I think they must have worn out the drummer. This guy looks like his own ghost on videos I have seen depicted from the newest 2015 album of Cradle of Filth called the Hammer of the Witches. This 11th studio edition features the new guitarists Marek ‘Ashok’ Šmerda and Richard Shaw. Also including Lindsay Schoolcraft on keyboards and female vocals (hell yeah..). Prominently displayed on Right Wing of the Garden Triptych. So a lot of newbies in this band, always somewhat of a worry when a new release is due – either they wreck it or it comes out real good.
So what is it gonna be with The Hammer of the Witches?
At first I did not quite like this new brew of horrors from our (kind of) Black Metal friends of Cradle of Filth. Why kind of Black Metal? Because Cradle of Filth employ a joyful mix of different styles into this #Metal stew of theirs. Some of that stuff even sounds like deep, dark versions of Iron Maiden at times – there is one distinct passage in The Vampyre at my Side. Amongst many others.
Some purists believe that this CoF production is actually for girls, but not men with balls, straying far away from the beaten Black Metal path that thou shalt never leave. Ever. But hey, it takes all kinds. And I disagree with this view: Dani Filth actually uses fantasy in this decidedly toxic brew that is Black Metal. So much so that it starts to become interesting in a way other hard core bands will never be able to perform. And THIS is exactly the kind of added spice I love with CoF.
Keeping up with Hammer of the Witches for some longer period than five minutes (not much) it grows on ye. A lot. Hammer of the Witches is actually pretty good. Airy, fairy and epic in placed and pure cold #Metal in others. Never a moment of boredom, but then there is only so much screeching that you can take in – Dani Filth wearing you out after a while. AND it is much closer to stuff they produced in the past, but still playful enough to stay interesting for poor RockmusicRaider’s ears to suffer through Dani’s screams for some 69 minutes (I am listening to the Deluxe edition). OK, it is not that bad, but you need to be fearless to take that in all at once.
Walpurgis Eve is … an intro as intros go. Of questionable quality. You will find a bunch of intros, interludes and outros on this record – a waste of good space in my view. WTF!! But then Hammer of the Witches gets going with ‘Yours Immortally…’, which is fast and very well produced – if only some of these shrieks could just disappear. And then suddenly the song deploys its Heavy Metal Moments. Very good, I like that, fast and merciless. Enshrined in Crematoria (goodness me, where did they get that name from..) is fast – almost Death Metal, were it not for the shrieking and abundant use of tremolo picking in this one – to remind us that this is supposed to be Black Metal. BECAUSE there is a friggin’ solo in there as well. I am amazed.
And then there is Deflowering the Maidenhead, Displeasuring the Goddess, which is fast and mean, with most of the work going to the drummer. Very good that, much more hard core than the rest. Right Wing of the Garden Triptych displays a more club-ready version of Cradle of Filth (if you can call this like that..). I do like the Dani’s creepy, black humour displayed in the lyrics department. An extract: ‘..This the penalty for lust / Long dreaded, read in scripture / Vain pleasures fed to paint this…‘. Good. Very good.
Unfortunately you will also find some fillers in this record – a real pity in a mostly well constructed album. I also had the same impression like one of my co-reviewers – from Angry Metal Guy – that less (meaning a lower, better selected number of songs) would have been better.
Hammer of the Witches is a very complex and varied piece of work, taking you through twists and turns with numerous surprises all of a sudden popping up out of the blue. The more symphonic passages are – well – questionable, but then again, alluring enough to be interesting. All in all I like this new production. Good work, guys.