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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.