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When I sat down to take my first stroll through Cradle of Filth’s new offering, “Godspeed on the Devil's Thunder”, I really really wanted to like it. I really wanted them to return to an earlier period of their career. I wanted Cradle of Filth to show they still had some fucking chops. While, I didn’t necessarily get what I wanted, I did find that the album was good enough to keep me pleased.
One thing that I found peculiar about this album was that, while I hated the path that Cradle of Filth had been following after “Midian” up until “Thornography (the latter which I actually really disliked), I felt “Godspeed on the Devil's Thunder” is actually still following that same path. Perhaps “Thorography” suffered from having an idea for a sound, but just not knowing how to get there. Well, on this album, they get there. More than anything else, they just sound more focused. Now I don’t want to make it sound like this record is marvelous. It is not, in any way, one of their best album. This is not “Dusk… And her Embrace”; this is not “Cruelty and the Beast”; it’s not even “Midian”. However, it is better than “Thornography” and probably about as good as “Damnation and a Day”.
One of Cradle of Filth’s most argued aspect, is probably their genre. “Godspeed on the Devil's Thunder” is a boiling pot of influences. I hear traces of black metal, melodic death metal, thrash metal, and gothic metal. I don’t really feel like they focus too much on any genre so much as they take all those influences and mash them all into one massive Frankenstein-like genre. It’s an interesting sound nonetheless,
One of my favorite parts of the album was Dani’s vocals. Lots of people hate Dani’s vocals. I do not. While he has obviously lost a lot of his ability to shriek and scream (he’s getting older - it seems understandable, even if I don’t like it), at least here, he’s showing some heart. He shrieks more than he has in a long time. He may not sound as good as he has in the past, but he sounds good enough. I also liked that he gave up on singing (which I was pleasantly surprised with), as I didn’t find his clean vocals to be very good. More than anything else, Dani’s vocals are proof that he still wants to put out quality material, even if his detractors don’t think he is.
The guitars are more than interesting. That’s not to say that I love Paul Allender’s guitar work on this record, but his style is worth a listen. He goes from tremolo picking, to thrashy riffs, stuff resembling the Gothenburg sound, to some beautiful sounding leads - akin to some of their classic stuff. The guy is probably the true star of this record. He kept me so on my toes that I had to see what he would do next (like throwing in some semi-impressive solos - especially the one in “Tragic Kingdom”). I wouldn’t consider this album to be progressive, however, it does have a lot of changes, and I felt it necessary to mention that I didn’t think it was progressive (which it means that I may believe it to be on the fence).
The albums real downfall for me is its overuse of keyboards. This album is saturated in keyboards. Pretty much every song is dripping wet with keyboards. Not to mention that I didn’t really find the keyboards to be bringing anything to the table. A lot of the time they just played the same thing the guitars were playing. Overall, I found them to be very uninteresting. Also there was far too many keyboard driven interludes and instrumentals. I realize that Cradle of Filth was probably going for an opera type mood with the lyrical content. Honestly though, I felt all those keyboard passages were either distracting or flow-killing. Doug Bradley obviously has an amazing speaking voice, but even he couldn’t make me get passed those sections.
I don’t love this album. I do, however, like it a lot more than I would have expected. I figured Cradle of Filth were done. I was wrong. I know a lot of people are going to hate this album, and that’s fine. We can’t all like exactly all the same stuff ; that would be boring. However, it is nice to get some varying opinions of albums, and don’t anticipate a lot positive reviews. I would recommend this to Cradle of Filth fans who still got some enjoyment out of the “Midian” to “Nymphetamine” era. If you didn’t like those albums, this one probably won’t be any different for you. I wish “Godspeed on the Devil's Thunder” would have been “Cruelty and the Beast” II, but I’ll take the way it is. I’m just happy that I can still continue to love Cradle of Filth, and not think of them as a band that I used to love.