Cradle of Filth
Dusk And Her Embrace
Released: 1996, Music For Nations
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
Editors Note: Metal-Rules.com was founded in 1995 as a forward-thinking site. Our goal is, and always has been, to support Real Metal. The decision was made that very rarely do we ever go back and review an album from before 1995. Does the world really need another CD review of MASTER OF PUPPETS, POWERSLAVE or SCREAMING FOR VENGEANCE? We don’t think so. We have always supported what is happening now.
Starting in January, 2014, as we head towards our 10,000th review and the 20th Anniversary of Metal-Rules.com, we are looking back and filling in a few gaps in the review database. We want to complete the post-1995 review catalogue of some of the bands that we have supported since 1995, when very few, if any website were supporting real Metal. It’s fun to go back and revisit some of these albums that we did not review when they were first released. Enjoy!
1996 is when England’s Cradle of Filth really found themselves – almost in spite of themselves. Amid label disputes and lineup turmoil, the band issued the V Empire EP in April of that year as a means of wriggling free of their deal with Cacophonous, and followed that up in October with their second full-length, Dusk And Her Embrace (after recording it for a second time) for the larger, more resourceful Music For Nations – which later closed down in 2004.
Yet despite the seeming haste and tumult, it was a one-two punch that offered some of Cradle’s finest musical moments – which then became a trifecta, if one includes 1998’s masterful Cruelty And The Beast - and defined the sound and style that carries them through to this day. And Dusk finally saw the band muster the production necessary to make their grand sonic aspirations a reality during the second session with Kit Woolven, who’d worked previously with Thin Lizzy and Cathedral.
After the rawness of their debut, 1994’s The Principle of Evil Made Flesh, and the sonic mush of their earlier demoes, Cradle now boasted the clarity and bombast that their goth-tinged, classically inspired black metal demanded. At the time, symphonic black metal was still a relatively new phenomenon – Emperor’s landmark In The Nightside Eclipse having been issued two years prior – and Cradle were able to catch lightning in a bottle with Dusk.
The better, brasher presentation was pared with inspired, more seasoned songwriting and a capable lineup able to handle the demands of the music. By now, frontman Dani Filth’s death metally, constipated growl had given way to his now-signature piercing shrieks and wails, Nicholas Barker’s stampeding drumming accelerated the band to previously unreachable speeds, the keyboard orchestration was opulent instead of b-horror film cheese and the guitars of Stuart Anstis and Gian Pyres were as crunchy as they were trebly and shrill.
Dusk still maintained some of the trademark black metal rough edges that ended up being smoothed out and lost on later albums as commercial success saw Cradle over-indulge in sonic extravagance and studio polish. Thus such classics as the title track, “Funeral in Carpathia” and “Malice Through The Looking Glass” were able to retain a nefarious air as the band hurtled along with Filth nipping at their heels the whole way like a rabid jackal. The conceptualizing and camp would be ratcheted up later, as well – although Venom frontman Cronos does provide a rallying speech on the closer “Haunted Shores” that was a taste of things to come.
For its time, and especially after all the strife and heartbreak that led up to it, Dusk And Her Embrace was a triumphant, vindicating outing for Cradle of Filth. It's probably the reason the band are still here today – even if Dani Filth is the sole remaining member - as it caught the attention of the metal underground and broke the band to a larger audience. And it remains a favorite among many because even though it was a big step up in sound quality, it had a purity and purpose that got lost on later albums with their 70-piece orchestras/choirs, Pinhead voice-overs and convoluted conceptualizing.