia will ravage us back if we don’t fix our environmental woes, that kind of thing.2)
But never fear. Despite the dystopian theme, Cradle of Filth reserved the whole range of their not inconsiderable skills to send that particular and richly decorated storyline your way. And this time, the band leans far out into some nightmarish, symphony-laden version of Gothic Metal.
Even though a lot of the harder parts have the ring of Thrash and Heavy Metal to them, much more than they ever venture on territories Black Metal usually dwells on. In other words, the album more often is Nymphetamine than it ever wants to be Cryptoriana again.
Marek ‘Ashok’ Šmerda and Richard Shaw yet again present that perfect spiel that made us wonder sometimes. From hard to soft, easy to fast, they move in a pretty impressive symbiosis that often made us marvel. And the drum work is – as always – outstanding.
Now, heavy as it may seem, Existence is Futile‘s theme truly sounds tailor-made for this band. Its grand scale practically lends itself to all those shenanigans Mr. Filth here is up to. And CoF positively thrives on tales of apocalypse, death, and destruction.
Typical CoF mechanisms range from thrash, over speed, to those languishing slow-tempo and tongue-in-cheek vocals. The record is full of them. Add to that the – this time – well-paced screams, the foreboding monologues, and those eerie wails, and we got ourselves a magic potion that exudes a perfect and delicious miasma of hopeless terror.
Yet, and again very much on message, the cradle included that sweet Cinematic push that made us look for that vampire cloak lurking somewhere in our Halloween storage bin. More often than not the record feels like that melancholic pull of age-old bloodsucker movies from the ’60s. Some Necromantic Fantasies alright.
Yet ultimately, Existence is Futile delivered one of the sturdiest records Cradle of Filth concocted to date. Apocalypse, death, and destruction truly becomes them. From slow-motion to wild speed attacks, you got yerself a gore-dripping piece of Horror Metal that is just too good to pass over. Boy, even the infamous screams truly fit perfectly in that black and red robe of Gothic overreach. A truly tasty slab of Extreme Metal that – yet again – made us yearn for more.
Of course only, if we survive the extinction-level event that it so aptly depicts. Because and as the record so darkly states, Gaia is annoyed and “…will be fucking brutal.” Now, sit that boombox onto your lawn, let ‘er roar, and start digging that bunker. You’re gonna need it. Or your existence will indeed be futile quickly.