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For better of worse, Cradle of Filth have always been one of the more important metal acts in my collection as they helped shape my musical tastes from developmental adolescence to definitive maturity. That being said, I've enjoyed just about everything they've done, albeit with varying degrees of objectiveness, and that includes their "mainstream" or "sell-out" period albums (again, I never understood HOW Cradle of Filth have "sold out"...and to who?) I took said period with an open mind and a grain of salt, and at the end of the day was pleasantly surprised and satisfied to a certain extent, leaving me wondering just how further the band can push that invisible-yet-present envelope.
2003 gave me one of their heaviest offerings in recent years, and a year later, could that magic still be present?
I didn't know until a while after I'd picked up this here "Nymphetamine" album up that it was quite controversial for reasons that seem to elude me. Was it because it was bad music (I'd always put "Thornography" on the top of that list, myself...)? Was it their signing to Roadrunner? Or was it because, in the end, they're Cradle of Filth? Either way you slice it it doesn't seem to matter, as once I dove into it I found this album to be a very satisfactory, yet flawed, record. I was actually quite surprised that the band had the moxie and ideas left to release an album one year after the monstrous "Damnation and a Day", but dammit if they didn't throw me for a loop as a result of it. From a musical standpoint, "Nymphetamine" doesn't deviate too much from the sound presented on "Damnation", and comes off a bit more streamlined and experimental, with each track essentially containing its own mood and feel. Utilizing a clean, very concise production and a fusion of different styles, from aggressive black metal to palm-muted thrash to gothic orchestration to a sprinkling of modern metalcore (tastefully, no less) Cradle of Filth unleashes a feeling of stylistic unity and confusion from one end of the album to the next, where crunchy guitar riffs, atmospheric keyboards, shattering drumwork and Dani's now-commonplace shrieks/growls showcase a band that still has a sense of like-mindedness in what they want to play, heard by the likes of the album's stronger tracks like "Nemesis", "Gabrielle", "Absinthe with Faust" and "Filthy Little Secret".
However, like Mr. Filth writes, all that glitters was not gold. "Nymphetamine", for all its good qualities, is by no means a perfect album and, unfortunately, runs out of steam about halfway through. The first half of the record bursts with energy and fanciness, which peters out near the tail end, save for a few sporadic tasty tracks, where songs like "Coffin Fodder", "English Fire", and "Swansong for a Raven" end up being outright ignored as a result of a lack of cohesion and ideas, making for rather tedious listens. But the biggest sin of this is, sadly, the lyrics; for me, one of the redeeming values of a CoF album has always been Dani's defloration of the English language, but this time around it seems his skills are watered-down, either by a lack of inspiration of an attempt to not talk over his listeners. Either way, the end result is lackluster, to say the least, and not anywhere near the lyrical miracles present on albums past. All these negative aspects brought together give the last half of "Nymphetamine" a miring, middle-of-the-road appeal that causes this listener to pretty much end it all after the title track, longing for further intensity and grand ideas.
In the end, Cradle of Filth's Roadrunner debut doesn't blow all the candles off the cake, but it's not what I would consider the band's creative nadir. I still find enjoyment in an occasional listen and just might subject myself to this time and again for years to come. Recommended...if you're into this sorta thing...
2004 saw the release of the infamous Nymphetamine. The single (rather the shortened, ballad version) of the album, being the title track, spawned divided reviews; the devout fans abandoned the band, claiming they had sold out (nevermind that Damnation and a Day was released on Sony's record label), and newcomers hailed the song as a masterpiece. Bearing no resemblance to past works, Nymphetamine explored new territory, tinkering with thrash, metalcore (some of the longer songs containing a breakdown here and there), and completely deserting any semblance of black metal that was left. What's presented in the form of 75 minutes of music is the result of some confusion, scattered (albeit great) ideas, and lacking execution. Not to say that it's all bad, but it could have been much better.
The first notable aspect of this album is that this is the last release in which Dani Filth utilizes the full potential of his voice. There is plenty of his high-pitched shrieks, dynamic high-to-low transitions, and so forth. Now, Dani Filth has always had his fair share of haters given his shrieks sound like his testicles have been caught in a vice grip, but in all honesty his voice is in top form here. The vocal delivery has never been more sharp. Lyrically, Dani is more poetic than ever, and the vocal melodies fit right in place with the instruments backing him. Then again, Cradle of Filth has always been more of a "Dani & The Filths" kind of band, but that's neither here nor there. Dani does his job well on Nymphetamine.
Moving on to the actual music presented on this disc. There are minimal solos, but when Paul Allender breaks them out of their shell, they are quite phenomenal- most notably on Filthy Little Secret. Rhythmically, the band falls short. Chugging galore. It would seem that Paul and Charles picked up a few metalcore albums and said "hey, this sounds cool. Dani, can we pleeeeeeeease have some breakdowns?" while oggling up at him with a pouty lip. While they don't detract from the music terribly, it all becomes terribly derivative after the title track. Listening to the full album in one sitting can be a chore, considering that it all meshes together and sounds flat after some time.
The bass here is nearly inaudible, but Cradle of Filth have never been known for their bass work. Dave Pybus is an incredibly talented bassist, but for the most part his bass lines follow the guitars, providing a thick wall of fuzz which give the guitars a deeper boost. When the bass does make itself noticable (which is rare), it's quite a treat. Kudos for tastefully done bass work.
Adrian Erlandsson falls short here. It's not hard to hear when he falls out of sync and frantically makes up for it. He relies heavily on double bass to cover up his flaws. It's possible that he wrote the drum parts for this album by himself, because they're not terribly innovative or interesting. Dani & Co. would have done much better if they had programmed the drums instead. At this point, Erlandsson's departure from the band should have been more than obvious. His fading interest in the band shows through his lackluster drumming.
Synth-wise, things are standard gothic metal, though they're fairly restrained here. Only used for dramatic effects and eerie undertones, but considering the breakdowns and thrashy riffs, they fail pretty miserably at being eerie. In fact, they could have dropped the synths completely and it may have sounded better overall. I do believe this was Martin Powell's final bow with the band as well.
On paper, the album seems typical COF. Silly song titles (Gilded Cunt, Painting Flowers White Never Suited My Palette, English Fire, etc), cheesy artwork, and so forth. Opened up, it's rather experimental. For Dani's last solid effort, it's decent. Nothing more, nothing less.
Cradle of Filth are probably one of the worst "metal" bands I have ever had the displeasure of listening to. "Nymphetamine" was my first true exposure to the band, and I have to say, if you like this band, you must also hate music.
In no way is there anything good about this album or any COF album for that matter, as they all sound the same. Basically, every album has been a watered down rehashing of the first, and "Nymphetamine" is no exception. Dani Filth's vocals have to be the worst thing ever put on a CD. He uses different voice styles (all equally annoying, mind you) and when he screams, I swear I thought there was a guy in the studio kicking him in the balls. It is really terrible, not "scary" or "evil" sounding at all, unless you think hearing a guy receiving continuous nut-shots for 75mins is scary. I realize that complaints about Filth's vocals are nothing new, but I really do not think this can be over-stated. They are just so horrid.
Sometimes a band with a bad vocalist can get away with it if there is a good backing band involved. I'm afraid this is not the case here, as they are also pretty terrible. The "riffs" are bland, uninteresting, and frankly downright boring. I was struggling to even recall any of the flaccid guitar parts, and had to go back and listen to this pile of shit AGAIN before I could truly recall just how mediocre they really were. I can't really complain about the bass, because well I didn't hear it much. Although, since when was audible bass guitar associated with this genre in the first place? Adrian Erlandsson has effectively disgraced himself in everyway by playing drums on this record, or for that matter, in this band. I can't believe this is the same man who played for At the Gates. He is quite talented, but it seems to me he laid down one drum track and it was applied to every song. The keyboards serve no real purpose, as they really add nothing to the songs. Don't get me wrong, skillful use of keyboards can really add to a band's sound. Here, however, they are used way too much, and are often competing with the guitars. Not only that, but they sound like they were lifted from an episode of Scooby Doo.
As if all this wasn't enough to convince you to avoid this album, the insipid lyrics might. Maybe I'm wrong though, as writing a song called "Gilded Cunt" must have taken alot of imagination and lyrical skill. Anyone catch the sarcasm there? The lyrics you will find here are of the "look how evil we are!" variety. Although typical for a band of this nature, I cannot forgive them because of the horrible vocals and instrumentals. Maybe there is actual meaning in these songs, but I didn't care enough to really notice. If that weren't enough, the songs just go on and on, and at no point was I begging to hear more. Half the time, you will think a song has ended, only to discover that it hasn't, and you still have to endure another 3 minutes. Needless to say, Dani and Co. often overstay their welcome, only to return for the next track. For example, the title track is no less than 9 minutes long. I don't know about you, but I do not wish to sit through this type of garbage for 9 minutes. Hell, I don't even want to sit through it for 2. When I say "sit through", I mean it. Because you won't be doing much else, except for maybe laughing or trying to find something else to put on instead.
In conclusion, this album is terrible. It is not memorable, inventive, creative, nor do you leave it wanting more. If you are even a casual fan of metal you should stay far away from this disc. As for the rest of you, I'm sure it will fit nicely between your Slipknot and Manson CD's.
The precise moment when Cradle Of Filth fell off is probably right after 'Midian'. On that album, where essentially all black metal influence was expunged from the overall sound, the music was probably the most melodramatic of all of Cradle Of Filth's work, but it was also some of the best written, allowing the less extreme sound to thrive. However, along with removing all black metal, they also used up all their good ideas, and so the band has been running mostly off gothic fumes for a number of years now. 'Nymphetamine' is a great example of what happened to the band: it's overlong, overambitious, bloated, and packed to the brim with meaningless filler tracks. There's about an EP's worth of ideas expanded into an ungodly long album that does nothing new, and doesn't even do what it does particularly well.
The way the album opens up is pretty promising; after the stock intro, 'Gilded Cunt' storms in with a flurry of double bass and tremolo riffing. It's a silly song; the lyrics are completely ridiculous (though catchy), and the little melodic break in the middle is highly amusing, but it's a fun song, with a good level of speed and propulsion that's lacking from the other songs. So while it's certainly nowhere near as great as the music that Cradle Of Filth wrote earlier in their career, but it's easily passable by their standards. But from then on it's almost entirely downhill. 'Nemesis' just sucks. It's overlong, the chorus is stupid, and the worst sin of all, it's slow but completely without atmosphere. Early Cradle Of Filth was completely soaked in atmosphere, and fast songs can get away with lacking atmosphere simply due to speed and riffing. But a slow song must be soaked in atmosphere to function correctly (see 'A Gothic Romance (Red Roses For The Devil's Whore)' and 'Her Ghost In The Fog'), but 'Nemesis' lacks even the barest trace of the quality, resulting in a complete loss of a song that goes absolutely nowhere in its over seven minute running time.
Of the rest of the tracks on the album, only three really maintain quality after repeated listens. 'Absinthe With Faust' is well constructed despite the ridiculous lyrics, and the riffs can actually convey a moderately erudite atmosphere. The next good track is 'Coffin Fodder', which has some excellent riffing, with dueling, intertwining guitar lines and a generally solid, propulsive delivery. 'English Fire' is also very good- at least until Dani decides that he just HAS to start screeching and the music just HAS to pick up into gothic stupidity, as opposed to sticking with the cool, nearly Bathory inspired opening. There's no perceptible reason to make this change, and yet the band feels the need to destroy the atmosphere that was created with more inane 'extreme' riffing. So if this album was just an EP of those songs plus maybe another like 'Swansong For A Raven', this would be okay. Not very good, but okay. The problem is, this album has NINE OTHER TRACKS that you have to wade through as well.
So at this point, it's pretty easy to see that the removal of black metal elements has effectively stripped Cradle Of Filth of all the qualities that made their early works so great. Taking the black metal out has simultaneously gouged out essentially all traces of atmosphere and emotion, leaving the band's music as a complete shell of its former grandeur. There's no real extremity in any regard; without the black metal, you have very little substance at all. It's still well played, yes, and well crafted in a very sterile, professional sense, but the songs, even the good ones, are terrible as artistic entities. Yeah, there's craftsmanship, but craftsmanship without inspiration and art behind it makes a song about as impressive as a pretty chair. You can sit in it; it's also pretty! But it's still just a chair no matter what, and no amount of frilly carving or overblown synthestra can change that basic fact. This album can only be appreciated from a demonstrative perspective, and otherwise, it's entirely empty of everything else.
'Nymphetamine' is entirely emotionless. An early album like 'Dusk... And Her Embrace' was packed with emotion; it was presented extremely dramatically, but it was genuine and clearly real. 'Nymphetamine' just has this weird parody of emotion, like the members of Cradle Of Filth were replaced with identical robots who were educated on what 'emotion' is supposed to be, but have no actual knowledge or feeling of it themselves. There's melodrama, but there is emotion, and it seems that the band thinks that if they make the music bombastic enough, add enough layers of sound and a clear enough production, and give the APPEARANCE of emotion, they'll be able to mask the fact that there's really none at all. But it doesn't work even remotely: all the adornment of the music just seems to brutally magnify this incredible absence of feeling. It'd be eerie if it wasn't so dull. So without emotion but with melodrama, there's incredible cheesiness that pervades every part of the album. While early Cradle Of Filth albums were pretty melodramatic themselves, they never quite passed into the realm of cheesiness because the music was so genuine and the delivery was so effective. But here, absolutely EVERYTHING is soaked in gothic cheese, even the good parts which have to maintain quality in spite of this idiocy as opposed to because of it.
Perhaps the most damning fact of all about this album, though, is that it proves Cradle Of Filth's musical output has been reduced to little more than a checklist. The construction of half the songs on this album makes literally no sense at all: they just go through a series of motions because they feel like its necessary. The most obvious example of this is the aforementioned 'English Fire': its opening is extremely good, like a gothic version of 'One Road To Asa Bay', but then it goes into boring, stock Cradle Of Filth gothic shit. There's no reason at all for the band to make this change; they just do it because it's what Cradle Of Filth fans expect at this point. They demand fast riffing, female vocals, big, deep gothic warblings, screeches, dramatic tom fills, etc. SO now Cradle Of Filth will never write a song that doesn't fall perfectly within these parameters, as to not alienate any fans. The band would never have done this on the earlier albums; while they've always played populist music, it was never quite THIS neutered and pathetic.
Sometimes I wish that Cradle Of Filth would go back to the early style of gothic black metal, but the sad fact of the matter is that they'll never write another 'Haunted Shores' or 'Funeral In Carpathia'. As an artistic entity, Cradle Of Filth is dead; get everything up to and including 'Midian', love them, and don't look back.
I honestly don’t know what the fuck people are talking about when saying that Cradle Of Filth sucks. This band has a very dedicated fan base that does NOT consist of 14 year old Manson fans. Cradle makes good music…period.
First off, this album is not as bad as people say it is. I’ve been a Cradle fan for a while, and I’m far from disappointed with this album. With songs such as “Nemesis”, “Gilded Cunt”, and “Swansong For a Raven”, all on one album, how can anyone be disappointed? The vocals from Dani Filth aren’t bad either. Yes, they are high pitched and get annoying eventually, but he does some amazing vocal work, especially on this album. More specifically his vocals on “Gilded Cunt”. Despite the not so impressive lyrics on this particular track, Filth makes up for it with his high pitched shrieks and glass shattering wails.
Apart from the vocals being impressive, yet kind of annoying, the instrumental work on this album is, alone, worth taking a listen to. What makes the instrumental side of this album so impressive is the use of the keyboard, and how it mingles with the other, conventional, instruments. This is no more apparent than on “Swansong For A Raven”. This song opens with a few measures of piano (keyboard) notes, it alone sounds amazing, but what really makes this song is how the piano (keyboard) continues when the rest of the band joins in. The way the keyboard and the other instruments compliment each other is actually impressive. Even if you hate Cradle, take a listen to this song, it may not change your view of this band, but you won’t be disappointed with this song, no matter the band.
Overall, the feel of this album is that of change. Change in regards to how this album, compared to Cradle’s earlier releases, sounds. Early Cradle was more black metal, but with this album they have really stepped into the “gothic” genre of metal. But it really isn’t even gothic, in that its faster and harder…sharper. So in considering listening to this album, or buying/downloading, whatever, realize that this band is actually good, although many people say that Cradle of Filth is the retarded cousin of Dimmu Borgir and will never expand its fan base beyond pre-teen “rebellious” girls.
Highlights: “Nemesis”, “Gilded Cunt”, “Medusa and Hemlock”, “Swansong For A Raven”
Cradle of Filth (COF) over time have become a band in the black metal scene which is just cool to hate, even despite the fact that they really aren't black metal anymore. They used to be bad, back in the late 90s, but now, this is just pathetic. They, like Dimmu Borgir, have become a sell out band, and the black metal fans who actually liked them have been replaced by faggoths and "depressive" 14 year old girls, who idolize the equally gay Manson.
This goes without saying that music just flat out sucks. After hearing Dusk and Her Embrace, I was under the impression that COF, were a pretty shit band and that you shouldn't approach them with a 10 foot poll. However, I decided to give them one last chance. Nymphetamine, was released 8 years later than Dusk, so I figured things might have improved. After all, Deathspell Omega's first releases were pretty shit and look at them now. However, unlike Deathspell Omega, COF haven't improved. If anything, they have got even worse.
It still amazed me that, even now, after the thousands of complaints against Dani's vocals. He's still doing them on this album, and if that wasn't enough, to add insult to injury, he hasn't even changed his style. They are still as ridiculously high-pitched and cheesy. Furthermore, the songs are packed full of lyrics, which means every song will be plagued with Dani's annoying vocals.
The riffs are boring and repeated excessively. This tends to make the songs overly long and boring as hell. For the most part the songs just meander around going nowhere, take Nemesis, for example. The song just takes forever to end, you think they are gonna finish, but then they start up again. The result is sickening. You can get away repeating the riff if: 1) the riff is good and 2) it gets you head banging. COF's riffs did neither. And, to make matters worse, we get 75 minutes of this, proving the old adage: "Great wealth brings great shame". No one likes 75 minutes of uninteresting songs, with no cool memorable parts.
The synths and keyboards are still used excessively in this album. This becomes a serious problem when they are competing with the guitars. Admittedly, this album IS more metal than Dusk, because the guitars often become more prominent, but this makes the album no better, let alone forgivable. Again, the synths and keyboards are cheesy, it sounds like they just ripped off the sound track to some b-grade version of Dracula or something.
Why are the female vocals used on virtually EVERY track here? They are one dimensional and are totally irrelevant to every song they feature on. They seem to be to just be haphazardly thrown into the songs. It was as if she was told to come into the song whenever she felt like it. Anyway, her singing qualities aren't even that good. If Dani's wants female vocals on an album, he should at least get someone who is really good, not just someone who is average.
I thought the lyrics were bad before, now they are just pathetic. Not only are the lyrics sleazy now, but they are stupid. Double whammy. Take the lyrics off track 2 for example:
"Dirty little soul frigger
Dirty little soul frigger
Dirty little soul frigger
Oh, you gilded cunt
Those lyrics pretty much speak for themselves. Dani can still write some good lyrics, but the stupid theme of an evil woman is still there. Adding some lyrical variety into their songs would be a huge improvement. I thought Swansong for a Raven might be something new in the lyrical department, but unfortunately it wasn't. Even if you like the music but hate the lyrics, you still have to take in the lyrics anyway, because Dani is easy to understand.
There is a lot of filler in this album. As implied above guitar riffs are excessively repeated, there are pointless, stupid filler songs and interludes in the middle of songs. The only reason they are there was to make this album longer, for whatever reason.
All in all, to say this album sucks, would be an understatement. To say something like, this is the worst album since mallcore, then you'd probably come close to effectively summarising this album. Take all of the aforementioned issues, mash them all together and drag it on for 75 minutes, then you know you are going to get a nauseating listen. If COF were some abstract noise band whose intent was to aurally torture their victims, then I guess you could consider this album to be a success. Otherwise, this album is a total failure. How anyone could like this crap is beyond me.
Conclusion: The above is not recommended for download or purchase.
Ironic, isn't it? Metal (especially of the black and death varieties) suffers from musical elitism almost as much as punk, yet, much like punk, the genre was founded on doing what ever the fuck one fucking wanted to and not giving two shits what anyone else though. Strange, really.
Undeniably, one of the bands to have suffered most at the hands of such bigotry is Cradle Of Filth. However, in all fairness, it is not totally undeserved. For one thing they are clearly marketing themselves at a more mainstream audience than others in the collective category we have come to term "extreme metal." Furthermore, their image is founded on trying to look scary, trying to look extreme and trying to look like vampyric overlords of darkness or whatever the hell they're going for. While this in itself isn't so bad, they throw it in your face so damn much its more than a little off putting. Its more "hey, look at us, we're extreme! Aren't we cool! Roar!"
On the other hand, its undeniable they're introducing more and more people to far superior black and death metal, Hell, I'll openly admit this was the second "extreme metal" band I found myself enjoying enough to purchase a CD by (the first being Opeth). While I've now moved on to higher ground, I still get out the Cradle a little. I get a bit of flack for it, but at the end of the day, this album is surprisingly good at times.
So, where to start on giving a critique of this album? Well, I must say it is no wonder many more traditional black metal fans turn up their noses to this album in particular when they start at the logical place - the beginning. For me, this album starts at Nymphetamine (Overdose), about half way through. Why? The earlier tracks are simply poor, illiterate attempts at filling the stereotype. The opener proper (Gilded Cunt) is perhaps one of the most embarrassingly poor attempts at being "liek sooo extreme!!!111" I have ever heard. Sure, Venom were just as crude, but Venom did it for kicks, these guys are clearly doing it to seem brutal. The feeling of the song is abysmal, trying to seem fast and crazy and evil...and failing. There is absolutely no substance to it ever, many cliches are apparent and none of them sound like they fit the song anyway. After this things pick up, but again, its all so... lyrically sterile, songs like Nemesis ("Black is my heart! Black is my heart! Black is my heart I am Nemesis!") and Absinthe With Faust confirm what elitists have been saying for years.
However, once you get to Nymphetamine (Overdose), things begin to pick up. For a start, that song is beautiful (though I prefer the shortened version at the end of the CD). As much as "operatic metal" pisses me off, it is a brilliantly composed (if perhaps too radio friendly for comfort) and executed epic. From here on out the previously hackneyed riffs, abysmal structures and horrendous matching of lyric to music begin to dissipate. English Fire, and Filthy Little Secret are both memorable tracks with catchy lines that get lost in your head and never quite find their way out. Swansong For A Raven takes all the poorly timed and executed classical features that made the first half of the album so dull and turns them into immaculately placed, powerful features of an epic song. Sure, its hardly Opeth or Symbolic era Death, but everything pulls together with finesse.
All in all it js evident that this album could have been improved so drastically by simply removing the first half, or at the very least shoving them to the back, to stop potential purchasers hearing the abysmal beginning to what is otherwise a fine album. Of course, even the second half is hardly essential, but its a pleasurable listen and stands head and shoulders above 90% of all the "metal" the kiddywinks are buying these days (even the most elitist of elitists should prefer this to, say, Korn or Linkin Park).
If you're looking for a fun, screamy listen and its not overly painful to the pocket, the CD's quite worth it for the second half. On the other hand, if you're a "best of the best" kind of person you're probably better off somewhere else. Of course, if you're a "best of the best" kind of person, I don't know what you're doing in the Cradle Of Filth section in the first place.
When this was released in 2004, the band itself claimed it to be a return to form; with the overblown arena-rock ambition of DaaD out of the way, CoF could really get back to business on their signature sound. There was a huge catch to this, however: the band had moved from Sony to Roadrunner. Regardless of the antics behind the label switch, the change to the often-loathed record label showed through in its own weird ways in the music. Not only did the band re-issue this album a few months after the initial release, but the album's title track had been trimmed down for a "single edit." (Ironically, Opeth did the same thing; and of course, those bands are labelmates.) Now, the question remains: Is this really CoF at work, or Roadrunner?
Nymphetamine does show a slight return to form for the band; symphonies are absent, sans the keyboards. Paul and James play some actual leads here, and even some solos on songs like "Filthy Little Secret." Dani's lyrics, albeit a bit more digestible than former works, do kind of hearken back to the "vampires and romance" themes. Don't expect to see anything from "Dusk...", though. Though the band have reverted back to a more savage sound in a roundabout way, things in the songwriting department and production are decidedly more ear-friendly. The construction of the songs follow the rigid, narrative structures that the band are known for; if a comparison was to be made, I would have to say that, roughly, Nymphetamine bears a few close resemblances to Midian. But, like the band's signing to Roadrunner, there's a loophole. Sure, the guitar harmonies are back, and the keyboards do a fine job, but the band choose to utilize a more thrash/rock influence. This works well in some places, such as "Gabrielle", which does an excellent job of melding a melodic, gothic sound with something darker; but the beginning riffs of "Filthy Little Secret" and "Gilded Cunt" will raise a few eyebrows. Some moments on the album seem more remotely "bouncy" than what one would expect. There are countless passages driven by power chords here, which does make for some "brutal" moments, but sometimes falls flat on its face. This aspect of the band's sound would come full swing on Thornography.
That being said, Nymphetamine contains some great songs. "Absinthe With Faust" recalls the melodicism of the band's older works, and the full version of the title track, although a bit cheesy, illustrates the "beauty and the beast" theme clearly enough. "Medusa and Hemlock," though one of the weaker tracks here, has gone on to be a classic in the band's newer material. "Coffin Fodder" switches gears between Maiden-esque leads, thrashy verses, and slower moments that recall some of DaaD's more subtle heaviness. "Mother of Abominations" is another great one, and proves that not even a few cover songs and singles can tame the band's impeccable songwriting.
I have a few qualms, though: "English Fire" is a fucking joke. Not only is it uninteresting and plodding, but it actually sees CoF try to move into accessible territory while simultaneously blending the most watered-down aspects of the band's sound into a blender. It simply can't be done: the keyboards sound waltzy and even happy at some points. To further this, the vocals and lyrics really aren't that great.
The band as a whole succeed, though. Dani sounds a little better here, and doesn't layer the vocals as much. Adrian has more chance to shine through here, and he does exactly that on "Mother of Abominations" and "Filthy Little Secret." Everything is aided by a thick, clear production, and thankfully, the band don't go overboard with interludes, spoken word passages, or too much cheesiness.
Nymphetamine is certainly a weird one, just like the majority of CoF's other works. It succeeds and fails on some levels, but somehow the band manage to keep us interested. Newcomers to the band will probably appreciate this album the most for its more ear-friendly moments, while those of us who have been around for a while will be left scratching our heads in wonder and confusion.
Compared to "Damnation and a Day", this album is simpler and perhaps more concise. Simpler isn't always bad and sometimes people prefer to-the-point songs as compared to grandiose concepts and orchestrations, however these new elements lead to many iffy moments throughout the album which can be quite unsettling.
The first noticeable area of difference is the guitar section. Newest addition James McIllroy returns the band to their classic two guitar setting and allows for a good helping of leads and guitar solos. That sounds good coming off of the mostly rhythm-driven "Damnation and a Day", but herein lies the first problem; the leads are relativity simple melodies and their appearances are often predictable and the solos seem a bit on the unfocused side and don't add too much to the songs.
The rhythms guitars are also noticeably different as the black, death, and gothic elements are tuned-down in favor of more modern rock structures (sometimes bordering on nu-metal) and even some hints of metalcore (ending section of Mother of Abominations). A clashing, grindcore-like riff is also heard in "Gilded Cunt" and "Filthy Little Secret" (how clever) sounds like a strange heavy metal/hard rock hybrid. The most common thing you'll hear on this album is a song starting out in one way and then going another. For example, "Nymphetamine Overdose" and "Absinthe with Faust" start off with gothic metal riffs that lead into a modern section. Some of these modern sections sound like bids for accessibility and "Nymphetamine Fix" actually received radio play.
Amongst the shady parts there are some glimpses of good music. The leads and rhythms from "Nemesis" and "Nymphetamine Overdose/Fix" are very enjoyable, the orchestral songs are great and rousing, and the lyrics are still poetic and grandiose albeit simplified a bit. Dani's vocals are still as good as they were on the preceding album (something that can't be said about "Thornography") although his lower growls rarely appear anymore.
Martin Powell's keyboards are the saving-grace of this album. Songs like "Swansong for an Raven", "Coffin Fodder", and "English Fire" have great atmospheres thanks to the symphonic and tender keyboard parts. Elsewhere the keyboards add the classic haunt and spook here and there. Two of this band's best albums were built around this man's keyboards and even though it's sad to see his part reduced (even sadder now that he's gone), it still makes the album.
The bass still doesn't do much in the thrilling department and the drums are much less flashy, but overall the rhythm section is still pretty tight.
It's not a bad album, but the downward spiral has started. Is it any coincidence that this album was released by RoadRunner? I'm not making any accusations, but the timing is kind of suspicious. It's more streamlined, more simplified, and more modern; three adjectives that will make many metal fans cringe (if the words "Cradle of Filth" didn't make them cringe already).
So after just one album (the ambitious Damnation and a Day), the major label involvement comes to an end. The head honcho’s at Sony records must have been kidding themselves if they thought they had a chance of breaking COF into a larger audience. Despite the constant ‘sellout’ calls that COF receives, Damnation and Day was not a ‘commercial’ album by any stretch of the imagination. It was, however a typically overblown and pompous piece of symphonic Black Metal, much the same they have always done, just on a grander scale. Furthermore, with Dani Filth’s ‘acquired-taste’ vocals at the forefront of this bands music, COF will always be seen by outsiders as an ‘extreme’ metal band. Hence, the band seems just a little more comfortable on a metal label’s roster – namely Roadrunner.
Everytime I review a new COF album, I find it tricky to come up with anything new in terms of descriptive prose. You see, the thing with this band is that despite slight differences here and there, for the most part they present us with overtly familiar trappings. ‘Nymphetamine’ is no different in this regard. At the risk of repeating myself, like their previous discs, Cradle of Filth have not done anything other than continue on with what they do best (or worst, depending on your partiality). COF are COF; Just like Slayer is Slayer. You are pretty much certain of what you are going to get. If you are a fan, then you will worship every lasting moment of this album. If not, then ‘Nymphetamine’ will not sway your thinking otherwise.
‘Nymphetamine’ is a typical COF album as far as I am concerned – but boy, is it a good one. It has all of the traditional elements of a Cradle record - Gothic laden drama, infectious melody, extremity, and quality musicianship). The demonic shriek of Dani Filth is still omnipresent and the overly generous running time (a lengthy 75 minutes) gives fans tremendous value for money.
Noting the tried and true recipe that the band continues to stick to, it would be remiss of not to point out a few new tricks that have been employed. Firstly, this album tends to be a bit more ‘riff’ oriented – almost 80’s thrash like at times whilst blending some authentic ‘British’ elements within (check ‘Filthy Little Secret’). I also find it to be a more ‘romantic’ laden disc – the use of slower, gentler symphonic moments (keys and piano) are very noticeable as is the excellent use of the female vocals (this time, Liv Kristine of Leaves Eyes) to accentuate the emotive aspect of their music (the nine minute title track is the centerpiece here). As for Dani himself, well I think most of us have given up on telling him to shut up for a bit and let the music ride a tad longer – however, this is probably one of his better efforts in that his typical style is not as grating (if that’s even possible) and he employs lots of variation throughout adding extra character and texture. For those who hate the guy, I doubt you’ll even have the patience to notice the difference.
With Anthrax’s Rob Caggiano producing and Colin Richardson in the mixing chair, ‘Nymphetamine’ is blessed with an excellent sound. Those who found ‘Damnation..’ to be a little sterile would notice a thicker up front guitar sound on this new one. The sterling orchestral arrangements are most impressive – listen to ‘English Fire’ and ‘Swansong For a Raven’ for a superb melding of riffage metal meets symphonic pompousness!
There is no question that COF are one of the most hated (and loved) symphonic Black Metal bands in the world. Dani Filth cops most of the blame. Personalities aside, I still find it hard to ignore the utter professionalism that gets poured into every one of his albums. ‘Nymphetamine’ maintains the standard with ease. Album number six and counting – there’s still a few more left in them by the sound of this.