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It seems that black metal shouldn't be mixed with gothic elements. If we judge from the travesties that have been spawned since the dawn of the new millenium. The truth is that black metal and gothic have something, a mystical feeling or a dark atmosphere whatsoever in common. Before you raise your eyebrow have a listen at this. Cradle of Filth's sophomore effort is also their best, most atmospheric, sentimental and harrowing album. It's by no means my all time favorite black metal album or anything like that. But as far as Cradle of Filth's catalogue goes this is the real thing.
It already had the classic Cradle album structure back then, with the orchestral tracks and the intermissions, the cheesy-but-working synths and the ever changing sections and segues of different black metal riffage. But if you think this sounds like Nymphetamine or Thornography, you couldn't be more wrong. I cannot tell a lie, Nymphetamine was the first Cradle song I've ever heard and back then, it sounded awesome to my ears. But I had to grow up as a listener and as time passed by, I needed darker and harder music. I'm not ashamed to say that Cradle of Filth played a crucial role in my evolution into a black metal lover. But it was thanks to THIS album and their debut. Their latter work is somewhat incoherent when compared to the former probably because they didn't know what to do with their sound.
But for the time being the review subject is Dusk and Her Embrace, the album that verified Cradle of Filth's value in the black metal scene. When songs like 'A Gothic Romance', 'Funeral in Carpathia' and 'Dusk and Her Embrace' kick in, the band showcases their ability of shifting from atmospheric to symphonic black metal and back again. And it is all so greatly balanced, well-rounded and carefully placed that one might not understand that they were just around 25 years old then.
If there is one man that stands out in here, that is Nicholas Barker who played the drums. His style is intense as he rolls on the kit but he's not the only one. Gian Pyres brought something new to the band. Maybe the compositions existed before his arrival but execution wise he nailed them. Cradle of Filth have changed their line-up multiple times but I highly doubt there is even one that beats the one they had in their second and third albums. Dani is in good form as well. The album was released way before he changed his style to a more theatrical one. Here he's pretty much straightforward as the only thing that changes is the tone of his shrieks. He doesn't stop easily, once he starts screaming be sure that he'll keep up until the song is over. There is a vast amount of lyrics. The horror stories that they tell have their charm as opposed to their bland recent texts that rarely give you the chills. Here they are creating a sequence of images within your brain. If they were more deeply connected then the album would be a timeless masterpiece.
The bluesy feel of the debut is replaced by a more classic heavy metal approach. Much influences can be discerned, most notably Mercyful Fate and eventually King Diamond, as well as Darkthrone and maybe even some thrashy riffs here and there. The key in here is the juvenile (but not naive) energy that the band puts in every note, every beat and every scream.
The whole album is much closer to being flawless than its successor as the production here is much tighter. At the same time though, it feels like an old album since the recording is more uncompressed than in Cruelty and the Beast. The outcome peaks with the unsettling cover art showing a female figure in the forest while a castle can be seen in the background.
I stated before that the album could have been a timeless masterpiece. You know what? It actually is. For me it is essential, I still listen to it if I'm in the mood and I have connected it with some beloved memories from the year I first listened to it. That's not too far in the past, merely four years ago but why should that mean something negative? Whether you like them or not you can't deny that Cradle of Filth once were a 'dangerous' act. Their marketing brilliance certainly played a role in their uprising, but 'all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy'. Cradle weren't dull and they surely didn't rely merely on business to ensure their success. It was their art that granted them their future and prestige and this album is where it becomes clear that Cradle of Filth once were great. They still are. But I don't think that they can top this.
Favorite tracks: 'Funeral in Carpathia', 'A Gothic Romance', 'Dusk and Her Embrace'.
You ever heard of the term "desert island album"? Everyone's been asked the question, "If you were stranded on a desert island and could take only one movie/book/album/whatever with you, what would it be?". The problem that arises when that question is asked is if you're a person who has many favorites from one particular type of media, as you're basically being asked on the fly what your favorite of something is. This is especially a problem when you're someone who is incredibly indecisive about your favorite something, such as myself. I'm really, really bad at picking my favorite anything, as I have way too much stuff that I enjoy to that level, as much of a cop out as that sounds. It entirely depends on my mood that particular day as to what my favorite something or other might be. However, as fluid as I tend to be with favorites, one thing has been absolutely certain for years now: Cradle of Filth's second full-length release, 1996's Dusk...and Her Embrace (which I will from this point on refer to without the ellipses), has always been near the top of the list for the greatest anythings to ever be created in my eyes. In every conceivable way, it is a masterful, majestic, magnificent magnum opus that will probably never be topped in the realm of symphonic black metal, try as some might.
The best way to describe this particular sub-era of Cradle of Filth, the one that started with the Vempire EP from 1995 and ended with this album, all while existing within the golden years of 1994's debut The Principle of Evil Made Flesh and 2000's Midian, would be "Gothic Emperor". It is readily apparent from listening to both releases just how much the Norwegians rubbed off on Cradle, no doubt due to both a general enjoyment of their music on the Brits' part and them having undertaken a tour of the UK with the band in 1993, bootlegs of which can readily be found on YouTube. While their debut album was a much rougher, more death metal inspired outing, Dusk and Her Embrace...er, embraces black metal to an even greater extent than Vempire did a year before. Vempire might have come across as a bit more savage and unhinged due to the ultra crisp production standard, but this album is just as violent and manic as that EP was, and it helps that the album is rooted in a murky, extraordinarily atmospheric sound that is still legible enough to make out what each instrument is doing at all times, very much like Emperor's legendary In the Nightside Eclipse. It's really quite hard to describe exactly what this album sounds like. "Muddy" isn't the right term, even if it sounds a lot less clean than Vempire and even The Principle..., although those who were raised on the band's turn of the century outings such as Nymphetamine might call it so. Perhaps "earthy" is a good enough word? Possibly, especially considering the drums and vocals are caked in so much reverberation that you wouldn't be too far off to think they were recorded in a cave somewhere.
The guitars on the album exist both as a showcase piece when the songs call for it and as a natural extension of the album's overwhelmingly chilling, horror film-esq atmosphere. They take center stage with some of the nastiest tremolo riffs you'll ever hear in "Heaven Torn Asunder", "Dusk and Her Embrace", and "Haunted Shores", yet most of the time they sit back and form a wall of sound backing to the keyboards, which aren't extraordinarily active at all times yet are a significant aspect of Dusk and Her Embrace's success. See "A Gothic Romance", "Malice Through the Looking Glass" and "Beauty Slept in Sodom" as examples of such a thing. Sometimes the guitars exist in both realms at once, primarily throughout the entirety of "Funeral in Carpathia" and whenever the band shows its Englishness with some classic heavy metal twin guitar harmonies. The bass is both audible and interesting, often noodling underneath a riff without totally straying from its role as a foundation building device, sometimes taking the forefront in brief solo spots, such as in sizable, separated portions of "Heaven Torn Asunder" and carrying a whole section of "A Gothic Romance", accompanied by rolling double bass drums and Dani Filth's unmistakable shrieks. The version of the album I possess also contains a re-recording of the Vempire track "Nocturnal Supremacy", slightly slower here compared to the EP, but made even more haunting and evil due to the new production sound.
The primary thing about all these elements that separates Dusk and Her Embrace from any other number of symphonic/melodic black metal albums that have been released before or since is that, to be quite frank, it's all just so fucking GOOD. Every single thing about every single song clings to the memory immediately, and strains of the utterly perfect chorus to "Funeral in Carpathia" will still be playing in your head by the time you reach the closer, "Haunted Shores", 40 minutes later. No guitar note is improperly strummed, no bass line picked unjustly, no drum beaten without brevity. Even Dani Filth's much discussed and controversial vocals, screechy as they can be at times, fit the music perfectly. Try imagining any song on this album without his voice at this particular point in time. Just try. The band themselves did with the re-recording of "Funeral in Carpathia" three years later on From the Cradle to Enslave, and it just does not work there like it does here. He is at his most insane, extreme, and violent on Dusk and Her Embrace, and it's a performance that can only be described as jaw-droppingly ridiculous. In a good way, of course. Helping him along is the similarly controversial Sarah Jezebel Deva, years before her vocal chords completely went to the tone deaf dogs. Her soothing, sometimes semi-operatic, at points tearjerkingly beautiful and others fearfully dominating, voice contrasts with Dani's malevolent growls, barks, shrieks, and screams wonderfully. She too is a perfect fit to this puzzle.
In a way, you could say Dusk and Her Embrace represents the absolute pinnacle of what symphonic black metal was capable of producing, and it's certainly the highlight of Cradle of Filth's nearly 25 year career. One might be tempted to say that the aforementioned In the Nightside Eclipse represents the climax of the genre, but I personally view that more as just a straight black metal album with both keyboards and a heightened sense of majesty and grandeur compared to many of its contemporaries. Dusk and Her Embrace takes that majesty, bathes it in a brine comprised of Hammer horror flicks and Sheridan Le Fanu novels, and unleashes onto the world a perfect storm of savage black metal and hauntingly melodic atmosphere the likes of which I've yet to find a rival for in all of extreme metal. Sordid as their history may be, fickle as many of their detractors past and present have been, and lame as a few of their later outings would prove to be, Dusk and Her Embrace is the absolute greatest achievement of the symphonic black metal style. Should I ever find myself with the ever-hypothetical choice of what to bring with me to a remote island located in the middle of an ocean halfway around the world, all I would need is an iPod with this album on perpetual loop. That is plenty good enough for me, now and forever.
Looking at the other reviews for this album, it's clear that there's a Marmite reaction going on here. Either you're going to find yourself adoring 'Dusk and Her Embrace', you're going to find yourself staring at your toilet bowl for an hour, or, like some of the few more balanced reviewers, you're going to dislike a few elements and find abundant quality in others. I wish to firmly place myself in the middle ground, though I could go either way in different moods - there really are some things to lap up and some things to spit out.
This CoF album has one thing that almost every other one lacks (the preceding EP 'Vempire' is the exception) and that's magic, to give it a simple name. The whole point of Cradle has always been to drag the listener away from their humdrum life and into a world of terror, blood, lust, and cool stories, but many of their albums have failed to actually capture much atmosphere beyond haunted house keyboards and cheesy narration. 'Dusk and Her Embrace' has the distinct advantage of beginning with some concrete musical quality before it starts to heap on the extras and, in fact, one finds that those extras are largely unnecessary when the basics are done so incredibly well. The keyboards that were overplayed on many later albums are here controlled so well that they can be called features, not merely distractions, detailing the slower parts when the guitars drop out and daubing some of the tooth-rattling tremolo sections with epic colours that they would never otherwise achieve. The mid-section of 'Funeral in Carpathia', for example, begins with a sweeping, aching melody over the riffs, then the song winds down before the keys lead the band into the lighter riff section that follows.
I'm also noticing many more of the riffs and musical movements in here than I would normally expect to on a CoF album. In the first place, this is most definitely a black metal album, and if the additional pomp and ambition had been dropped and we were left with 7 four minute songs, this could still have been a big success, though probably only in underground circles. The violence of 'Heaven Torn Asunder' is a complete revelation for critics of latter-day Filth, with its vicious assault of churning riffs and frighteningly accurate battery from Nick Barker. The production suits the style well too, despite a less attacking sound than 'Vempire'. The drum tone echoes 'De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas' and can be both aggressive and huge, although the guitars are slightly thin and could have done with the treble turned up, yet that might have ruined the grandiose effect that Cradle were going for. The melodic sense of this album is also highly developed, including a lot of classic twin guitar melodies that have come to assume a crucial place in the band's sound, in addition to a few out-and-out lead moments, which are always sparse in black and symphonic metal, yet are here used skilfully and tastefully.
Songs run the gamut from the full-blooded terror of the opener and 'Haunted Shores' to the classical/melodic combo of 'A Gothic Romance', which dials back the heaviness and goes for the drama and atmosphere that the title would suggest, though without the requisite terror that made the early Gothic novels so gripping. The darkly musing 'Malice Through the Looking Glass' also represents another change of mood, this time more quietly sinister, while the title track is full-on grandiose black metal and will make you spill your chalice of blood (or coffee, depending on how much you go for the whole vampire thing) when that strident riff section appears after 3 minutes. The slower and less heavy numbers fare well due to their strong sense of atmosphere, but don't have the same energy and timeless "magic" that the other tracks possess, since it is actually the drop from rage and speed to a sinister crawl that conjures the creepiness on 'Funeral in Carpathia' and 'Beauty Slept in Sodom'. The latter in particular has a pearl of a doom riff at 4:30 that can send shivers down your spine, then back up it when the solo soars out of it on top of a deep tremolo. However, it will take a number of listens before any song fully discloses its secrets, since there are a hell of a lot of elements at play, even in the more straightforward black metal sections, which reach the same emotional plateaus of early Satyricon and Emperor without sounding distinctly Nordic or nostalgic.
There is one very distinct problem for 'Dusk and Her Embrace' and that is Dani Filth. It's difficult to say whether the effect is intentional, but his very high-pitched shrieking vocals are absolutely horrible and do nothing for atmosphere or musical skill. As if he was losing his voice and took it upon himself to childishly taunt an enemy, some of the vocals lines end up as mere "la la la" chants devoid of lyrics, rhythm, or any other redeeming factors, ruining any of the music that is going on around him. There are many instances of this, though one of the most excruciating examples would have to be the first two verses of 'Haunted Shores'. That said, he uses many different vocal styles (I'm not counting, but he's up there with King Diamond), many of which fare much better than the failed black metal shriek. The slightly deeper howl is excellent and when he decides to go into yawning chasm mode, he brings a whole different dimension to the music. There is also a fair bit of narration on some of the songs, which isn't always great, but isn't as cheesy as some other CoF albums, while the interplay between Dani and the two female vocalists (although Danielle Cneajna Cottington is a bit mechanical) adds drama and dynamics to the lyrical poetry, which is something close to what Baudelaire and Keats would have produced if commissioned to write an epic vampire comic with Gustave Dore illustrating.
What emerges from the marriage of these extraordinary and unsavoury aspects is an album that occasionally manages to be mind-blowingly powerful and sometimes sounds laughably inept. The choicest cuts are 'Heaven Torn Asunder', 'Funeral in Carpathia', and 'Dusk and Her Embrace', though all of the full-length tracks offer something beyond the ordinary, even if some sections are ill-advised. The only reason that this doesn't oust 'Vempire' as the best Cradle of Filth album is its slightly greater length and those vocals, which remain a blot on an otherwise captivating manuscript.
This is the most atmospheric, aura filled with sheer evil, and in my opinion the best Cradle of Filth album to date. What we have here is Dani Filth screaming in his highest pitched vocals ever for a Cradle of Filth release and he mixes it up with low end talking, spewing forth dark words/lyrics, but mostly high end shrieks that can never again be replicated. Actually, he has 3 tones that he sings in plus guest female vocalists that accompany the compositions. They fill the album with more darkness and total gothic outputs.
The guitars are quite noteworthy, sometimes there is quite fast guitar work, but mostly a combination of melodic and ultimately intriguing riffs that really stick in your head. I'd say this is their most melodic release to date as well. The music, the vocals, the drums, the backup vocalists all put forth together as a unit in making this release their most notorious one. It really is a total atmospheric/dark setting for each song. There isn't a track on here that is boring or lacking creativity. Every single song is totally outstanding.
Opening of the album and some songs filled with those synthesizers and keyboards that feed into the melodic feel of the release making songs more intriguing and uncompromising in darkness. It's a total goth metal album, so many tempo changes it becomes difficult to hear music that is so translucent and ingenious. The melodic guitars alongside the keyboards augment the sound of the songs. Tempos yes are quite ever changing and Dani's shrieking vocals make it pretty impossible to understand what he's saying.
The lyrical content for this album range from talks about erotica, evil, Mythology and horror tales. A quite well thought out album lyrically, each song embraces the sense of these words with music complimenting the singing and the backgrounds seem only able to produce more evil because the synthesizers go hand in hand with the guitars and make it so dark, Dani literally goes insane on here. There are some blast beating going on depending on what track that you want to key into. My favorite track is "Heaven Torn Asunder."
Production quality was quite good here for a 1996 release and nothing really is on here that is not mixed in well with each song. You get everything a gothic metal release has to offer. Intensity, erotica, guitar lines filled with chords and fast tremolo picking in some cases, but for the most part, all of the guitar riffs are very very melodic. They have a slight reverb to each track and totally either bombard you with that fast riffing that fluctuates constantly. Nothing on here is without innovative ideas, the songwriting is amazing.
This is one album you can never get sick of because of it's sheer evil and soul dampening. There are balls to this release, a sheer triumph in metal music as we know it. A couple of instrumentals on here which are epic. This clocks almost at 60 minutes in length for just 9 songs. Every track is filled with an utmost melodic and utter abundance of originality. There aren't that many guitar leads on here, but the ones that do take place on here are executed with absolute precision.
Cradle of Filth's brilliance on Dusk...and Her Embrace is so admirable, it lacks in almost in no way any criticism whatsoever. I'd have to say one caveat though is that the snare drum wasn't the greatest. It wasn't enough to make it any lesser of a release however. From start to finish, there is no track on here that is boring, unimaginative, dull or unoriginal. It really hits home here and listeners of the band will be astonished if they've not heard it! YouTube some tracks on here, especially my favorite and you'll be blown away!
For a second, imagine being on the album cover for this album... a pale woman lures you in, while the eerie atmosphere pervading the forest depicted is so tempting to get lost in. There could very well be a God, but the bleak feeling of the illustration could very well prove you otherwise. And yet the depiction is just so... inviting. Such feelings are associated with this very record.
Once upon a time, Cradle of Filth were considered one of the heavyweights of extreme metal, churning out some of the cornerstones of their craft in the 1990’s. While many metal fans will spew out insults against the band today and label them “sellouts” (see: Metal Archives, Metal Storm, etc.), there’s always a loyal gathering of people ready to defend the band, usually using the group’s old records to support their argument; 1996’s Dusk… and Her Embrace is the greatest showing of how true that very argument can be.
Very rarely is a record so darkly beautiful, so compositionally sound while taking risks, so intense and yet so inviting. Cradle of Filth, however, found a way; Dusk… and Her Embrace is a 53-minute-long monolith, a perfect storm of melody, atmosphere, varied vocal delivery, and aggression. The album goes through a wealth of different genres such as symphonic black metal, death metal, Gothic/symphonic classical music, and even hints of progressive metal strewn about, but retains the signature style that only Cradle of Filth can employ. All this is combined with vicious screeches by vocalist Dani Filth and the occasional female spoken word section, and they only enhance the haunting mood of the music.
As for the songs, there are two interludes and every other song runs at over five minutes in length. Remarkably, none of that time feels wasted; even the four songs that manage to reach over seven minutes have enough consistency and variation to justify their running times. For instance, “A Gothic Romance” uses a symphonic intro to give a lush, yet bleak, backdrop for the piece to build upon. Thus, the tempo naturally builds as if climbing to the peak, the climax that occurs about halfway into the song with a gut-wrenching scream and witch-like laughter recorded in with the speed metal riff as a backbone. Moments such as that are really ones to cherish as music-lovers, as the time and effort spent crafting these cathartic moments is quite commendable.
The rest of the album follows suit; each song is memorable in its own way, and if you can get past Dani Filth’s screeching (honestly, it’s an acquired taste), then his lyrics are no joke either. His poetry is heavily influenced by Gothic literature, and it certainly shows here; most of his writing consists of death, lust, Lucifer, temptation, the works. The way he writes them, however, is a different story. These narratives practically take a life of their own, and could probably be used in a Luciferian novel of some sort.
If there are two specific songs to garner more attention than the rest, they’d be “Malice Through the Looking Glass” and the title track. “Malice…”, while beginning in a similar keyboard intro/guitar aggression pattern to other tracks on the album, becomes more of a show of atmosphere than anything; after the initial assault, the song slows down for a doomy clean section a la Agalloch or Wintersun. The vocals are sparse here, which is very rare compared to the rest of the record, and the harmonized guitar work is able to take hold of the musical experience. The spoken word is pretty eerie too, with the female and male vocals alternating like the “Beauty and the Beast” approach that is now common in symphonic metal. The title track, on the other hand, is an absolute masterpiece. What begins with slow, rumbling double bass drumming and an operatic voice hovering above soon turns into a furious slew of tempo-changes and lightning fast guitar riffing. Dani Filth sounds more pissed off than ever, and the musicians do a fantastic job of keeping up with his rapid-fire screaming. The song eventually slows down near the middle for a nice orchestral section and some spoken word, once again utilizing alternating gender roles to speak out the segments. The extremities continue afterwards, and the 6/8 verse makes a reprise to bring the whole thing home. The title track, in essence, is the song I’d judge all other Cradle of Filth songs on, as it represents the peak of their songwriting to this day.
Dusk… and Her Embrace shows how the melding of many musical styles can be done right. It is a masterpiece in the extreme metal genre, and continues to represent the pinnacle of 90’s metal craftsmanship for me. If you see this album, don’t be discouraged by Cradle of Filth’s dip in quality and pick it up; the band may be in an unfortunate situation today, but at least they made a record that truly stands the test of time and gives us something to cherish and remember their “good ol’ days” for.
When I first heard Cradle of Filth, I was amazed and mesmerized by their eerie, dark, and goth- themed music. For an instance, this album, Dusk...and Her Embrace, is a best example and maybe the best album that Cradle released (in my own opinion). Please bear with me, for I can't review the all the songs on this album, so I'll just review some tracks and the overall music presented.
The album starts with an instrumental song "Humana Inspired to Nightmare", an opening track that was led and driven by keyboard which gives it a dark, creepy, and eerie atmosphere that haunts the listener. For me, it seems like a soundtrack of a haunted castle. Then comes "Heaven Torn Asunder" with slow guitar riffs accompanied by Dani's traditional high-pitched scream. Bass lines are audible and well presented on this track, but the keyboard work is not too overwhelming, presented in terms of timing and precision by means of where to stop and where to start, thus creating an atmosphere that doesn't ruin the song.
"Funeral in Carpathia" is an adrenalin rush. In some versions it has a side note: "Be Quick or Be Dead", and I do believe that note speaks for itself, from the intro of fast guitar riffs that are in harmony with the keyboard. Both elements, the guitar riffs and keys, complement each other. No matter how fast the riffs are, the keys are able to stand along side by side with the riffs. The drums are indeed set to a higher level with fast blastbeats that are well transitioned. Nick Barker showcases not only speed and brutality, but also technicality in terms of drumming on this track. Vocals are well-executed from high-pitched screams, low growls, and even whispered, narration-like singing with, of course, the help of backing vocals courtesy of Sarah and Danielle.
"Dusk and Her Embrace" blows all the songs from the entire album. It's not as fast as the other songs when it comes to drumming style and riffs, but what makes this song the most amazing, is that it was solely composed and created with intense atmosphere. For me, I prefer songs with intense atmosphere, feelings, and even emotions, which matters most. It's not about how heavy, brutal, or even how fast the song is. It's all about giving a song a soul, a life that creeps the listeners from within, and for that Cradle really did justice for this genius and brilliantly- constructed song. It's eerie, dark, and haunting, which is of course courtesy of the keyboards (gives me goosebumps every time I listen to this song). Lyrically, it's poetic and well-transitioned from the slow to fast parts of the song. The vocals are killer and I think Dani's vocals on this track are his best from all of the songs Cradle ever made.
"Beauty Slept in Sodom" starts with eerie keyboards accompanied by Dani's low, guttural narrated voice. Indeed a slow song to start, but it's just a beginning of an outburst that will leave you begging for more. Overall, I highly recommend this album for the reason of musicality when it comes to the guitars and drumming technique. The atmosphere created on this album is intense, eerie, haunting, tragic, and dark, courtesy of the keyboards where Cradle of Filth is a master of creating such atmosphere, thus giving us musically and lyrically outstanding album.
Heaven Torn Asunder
Funeral in Carpathia
Dusk and Her Embrace
Beauty Slept in Sodom
This album could very well be Volume 2 to an opus in which ‘Dark Faerytales in Phallustein’ would be Volume 1. Both albums deliver a superb intricacy of deepest darkened black metal atmospheres and gothic-like ambiences. ‘Dusk and her Embrace’ is perhaps an album that nobody except for Cradle of Filth could have ever dreamt possible. Why? Because they manage to mix two tendencies that the vast majority might consider impossible to unite: black metal and gothic ambiences. The fact is that they do it in a way that makes them shuttle this album out to the horrific satanic orb beyond the common human understanding.
Pease allow me to elaborate on that: each song presents a perfect performance from all quadrants of the musical assets hereby present in the making of this piece. Dani Filth’s voice is diverse beyond the range of any commoner, for he manages to shout incredibly high, at a pitch that might rip the vocal chords of anyone who dares imitate him. But then again, he can also reach many other tones, from the deep cavernous conversational, to the enraged thunderous grasp - I can find no better way to describe his amazing ability.
The keyboards assume a wide variety of sound, form the solo violin to the magnificent organ echoing through ancient manor parlors. They create a web of acoustic elements that will create a desolate and painful atmosphere surrounding the incredibly fast, precise and meticulous drumming of Nicholas Barker’s, even though he can also deliver some extraordinary accurate slow passages. The guitars are very dynamic, presenting some crushing riffs assuring to please any hardcore head banger, and altering those with melodic parts filled with sludgy and doomy sequences conveying such a sense of pain and misery that will make your heart weep. But don’t be fooled by my words, because the music never gets mellow or soft, these guys just keep on pounding you relentlessly. The bass is also extremely good, not always serving as a mere appendix to the guitars, but actually being capable of assuming an important role at fixing the flow of the song and giving them depth in terms of heavy sound. The female vocals are very pertinent; they never take on that angelical sound, so typical of many bands focused on sadness and desolation. Instead, female vocals on this album take on a devilish approach, conveying evil and presenting a “vampyric” satanic mood. The overall result is a very diverse album, sometimes symphonic, sometimes straight forward metal, but always extremely dense, thick and heavy.
The lyrics are among the richest in the entire metal discoraphy. Each song has an enormous text accompanying it; each text tells tales which circle around the idea that there is a race of demonic vampires which are evil in nature, satanic creatures whose main goal is to corrupt anything that is pure and good in nature, being it heavenly or earthly.
The atmosphere in this album picks up where Bram Stoker’s Dracula left things and carries them forth deeper into the frightening shadows where evil is alive and hungry. This album is a sort of black metal which has nothing to do with the Scandinavian cold and raw of the northern winter mountains; this is a sort of black metal richly embedded in the profound British gothic tradition of cold stone castles in the middle of dense impenetrable forests where the fog is eternal and evil spirits rampage freely…
Once upon a time, I enjoyed Cradle of Filth. I certainly never worshipped them as some do, but I found them enjoyable. Particularly this album. I guess it's the fact that I picked it up as a 16 year old kid, at the peak of autumn, an excellent time of year for this type of music.
They had yet to become real superstars, and the whole vampire/bondage thing isn't as irritating as it is on later albums. Dusk and Her Embrace is not a black metal album, not by any means. I don't know what you'd call this, but it seems to me like a really extreme, and not quite as good, version of Mercyful Fate. It's certainly chock of full of melodies, which does much to recall Mercyful Fate and the best of vintage Iron Maiden, and there are many ripping sections that recall Slayer, At the Gates, and even Emperor. But goddamn, the parallel harmonies really make this album what it is.
The sound that the band manages to capture on this album is rich and full. Definitely, they spent a good amount of cash on a good studio and solid production. While that hurts their "underground" sensibilities and makes it a more accessible album, it makes every little nuance bubble to the surface. And really, the guitars are heavy, the drums are excellent, and even the keyboards don't ruin everything. As irritating as Dani's vocals can be, he puts them to good use on here.
The whole package works here. Even the bloody packaging works well to enhance the dense music and give a feeling of Victorian English perversion. I can't fault Cradle of Filth for this album at all; even now, it's a very enjoyable piece of metal.
Year 1996 marked the beginning of Cradle's vampiric metal era, which lasted for a few years, sadly. However, the VEmpire EP and this album proved to be improvements in terms of quality and heavyness when compared to their first full length: The Principle of Evil Made Flesh. While VEmpire tried to capture some of Principle's atmospheres and offer it a little vampiric feeling and more professional playing, Dusk and Her Embrace made the transition from raw black metal to symphonic black metal (with a little higher quality, but far from the 'clean' quality of Enthrone Darkness Triumphant). We also observe a change in the lyrics, Dani slowly replacing Satanism and Paganism with Vampirism. As for the music... gone are Benjamin Ryan's church organ playing. On this release it has been replaced with more orchestral strings, some of which are quite amazing. But let's see how the actual songs sound like:
Humana Inspired to Nightmare is an epic orchestral instrumental which sets the tensioned mood of the album quite fast. Although I think it should've been a little slower at the beginning, it managed to get the atmosphere for Heaven Torn Asunder perfectly. When the 2nd track starts, you notice the recording quality and vocal change. Dani's vocals have become much more high pitched, but sadly, not really in the black metal way. He sounds more like an annoying chirping bird, and most of the time when I listen to this CD, I can't wait for him to stop shrieking. Heaven Torn Asunder is filled with his shrieks and lots of speed. Not much to say about it, Funeral in Carpathia begins with some fast drumming, courtesy of Nicholas Barker, and then the guitars join in with some tremolo picking, finally managing to bring back the black metal feeling I've been waiting for. You will find some clean vocal parts done by Sarah Jezebel Deva here and there, but mostly, this song is about how fast Cradle of Filth can get, catchy guitar riffs and solos, and of course, Dani's annoying screeching.
A Gothic Romance (Red Roses for the Devil's Whore) starts with one of the most beautiful string intros I've ever heard! It sounds almost like waltz music. And from this short dance rythm the strings slowly transition the feeling from romantic to scary horror movie-like. We are also greeted to the actual song via a wolf howl and Dani's screeching. This time they take things slower, Dani narrating with a deep, gothic voice. When things get faster, he'll return to screeching, but not for long, since Sarah Jezebel Deva has to have her part. And in the middle of the song we can hear one of the string riffs from the beginning, this time with Dani saying 'Red Roses for the Devil's Whore' while Sarah does some sighs in the background. Then the guitars join in and play the same riff as the keyboards. But not for long, since they change to some other riffs, but this time with Dani doing some great vocals: he is growling, and almost sounds like Shagrath! After that the song becomes faster and Dani is doing his usual screech. Still, this is certainly one of the best songs off the album. Malice Through the Looking Glass follows the same slow pattern as Gothic Romance, but its string intro is a little more 'haunting' than the previous song's intro. The song's beautiful pianos, choirs and strings make a great music feast for the ear, and this is more than enough for me. The creepiest part of it is when the instruments slowly fade away and Dani does a scary narration with some animal howling in the background.
And so we have reached the title track of the album! Hell, I think that this is one of Cradle's best songs ever composed! It starts with some relatively fast drumming and Sarah singing in the background. Dani comes in with his screeching and when he is done, Sarah stops singing and the guitarist plays exactly what she sang. Afterwards, Dani again does some narration with his deep voice while Sarah sings a bit. Then the song gets all fast and Dani does what he knows best: screeching. Sarah has some come backs here and there, and the keyboards play some fantastic riffs on orchestral strings and church organ. Sadly, this masterpiece lasts only 6 minutes... The following track, The Graveyard by Moonlight, is a rather calming and soothing instrumental. Its title shows its meaning: to capture the feeling of a graveyard by moonlight. The piano sets the perfect mood for that, but when it stops playing and there's a moment of silence, you could feel the tension rising. Sarah's chanting announces that something bad is about to happen, and when the strings bump in, the vampire has rised from the grave once more to haunt in the night! Fantastic feeling and amazing track!
Beauty Slept in Sodom has a funny keyboard intro, very different from those of A Gothic Romance and Malice Through the Looking Glass. Other than that, it shares the same structure as the other songs off this album. And now, for the final track: Haunted Shores! Its string intro is indeed haunting and extremely catchy. Once it finishes, you wish it was longer, but there's no time for that, the band has to finish this album in an epic way! The tremolo picked guitar is back, and so are Dani's screeches. For the most part of this song you will find speed and screeches, but there's a part in the middle where you have only the strings, the drums being as fast as always and Dani doing some 'clean' vocals with his deep, gothic voice. Afterwards, the guitars join in and he shifts to shrieks. For some reason, I can't drop my attention from the drums. After some more tremolo picking and shrieking, we approach the final part of this song, which features a speech given by none other than Cronos from Venom. The way he delivers it is so epic that you get the feeling that an apocalypse of ghosts is drawing neigh. Truly a great way to end an epic album!
When it comes to Cradle of Filth, there will always be people who love them and people who hate them, so it would be quite difficult to know who might love this album or not. I think that if you are a fan of vampiric metal or symphonic black metal, you should like this.
Favorite tracks: A Gothic Romance, Malice Through the Looking Glass, Dusk and Her Embrace, The Graveyard by Moonlight, Haunted Shores.
If you know anything about black metal or metal in general chances are you've heard of Cradle of Filth. Arguably the most controversial metal band of the last 15 years. If you're a new metal fan, you've probably only heard of Thornography, Nymphetamine, and possibly Damnation and a Day. Well what you probably don't know is that before all of their mainstream success, they released 4 albums that weren't really that well known. Out of those 4 albums, Dusk and Her Embrace is the third and probably the best. While albums like In the Nightside Eclipse or Storm of the Light's Bane may be some peoples definition of symphonic black metal, this album is mine.
The album starts off with an instrumental in true Cradle fashion. It's called Humana Inspired to Nightmare. All it is is Damien playing the keyboards. Nothing special, but it's kind of creepy and will get you ready for what's coming at you next. The first real song is Heaven Torn Asunder. It starts off with what sounds like something burning. Robin's bass comes in and a couple seconds later you hear one of Dani's very high pitched screams. Then he whipers something about the devil in a low voice. Up until about 1:20 the song is really slow, but it picks up at that point with some melodic riffs from Gian and Stuart with some medium speed drumming from Nick. At about 2:20 it comes to an abrupt stop for about two seconds and then the blast beats come in. The song stays pretty fast until about 4:20 in when it comes to a stop again and Sarah talks. It stays that way until there's about a minute left and picks up speed again. It ends on a fast note. The next song, Funeral in Carpathia, starts off with some blast beats by Nick and another Dani banshee shriek. He sings in a low gothic voice after the single scream with the melodic tremelo picking in the background. This song really never lets up and is very fast the whole time. Its full of blast beats, tremelo picking, and banshee screams.
Next up is A Gothic Romance (Red Roses for the Devil's Whore). This is one of my favorite Cradle songs of all time. Its starts off with a symphonic violin playing. This song is very slow almost the whole time. Where the previous two songs were very black metal like, this song shows off the gothic metal side of the band and it is actually almost doom like.. Dani's vocals are a mix of very low pitched gothic vocals and his usual shrieks. Its mostly the gothic vocals though. Very melodic riffs (as usual) play in the background and the bass is very present on this song. Nicks drumming is pretty much a slow steady beat. About 4 minutes in the song picks up and blast beats start coming and Dani's vocals turn more into the screams. It stays extremely fast until 5:40 and Dani screams "red roses for the devil's whore" and it gets slow again. The violin that the song started with also ends the song. Malice Through the Looking Glass is next. It starts almost the same as A Gothic Romance and then picks up with a Dani scream (what else is new). This song isn't too fast or too slow. Its in the middle almost the whole time. Its a pretty good song, but nothing too special.
Next is the title track, Dusk and Her Embrace. It begins with some weird female vocals and a nice drum beat. I think you know what to expect from Dani. A nice melodic riff comes and along with the drums. Dani talks in a gothic voice and Sarah really shows what she can do on this song. At about 1:20 the song picks up and becomes pretty fast with Dani's black metal vocals pretty much dominating this song. This song is probably the fastest on the album. Four minutes in Sarah talks a little bit, but that only lasts a couple seconds and the song goes right back to being really fast. It stays that way until it ends. The next song, A Graveyard by Moonlight, is just another instrumental. Again its Damien doing a little keyboard solo.
Beauty Slept in Sodom comes next. It starts off with some cool keyboard playing by Damien and then a melodic riff. Dani whispers some stuff and it stays like this until about two minutes in. Sarah says a couple things and then the song kind of picks up. Again not too fast, but not too slow. Either the song is fast, slow, or in the middle the whole time. About five minutes in we get a rare guitar solo by Stuart. Very short, but very well played and a nice change. The song slows up at about 5:40, but then picks up with some tremelo picking and blast beats that last until the end of the song. The last song is Haunted Shores. It has a very symphonic beginning just like A Gothic Romance and Malice Through the Looking Glass. Tremelo picking starts and a scream by Dani picks up the pace of this song. This song is pretty fast the whole time, dominated by Nick's blast beats. It never slows up until the end where we get a speech by Cronos from Venom. He takes the album out.
Overall, there's not one bad part on this album. Nothing you will want to skip unless you don't like instrumentals. If you like the symphonic side to black metal, you should definitely check this out. This is definitely the best symphonic black metal album out there, at least in my opinion. If you like gothic metal, you will also enjoy this album. Very highly recommended.
By now, everyone and their mother is well aware of the maelstrom of madness that was the Black Metal Scene. It's been chronicled almost into oblivion; the tales of murder, grave desecration, suicide, church arson...and the things that many Death Metallers sung about but seemed too afraid to actually enact (they had reputations to uphold, after all!). Black metal usurped Punk as the most anti-social musical form the world had seen at that point, and their music was just as monstrous in approach. However, outside of specific bands of their ilk, a number of third-tier acts didn't sound as serious as their supposed actions were percieved. It was quite difficult to find a band who was little more than a funhouse mirror image of their peers, who wanted to paint outside the lines in terms of what black metal was SUPPOSED to sound like.
So we have CRADLE OF FILTH...
Everyone knows 'em, everyone either loves or hates them (no middle ground here, folks), and though their music has taken some serious twists and turns over the years, their earlier works are definately what stand out, especially this particular album. In all their years, this seems to be the album in which the band seemed to take the most time concocting, and thus, the only real album that sounds SERIOUS in performance and compositional ability. Layers upon layers of symphonic keyboards, grinding guitar work and punishing percussion move the music along in a fluid manner, all the while trailing behind some of Dani's most inhuman sounding screeches. The vocals took a bit of getting used to, but once you get into the thick of things that style seems to fit the overall compositions far better than the usual black metal croaks and yowls. And his lyrical works were at a strata of literary brilliance rarely seen in metal music; less ranting about the death of God and moreso as gothic, medieval lamentations of romanticism gown awry, damnation, and general darkness. Even after all these years the songs never cease to amaze, from the blistering intensity of "Funeral in Carpathia", to the bleeding-heart diatribes of "A Gothic Romance", and the rallying war cries of "Haunted Shores" and "Beauty Slept in Sodom"; such are dark hymns of sophisticated malevolence the likes of which the band would never do again, as around the time "From the Cradle to Enslave" came out they remembered they were British and felt they needed to have that bizarre sense of humour permeate within future songs. Oh well...at least we still have this.
So in the end, "Dusk...and Her Embrace" is stunning, dark, brutal and truly vampiric, teeming with staying power that will outlive even the most ardent of blasphemous musical acts. Well done.
As my title says, this album could've been a masterpiece...in fact, it could've been in my top ten favorite black metal albums if not for one thing...
Dani Filth. His screech is not raw or savage as, say, Varg's or Ihsahn's, but instead sounds like "LA LA LA LA LA, or TA RA TA RA." The few moments when he breaks down into the chanting voice or the growl, he sounds fanfuckingbulotastic, but he is sooo bad at screeching at this point. His vocals remind me of a dying cat, in a bad way. Another thing I have wrong with this album is the lack of proper solos (the lead section in Funeral In Carpathia proves why some should exist). I know black metal lacks in the solo department, in fact I don't write solos usually at all for my solo BM project, but these guys sound capable of ripping a sweeping pattern or making a beautifully entrancing melody.
Now, onto the pros. For one, the female vocals. Oh my god, I've never been one for the symphonic side of BM (Female Vocals and Synths/Keys) but this just takes the cake ofr awesome. She can truly sing, I don't know if she is a session singer, but damn.
Another big, big prog is the guitar tone. It's so organic...thus improving the rawness of the album, which is basically non-existent as the album isn't really lo-fi at all. The guitarists, as I say above, are extremely talented and know when to back off the tremolo lines and play a simple melodic harmony. Pretty awesome meloblack riffing, if you ask me. The few occaisions for clean/acoustic tone on the album are pretty cool too, these guys know their way around a fretboard.
Also up in the plus section are the lyrics...I mean holy shit, man. Bedizens eyes paralysed with blasphemy/Written in flesh across the howling ether is just one line from "Heaven Torn Asunder." Whether Dani wrote these, I don't know, but if he did, he gets a standing ovation and is forgiven for his terrible screech. The drumming is good, but not a pro or a con, really...
Heaven Torn Asunder
Funeral In Carpathia
The Graveyard By Moonlight
Dusk...And Her Embrace
Least Favorite Song:
Humana Inspired To Nightmare
More favorites than least favorites is always nice. Very good overall album, and a ridiculously strong release in the black metal genre. I'll probably not review anything newer as I bought Thornography and hated it with a passion, but I might get the older albums if they are as good as their epic sophomore release.
The most contentious statement I could probably make about this album is that it's at least fifty percent black metal. The metal scene has really done its best to collectively retcon even the earliest works of Cradle Of Filth under the 'extreme gothic metal' banner, and it's only recently that some concessions are being made to some of the first LPs in stating that there were at least black metal influences. But in the face of this album, I'm not entirely sure how someone CAN'T hear all the black metal on this, and I'd even go as far as to say that calling this a black metal album wouldn't be that much of a stretch. Really, if you remove the most obvious of gothic elements; the most overbearing keyboards, the low vocals, the slower sections of songs like the title track or 'A Gothic Romance (Red Roses For The Devil's Whore)'; you've got what is for all intents and purposes a purely black metal album.
Then again, perhaps an even more contentious statement is that it's an excellent album, regardless of its perceived influences. It's hard to deny, at the very least, the pure depth of most of the songs on here. Each track is replete with massive changes in tempo, mood, structure, and technique, moving seamlessly from traditional black metal to gothic sections with a level of professionalism and skill that most bands could only hope to emulate. Really, early Cradle Of Filth is somehow incredibly underrated; to me at least, the material on this album is probably the best gothic black metal ever made, and yet it's sadly under appreciated merely for the first word in that genre description. But the important thing isn't that it's merely a great album in its genre, it's a great heavy metal album as a whole. Each track is unique and memorable, the playing is excellent, the lyrics are incredibly well written, and the album as a whole is articulate and deeply atmospheric, making it pretty damned illogical to ignore this album, or indeed, this band, for purely aesthetic reasons.
With all political conjecture out of the way, one can examine the music more fully. Cradle Of Filth uses the musical vocabulary of black metal combined with the general aesthetics of gothic music to create romantic yet aggressive heavy metal. A number of the songs on here are undisputed Cradle Of Filth classics: 'Funeral In Carpathia', 'A Gothic Romance (Red Roses For The Devil's Whore)', and the title track are all staples of any live concert by the Brits. But there are other, more underrated tracks as well: the slow-burning majesty of 'Heaven Torn Asunder' and 'Malice Through The Looking Glass', and the pure frenzy of 'Haunted Shores', which, minus its middle break, is a completely pure and even fairly raw black metal song. On that front, 'Funeral In Carpathia' is probably one of the other purest black metal songs the band has crafted, with riffing that wouldn't seem out of place on a Satyricon record.
Unlike later albums, 'Dusk And Her Embrace' is essentially devoid of filler. One could single out the two instrumental tracks as being pointless, or 'Beauty Slept In Sodom' for probably being the weak link as far as full-fledged songs go, but would it really be a Cradle Of Filth album without the gothic melodrama of a song like 'The Graveyard By Moonlight'? Of course it wouldn't, because listening to Cradle Of Filth requires at least some suspension of disbelief when it comes to interpreting such diversions as comical. No, this isn't the most overbearingly serious album of all time; the lyrics have a bit of wry humor to them, and the overall delivery is a bit too easy and free-flowing to be interpreted as some deeply felt artistic statement, but it's so beautifully executed that the relative 'significance' of this album doesn't really matter. Some people have said that, when you get down to it, Cradle Of Filth has a lot more to do with Iron Maiden than Mayhem, and it's probably true: Cradle Of Filth plays unapologetic pop music, but it's genuinely GOOD pop music that metalheads can identify with.
Each song is extremely unique and just as memorable, despite the relative sameness of the elements involved. 'Heaven Torn Asunder' is a rather more subtle way to begin the album post-intro than, say, 'Cthulhu Dawn' or 'Gilded Cunt' on later releases, with a small, seemingly thrashy opening riff that subsumes into a very slow, bass-driven passage before moving the pace back up later. It's all so very gothic and self-amused in its delivery, you can't help but enjoy it: it's unbearably pretentious and it's ardently aware of its pretense! Really, whenever I hear those long, languishing bass notes in the beginning of 'Heaven Torn Asunder', I can't help but smile at how very eruditely they're played, layed out in a stately procession with a sort of craftsmanship rarely heard in other bands. The rest of the song follows that precise brand of professionalism, with riffs being sequentially introduced with rhythmic accompaniment, and slow sections snapping into high gear with a snare roll and a shriek. It's wonderful!
All attempts at subtlety are disintegrated by the very next track, Cradle classic 'Funeral In Carpathia', opening with a cascade of toms and then a flurry of tremolo riffing and blasting. The riffs on this song, particularly the main theme, are some of the best in the band's history, and coupled with extremely adept drumming and driving vocal performance, are some of the most emotive and memorable as well. Keyboards are used tastefully as a root note accent, with no silly scale runs present and only heavenly choral sound used instead of some ridiculous gawthic organ. It's not quite neoclassical, but verging on it. Even the low, dramatic vocals that Dani occasionally uses are well employed here, and the contribution of Sara Jezebel Deva is, as always, extremely welcome. 'A Gothic Romance (Red Roses For The Devil's Whore)' is essentially a prototype of all the later slow epics such as 'Her Ghost In The Fog', and though its initial novelty does wear off after repeated listens, it still yields an extremely enjoyable and fun listening experience.
Everyone knows the title track (particularly the excruciatingly fast vocals during one of the early pre-blast breaks), and it perfectly encompasses what makes Cradle Of Filth such strong songwriters: if you take a random moment from the beginning, middle, and end of the song, they'll seem like entirely different pieces, yet in the overall context of motion within the composition, they dovetail flawlessly into the perfect entity of gothic black metal we all know and some of us love. And finally, closer 'Haunted Shores' appears to exist purely to remove all doubt as to Cradle Of Filth's black metal status. Obviously, it doesn't sound QUITE like any black metal you've heard before, and yet it is undeniably a part of the genre simply through the vocabulary it uses. And even the least 'black' parts of the song (the middle atmospheric break without guitars), it manages to be incredibly gripping, and not just for the band, but for metal as a whole. It's a masterpiece, completely undeniable at the very least from the point of view of a craftsman, and as well as an artist.
Cradle Of Filth makes (or at least made) great music. Whatever genre they belong to is irrelevant. The music on here is powerfully emotional, atmospheric, and beautifully written. Having heard these songs for years now, they STILL don't lose their beauty and almost incomprehensibly organic form, even though my tastes have changed and developed with time. I still listen to this album on a quite regular basis, and why the hell wouldn't I? With music as enjoyable as that on 'Heaven Torn Asunder', as emotionally gripping as 'Funeral In Carpathia', and as absolutely vicious as on 'Haunted Shores', there's most certainly a reason to listen to this above and beyond the vast, vast majority of other music. 'Dusk... And Her Embrace' is a beautiful work of both craftsmanship and art, and if you ask me twenty years from now, I'll still be able to quote half the lyrics and hum the riffs in a moment. And that, I feel, is the earmark of a truly great and enduring work.
...was my reaction when this album finished. It wasn't a good "wow" either. Sometimes when you listen to an awesome album, you are stunned by how good it is. However, with this album, the opposite is true. To give you an idea of what I felt when this album ended, you know that feeling you get when you get a test/assignment back which was really important and you get a really bad mark in it? If you can relate to this feeling then you'll know just how I felt at the conclusion of this album. Many bands read reviews and pick up and try to improve on common complaints about the album. Judging from reviews on their previous releases, it's clear to me that COF haven't either read any/many reviews, or they have completely ignored common complaints on their previous releases.
This album has a lot of problems. The first and probably the most serious problem is Dani's vocals. (Why the hell does use the female spelling of Danny? Thought I might point that out as no one else has.) They are incredibly high pitched and stupid. When the music is decent (it was never really good) Dani's vocals ruin what they have going and when the music sucks it totally butchers the song further. I'm still perplexed why the band hasn't fired him yet. He doesn't play any instruments, so why doesn't the lead guitarist take over duties; he would undoubtedly be better, but anyway...
Another problem is the excessive synths and keyboards used on this album. Don't get me wrong synths and keyboards are good; they add a melodic touch to an album. However they become a serious issue if they are used in sickening excess. Often, they will drown out the guitars, synths and keyboards are meant to fade when the guitar starts playing, not the other way around! The problem with the synths is compounded further by the synths and keyboards being incredibly cheesy. The aural effect is somewhat goofy and clichéd. For a prime example of this, listen to: The Graveyard by Moonlight.
The female vocals on this album, like the keyboards and synths are used excessively. Female vocals can do wonders with albums, if used properly, but far too often on this album, I felt they were used in totally irrelevant places which added, very little, if anything to the song. The only reason they seem to be on this album is because Dani "has to have female vocals" on every album. Maybe if the vocals had only featured on one or two songs, things might have turned out OK, but having them on virtually every song is just argh.
As implied above, the guitar riffs are sometimes difficult to hear because they are drowned out by the annoying synths and keyboards. When you can hear them though, they feature nothing which is worth remembering. In it's entirety, there were no guitar riffs which I thought were good, there were a few decent ones but there it ends.
Also a problem with this album is that its: 60-65% non-metal, 35-40% metal. When you take into excessively long intros of songs such as A Gothic Romance and Funeral in Carpathia and the "easy listening" breaks in the middle of most songs, one can easily see how this is the case. A voice in the back of my head screamed out "FILLER!" when I listened to the long intros and intermissions in the middle of songs. At least 20 minutes of this album could be cut from the album easily. This would have done wonders.
The lyrics, albeit well written also become a problem on this album. Especially when you take into account this album is 53 minutes long and most songs have LOTS of lyrics. The problem with the lyrics is that they often have a sexual, sleazy theme to them. E.g.:
Thy seduction haunts the castle in erotic despair
I know thy scent by candlelight
Immortal flesh I yearn to share
Appease the beast on spattered sheets
Dyed malefic red as sobriety weeps
She shall come for me.... "
If the lyrics are not sexual, they will usually revolve around a evil woman. This really started to get on my nerves after a while and the fact that Dani's vocals could be understood by the most untrained ear doesn't help. As if the agony wasn't enough already, if you want to listen to this album, you get force fed the lyrics as well.
So, in summary, this album gets a 1, because there were some parts where the synths and keyboards were actually quite nice and pleasant to listen to, however, they are of the most fleeting moments on this album. Everything else on this album is just bad. There is no other way to describe it. After listening to this, I am under the impression that Dimmu Borgir, listened to it, improved on it and thus released Enthrone Darkness Triumphant, which believe me is a lot better. I would strongly suggest you get, instead of this, or, Forest Stream’s Tears of Mortal Solitude.
Conclusion: The above is not recommended for purchase or download. I cannot honestly recommend this album to anyone.
Strangely, Dusk and her Embrace was the last album I heard from Cradle of Filth and, while not being the best in my opinion, stands out as being the most epic sounding and the most emotional of their albums.
When I first heard it, I found the vocals more irritating than on their other releases but I got used to them and I now think that they are the best vocal performance ever by Dani Filth.
No song on this album sounds the same as another one, or any other song from any other band for that matter. They all have an epic feel to them, especially "A Gothic Romance" and "Dusk and Her Embrace". There is also a nice use of female vocals, better than anything on their other releases except for maybe "Her Ghost in the Fog" from Midian.
This album also has an "Halloween Feel" to it, and instrumentals versions of the songs could easily be used as scary, atmospheric music to play in Halloween parties. The keyboard is what makes it sound like that and it is a good thing that it is slowly coming back in their newest release "Thornography".
The lyrics are also very complex and poetics, being mainly about vampiric eroticism and dark fairytales.
This album is what made Cradle of Filth a classic band and it is truly a masterpiece that no other band can equal on the creative or epic aspects but I do not recommend this one to those who don't know the band yet, I would recommend listening to their newer releases like Nymphetamine or Thornography, then go backward in time like I did to finally discover what started it all. (Minus Principle of Evil made Flesh which sounds very differently)
Standout tracks:Heaven Torn Asunder, A Gothic Romance, Dusk and Her Embrace.
Let me tell you, I am not a COF fanboy. I hated Damnation and a Day (my friend burned it for me) and I found Midian to be crushing at times, and annoying at others. I heard Nymphetemine once and never listened to it again.
On to the review. This album shows influence of Emperor more than any other release by this band. The production is surprisingly like the production on In The Nightside Eclipse and has a very soft but firm feeling to it. The drums don't have that annoying clicking sound to them, and the guitars mesh together to form heaven. While almost all their other releases are very extreme gothic metal, this one, I'll have to say, is romantic black metal. It has a fair amount of blastbeats (although their other releases do also) but this one also has a very cold and haunting atmosphere, coupled with a dark, nocturnal performance and vocals that, for once, aren't silly. On all of their other releases (with the exception of The Principle of Evil Made Flesh and quite possibly Vempire) Dani does these annoying low pitched growls, as if he's trying to do an imitation of Gothenburg crap like At The Gates or In Flames. The bass is audible, and for once, without making the mix sound like shitty nu metal. It has a soft touch to it, and doesn't have that mallcore sound that all of the other bands where the bass is audible (well, there are a few exceptions.)
The songs are often very drawn out, and aren't as rushed as their other releases. While not being quite so depressing and pessimistic as Burzum, per se, they are dark and quite eloquent. Instead of latching on to the black metal notion that everything has to be either br00tal and fast or minimalistic, pessimistic, and nihilistic, or quite possibly both (did I forget repetitive?), Cradle of Filth creates an absolutely wonderful oratory, with music that's equally wonderfully voiced. Instead of the almost jokingly gothic lyrics of their later years, Dani is quite serious here. He talks of beauty, seduction, and apocolyptic battles of epic quantity. No tongue in cheek stuff here. In addition, when I got the CD, I noticed all the ridiculous face paint and shit was gone, and Dani wasn't making all of those ridiculous faces or poses. I know image is irrelevant (I wish more metallers would realize that), but it's so much easier to take him seriously, when the makeup is kept to a minimum. In fact, Dani's face isn't plastered everywhere (symbolic of the fact that he isn't singing all the time?) and the bandmembers all have a serious, solemn, look on their faces. None of that homoerotic tonguework or laughable faces. And, Dani doesn't have those ridiculous vampire teeth on this album. God, I was getting sick of those. (btw, these pics aren't available on their website. I wonder why...)
Back to the music. The album begins (as always) with an instrumental. And unlike all their other releases (with the exception of thier debut) the instrumental isn't overproduced. It doesn't sound like somebody has a backing orchestra behind the band. And it leads into the second song (with some fire sounds and thunder crackling) which begins with an Iron Maidenesque riff. Now, the Iron Maiden influence has been way overplayed. This song sounds more like a healthy mix of Emperor's In The Nightside Eclipse and Dimmu Borgir's For All Tid. The drums start of slow, then go to mid-paced, then cut the bullshit and go all out fast blastbeats. In the middle, there's a keyboard interlude with just drums and bass behind it (no guitar) and the song builds up again with increasing strength. Most of the songs (more or less) follow this pattern (with the exception of Malice Through The Looking Glass, Haunted Shores, and Beauty Slept In Sodom), which isn't a bad thing. The songs transfer seamlessly, so while you can tell there's a new song, it isn't abrupt or choppy. The instrumental in the middle, Graveyard By Moonlight, is a really beautiful intro to Beauty Slept in Sodom, which makes an absolutely wonderful epic ending. Haunted Shores, I thought, should have been combined with Beauty Slept in Sodom, since most of the song is not quite as good as the rest of the album. (Maybe begin the song with Beauty Slept In Sodom's beginning, then have the good parts of Haunted Shores, then have Cronos speak, then have the ending from Beauty Slept in Sodom.)
Anyways, this is an awesome album, Cradle's best, and don't let the other reviews fool you. This is the closest they got to black metal, and left me stupefyed. The only thing is, listen with an open mind, and listen several times. You will only appreciate its magnitude the second or third time. Reccommended to old Emperor fans, Old Dimmu Borgir Fans, and Dissection (oddly enough) fans.
Shocking revelation: I’ve had a copy of this album on my hard drive for years, and came pretty close to buying a used copy of it for four bucks once.
Well, I suppose how shocking that particular revelation would hinge on how well you know my tastes and attitudes about music. This is not exactly my usual cup of tea. I like Burzum.
But… I think it’s good to encourage some degree of “guilty pleasure” in music listening, in order to play devil’s advocate and, perhaps more importantly, inoculate oneself against the prejudices of the collective metal hivemind. It’s a little too easy to slam an uncool band/release like this and all of their hopelessly clueless fans while congratulating oneself for being so sophisticated as to appreciate high art like, I don’t know, Iron Maiden or Exodus or something. And it’s tough to stick up for a band that is admittedly less than earth-shattering, even against unfair criticism…
Incidentally, this band’s a lot closer to “true metal” (by which I mean heavy metal) than a lot of listeners would comfortably admit; at any rate it’s far more similar to Iron Maiden than it is to Burzum. The telltale signs are all in the guitar riffs, just underneath the tremolo. Behind the makeup and gothic melodrama, this band has their hearts in the eighties, if not the seventies.
Naturally they’ve updated things a bit – with the aforementioned makeup and gothic melodrama, and their musical equivalents. Mostly they’ve borrowed the most visible elements of black metal and altered them so as to fit better with the band’s goth/vampiric/romantic identity. For instance, you could say Dani Filth has a “black metal” vocal style, though I can’t actually recall any black metal band utilizing a screech anywhere near that ear-splitting. And then there are the synthesizers, which may or may not be a fairly regular feature of black metal, depending on who you ask (Varg used them!), though in black metal they’re never quite this shrill or overbearing.
I’m not exactly a Cradle of Filth scholar, but this album might be their most artistically important – well, take that as you like it. A lot of folks will swear up and down that, yes, sure, of course they’re a bunch of sell-out poseurs now, but back at their height they were a completely legitimate band, and fairly decent. There’s some truth to that. The only remaining original member as of the time of this writing is Dani Filth; nevertheless, the band’s sound hasn’t changed an awful lot over the years. I infer that to mean that at this point they’re basically a group of studio musicians churning out music under the Cradle of Filth brand name to put food on the table. Actually, they seemed to wreck completely right after this album: for their next release, Cruelty and the Beast, they axed most of the theatrics and dynamics that lent their music its character, and thinned out their sound. The resulting music was rather straightforward and bland.
This album, on the other hand, has some parts that work well for me. In its better moments it’s actually fairly catchy, and here and there some nice riffs show up – a very solid thrashy riff shows up at 3:19 in “Heaven Torn Asunder”, and the opening to “Funeral in Carpathia” is actually very good, and about the closest the band gets to being actual black metal.
Of course, to get to the choice moments, you’re going to have to wade through a lot of theatrics, goofy intros and breaks and the like. This is where the less tolerant among us check out, and hell, who can blame them. The aesthetic I can handle – there’s nothing on here half as irritating as Black Tape for a Blue Girl – and I don’t really buy the argument that this sort of thing “doesn’t belong in metal” because I’m suspicious of that argument in general. There are a few moments that are so goofy and awful that they’re totally brilliant by default. The trouble lies more in the execution – or looking beyond all of this band’s hocus pocus, in the songwriting ethic that lies behind it. Behind the histrionics, it’s empty calories, as is par for course with gothic metal. You expected me to say anything different?
Still, even if this is dopey or vapid, it beats a decent part of black metal hands down for entertainment value, so at least it basically accomplishes what it set out to do. If anything, I wish I liked this more – it would be so delightfully subversive. As it stands, I don’t feel particularly moved either to listen to it or delete it from my hard drive…
This is one of my favorite Cradle releases, but first things first; this production is awful! It's overly muffled and cloudy, with very vague separation in the mix between the instruments. The guitar tone is too thin, the bass is too soft, and the drums are swamped--you can't hear Nick's crazed pounding as well as you'd like to. This deletes major pointage, as I ike to hear what a band is doing on a record, and means I hate most black metal "production", as it always sounds like shit 9 times out of 10. I digress...
After the usual symphonics keyboard intro which fades into the sound of flames crackling, the very Iron Maiden-sounding intro riff of "Heaven Torn Asunder" ushers you into Hammer Horror-ville, and a very Maiden-sounding verse until it goes into more of a speed metal feel, until the blast beats kick you in the ass and make you move. Their Maiden jones shows up most profoundly here. The classic "Funeral In Carpathia" follows this opening ass-reaming up and makes it hurt with its high speed and relentless approach--Nick's drumming is particularly OTT here.
This album actually features one of Cradle's highlights coming to the fore and really making its presence known; their expert melding of Gothic/symphonic parts with vicious blackened metal blazing a path through the mediocrity, and it works best on this album, with lots of feeling and passion making it a worthy listen. The female vocals are especially nice to hear, with their sweet harmonies contrasting Dani's familiar screeching, but the spoken female parts sound entirely too stiff and unconvincing--get *into* it, girlie! The maniacal shriek of female laughter following the declaration of "Portrait of the dead countess!!!" on "A Gothic Romance (Red Roses For The Devil's Whore)" will make you jump every time, though. That track is one of my favorites here, as well as the title track of course with its intense blast beats really making it feel like a neck and neck race to the finish. And "Haunted Shores", with its inspirational war speech from the legendary Cronos, makes a lethal impression with its blazing riffs and headlong thrashing/blasting where you can actually hear how fast Nick's kick drums are going for once on the album. A meisterwerk, this album is, despite its weak production, and I recommend it to anybody getting into Cradle for the first time, alongside "Vempire", of course.
Cradle of Filth is one of those bands that's cool to hate. In fact, they're probably the most popular metal band for that purpose. If you are a black metal fan, it's almost obligatory for you to slander them whenever they are mentioned, usually for such reasons as Dani's vocals, overuse of keyboards, or the pervasive female backing vocals.
Unfortunately for Cradle, these criticisms are pretty substantiated. The vocals do suck, the keyboards are overused, and the band has had some serious problems with all these things from day one. However, on Dusk and Her Embrace, we get a glimpse of what Cradle of Filth might have been.
The vocals are better here than elsewhere. Most of the time, Dani is content to do the high-pitched shrieking thing, which keeps him from doing as much of the pointless growling and other techniques that made listening to Midian so annoying. The shriek is probably my favorite of all of his vocal styles, but in general his vocals suck and it would have been a good idea to replace him long ago.
The music itself is more or less sped up Iron Maiden with a myriad of bells and whistles thrown onto it. It's the reliance on these gimmicks that is the biggest problem. I don't mind listening to Iron Maiden rehashed, but I don't want to listen to Iron Maiden: The Melodramatic Goth Years. If all these things were cut out, we might have a solid album. Nothing revolutionary, but something enjoyable.
As it is, let's outline the problems individually. Number one is the vocals, already discussed. Number two would be the female backing vocals. These are just silly, and sound stupid most of the time (e.g. Beauty Slept in Sodom). There's also the keyboards. Now, I don't mind keyboards; I think Nokturnal Mortum is a great band. Here, however, the keys are used to create this schlock horror atmosphere and serve the purpose of totally drowning out the riffs, which is what I want to listen to.
All that aside, there's some decent songs on here. Funeral in Carpathia is easily the best Cradle of Filth song out there. Heaven Torn Asunder and the title track also have their moments. On the other hand, I never liked A Gothic Romance. To this day, I can't think of anything memorable about that song, though it seems to be a favorite. Malice Through the Looking Glass is another song that I never cared for...it's too riff-lite.
In sum, If you are going to buy a Cradle of Filth album, this is the one. The others aren't worth shooting. But frankly, there's better Iron Maiden worship out there, so you needn't resort to such a drastic measure.
Cradle Of Filth's third release denoted the end of the band's involvement with Cacophonous Records and the new contract with Music For Nations. In addition to this the band experienced a massive line-up change. Guitarists Paul Allender and Paul Ryan, together with keyboardist Benjamin Ryan walked out of the band. The replacement consisted of Stuart Anstis and Gian Piras on guitars and Damien Gregori on keyboards. An interesting fact about 'Dusk And Her Embrace' is that it was originally recorded in January 1995 with the now ex-members of the band. Disappointed with the current effort, it was decided to re-work the original recording.
'Dusk And Her Embrace' is the ultimate black metal album. The atmosphere is stunningly eerie created by synth based instrumentals and song intros. It could be described as a majestic masterpiece, rich in quality songs and a cinematic feeling. Dani's romantically evocative lyrics are yet a further asset to this release. Music-wise, the album is a combination of melodic delicacy as in 'Malice Through the Looking Glass' and ruthless aggression like 'Heaven Torn Asunder'. They're still good at epic-songs, this element present in 'A Gothic Romance (Red Roses for the Devil's Whore). Powerful atmospheric synths reign supreme throughout the whole album and it is obvious that it is an extremely polished and solid performance from professional individuals.
Overall, I believe this is one of their best releases to date striking the right balance between fast and slower tracks, breathtaking drumming, skilful guitars and extreme vocals making 'Dusk And Her Embrace' so special.
Standout tracks:- 'Heaven Torn Asunder', 'Funeral in Carpathia', 'A Gothic Romance (Red Roses..)', 'Malic Through the Looking Glass', 'Dusk and Her Embrace'.