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Back with a new album is one of the bands that describes the term love/hate better than any other band. Cradle of Filth. This is their tenth album and the second album to be distributed through Peaceville records since move from Roadrunner, although Nuclear Blast also get to share the pleasure of selling the new album. Over the years the band have changed a lot for better or worse, and when they moved to Peaceville records for the release of Darkly, Darkly Venus Aversa the band stated that it was so they could have more control over their music. I'm not even sure what to think about that... Godspeed on the Devil's Thunder which was the bands last album on Roadrunner was a return to form for the more old school fans. But with these last three albums, counting, Godspeed, Venus Aversa and now Manticore, each album has contained one really mainstream track, and I don't know if it is the label or the bands idea to shoot videos for those tracks but I think it is a horrible idea. To mention from this album 'Frost on Her Pillow', a track I was looking forward to hear, but after watching the video I was actually afraid of listening to the rest of this album, even though the last two albums did not disappoint me, with Cradle you never know what the hell is going on. But once a friend of mine said that I had something to be excited about, my thoughts turned around and my scepticism slowly faded away...
Aggression is a word Paul Allender used about this album, aggression was something he felt like had to be put back into their music and riffs. Although it is in the likes of putting more punk sounding-like riffs into the music. Aggression was already present in Cradle of Filth. So with that statement my former scepticism kind of returned since I am not a fan of punk music. After the mandatory instrumental introduction track that returned for this album the break of aggression starts pounding out from your speakers and it sort of remains that way throughout the whole album, even though there of course are certain step downs in tempo and the punk theme that was mentioned before is not really so present as I thought as it would, thankfully... And it is of course understandable they are not going full throttle on the whole album but also getting those melodic parts into the album that the band is known for. One very strange thing in the start of one track, under the scope is 'Huge Onyx Wings Behind Despair' it actually begins with something that sounds like the start of a techno song. Not fucking kidding, and then a riff based on that... Luckily for me I got my hands on the deluxe edition of the album which means I get the pleasure of two bonus tracks. One thing I don't understand is that since there is only two bonus tracks for this album compared to the five tracks from Venus Aversa, why were they not put on all editions of the album? A total of thirteen tracks is not that extreme and those two tracks helps the album get a better rating. At least by me.
Musically it does not really live up to Venus Aversa thus the promise of more aggression. It still sounds good, it does, but it is missing something. Venus Aversa had more aggression to it riff-wise, so with the punk-theme it has mellowed it a bit even though it is not that present. Also the keyboards are worth mentioning, Ashley Jurgemeyer who played on the previous album did a tremendous job and it is clearly that she is not present on this album. Drummer Marthus is responsible for the keyboards and maybe also for that horrific techno introduction on the track mentioned before... So to sum that up, it is not as symphonic as the last album and don't sound as much as a Cradle record that you expect it to. By saying that I don't mean that every record should sound the same, change is good, but the changes on this record does not really suit my taste and applies less to be categorised as a Cradle album than the previous album.Also the very thing that bugs me the most is the vocals and that new vocal I brought up that had started to surface more and more over the years, which I will return to later.
A track I had hopes for, just by looking at the title was 'Succumb to This' because I had an idea of the filthy lead singer saying those words only in the way he can. But the track exceeded my expectations. When I had a look at the attending musicians for this album a name that popped out was Lucy Atkins. She also appeared with guest vocals on Darkly, Darkly Venus Aversa as 'Lillith' since it was a concept album about Lillith, the mistress of the dark as she presented herself. On Manticore she does however not appear as frequently as on the former record and I don't know what to think about that actually, since she gave the previous album a really good feel with her performance throughout it. However, she does a really good job blending into the Cradle universe once again on this song and also shares the role of mentioning the title among other lines of the lyric. It is a nice change in the music of the band even though many fans miss the former female vocalist Sarah Jezebel Deva. Even though she had done some amazing work with Cradle of Filth in the past already on the Venus Aversa album and Godspeed for that matter, the band proved that she is not crucial to the bands music.
It is not something that pulls down the rating of an album, but I enjoy a nice cover. Since the band was fond of bringing back people from the staff of the Venus Aversa album, in the likes of Lucy Atkins, they did the same regarding the cover art. Matt Vickerstaff was brought back for the creation of the cover and if you hold the two covers of Venus Aversa and Manticore up besides each other it is pretty obvious since they are similar when it comes to the whole layout of the cover. At first when I saw the new cover, I thought it was awesome but I think it was just the excitement over another Cradle of Filth album, since the cover is nothing special.
Even though Cradle of Filth is a band I hold close to my heart, this album made me thinking. Maybe they should start to plan some kind of retirement of the band. Of course many fans states that Dani Filth's voice is not like it used be, and I can agree with that, since it is true. But I don't know if it was a vocally style of choice they made for this album or if Mr. Filth really just is nearing his last moments as a lead singer, at least as when it comes to Cradle of Filth. As I mentioned, throughout the album Dani uses this new voice that has been getting more and more present from album to album where he kind of tries to sing, but still with a little edge on the vocal. That is what is making the fear for the bands future rise up within me. When I listened to this album the first time it seemed to me like some songs was divided into two parts, at least vocally. The edgy part that Dani Filth always have displayed and then this new one who has surfaced over the last couple of years. That new one where he really tries to sing in some way is more present on this album than the predecessors.
To give you an overlook regarding the last two albums and now this, it is hard to decide whether it is a step down or just continuing the path from the last album, because it certainly is not better than Darkly, Darkly Venus Aversa. By that I am not saying it is a bad album, this album can very well be enjoyed from start till finish, specially if you got the deluxe edition. The end of the album was the best part when you think Cradle of Filth, musically. From 'Succumb to This' till the end, counting the two bonus tracks, really powers through. The starting three tracks of the album also make a good stand, but then there's the middle... It just doesn't belong there, maybe they should've put some more time into it, mainly on the vocals. But sitting here reflecting over the album having listened to it about five times, and also listening a little to Godspeed and Venus Aversa I must conclude that The Manticore and Other Horrors is a step back in the filth...