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Monday, January 29, 2007

Cradle of Filth: Damnation and Cruelty

COF001_smallCradle of Filth is a heavy metal band formed in Suffolk, England in 1991. It has been embraced and disowned with equal fervour by various metal communities, and its particular subgenre has provoked a great deal of discussion (see below). Roughly speaking, the band's sound has gradually evolved from raw, traditional black metal, to a cleaner and more "produced" amalgam of gothic metal, symphonic black metal and other extreme metal styles, while its lyrical themes and imagery are heavily influenced by gothic literature, poetry, mythology and horror films. The band has successfully broken free of its original niche by courting mainstream publicity (often to the chagrin of its early fanbase), and this increased accessibility has brought coverage by the likes of Kerrang! and MTV, frequent main stage appearances at major festivals such as Ozzfest and Download, and in turn a more commercial image.

2004's Nymphetamine was the band's first full album since The Principle of Evil Made Flesh to not be based around any sort of overarching concept (although references to the works of H.P. Lovecraft are made more than once). A step back from the orchestral grandeur of Damnation and a Day, Cradle's bassist Dave Pybus described it as an "eclectic mix between the group's Damnation and Cruelty albums with a renewed vigour for melody, songmanship COF002_smalland plain fucking weirdness spat into the smelting bowl." As with every release since Midian, sales were strong and reviews in the rock press were positive, but fan reaction was mixed. The album's aggression was generally welcomed, but many lamented the fact that the band's self-aware humour was coming increasingly to the fore, not least in Dani's punning lyrics (always present but gaining prominence). Around this time Metal Hammer dismissively referred to them as "pantomime clowns", and the band's cover version of Cliff Richard's "Devil Woman" for the Nymphetamine special edition did little to convince its detractors of the band's integrity.

Cover art for Thornography by Samuel ArayaThe band's most recent album, Thornography, was released in October 2006. According to Dani Filth, the title "represents mankind's obsession with sin and self... An addiction to self-punishment or something equally poisonous... A mania." On the subject of the album's musicial direction, Filth told Revolver magazine, "I'm not saying it's 'experimental', but we're definitely testing the limits of what we can do... A lot of the songs are really rhythmical - thrashy, almost - but they're all also really catchy." The artwork by Samuel Araya featured to the left is a replacement for a previous album cover that was rejected by Roadrunner Records in May 2006, although numerous CD booklets had already been printed with the original image.

COF003_smallCradle of Filth’s "true" black metal status has been in debate since near the time they became popular. Dani, in a 1998 interview for BBC Radio 5 for example, weighs in with "I use the term heavy metal, rather than black metal, because I think that's a bit of a fad now. Call it what you like: death metal, black metal, any kind of metal...", while Gavin Baddeley's 2006 Terrorizer interview states that "few folk, the band included, call Cradle black metal these days." Their format differs somewhat from most Norwegian black metal - which has led to them being deemed symphonic black metal - and they are often dismissed for a perceived lack of credibility, along with bands such as Dimmu Borgir whose pseudo-mainstream success followed in Cradle’s wake. It is arguably also the band's mischievous, self-aware humour that divides opinions and causes much of the controversy; black metal is not known for its jokes. Some critics have labelled them and similar bands extreme gothic metal (although the term is not widely accepted) as their music draws inspiration from gothic metal. They have also, at one time or another, been labelled melodic black metal, satanic metal, vampyric metal, speed metal, death metal, brutal death metal, melodic death metal and horror metal, some of which are regarded by critics and fans alike as entirely apocryphal categories.COF004_small However, the band's evolving sound has allowed them to continue resisting definitive categorisation. They are audibly influenced by Iron Maiden, have collaborated on projects like Christian Death's Born Again Anti-Christian album (on the track "Peek-A-Boo"), and have even dabbled outside of metal music with their controversial dance remixes ("Twisting Further Nails", "Pervert's Church" etc), although these have fallen by the wayside in recent years. In a 2006 interview with Terrorizer magazine, current guitarist Paul Allender said "We were never a black metal band. The only thing that catered to that was the make-up. Even when The Principle of Evil Made Flesh came out — you look at Emperor and Burzum and all that stuff — we didn't sound anything like that. The way that I see it is that we were, and still are now, an extreme metal band."

Bootleg discography

Cradle Of Filth - Live at Rock am Ring 03-06-06

1 single file / MP3 / 46min @ 192kbps

01. Satyriasis 02. Gilded Cunt 03. Medusa And Hemlock 04. Born In A Burial Gown 05. Nymphetamine (Overdose) 06. Her Ghost In The Fog 07. The Forest Whispers My Name 08. From The Cradle To Enslave

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