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Hailing from the U.K., Cradle of Filth are no stranger to negativity. Their musical path has taken many a change, going from straight forward black metal to gothic metal to symphonic mallcore-esque black metal, The leap of faith left many scratching their heads asking "What is this?". Primarily known for their outrageously obnoxious fashion choices, and Juggalo-esque "corpsepaint", most metalheads will say CoF are not exactly a premier band. Now on their 10th full length, it's safe to say the act is getting a bit stale. While Dani Filth is a competent vocalist, the music is just so overly bloated and full of itself it almost hurts to listen to it. The blatantly strange formula of the album seems to be this. One track bad, one track good, one track bad, one track not too bad so on so forth. While the gothic keyboards and overly posh sound of their earlier albums was excusable, and in some cases even very enjoyable, this album is just way off point. It's focused more on frills than on thrills, and it seriously doesn't work very well.
Without insulting anyone, this album is just terrible. Five tracks in, and you will feel as though this is more of a chore, or even possibly a cruel joke, than an enjoyable listening experience. The songs are obscenely symphonic, something anyone who has ever listened to CoF will know is their trademark. For some reason, it feels terribly forced, and in some cases even hilarious that this is the same band who made the masterpiece of Midian. The first bone to pick is Dani's vocals. The once unique shrieks and shrills are now lame and somewhat pathetic. Dani once had a very distinctive voice, and now it's unbearable to hear them. Not only are the shrieks bad, but the mallcore whispering is completely disheartening. It's not 2000 anymore. Metal does not need to have people whispering like it's a library about their long lost loves and the box of roses they left for their secret lover. For example on "Manticore", the vocals sound so much like Marilyn Manson or Jon Davis in some parts that it literally induces cringes. While the cringes will subside for a minute, the chalkboard to fingernails shrills will certainly make them return. Yet, sadly the vocals are not the only problem this album has. Not even close.
The common theme throughout the album is to have a somewhat good riff over some cheesefest of a keyboard. This gets old fast, real fast actually. Sometimes, the riff will get your head bobbing. Than the cheesiest of cheesy will come in, with some keyboard bit that sounds like it belongs at a wedding more so than a metal album. If done right, metal and classical can be an amazing thing. Sadly, Cradle of Filth do not do it right. Even if the riff is good, the drums are just obscenely generic. Blasting and blasting that never ceases is what the album is comprised off. Blasting is great, but blasting accompanied by lameness does nothing good. It also seems as though the drums are just too loud sometimes, and it takes away from everything else. I would be surprised if they even have a bassist because it's barely to absolutely not there throughout this whole endeavor. Just an all around mess, the songs go in an order of terrible to less terrible, and repeats over and over. In some way, this is almost like they knew half the songs were absolute bloated hogwash and followed them with something a but more enjoyable than the one before. It's a shame really, because some songs have so much potential to them., The potential just goes away when either some sort of disturbing whispering-in-your-ear bit comes along, or a keyboard riff better fit for Europe's "The Final Countdown" than anything else. One example of this would be "Huge Onyx Wings Behind Despair". The opening keyboard is just sad. It reeks of 80's new wave, possibly even something far worse I am not aware of. I don't know why they choose to douse their songs in keyboards, but if they removed them, it just may work out better for them.
In all, this album is more bloated and full of itself than anything else they have ever done. If you can make it through the whole album without even considering shutting it, you're a true legend. It's hard to take this seriously. Dani and co. present themselves in such a parody laden way, I'm not sure if they are taking the piss and knowing they made a terrible album but get paid anyway or if they truly believe they made something good here. I must admit, I had hopes for this album. But as soon as it started, those hopes were crushed by a mallcore aping keyboard laden cheesefest that almost triggered my lactose intolerance. Better luck next time, Cradle. Better luck next time indeed.