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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.