Cradle of Filth – Hammer of the Witches (2015) – Review

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I think they must have worn out the drummer. This guy looks like his own ghost on videos from the newest 2015 album of Cradle of Filth called the Hammer of the Witches.

CoF‘s 11th studio edition features the new guitarists Marek ‘Ashok’ Šmerda and Richard Shaw. You’ll also find Lindsay Schoolcraft on keyboards and female vocals for the first time with the cradle. So a lot of newbies in this band, and this is always somewhat of a worry when a new release is due. Either they wreck it, or it comes out really good.

As has become custom, Cradle of Filth employ a joyful mix of different styles into this metal stew of theirs. Take your pick, you’ll get some Thrash, Heavy Metal, and good old tremolo-laden Black Metal. So, with this in mind, 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 Hammer of the Witches’ 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 his own nightmare version of Extreme Metal. So much so, that it starts to become interesting in a way other die-hard BM bands will never be able to perform. And THIS is exactly the kind of added spice I love with CoF.

Now, for those who wonder what to do with this piece, we have some advice. Just (try to) keep up with Hammer of the Witches for some longer period than five minutes (not much). And it will grow on ye, a lot actually. Even with Dani Filth‘s back-to-back screams and the super wild drumming. Airy, fairy, and epic in places, and pure cold metal in others. There’s never a dull moment on this record.

But then, there is only so much screeching that you can take. Dani Filth definitely wears you out after a while, AND it is much closer to stuff they produced in the past. But all of that metal extremism is still playful enough for us to suffer through Dani’s screams for some 69 minutes (I am listening to the Deluxe edition) relatively unscathed.

OK, it is not that bad, but you indeed need to be fearless to take that in all at once.

Walpurgis Eve is … an intro, as intros go. And of questionable quality, too. You will find a bunch of intros, interludes, and outros on this record. A waste of good space in my view. But then Hammer of the Witches gets going with Yours Immortally…, CoF‘s very own attempt at blackened Speed Metal. 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.

And then we found Deflowering the Maidenhead, Displeasuring the Goddess. Screamy and fast yet again, true. But we really got a kick out of that mix of thrash, tremolo picking, and sudden melodic attacks from the synth department. In a way, this track probably aligns best with the essence of the piece.

Right Wing of the Garden Triptych displays a more club-ready version of Cradle of Filth (if you can call this like that..). And – as always – I truly fancy Dani’s creepy, black humor displayed in the lyrics department. An extract: ‘..‘Tis the penalty for lust / Long dreaded, read in scripture / Vain pleasures fed to paint this…‘. Ah, what a dark pleasure to listen to this. That’s indeed a very cool track.

Unfortunately, you will also find some fillers in this record. And that’s a real pity in a mostly well-constructed album. And – as always – at some 69 whopping minutes of airtime, some culling of the tracklist would have done wonders to the quality of the piece.

All in all, Hammer of the Witches is typical CoF fare. Melodic and highly energetic to a point, the record never loses the metal underground. A really varied and juicy little piece of red-hot metal. That it is devoid of any definitive style only adds to its uncanny allure. And that’s exactly what we expect from Cradle of Filth.

Record Rating: 7/10 | Label: Nuclear Blast  | Web: Official Site
Release date: 10 July 2015

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