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There are so many guest musicians on this album which makes it more atmospheric and domineering. 3 main members and the rest are the guests. I'd have to say that I like this one better than their past few full-length albums. This is not only because of variety, the guitar riffs are better. The chord progressions, tremolo picking, varying tempos, originality in the riffs themselves and they aren't drowned out by the keyboards, vocals, guest vocals, or drums.
Everything was mixed pretty well here though Dani Filth's voice are not high pitched as like they were on "Dusk...and Her Embrace". There are some high end screams, but mostly just a lower end voice which does fit the music. I'd have to say that "Dusk...and Her Embrace" is still my all-time favorite album from them. However, this release has a lot to offer in 51+ minutes of purely good gothic metal. All of the instruments are mixed well together and nothing is exempt in that respect.
I can't see why people gave this album a pretty low rating. Cradle of Filth has evolved since their first full-length. Totally mellowed out but I'd say they're still kicking butt. I wouldn't conclude that the band just went to hell. I think that they really had a good vibe here even though the songs are less intense than their predecessors. Maybe it's the change since their formation that turned people off on this one. However, I esteem it pretty highly more so than "Darkly, Darkly, Venus Aversa" and "Godspeed On the Devil's Thunder".
The reason why I think that this album deserves praise is because of it's variety, still emphasis on atmosphere which with every Cradle release strives to achieve, but making it really work on an album is the question. I think that they really achieved it all here. No song to me was boring or lacked any sort of innovation. I think it blended well together, especially with all of the guest vocalists. It takes an open mind to conclude this, but not so open to where they went overboard on something, anything. I would definitely say "no".
Production quality is still top notch, all of the instruments and vocalists blended well together. I especially liked the guitar riffs. They were quite original sounding and had a good distorted tone to them. One thing that they were lacking though was in the lead department, but it didn't take away from the magic of the album. Everything to me seemed to fit well, nothing fell short on anything. It was a good solid release by the band and they still I would say have it.
If you're into the gothic metal type of scene, I would say that this one isn't one to pass up on. I say that modestly, but it really should be bluntly. Less dark yes, but still that atmosphere of evil is portrayed here. The songs were original sounding, memorable, everything that entails a good, solid release. It seems to me that the bulk of the critics judged it unfairly with their scores. But I would say that I think it's my favorite one since they came out with "Midian". Don't leave this one out of your metal collection!