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I'm quite aware that black metal fans hate this band, as they're not black metal but are often confused for it much as Marilyn Manson is for goth. A lot of metal noobs confuse anything with shrieky raspy vocals -- originating in Bathory, though they wouldn't know it -- and corpse paint as black metal, myself included for the first month or two I found CoF about 5 years ago. This certainly isn't black metal, as it lacks crucial elements of the genre, though to think that this band never listened to Bathory or Mayhem would be absurd.
CoF's style of music is usually called "faggoth," and usually contains a few is half-decent fast tremolo riffs reminiscent of bands like Dark Funeral, some occasional bass work, but is mostly defined by the overdone but weak drumming, the really shitty vocals, and especially the all-drowning keyboards. However, this isn't goth either, even though CoF is known for their terrible cover of goth as well as black metal songs in their attempt to court fans. Most goths would probably find this to be very tacky, though they may or may not like the lyrics.
This entire album is a drawn-out account of the fictional life of our favorite blood-bathing countess, Elizabeth Bathory. The lyrics to the album are actually very well written, show a large vocabulary that's actually well-used and not just thesaurus abuse, and it far surpasses the usual ubiquitous "dark" poetry. However, most of it is based around vampires, demons, witchcraft, and eeevil women, and most metal heads would probably consider it to be for "goth" pussies, which I will not completely refute.
Once Upon Atrocity is just a simple pseudo-symphonic keyboard intro that grows from quiet to loud. Nothing amazing or memorable.
Thirteen Autumns and a Widow instantly shows what most of this is about -- keyboards and pseudo-symphonic effects, along with hideous vocals that drown out the occasional fast riffing and drumming. Dani Filth can write lyrics, but he's probably the shittiest vocalist in metal. This song mostly drones on, and sucks.
I considered Cruelty Brought Thee Orchids a song I liked years ago or so, but it's rather mediocre in my book nowadays. The drumming is weak and the keyboards are poorly used but the riffs aren't half bad. It's seven minutes long, but switches up enough to stay somewhat interesting.
Beneath the Howling Stars could have potential, if it didn't have whispering slow moments filled with keyboards and a dying rat on vocals. There's actually some pretty good riffs in this song, but it's the exception, and not the rule.
Venus in Fear is just a female orgasm keyboard song with screaming mixed in. I can see them thinking as they made this: "Does this make you randy?"
Desire in Violent Overture -- the guitars might be good if I could hear them over the fucking overdrumming. At 40 seconds, they begin doing 5 second half solos. The guitars at 1:15 aren't a bad idea, and might have worked somewhere else -- though it's sort of a slowed down, simplified Iron Maiden riff. They also really should just let whoever the girl is (Deva?) sing instead of Dani Filth, and then it'd be a huge step better.
The Twisted Nails of Faith begins with some pseudo-Halloween music. The riffs that begin the actual song a minute later aren't terrible, and if it sounded like this the whole time, it might be worth listening to. Then we hear a screech of "Three moondials froze..." and the guitars almost disappear. The lyrics to this song, however, are kind of funny.
Bathory Aria. 11 minutes of suck, and that's all I have to say.
Portrait of the Dead Countess is another quasi-sympnhonic sounds like something I heard in a movie before.
LustMord and Wargasm sounds like there's a rapid-fire cap gun off for most of the drumming. When you hope there's going to be some guitar work, it just comes back with more tick-tick-tick drumming that doesn't even thud. Then, at 2:35, it becomes good for a whole 15 seconds. Dani Filth's vocals drop from shrieks, and the riff is pretty thrashy. If they could sound like that the whole time, it'd be much better -- but they just return to the usual random shrieks, terrible overdrumming, keyboards, and random female vocals with random good riffs here and there, as well as an unremarkable ten second solo at 7:05.
Fortunately, I also have the single CD version with none of their ridiculously butchered and outright godawful cover songs. An album full of those would be almost as bad as St. Anger...
This isn't absolute total shit as some would say, but it's pretty bad. It has some occasional riffage in it, even if everything else is rather horrid. It's not worth any money, and the only thing that's really any good about it is the lyrics, which are on countless internet sites for free.
If you really want to join the cool crowd and must, must listen to Cradle of Filth, get Dusk and Her Embrace instead. This album, however, is slightly better than Midian and isn't nearly as bad as Bitter Suites or anything afterwards. Or if you just happen to like the vocal style for some reason, get an Anal Cunt album instead, Seth does it far better. If you're looking for black metal but don't know where to go, pick up Beherit's Drawing Down the Moon, Graveland's Celtic Winter, Immortal's Pure Holocaust, or the classics like Hellhammer's Apocalyptic Raids and Bathory's The Return.