Released: 2012, Peaceville
I’ve always admired Dani Filth’s commitment to quality. Love or hate the band, only the most adamant anti-Cradle Of Filth fan could criticize the effort put into the presentation of each album. From production, packaging, lyrics, art, and quantity of material, the band has always delivered at the highest level, and the special two-disc set of MIDNIGHT IN THE LABYRINTH is no exception.
Technically this is the bands 10th album and it is a bit different from previous releases. MIDNIGHT IN THE LABYRINTH is an album where they have recorded orchestral remakes of songs from the first four albums. It’s a bit odd. I suspect the band owed their previous label Peaceville a record, so instead of a generic ‘Best Of’, they secured the rights from the first four releases and put out this interesting and unique album.
The packaging is gorgeous. It’s a hard-cover booklet about the size of a double digipack, and includes some snippets of lyrics, notes and a long essay from Dani explaining the concept. Essentially, as suggested in the liner notes this is Cradle redoing their songs in a horror film soundtrack motif. And it works. If you think about it all they had to do was drop the guitars and drums, beef up the symphonic parts, add some narration and female vocals and you have a very serviceable record. Lots of bands have done acoustic remakes of songs, even entire albums, so why not symphonic versions of Cradle songs? There is more. The band recorded a new track called, ‘Goetia (Invoking The Unclean)’ and it’s a monster suite running over 13 minutes long. It is best enjoyed on headphones as it is very subdued and loaded with sonic subtleties.It's barely even a song, it's more like an extended soundtrack piece. On top of that the band added a second disc without all the sound-effects and narration for a purely instrumental, orchestral remake. The whole thing runs just under two and a half hours.
All the songs are loaded with atmosphere and creepy chanting, wolves howling, female screams, haunting strings, keyboards, brass, woodwinds, it’s all there and for a band as over-the-top as Cradle some of the compositions are surprisingly low-key and subtle. Even if someone is not familiar with the bands original songs they would enjoy this moody and atmospheric album. Of course much of the enjoyment is hearing how the band reworked the songs and there are some excellent reinterpretations.
I’m deliberately downgrading this rating because, despite all the high quality and good features, it’s not Metal. Do not start your COF collection with this disc! Conversely, if you are a Cradle fan I’d recommend this and you can add at least a point to my rating as I would recommend this to all Cradle fans who understand and enjoy what the band has to offer beyond the realms of Metal. Haunting, ambitious and supremely executed MIDNIGHT IN THE LABYRINTH is an exciting and interesting chapter in the bands storied career.