Released: 2014, Nuclear Blast Records
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
It's taken Cradle of Filth frontman Dani Filth's sideband Temple of the Black Moon - featuring current and former members of Anthrax, White Zombie, Enslaved, God Seed/Gorgoroth etc. - so long to get their first album together that he's had time to hook up with a second “second” band and actually have something to show for his efforts. And Devilment - founded in 2011 by guitarist Daniel Finch - proves to be a rather worthy endeavor that not only can stand apart from Cradle and give Filth a little room to spread his wings – or, in the case, lungs - it could attract a more mainstream audience and provide a boost for Cradle, who have struggled of late amid lineup turmoil and flagging interest.
There's already plenty of cross-pollination on the bands' social media sites and Filth seems to have jumped into this project with both feet since entering the picture in 2012. His enthusiasm pays some solid dividends on the band's debut, a punchy, catchy and surprisingly “fun” album that may genuinely surprise people – for better or worse. Though there are some passing similarities to Cradle - female vocal accompaniment, string splashes, creepy thematic devices - Devilment are rather a different animal, with a sound built more around propulsive hard rock and traditional metal than epic black/gothic/orchestral/operatic metal ostentation. Picture Rob Zombie with far less schlock and industrial twaddle, and none of the bravado or irritatingly insistent “Yeahs!”
The material here is rock solid - tight, hooky and heavy, but never really goes over the top, as Filth shows some welcome restraint with his vocals and delivers one his more memorable performances. Opting for a shouty, deliberate growl that is far less off-putting than the breathless, guttural-to-caterwaul histrionics he typically displays with Cradle, Filth fits right into the Devilment groove.
Working within much more structured confines, he brings some cheekiness to the album's campier, B-movie style tracks, “Even Your Blood Group Rejects Me,” “Living With The Fungus,” “Sanity Hits A (Perfect) Zero;” an engaging catchiness to the more anthemic “Summer Arteries” and “Girl From Mystery Island,” both boasting an infectious, butt-thumping, disco-fied beat; a hint of menace to the more forceful title track and “Staring At The Werewolf Corps;” and even does something of a duet with keyboardist/backing vocalist Lauren Francis on “Laudanum Skull.”
The mostly straight-forward approach of The Great and Secret Show - which seems to bear little conceptual relation to the sprawling Clive Barker opus of the same name – is its biggest strength. The riffs are fat and inviting, the tempos crisp and propulsive and the songs relatively simple and likable – all hallmarks of any good metal album. The fancy frills that come with it are used sparingly and the one wild card – Filth's vocals – ends up being not so “wild” after all.