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Everyone has a secret shame, and mine happens to be Cradle of FIlth. I got into them in 6th grade, and I can't seem to let them die. I have all their albums, including their Nymphetamine - Thornography era (yeah, I know, pathetic), but I still enjoy them. Most people in black metal categorize Dani Filth as the person causing black metal to grow more mainstream. I agree with this, however that doesn't make it a cancer that most seem to stigmatize their name with.
Cradle of Filth has done some amazing stylistic changes and actually have some very catchy and good songs out there. They were also one of the first bands to pioneer the Symphonic sound that many black metal acts use today (The other two being Emperor and Dimmu Borgir). As pioneers, I at least give them some respect, the same as I give the Beatles respect for pioneering the sound that many bands use to influence their own music.
This album is yet another concept album and like their previous album, Godspeed on the Devil's Thunder, it is another step toward the mainstream. This album uses more tremolo picking, rather than power chordal structure, however, so it is a step back toward the early days of Cradle of Filth. I did enjoy the sound that was used, as it sounded more like pre-Midian Cradle of Filth. I found the album kept me entertained and intrigued the entire time I listened to it.
This album did not feature Sarah Jezebel either, so it was actually sounding decent. To be honest, I never really liked her singing (minus on Mannequin, where her harmonies with Dani's screaming were flawless) and the music seems to flow much better as a result of that. Lucy Atkins was a strikingly great performance, and I would like to hear more from her in the future. I think that Paul Allender really stepped up from the middle-era of Cradle's music, and Martin Skaroupka is a much better drummer than Adrian Erlandsson, in my opinion of course.
Speaking of the guitar and drums, they were great on this record. The guitar used either a catchy hook to entice you, or got directly into your face and got you rocking right away. It was great to see them go back to their early sounds. The drums were extremely technical, which was a great thing to hear. I especially liked the punk beats that were throughout the song "One Foul Step From The Abyss".
I think most of the mix was focusing on getting into your face, like the early Cradle of Filth used to do, but one song stands out - Forgive Me Father (I Have Sinned). When I heard Dani doing semi-melodic vocals, I first laughed, but after the song got going, the chorus got me hooked. It seems that they draw influence from Depeche Mode or something, because this song reeks of goth-synth pop. Overall though, the mix fit perfectly. This was also the first Cradle of Filth record to not feature an instrumental track.
As a fan, I can say that I am thoroughly pleased with the direction that Cradle of Filth is going. Hearing Godspeed on the Devil's Thunder was a plus, but I thought it was a gem plucked out of shit - finding a needle in a haystack, if you will. It seems that I was wrong (for the better, too). I hope that Cradle's new releases will follow this trend and continue to surprise us.
Highlights: The Cult of Venus Aversa, One Foul Step From The Abyss, The Persecution Song, Lilith Immaculate, Forgive Me Father (I Have Sinned), all the bonus tracks.