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Over the course of recent years, British symphonic black metal band Cradle Of Filth have become little more than a parody of their former selves. Since their glory days with albums such as Dusk And Her Embrace, the band have taken many turns for the worst, with their low point being found on Godspeed On Devil's Thunder. Given the disaster the band's career has become, one would be forgiven for forgetting how solid the band's earlier works were, from their debut through to Midian, and some would argue even proceeding onto the next album they were continuing their good run. Where the band's high point was met on has become subject of discussion, as with all long-running bands of any genre, but in my opinion their peak was on Midian.
Midian is arguably one of the best symphonic black metal albums ever recorded, featuring many of the band's biggest hits including the fan favorite Her Ghost In The Fog. This album embodies everything that made all of Cradle's early work so enjoyable, with fantastic high pitched shrieks from Dani Filth, a wide variety of lyrical themes including a warped love song and the usual Satanic imagery found within the genre, and some fantastic use of keyboards. Some may consider this to be the band's major cash grab, with Her Ghost In The Fog in particular clearly being geared toward a more commercial sound with its catchy vocals and haunting lyrics and overly accessible nature, and this may well be true. However, to say that this is a bad album due to its commercial side is bordering on blasphemy, as Midian truly is a solid release.
One of the major highlights of this album, as with all Cradle albums, is Dani Filth's vocals. Dani has one of the most unique voices in all of the music industry, and a rather wide range, including his signature insanely high pitched shriek, a slightly calmer style of this that is semi-clean, and the occasional old mans spoken word sections. When you first heard Dani's shrieks, you may be more than a little put off by it as it is so unique among black metal vocalists. Whereas many of the genres vocalists have an unintelligible style that involves putting as much aggression into their vocals, Dani instead relies on hitting some of the most inhuman notes out there whilst always being one hundred percent understandable. After a while his voice will grow on you as you get more used to it and you will realize just how good a vocalist he truly is. Out of all the black metal vocals in existence, Dani's shrieks go down as some of the best and most memorable.
Another thing worth noting is the lyrics Dani pens that are spewed from that mouth of his with absolute venom. As a graduate in English Literature, one would expect some deep and interesting lyrics to read, and Dani Filth provides exactly this. The best lyrics also accompany the two best songs on here, Lord Abortion and Her Ghost In The Fog. The latter is the one that stands out the most, dealing with a mans love for a girl who was raped and murdered by five men. Whilst it may seem ridiculous that a black metal band are telling a love story, it really does work within the context of the song. All throughout Her Ghost In The Fog, there is a real atmosphere of longing and desperation, mainly created by the beautiful keyboard work dancing around in the background. This is an album where the guitar work actually goes largely unnoticed throughout which is so rare within extreme metal.
If you pay attention to the riffs, they are actually rather decent although they are nothing too special. For the most part they rumble along at a fast tempo whilst you primarily focus on Dani yelping his lungs out and the keyboard work that is so prominent in the mix on here. However, the guitar work truly does make for a fantastic backdrop for the rest of the instruments to build off. The same could be said for the drumming which is both intense and well written but is also something that does not particularly stick out against the keyboards and the vocals. This release really does take a few listens for everything to sink in purely for the fact that there is so much going off at once. Throughout the duration of this album there are constantly numerous different sounds being showcased, carried through the masterful keyboard work that creates a beautiful melody, with the crushing riffs and fast drumming and Dani screaming that one simply does not know what to do upon first listen.
Despite the fact that there is a lot to love about this album, and even though there are so many good points to it, there are a few points that really do detract from the album as an overall product. The first of these would be the completely unnecessary interlude track entitled Satanic Mantra. Essentially all this is is Dani Filth making evil noises and the sound of a Satanic ritual but instead of sounding cruel and dark, it sounds completely ridiculous and makes it nearly impossible to take the rest of the album seriously. Also, the songs are far too long at times, with Tortured Soul Asylum and Tearing The Veil From Grace both being around the eight minute mark and not holding the listeners interest for half of that. These songs are not enjoyable throughout but instead fast lose your attention as they simply do not have enough substance and repeat themselves too much. Also, Dani Filth's old man spoken word sections of a few of the songs really do detract from his credibility and take away from the songs. It is nothing too crippling for the album to have a few moments such as these but his spoken words really are horribly done and are cringe-inducing.
This album has enough good about it to more than outweigh the few negatives that can be found in it, and is a fantastic release that everyone should experience. This was from the year 2000, when Cradle Of Filth were still a more than respectable band within the extreme metal community and really is a brilliant album. It may be a little long and inconsistent at times, but the beauty of the keyboards contrasting with the aggression and passion behind Dani Filth's vocals is more than enough to make this worth buying alone. I recommend this to anyone looking for a varied experience that is firmly rooted within the Symphonic Black Metal genre but has so many deviations from the formula that would usually be expected from the genre that it is one of the most unique and interesting releases out there. The recommended tracks are Lord Abortion for its brilliant vocal performance and Her Ghost In The Fog for the dark atmosphere created by the keyboards.
One thing that I've always admired about this band has been their powerful vision - not only their visual expertise, their marketing, their tight control over their own progression, etc. - but the dark world they have always tried to move further into with each release, and the communication of certain vital obsessions (I am guessing these interests are Dani's) which make grand drama on the scale of popular art or music. One thing I have never heard widely disseminated is an appreciation of this band's lyrics - they have always impressed me...and in a music scene that is usually filled with dreamers who are almost pathologically incapable of communicating their visions, it will probably always be a pleasant surprise to read lyrics like I find in the records by this band, where all of their romantic fixations or lurid preoccupations come to a head in swiftly-narrated epic poems filled with ripe sensuality and a carnivorous sense of the cruel. When reading through the lyrics for 'Cruelty and the Beast', for example, I was struck by their attention to detail and the perversely eloquent way they unfolded. The one thing that this band's lyrics always convinces me of is, again, that they have a definite sense of purpose in their art, and that powerful vision bleeds not only into the music and the words behind it, but into almost everything else they touch. This is a very rare characteristic in the metal scene.
Another thing that I admire about this band is their unabashed sponsoring and invocation of eroticism or 'aberrant' sexuality - another rarity among metal bands (I am talking about actual sex here, not the raping and killing of women - that doesn't count, my fickle friends), and something I have always enjoyed when they present it in the correct light. I have actually witnessed some metal 'personalities' recoil in horror at the thought of promoting an honest portrayal of 'dark' sensuality - or indeed, of any kind of eroticism - in their work, and I have never understood this. Of course this reaction had more to do with the specific individuals and their own problems dealing with sexuality on any front, but I admit I can not understand the 'boy's club' mentality of the metal circles and their repressed misogyny/prudery - one would think they would ban the female form altogether if it was not for certain calls to 'the ethereal' that it represents to them. And so I enjoy, with a typical and natural relish, with a morbid Rabelaisian spirit, the sensuality of Cradle of Filth's music and lyrics. I can not speak for the profundity or cultural pertinence of their obsessions, but I enjoy their result. Let me ask the red-blooded males out there who may be reading this, which would you prefer: running around on an ice floe or across glaciers hacking at penguins with the irrepressible Horgh, or reclining in a plush, purple, velvet-backed antique chair, a glass of finest vintage in one hand, Sade in the other, and a willing nymph without moral reservations in between? That's what I thought.
Sadly I don't have the lyrics to this release, as the advance CD package I was sent by their record company included the barest minimum of information relating to the album itself. I will have to talk about the music, I suppose.
Dani and bassist Robin (he of the emaciated frame and skull-like visage) have dropped most of their earlier musicians for this release, picking up again the talents of original guitarist Paul Allender and some other notables. It doesn't really make that much of a difference. With the new 'expanded' production on this album that their bio relates with something akin to triumph, I can not really tell who is responsible for what in the sound here. The guitars have a larger presence than ever, however, and I am thankful for that. I admit that I was never that much of a fan of Stuart's guitar playing - it seemed a little too anemic to me, a little too clean - and here the band has returned to a sound not heard, really, since their first release: a deep, vicious wall of guitars that brings out the 'death metal influences' of this material. The song 'Lord Abortion', for example, is a real highlight - it contains a vicious hook and pounding, percussive riffing that will probably take long time fans of this band by surprise. For the most part, though, this is Cradle of Filth as we have always known them, and all of their natural/instinctive characteristics and idiosyncrasies remain intact - the high and low vocals and harsh screams of Dani, the winding, whirling, expansive riffing, the overflowing carnival keyboards (now courtesy of Martin Powell, who wisely abandoned My Dying Bride), the 'Victorian - Gothic' ritualized atmospheres, etc.
To be truthful, I think I enjoy this release much more than their prior material...I don't really know why. And all of their references to pop horror culture (Clive Barker, Lovecraft, and all other obvious allusions) aside, this is probably the best music they have written since 'Vempire'...hopefully it will bring them further success.
Almost an hour of vintage Cradle of Filth. The intensity, darkness, riff writing, vocals, and more deserve praise on this release. No song on here is lacking in any way as they put forth something so unequivical reflecting a bit upon their older work, but a little less intensity here though the music is surely the highlight. Atmospheric too and Dani's vocals are varied quite immensely. Not as high pitched as on "Dusk...And Her Embrace", they are still good despite that fact. They didn't really slow down here, I think that the guitar reigns on this one. Almost as good as Dusk, but not quite there.
There are blast beats, intensely made guitar action seemed to be in D-tuning as it sounds like, and variety in the vocal work. It's one release by this band that really hits a hold of vengeance and unmerciful outputs. Something that's lacking in their later works, although their newest has featured mixed ratings. Restoring the edge of the extreme gothic metal scene, COF is domineering and merciless on "Midian". They really belt out some of the most rad guitar riffs which fit perfect with the vocals. They are simply some of the most memorable guitar work on here that really packs a punch.
Never boring, never ceasing to amaze, COF really intrigues me in the best way possible. Most of the songs feature great rhythms and there is a heavy use of synthesizers that accompany the music. It really is a damn good extreme gothic metal release. An album that I could never get sick of hearing though there are parts where there is no guitar, just atmospheric synthesizers with Dani's high end vocals. Not as intense as Dusk, but the guitar still to me is quite original sounding. What I always look for in a band is the music itself. If it falls short on that measure, then the whole album suffers. "Midian" captivates me.
A lot of low end vocals spewing forth rigorous lyrical topics constructed by Dani alone. He doesn't lose his outstanding vocal duties with a nemesis here, he puts together an output that simply reigns. I'd say that there was a big use of the synthesizers here, but that's to create an atmosphere that simply dominates. It doesn't drown out the guitar work. It really augments it and fills it with something so irreperable. "Midian" to me is one of their greatest releases ever. The production simply reigns and all of the instruments here are well mixed in together and they all flow with magic.
If you want a kick ass COF album that in no way bores you or leaves you disappointed, then "Midian" is it. Simply captivating piece of work. Everything about the album to me is irreplaceable. So much atmosphere, doom and destruction in the music and to the listener's ear. It really hits home to me. If you dislike all of the synthesizers and low end vocals, forget all of that and just listen to how well they blend everything in together to make it an outstanding album. Nothing negative to say about this one, it really packs a punch in one's metal collection. Own it immediately!
First off, "Cradle of Filth" is one of the most well known extreme gothic/black metal bands, and honestly you either like them or you don't. I don't, I only liked two COF songs, one of them being on this album, "Her Ghost in the Fog", which is the only reason why I gave this album a chance. What I found in this album was, well let me put it this way, at first I thought it was pretty good, but now that I listened to it more, it's awesome.
Dani's vocals are, how can I put this, powerful, and fit the music. If Dani's screams were replaced with Anders Jacobsson's (From "Draconian") growls, the vocals would sound out of place. So thank god that the music fits the vocals. The thing that I really didn't like about the harsh vocals at first, is how fast Dani puts them out, I thought sometimes there's not enough body in them, and there not really memorable. But I found the catchuness in those fast paced high pitched screams.
The riffs are powerful and aggresive, and can be overwhelming without ballance. At first I thought there wasn't enought balance between the melodies, the heaviness, and screams, I later trained my ears to hear the beautiful and eerie keyboard parts. Not to mention Sarah's backing operatic vocals are beautiful and balance the sound out even more. And the guitars can be melodic at times. The sound isn't dominated by keyboards or guitars, it's a perfect mix. The bass is always there in the sound, adding extra back-bone and power, and the drums are fast paced and aggresive, it matches the guitars.
Then my favorite part, the song that got me into this album, "Her Ghost in the Fog", this song is where everything is perfect. There aren't any vocal problems, the words don't blur together, and they are very precise. The instruments contrast perfectly, not to mention I love Sarah's part in this song, her backing "ahh's give a dark atmosphere and her lead part (yes that's right, she has her moments) along Dani during is just beautiful. The keyboards and piano add another layer of cold atmosphere. It is just incredible.
So just to wrap this up, even if you're not a COF fan, you'll probably like this album. I'm not and I still plan on getting it in the near future. And if you are a COF fan you'll probably like it even more. That's what I said the first time I wrote this review, now I say, this album is dark, heavy and agressive, the sound is not balanced at all, the lead vocals become really annoying, I've completely changed my mind about this album.
Highlights: Cthulhu Dawn, Saffron's Curse, Death Magick For Adepts, & Her Ghost in the Fog
Cradle Of Filth is an institution that, until just a few years ago, I was largely unaware of due to a combination of an individual boycott on all things MTV for their lack of actual musical content, and also due to the advice of purist friends who assured me that they were nothing more than a homosexual version of Slipknot with keyboards and makeup. In truth, what the band is actually about is something much more benign. I might even go so far as to say that the great Persian flaw in the band’s sound, at least as far as their more well known material is concerned, is that it is largely an inoffensive combination of extremely high-pitched witching cries, symphonic black metal spliced with gothic and operatic aesthetics, and over the top lyrical imagery.
This assessment of the band might be a little unfair because of their violent spurts of evolutionary mutation in sound, a common thing amongst bands associated with the 2nd wave of black metal, are not really on display in their middle era releases. This is essentially where “Midian” resides, in limbo between the symphonic scene from hell with vampires to boot from the mid 90s and the inferior gothic crazed material that first started popping up on “Nymphetamine”. While still heavily steeped in the pervasive keyboard trappings that can be heard on the average Dimmu Borgir and Emperor album from around this time, the riff work has taken on a strong helping of Teutonic thrash characteristics and a somewhat muddier, early death metal sound. It’s hard to hear with all the keyboard and vocal theatrics going on, but an occasional Sodom, Kreator, Death or Morbid Angel sounding guitar line in spite of the so-called mallcore hyperbole thrown around by critics.
For better or worse, this can still be qualified as a black metal album, given that the label is broad enough to include a number of releases by Immortal and Satyricon that have further stretched the boundaries of what can be considered as such. It is loaded with other influences, some compatible and some not, but it is still draped in the common aesthetic that typifies the sound. Particularly when dealing with the blazing speed and irreverent darkness of “Saffron’s Curse” and “Lord Abortion”, combining the pioneered coldness of early Emperor with a sort of creepy, film score sounding convergence of synthesized orchestral lines, the genre tendencies are pretty well present though somewhat diluted. “Amor E Morte” takes things in an overtly death/thrash inspired direction, even going so far as to include a King vs. Hanneman influenced lead interchange that is generally ignored by most Hot Topic cowboys with a taste for pseudo-metallic cuisines, save the occasional oddball who may enjoy a listening session with “Spiritual Black Dimensions”.
But the greatest strength and weakness of this album is the lyrical ponderings and storytelling of Dani Filth, who I will refer to affectionately as the prognosticator of profane poetry. When he gets into full out conceptual mode, his work ranges from sheer brilliance to awkward campiness, often with little accounting for subtlety. The combination of depressive neo-romantic melodies, blinding tremolo riffs and muddy power chords, and Dani’s neurotic vocalizations of a tale of death and love in “Her Ghost In The Fog” is utterly poignant, and sort of an odd choice for an MTV/radio hit, except for its infectious catchiness at several key points. Simultaneously, the instrumental keyboard endeavors found in “Creatures That Kissed In Cold Mirrors” and “At The Gates Of Midian” is intricate, though a bit overblown and slightly comical. But in spite of all the sheer lack of nuance going on here, the only place where things get too gratuitous to stand is “Satanic Mantra”, an A capella chant that is mercifully short, but goes way overboard on cheesiness and perfectly invokes that image of teenybopper Goth chick fodder that the band often gets stamped with. I skip this one every time I listen to this album, just to further illustrate the point.
For the prospective metal head who is on the fence about whether to try this band, this is probably the best album to look into given that from a stylistic standpoint, this is also somewhat on the fence. People that are gun shy about fully taking the plunge into black metal may find this inviting, though “Damnation And A Day” is a bit more geared towards death/thrash enthusiasts. Filth’s vocals are somewhat of a polarizing aspect of the band for some reason, though it isn’t really all that more offensive than anything that Abbath, Pest or Ihsahn has put out with their respective bands. An album lives and dies by its musical merits, not its support label or sales numbers, and that holds even to bands that commit the cardinal sin of being on MTV and being booked at Ozzfest, whether repentance occurs afterward or not.
I barely listened to Cradle of Filth. I only knew them for "Godspeed on the Devil's Thunder" but only because of the name of that album. Then a friend of mine asks me to download Dimmu Borgir and Cradle of Filth for him. The only thing I found was "Midian" by Cradle of Filth. One day it goes on my music player then I decide to listen to it. I thought it was going to suck, especially since I heard that Dani Filth "squawks".
I actually found myself wrong about my previous expectations. I enjoy the sound of keyboards in metal and Cradle of Filth uses them very well. They add a symphonic feel to the songs and the closeness of the real instrument played on the keyboard is great, it shows they didn't use some cheap ass one that sounds like shit.
The vocals are actually well delivered. I thought I wasn't gonna like it but it was better than most black metal outfits and their singers. Dani Filth's squawk is better than whatever the hell half the black metal bands do today. The words can actually be understood and the deeper, spoken vocals made me feel like I was listening to In Flames for awhile. I thought it would be a complaint I would have but it didn't bother me as it really built on top of the atmosphere. The female vocals were interesting and a great addition.
The guitars are very interesting. They play some chords and single notes so it's more of a mix of metal genres instead of the black metal bands who abuse one note on a 16th-note count for 4 measures straight. The band really switches up the sounds with the guitars so you don't feel like you've listened to the same thing. Also, Cradle of Filth uses guitar solos in a time were solos were seen as lame but also in black metal itself where solos are used very rarely. They have solos in about 3 songs. I've never seen anything like that on another black metal release. The bass is barely audible which doesn't surprise me.
Despite the length of the songs, about six or seven minutes is average, Cradle of Filth does a lot of variation. This is good as they switch it up so it doesn't bore you. There also aren't those parts in songs where the instruments play for about 4 minutes in the song because the band wrote almost no lyrics for the song. Mentioning lyrics, Dani Filth sings a lot which adds character to the songs as they don't suck and it doesn't bore you either. The songs consist of abnormal song structures. As far as I heard there were no specified choruses and bridges which is different.
The production quality was pretty average. I was a little surprised it wasn't flawless production since "Midian" was released in 2000, a time were everyone was getting great sound quality just because they existed. The production is more reminiscent of an 80s band.
This album greatly differs to that of other black metal bands. It holds some unique characteristics. I do want to mention that the name "Midian" sounds like an "Elder Scrolls" game and this album would be the main plots premise and the game's soundtrack. Some stand-out tracks were "At the Gates of Midian", "Santanic Mantra", "Her Ghost in the Fog", and "Soul Tortured Asylum". Some tracks to definately check are "Her Ghost in the Fog", "Tearing the Veil from Grace", "Lord Abortion", "Death Magick for Adepts", and "Cthulhu Dawn". This album really changed my opinion of Cradle of Filth.
Despite what most modern black metal fans will want you to believe, Cradle of Filth isn't all that bad. Eccentric and mediocre, maybe, but it's no Brokencyde in terms of shittiness. Midian is an album that, though bland and overly theatrical at times, satisfies the listener with its crushing riffs that are some of the heaviest noises resembling gothic metal out there.
If you come into this album looking for anything like conventional black metal, you may as well turn around and head out the door. This is hardly black metal in any way: the screams aren't raspy in the loosest sense, the riffs resemble death metal more than black metal, and then you add in the synth elements which are the nail in the coffin. This is Cradle of Filth displaying their new gothic metal sound, stripping away whatever resembled black metal in favor of a much more mourning, melodic sound.
Unlike their also-mainstream partners Dimmu Borgir, Cradle of Filth have wisely made the decision to utilize their guitars in the music more often, which is very helpful: not only would a lack of guitars as predominant instruments make the synth parts that sucked, suck more; but without the guitars, the tone of the album would secure its place as ridiculously cheesy flower metal. The guitars still sometimes only feel like a supplement to the symphonic riffs, but they still keep the music sufficiently "metal" when this occurs. Tremolos abound throughout the music (though eighth-notes are popular as well), and the riffs usually resemble a darker version of power metal in that they are still melodic, but a bit slower, and contain taints of evil and sorrow. As for the symphonies, they are usually hit-or-miss, sometimes genuinely helping the music and at others simply bringing a good riff down to nothing. One of the best symphonic examples is the intro, "At the Gates of Midian", which feels like it could be the opening theme to some epic movie about ancient war. "Creatures that Kissed in Cold Mirrors" has another epic (albeit darker) feeling, but drags down to utter drama at 0:55 when the piano kicks in. As I just described, there are some parts on this album that just feel so melodramatic and cheesy that I can't stand them. (I'm talking about you, "Satanic Mantra", and your ridiculously stupid chants.) Some of them are decent slabs of music, but they're simply out of place and just shouldn't be anywhere near an extreme gothic metal album; others are just fairyish in their prancy, rhythmic tone and shouldn't be anywhere near any serious musical compositions. The music changes tempo quite a bit, not annoyingly, but in such a way that it changes the tone of the music before it gets boring. Drums are a high point for this album. The playing style is decent, I suppose - typical syncopated blasts, hardcore punk beats, and bass drum rolls - but the sound of the snare isn't emphasized at all, so when a full-out blast beat arrives, it doesn't break up the song's rhythm with every hit and instead leads to a very fluid, guided sound to the music. As for the bass drum, it has a very low, well, bass-ish sound, and with most bass guitars nowhere to be found in modern metal, it's a welcome addition to the music.
Dani Filth may be the vocalist who gets the most shit in the world of metal, next to Jonny Davy and Don Campan (of Job for a Cowboy and Waking the Cadaver infamy, respectively). Honestly, I don't see where all the butthurt comes from. Sure, his voice sounds like his balls are getting caught in a bear trap every time he screams, but sometimes it actually works with the music. Well, for what Dani does, he does it right, as he manages to use the same vocals techniques throughout the album. Then, like Dimmu Borgir, you get the low, muttered vocals that sound like self-musings. Every now and then, you'll find a raspy, so-so, death growl. Finally, you have my favorite, the mid-level vocals that are sort of like vehement spoken word passages. Add to that the deep, old man vocals (no, Shagrath, they're not electronic, so you can't sue for plagiarism; that's still your purely original, shitty idea, ), the female whispers, and the choir in "Lord Abortion", "Amor E Morte", and "Tearing the Veil from Grace", and you have an album that simply never runs out of ideas vocally. As for lyrics, well...the lyrics tell some story about...something. I am truly terrible when it comes to interpreting lyrics, so I would just say that most of them are about some sort of demented love story, incorporating necrophilia, coprophagia, and God-knows-what-else. So yes, the lyrics are pretty meaningless (at least to my anti-poetic mind), but the vocal execution is very good because of the perfect timing used in the words Filth is saying.
Though there are quite a few boring parts in Midian, some sections show what the band is capable of if they combine the great symphonic parts with the great guitar riffs with the good parts of the vocals. Of special notice is 1:43 in "Death Magick for Adepts", where the dissonant screams and growls of "ENTER PENTAHOLOCAUST" are melded with a melodic riff and beautiful symphonic support, soon followed by the fluid blast beats I spoke of earlier. Also of notice is the song "Lord Abortion", which is a cut above the rest of the material in general. If the whole album was like this, it would very well be the best album of 2000, but most of the album struggles to break above mediocrity because of a lack of coordination between the instruments, which all have a ridiculously different feel to them.
It will take a few spins for this album to grow on you, and even then, it's not groundbreaking. But there are moments on it that are absolutely stellar, and almost worth looking through an hour's worth of material to find them. Though certainly not for everyone, Midian pretty much knows who its target audience is and sets out to please them. It's not an essential listen, but I mean, it won't assrape you to attempt to listen to it, which is a favor Dimmu Borgir won't give their listeners.
After four captivating, mesmerizing and destructive bouts of blackened vampyric fury, you'd think that no matter the weather the fire would still burn on. Everything seemed to be coming up roses for the Filthy Cradle, as they branched away from the simplistic corpse-painted throngs in order to develop their own identity, to which further popularity and derision on opposing sides fell into place. And after a one-off EP of original tracks and rather unimpressive covers, the shit would hit the fan and the dividing rod between the "tr00" fans and the "mainstream" group would drive even deeper.
And so we have this...
To be fair, this is not a bad album at all. It's just harder for the older fans to swallow, as the dark, dramatic romanticism and chaotic, fiery hatred was definately toned down for an album with the dramatic equivilent of a dark Disney film. CRADLE OF FILTH still showcase their tried-and-true formula of coupling crushing guitar riffs with gothic-dipped keyboards, but the recipe seems watered-down this time around, partially due to the departure of riff-smith Stuart, drum-lord Nicholas, and keyboardist Lecter, whose contributions gave us some of CoF's best material. The re-inclusion of Paul and new arrivals of Martin and Adrian stirred the pot a little too much, thinning the musical stylings into a more acceptable "goth metal" format. But even then the songs still stand the test of time, with both heavy numbers ("Chthulu Dawn", "Death Magick for Adepts") and heart-rending gothic meanderings ("Her Ghost in the Fog" "Amor E Morte"). And on Dani's part, he leaves a touch to be desired; yes, his screeches are still there, and his lyrics are still the well-thought-out poetic grace missing in all sorts of bands...but on this they come off a bit more hokey than usual, as though he remembered he was British and needed to inject some of that tongue-in-cheek humour in his performance (moreso on this than other future works). If nothing else, one could consider this album to be "black metal on training wheels"; fast and epic in and of itself, but not quite as miasmic or anti-social to be looked over.
So in the end, this is still a worthy addition to one's metal collection but may not get the attention their earlier acts would get. Things would get both better and worse as years progress, so if nothing else consider this the crossroads to what would come to pass.
In a sense, Midian is both the best and worst album for Cradle of Filth. This album single-handedly divided the band's entire fanbase into several camps, and made tons of little goth kiddies swarm to the feet of this band. (Most likely due to the promotional video for "Her Ghost in the Fog".) At the same time, it also showed the new face of Cradle of Filth with its then new to the fold members. Midian both helped and hurt the band; this is the album that always gets praised by the fanboys, and is the same one that gets slammed by long-time haters or old-school fans. In another aspect, it brought back the gothic edge to the band's sound, but in a much different and accessible way.
Firstly, I will say that the induction of new members did seem to help the band. Adrian took a big step by stepping into Nick's shoes; and though he isn't a technical or mind-numbingly fast drummer, he suits the music better. The majority of his work here is pretty simple, but he can rip shit up on "Tortured Soul Asylum", "Lord Abortion", and "Death Magick for Adepts" with skull-crushing double bass and some impressive blast beats. Adrian also uses a more natural drum sound than Nick, but this can falter at times; the snare is a little too boxy for my tastes, and the production renders the cymbals inaudible at times. (This is only a minor complaint, since a lot is happening in the music.) Paul's guitar lines breathe new life into the band's sound, as do Martin's keyboards. Paul puts a larger emphasis on melodic riffs and harmonies, as seen on the powerful "Saffron's Curse". Even with this, he still bashes out power-chord based passages that bring the band's earlier work to mind. There aren't many solos to be found, with "Amor E Morte" being a slight exception.
Martin Powell's induction to the line-up also helps things out, but his work on this album was also a catalyst for many to take shots at the album. I've never heard so many fucking organs in my life, people. Sure, it works out on the opening track, and for some of "Cthulu Dawn"; but holy shit, it gets nerve-grating by the time you're halfway through the album, and there's plenty more where they come from. When organs aren't present, it's either harpsicord, which is used rather effectively here; choirs, always a trademark of the band's sound, but are way overused; the occasional string section, which is more annoying than atmospheric here; or the grand piano, which has its moment of fame on the openings of "Lord Abortion" and of course, "Her Ghost in the Fog". Yes, Martin does a great job of providing atmosphere and tension; but he overdoes it, which is Midian's downfall. Everything gets to a point where it can only be described as cheesy, forced, and stale. There is no emotion in the synth work, and it makes the rest of the band look bad with its B-movie simplicity.
The ultimate thing that kills Midian is Dani's vocal work. Not only are the majority of the lyrics low-brow and pretentious, ("Tortured Soul Asylum" and "Saffron's Curse", being exceptions) but Dani's delivery is sloppy and irritating. His screams are lifeless and weak, and though the lows were tolerable once upon a time, they sound nothing more than terrible on this album. He also uses a senseless "narration" voice, which is a mix between a whisper and low talking voice. And damn, it's annoying. You'll hear it in full swing on "Amor E Morte". Another fault is the layering of the vocals; I'm convinced that Dani layered his vocals this much to hide the initial weakness in his voice, but his vocals overpower the music to a point of almost ruining it.
Now, the thing that really gets to me about this album is the unnecessary use of Sarah's female vocals. It's totally effective on "Her Ghost in the Fog" and "Saffron's Curse", as the operatic touch does help to add some texture and beauty to the songs. But other than that, they're always in the background and do nothing worth adding to the album. The bad thing is, they never stop; in one way or another, those damned female vocals are always lingering.
Despite these large problems, Midian still does manage to have some classic tracks. Though "Her Ghost in the Fog" is overrated, it nonetheless is an important display of the band's evolution into their current musical style. "Saffron's Curse" easily tops most of the band's other songs in melody and atmosphere, and "Tortured Soul Asylum", while a bit on the cheeseball side towards the end, is one hell of an epic track with impeccable songwriting.
I'm a bit stuck on this one. It's very possible to love and hate a release at the same time, and Midian is a prime example of such a scenario.
You know, this was one of my first albums that really brought me out of mallcore and into what true metal really is. Mabye my opinion is bias for this reason but I really honestly like Cradle of Filth for what they are, regardless of what genre they fit into (Black, "Black", Gothic, Death, Blackened Power, etc." That being said let's get to the music.
At the Gates of Midian-As usally a weird melodic, but to me necessary, keyboard and sound effect mix of an intro.
Cthulhu Dawn-This song has a cool little keyboard intro and then jumps right into some cool riffs and the usual fast paced drumming and blast beats. Dani's trademark vocals are here. Many would argue that his vocals are terrible screaming but I think they keep things interesting and fit the music perfectly
Saffron's Curse-Interesting keyboard work in the begining again. Dani also showcases some of his more growly, death, style vocals on this song. The guitar riffs are pretty cool too. The female vocals at about 1:20 are also an interesting change of pace.
Death Magick For Adepts-Cool riffing in the beginging, the guitar kind of builds up and then drops off. Then some fancy bass work accompanied by Dani's screeching. The drumming is the usual fast and blasting, the thing about their style of production is that while most bands have some guy doing blast beats at a million beats per minute and it's cool, they have the drums turned up way to loud and all you end up hearing is this headache unducing beating. Here the drums are at the appropriate volume and keep beat just fine. A few good riff changes and a great song all in all.
Lord Abortion-One of my personal favorite songs on the album. The keyboards create a sort of atmosphere, although not a traditional black metal atmosphere. The song builds up from there. Some cool riffing and at about 1:40. You get an almost thrash style beating between the guitar riff and the blast beats.
Amor E Morte-A seemingly average song. Pretty standard sound, similar to the rest of the album. The interesting thing in this song that makes it stand out is that it's the only song on the album that has a guitar solo, a damn technical one at that too.
Creatures That Kissed in Cold Mirrors-Probably filler to most, I enjoy it. A slow paced leyboard part that gives a small break.
Her Ghost in the Fog-One of the most well known Cradle of filth songs, and for good reason. I'm not sure how they did it, but they have an old man sounding voice in the begining reading some poem while the band plays in the background. I remember downloading the video for this song as the first Cradle song I'd ever heard. I remember after the spoken part a small break came in and then you saw Dani walk out and start his screechy vocals. I was absoluetely blown away because, at the time, I'd never heard anything like it. An Epic song. The lyrics are great telling the story of a girl found after she had been raped. Great riffs, short bass solo, blast drumming. Instant classic.
Satanic Mantra-Ok this is probably where I take all 5 points off, pointless waste of space. All it is, is the band saying "Arch angel, dark angel, lend me thine light through death's veil 'till we have heaven in sight" over an over again.
Tearing the Veil From Grave-A cool orchestra/keyboard part. The guitar comes in , in an almost epic way doing a small lead. A choir goes in the background of this song which adds a cool atmosphere and epic sense to it.
Tortured Soul Asylum-The last song on the album and a suiting finish. An eerie spoken part again, and a spooky keyboard that comes in. Some cool riffing and more of Dani's really deep speaking.
Althought most will argue that Cradle of Filth are sell outs and aren't "tr00" black metalers. Who the hell cares? This is some quality music, and give Dani's vocals a chance. They are an acquired taste.
Debate on the validity of Cradle of Filth has been raging in the black metal community for the best part of five years.
Self–appointed "true" black metallers do not consider Cradle Of Filth to be true black metal. No, Cradle Of Filth are not as raw as Dark Throne, early Burzum, or Mayhem. No, they don't play as fast as Marduk. No, their atmosphere and songwriting ability is not equal to that of Emperor. And the cardinal sin for the subterranean black metal judges, Cradle Of Filth have sold too many albums!
Look a little further into Cradle Of Filth, and you will see why they have sold so well. The band does not fall into the cliched black metal trap of having to have paper–thin production, indecipherable strangled cat vocals, and one–dimensional songwriting. Midian is an excellent example of what a band can do when they do not follow the true black metal path, and people have voted with their wallets.
And why not! There are plenty of tasty melodies, the ubiquitous female vocals, and despite the naysayers complaints, plenty of instrumental, vocal and lyrical talent on display here. Dani Filth is his usual filthy self, creating twisted torrid tales of bloodlust and vempiric lesbianism, which he screeches, moans and rasps with glee. The guitars duel a la Iron Maiden, and the rhythm section is as tight as it's ever been.
Without getting into any sub–genre labeling arguments, this is first and foremost a metal album. Yes, metal, that long forgotten music form, played with loud guitars, guitar solos, over the top vocals, and the lyrics cover irreverent subjects like vampires, sex, and, er… sex with vampires… If you're a "true" black metal fan, you will hate this. If you're a fan of metal in general, check it out. It's damn good, tongue–in–cheek fun!
Although just about everyone hates Cradle of Filth these days, I’m going to be daring and say that this album is pretty decent. First things first: There is NO black metal to be found here. None whatsoever. The guitars are a mix of heavy (noodly melodic leads, occasional Maiden-esque riffing) and death metal. The drums are pure death metal, with the bass drum very high in the mix. The fills leave a lot to be desired, but overall the drumwork is very tight and precise. The keyboards are actually very tastefully used for the most part- there’s a lot more emphasis on the guitars than in, say, Dimmu Borgir. Combined with the occasional use of strings and decent, though not earth-shattering, female vox, they create a beautiful, dark, feminine atmosphere. Dani’s vocals sound like some small animal being painfully raped, except when he’s trying to growl (these aren’t as bad, but are still pretty half-assed compared to most vocalists out there). The lyrics are just… silly. They sound like the faggy “poetry” of a particularly literate mallgoth. The production is very clear and bass-heavy, making the music sound almost… watery. I can’t really describe it further, but it’s a cool effect.
To sum it up: Midian is a very good album instrumentally, but it’s taken down several notches by shitty vocals and lyrics. I can’t fully recommend it, but if you’re looking for an enjoyable time-waster, then by all means give it a try.
I too, must confess to having walked the path of CoF-fanboyism. This album in a way saved me. The MCD 'From The Cradle to Enslave' was in a way a warning of things to come: a warning against Midian.
That MCD had a few new songs, remixes and bad covers. But one thing gradually became clear during that period: Dani had to be a prick, otherwise he wouldn't be constantly losing skilled bandmembers, during and after both 'Cruelty..' and 'From the Cradle..'. And what happens when you alienate everyone with a grain of talent because of your egotistical wiles? You end up with a band lacking any form of creativity, a band that has to go by a familiar formula in fear of losing the succesfully selling bandname Cradle of Filth, simply because the creative input is replaced and you can't end up with a new band AND a wholly different sound.
Thusly, we got Midian. Simplistic, keyboard-driven fastfood; lacking substance, originality, creativity and downright appeal. Now don't get me wrong, I actually liked Cruelty And The Beast. I thought it was a great album in terms of escapism and building a horror-atmosphere, while still stunning the listener with an albeit non-novel, but still a properly developed theme. None of that on Midian. It's the same formula, but none of the thought behind it.
The album starts of nice, with an omnious intro with sampled female chants in the keyboard like we're used to, and then bursts into Cthulhu Dawn, a song on Lovecraft mythos. You know Lovecraft mythos don't you? One of the best horror-themes ever, with an eternally appealing theme of impending doom slowly encroaching on your reality, and unimaginable supernatural horror? Well Lovecraft-mythos, and notably Cthulhu mythos, is a theme done to death in metal, but luckily Cradle is here to show everyone how to do it properly, similar to how they elaborated on the Ersebeth Bathory legends, right? FUCKING WRONG. This is just another typical Cradle song, with dominant keyboards doing simple 'haunting' melodies, simple chord-pickings, and Dani grunting and screeching over it. A plus is that Dani's vocal style doesn't oscillate like an unstable particle across different states on this track, and that they don't use the overused 2 fated lines from Lovecraft's Cthulhu story that everyone uses. But the music has nothing to do with the lyrical contents!! It's just a copy and paste job, of the same tired old powerchords and mixed up with dug-up obtruse words, the finding of which is Dani's only talent. Atmosphere? I think not.
Every song is like that. None of them are inspired. They all just use the overly dominant synths, combine it with chants from Sarah Jezabel Diva (ok, one of the elements I do like, were it not overdone and employed so haphazardly), simple guitarriffs and then Dani screeching over it. Slower and faster passages, it does not matter if they're strung together randomly. Every element on this album I've heard before, and it just treads on the beaten path of all the previous albums. I'd be more mild if this had any grain of inspiration, and wasn't such a step back from previous efforts.
Cradle of Filth might be a disgrace to black metal, but Midian is a disgrace to Cradle of Filth. Not that I think highly of this band (which is lead by an unscrupulous greedy egomaniac..and I can't apreciate a band knowing I'm listening to an asshole all the time when I'm listening to their albums), but CoF at least had a musical nieche they're were filling: that of theatrical horror gothic. Thanks to this album they can't even be taken seriously in that role any more. The 'I'll-shock-your-parents' artwork fails to impress anymore, and lyrics have become, like the music, predictable.
I hope this album will achieve for all it's listeners what it achieved for me: stopping bringing up any sympathy for an obviously crappy band; a band lead by a desire for tapping money from it's fans in exchange for the cheapest product possible. Let's collectively move away to better music kids.
Cradle of Filth, while some may love them, most hate them. I happen to be one of the individuals who loves them. I don't consider them "black metal" at all, but they do make some dark and powerful music. Enough talk, I'll do a song by song review:
At the Gates of Midian - This is one thing I HATE about Goth-metal bands (i.e. CoF, Dimmu Borgir, etc.), they feel the need to throw in some boring ass instrumental to lead into their music. I can see maybe a 30 second symphonic intro, but not almost two and a half minutes! Godammit! Skip this song and enjoy the next track... (I won't even rate it)...
Cthulhu Dawn - A H.P. Lovecraft inspired work, which leads in with this dramatic keyboard solo and then come in the guitars. I will admit, the riffs begin rather mediocrely, but then at at around 15 seconds they go into some much better work. Then a shriek is let out and back to similar riffing. This is a high energy song with some really wonderful lyrics. Why some may hate Dani's vocals, I respect his amazing range and diverse style. There are several breakdowns which are somewhat extraneous...but overall this is a great song. 7/10
Saffron's Curse - This song starts off with a 30 second keyboard solo (as almost every CoF song does), which is actually listenable. It's a really soft and subtle sound, rather than some harsh string synth like they usually abuse. The riffs are sounding a bit recycled, a lot of whirring sort of repetitive tones. The breakdown at around 2:41 is rather interesting, here come the string synths, and then a really gorgeous piano solo. Then Dani half-whispers/gurgles. Then, this somewhat depressing guitar line and Jezebel's vocals layering over it set the tone of the song. Then back into the heavier riffing much akin to the beginning of the song. 8/10
Death Magick for Adepts - The riff leading into this is really good in my opinion. Then it basically deteriorates from there until about 39 seconds when the guitars really kick back in. The drums are rather entertaining over Dani's deep vocal stylings. The guitar work here is much better than the other songs, but still seems to use similar riffing...but I guess that's the case with almost any band. This song is fucking brutal at times and at other times can be very boring. 8/10
Lord Abortion - A dark piano intro, and a nice little soundclip of a woman saying "Care for a little necrophilia?". Nice touch I must say. Then, Dani screeches and over that is his sort of "death metal" growl. Cancel out the screech and the song would have a much better lead in. It's still probably one of my favorite CoF songs though. Dani has a good voice and should really utilize it rather than abuse it. The chorus is great, very catchy, and lyrically is somewhat twisted and almost comical. This is the song to have strange gothic sex to. 10/10
Amor E Morte - Ah..."Love and Death"...besides the uninspired title, the song itself is pretty good. More of the same riffing, which by this point in the album becomes rather annoying, but if you're a fan of CoF, you really don't care, if you aren't, well then, you'd hate this album by the third song. Dani for the most part is singing in a deeper voice during the verses, in the bridge and chorus he shrieks. The drum work is rather bland, a lot of rat-a-tat-tat-ing going on. It has some epic qualities, and is pretty good. 7/10
Creatures That Kissed in Cold Mirrors - Another instrumental, for those of you who like these tracks, I'd say this is better than "At the Gates of Midian", and is also about 39 seconds longer. (Again, I won't rate this)
Her Ghost in the Fog - A creepy piano intro, and then some fine riffing. I love this song, it isn't as boring as some of their other works. That's CoF's main problem, their lengthy songs. A long song with many changes or very likeable riffing, lyrics, basslines, and/or drumming can be a great thing, but CoF really abuses the privelage. But back the song itself, it has it's calm verses, and then it's wonderful chorus and bridge. The breakdown is excellent...and there is somewhat of a bass solo (basically the only truly memorable bass on this album). 10/10
Satanic Mantra - Some spoken "mantra": "Archangel, Dark angel, Lend me thy, Through death's veil, 'Til we have Heaven in sight." (I want to almost rate this just for "ha-has", this is just some Satanic claptrap that CoF tries to purvey to seem spooky. I'll just leave it unrated)
Tearing the Veil From Grace - Then, piano and some string synth, Dani's deep mumble and the SCREEEEECH. More similar riffing...slow and moody...heavy and somewhat muddy. There are some interesting changes which make the song somewhat enjoyable. But more or less, it drags for eight minutes...Jezebel's angry chants are a nice touch, but overall...this song is just somewhat...homogeneous...the riffs at around 3:40 are rather heavy and really help the song in that department, but everything tends to become a hodge-podge of sounds...but it isn't a bad song, but it isn't a stand out on this album 7/10
Tortured Soul Asylum - Some effects on Dani's voice. Then some really high pitched guitar riffing with Dani's low bellows underneath. The riffs feel rather raunchy and are some of the better ones on this album. The keyboard isn't a staple as it is in other songs, the guitar is doing most of the work for once. Dani's voice is really interesting in much of this song. Jezebel is sampled in the background...overall this is a really kick ass song. 10/10
As for CoF as a whole, they could stand to take some time really refining their guitar work, not that it is simple by any means, but it tends to sound really recycled at times. I'd suggest this album to almost any metal fan with an open mind. I wanted to write a really strong review for this album, but when listening to it, I actually lowered my opinion of them. I never gave them much of a critical ear before, but when I did, I was somewhat displeased. This is an album to introduce someone to "darker" metal. For the die-hard fans of black metal, this is seen as an abomination. I personally am a huge fan of theirs, but I certainly don't put them on a pedestal.
This album has a little bit for every type of music fan, which I can appreciate. It gives the goth kids their keyboard and dark atmospheric music, it gives metal fans some pounding double bass and sick riffing, and it gives classical fans a taste of dark operatic intros and instrumentals.
I'd suggest buying this album if you can stand rather repetitive music and can truly appreciate classical influences as well as dark "goth" music.
Her Ghost in the Fog
Tortured Soul Asylum
(and even Death Magick for Adepts is a fairly good song too)
Although this album has been a deception to many old COF fans, I am happy to differ and say how great this album is. Of course it does not sound like any of their old albums. Is this bad? The answer is a clear NO! Midian brings us a new concept. It does not talk about vampires, but a place where demons, fallen angels, and monsters dwell, an idea whose origins come from the Old Testament.
I will start by saying it is good to hear Dani "singing" and doing less of those glass-breaking screeches. The guitars are really good, they are fast, melodic, and most importantly I think they emanate a bizarre and scary sound that seem to recreate nicely the ambient Dani had in mind for this album. Adrian was a great addition to the band. Frankly, I think he does a better job than Nicholas ever did. The drumming is noticeable faster and more elaborated than in previous albums. Martin does a good job giving the musical pieces the perfect ambient. Musically, Cradle of Filth has matured, and in Midian songs are more mature than those in previous albums like the great Amor e Morte. This album comes with a set of melodic, complex and heavy songs ready to defy whatever you thought Cradle of Filth has to be (for some people they have to be “vampiric” metal forever or it sucks).
I want to make a special mention regarding the Lord Abortion song, which I consider to be an unbelievable awesome song; I cannot get enough of it. Have you read this song’s lyrics? Dani wrote a great story about a guy who becomes a sexual maniac, serial killer bastard. It’s so sadistic I love it, this is poetic gore! Also there are cool fast death metal-ish riffs in the song that just kicks ass, and still black metal fans are whining about COF not sounding like “true” Norwegian black metal. Fuck that, Cradle of Filth incorporates elements from different metal styles that makes it more interesting to listen than those grim and necro stuff, in my opinion. Last, I want to mention that the Japanese version of this album comes with a bonus track; a cover from one of the best thrash metal bands UK had called Sabbat. I think COF did a very good job with this cover. Adrian does a good display of his abilities in this song as well. I have had this album for a while and I liked it, but I was not aware of its great characteristics. Now that my tastes have matured I can comprehend how good each song of this album is.