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When Cradle of Filth began talking about a new album, they promised it would be a return to the speed and grandeur of albums past and a departure from the rocky, rather disappointing last albums. It was time to wait and see whether or not they would make good.
The concept is very similar to the "Cruelty and the Beast" album, again about a medieval serial killer. The concept and the music are very tight. All the songs could stand alone but if one was inclined to scratch below the surface into the lyrics and artwork, a very well done layer is beneath. Dani's lyrics are his usual dark poetry with black humor and awful puns abound. His vocal performance is stronger than it has been lately, more growling and less shrieking but when he does bring out the high pitched screams it is fitting.
The guitar and bass are also very strong, much more so than in years past. Paul Allender has, at least for the time being, given up on his incessant Iron Maiden worship. The song structures break away from the usual rock-based "verse/chorus" formula the band started to fall into and bring back the narrative feel. The guitar solos are less common than in "Thornography" but when they come they are fun and fit the song.
Fans will most likely have to accept that the orchestra and keyboards for Cradle of Filth from this point on will be largely relegated to the background. There are definitely more keyboards than "Thornography" and it brings CoF back to the grandiose, epic sound that defined them. The whole package, together with the Doug Bradley narration, choirs and such, give the album a very haunting feel very suitable for the subject matter.
The drumming is quite superb. New drummer Martin reminds the old fans of the Nick Barker days. It is ferocious and really gives each song an extreme feeling. The drummer of any extreme metal band has to be up to par and Martin is certainly well above that.
Overall, this album is not "Dusk and Her Embrace" or "Cruelty and the Beast" but it is a very competent concept album that the newer fans will still enjoy and the older fans can at least appreciate.
Recommendations: The Death of Love, The 13th Caesar, Sweetest Maleficia, Darkness Incarnate