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Cradle of Filth
Cruelty and The Beast
Released: 1998, Mayhem Records
Cradle of Filth... A name that seems to be generating controversy in the metal community these days, a controversy due mainly (from what I've read, anyway) to their being labeled as a "black metal" band, which seems to be taken as an insult by fans of black metal. And to be honest, after listening to Cruelty and the Beast I can't agree with the black metal tag either. But however you wish to categorize Cradle of Filth's brand of metal, one thing is certain... This is an EXCELLENT CD!!!
Up until about six months ago, I hadn't even heard tell of CoF, but my interest was piqued after reading an interview with lead vocalist Dani and guitarist Stuart in a guitar magazine (No CoF transcriptions either... Just trendy corporate CRAP!!! But that's another issue...). Between what was said in the interview and the fact that they were even featured in an American guitar publication, I figured there had to be more to this band than the cheesy, pseudo-vampiric image they like to project. So after hearing a Real-Audio clip from Cruelty..., I decided to buy it. And I'm SO glad I did.
The disc starts with the eerie, atmosphere setting intro "Once Upon Atrocity" and from there segues into "Thirteen Autumns and a Widow", with the dark and foreboding atmosphere continuing throughout the entire CD. Not since King Diamond's "Abigail" have I heard any band manage to create a whole album with such a haunting aura (This in itself should be considered a great feat.). And while a black metal influence can be heard in nearly every song, a strong thrash and death influence can be heard on tracks such as "Cruelty Brought Thee Orchids" and "Lustmord and Wargasm," with even a little bit of Iron Maiden creeping into "Beneath the Howling Stars" and "Desire in Violent Overture".
Lyrically, this CD is a concept album based on the legend of Countess Elizabeth Bathory, a European aristocrat who lived sometime during the Middle Ages (I don't know the exact time period...). She was supposedly a mentally disturbed nymphomaniac who, upon realizing she was getting older, began the horrific ritual of butchering virgins and bathing in their blood in a effort to retain her youthful beauty. And as disturbing as that sounds, when combined with CoF's exceptionally dark music, the macabre and erotic nature of the lyrics is extremely fitting.
So if you like your metal a little extra-dark, you may want check this out. And if you do, try to get the version with the bonus CD (the cover of Maiden's "Hallowed Be Thy Name" is "interesting", to say the least). One last thing... Don't try using this disc for "mood" music when you're with your significant other; because if it does turn them on... You may be in mortal danger.
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