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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.