Hmm, never say, never. Or is it more that exceptions confirm the rule? Usually I am not a big fan of these necrotic-psychopathic eruptions of total bullshit the Black Metal scene often produces. But there are a few good bands out there: Those with some fantasy, that come without the urge to bludgeon you to death with spiked fists and electric guitars, coupled with disgracefully bad music. Cradle of Filth is one of the more promising ones. And their 2004 album Nymphetamine is one of their better productions – especially compared to their album preceding this one.
Saying this I can already see the purists’ hate neurons grinding into motion, wanting to scream at me that this is not Black Metal anymore and we should ban this band to Hades (or rather drown them in the muddy waters of the river Styx, so they won’t come back..). And this for eternity for having transgressed on the pure idea of what fucking metal should look like.c Well, there is some truth in this, but more to that later on. But how on earth should Black Metal be like – it is more or less what you want it to be, never mind Gorgoroth.
Nymphetamine is surprising in itself. It alternates between super-fast hammer blows, crafty, but gloomy pieces like Nemesis and somewhat slow melodic passages. Just check out their kind of funky track Gabrielle. There is a very Gothic hue to that one. And of course, the lovely Liv Kristine Espenaes (Leaves’ Eyes) assisted a lot in their attempt to fame with their warhorse track Nymphetamine Overdose (which really feels like its name) and the more club-ready clone Nymphetamine Fix. The accompanying video is by the way superbly done, I really like it.
Sometimes the album sounds like Cradle of Filth jamming away in the basement, trying stuff out. Very far down in the basement for that matter, I mean. And it employs something of a loose confusion of styles. For sure with roots in Black Metal, you got Gothic and Heavy Metal passages in there as well. Complete with some Symphonic and pure Doom interludes from hell. And a word to the lyrics . Those are actually not bad, much better than some other stuff I listened to lately. And very adapted to the overall style of the album.
And then there is the intro called Satyriasis. I am really not sure how they came by that name for this piece. If you don’t know what it means, google it. This one together with intermezzos thrown into the production from time to time make you wonder how in the hell you ever got yourself into Phantom of the Opera with a sexual twist at all. But then Cradle of Filth thankfully remembers and puts in some more metal. Thank Loki.
And they stole with pride from literature too. Just look at Mother of Abominations and the opening chant “Ia! Ia! Cthulhu Fhtagn!”. I did not believe my ears when I heard it. This is straight Lovecraft – and I love it. But careful there, guys: The Great Old Ones are watching ye. And the song is about Cthulhu and – seemingly – about the great question: Is it male or female; well neither folks, it is an IT. The song itself sucks big time, by the way.
The reverse of the medal: A certain lack of direction sometimes plagues Nymphetamine. And sometimes I wonder where by Loki this is all going. The – at first – endearing confusion of styles and pretense at being Black Metal is sometimes taken a bit too far. Cradle of Filth mix all sorts into their tune and stir well. The tracks are often lengthy, kind of overdone, leading to a muddy mix of some quality examples, mingled with fillers that are not worth listening to.
I would also have liked some more fantasy in the solo department, just hacking away at sometimes very similar patterns does not all of a sudden make a great album. Then there is the drum work: Overwhelmingly present and – at the same time – somewhat boring, giving you an impression of a rushed drive to oblivion. And some of the vocal performances of Dani Filth have gotten (a lot of) assistance from the sound engineer. The screeches are hallmark and otherworldly, but I would think he will not be able to reproduce them on stage.
But in the end Nymphetamine is a surprising album. Full of twists and turns that take you – neither here nor there. Exactly. And this is what actually renders it good. A state of confusion, endless bends about a dirty, windy road towards the fiery doom of hell. Or is it straight to the cold gates of R’lyeh? Who knows. If you like it hard, down and dirty – but still crafty and full or surprises, then Nymphetamine is a good one for you. I for one enjoyed listening to the album. Makes me want more of that.
Hey, and don’t forget to check out how the mighty Hammer of the Witches fared on RockmusicRaider. Stay tuned.
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