Released: 2006, Roadrunner Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
After releasing what may have been the finest album of their career in 2004’s NYMPHETAMINE, Cradle of Filth had a lot to live up to on its much heavier follow-up THORNOGRAPHY. With tongue still planted firmly in cheek in every aspect, the new album seems a bit less…forced…and this new path, begun after dropping the excessive cheesy vampire imagery with 2000’s MIDIAN, is welcomed. Dani Filth & Co. are still rooted in the dark, Gothic realm and the Lovecraftian elements are all here but rather than beating the listener over the head with fangs, blood and such, this, dare I say, “mature,” Cradle of Filth is vastly superior. While his ear-piercing shriek is still present, Dani even—gulp—sings on this album!
Having lost keyboardist Martin Powell since NYMPHETAMINE to that growing Bermuda Triangle of disappearing Cradle of Filth members, the addition of Charles Hedger on guitar (along with founding member/guitarist, Paul Allender) really beefs up the sound. Gone are the overused instrumental passages—can anyone ever forgive the ridiculous “Satanic Mantra” from MIDIAN?—and in their place are a dozen well thought out bursts of metallic energy that come together as the band’s most accessible album to date. An aggressive marketing campaign from Roadrunner, less shrieking from Dani Filth, fewer operatic arias from Sarah Jezebel Deva and a guest appearance from HIM’s Ville Valo are certainly the right ingredients to launch Cradle of Filth forward into the next level of metal’s elite with THORNOGRAPHY. Fans of Cradle of Filth will find much to love on THORNOGRAPHY and their critics will find just as much to hate but one thing is certain, the band always makes people listen up and take notice.
To set the mood, Angtoria’s Chris Rehn provides a beautiful (and wordy) intro with “Under Pregnant Skies She Comes Alive Like Miss Leviathan,” a track which could easily be taken from a bombastic film score. “Dirge Inferno,” “Libertina Grimm” and “I Am The Thorn” are all instant classics and trademark Cradle of Filth rippers—fast and heavy grooves, buzzing guitars, snarls and shrieks from the depths of Dani’s gut and a tornado of double bass and blasting from drummer Adrian Erlandsson. What may surprise some listeners is the Eastern influence of “Rise of The Pentagram” or when Dani actually sings on “Tonight In Flames” and like NYMPHETAMINE’s title track, the ultra-melodic “The Foetus of A New Day Kicking” could see the band break new ground if chosen as a single. The band’s cover of Heaven 17’s 1983 synth-pop hit “Temptation” is a curious choice but after tackling everyone from Venom to Sisters of Mercy to The Misfits to Cliff Richard over the years, expectations had to be dropped sometime.
Cradle of Filth’s first foray into major label waters with Sony ended less than a year after 2003’s concept album-gone-awry DAMNATION AND A DAY was released but they seem to be a comfortable fit with Roadrunner Records after two albums. Developing a style of their own but with clear influences from all over the musical map, Cradle of Filth really stretch their legs as a band on THORNOGRAPHY and experiment with a few new ideas. Some Cradle purists will surely find fault—and what release by the band wouldn’t piss more than a few people off—but as the members age, it is nice to hear they are not afraid to mix things up a little.
KILLER KUTS: “Dirge Inferno,” “Libertina Grimm,” “I Am The Thorn,” “The Foetus of A New Day Kicking”