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While there were demos preceding this, it all starts here. 'The Principle of Evil Made Flesh' remains as one of the most influential debuts in the black metal scene not because of its groundbreaking sound, but because it is a record written by a bunch of teenagers who were passionate about what they did. It is not as good as the two albums that followed but why should that be a problem?
Comparing this album to what Cradle did in the mid 00's is a sacrilege. First of all, 'The Principle...' is full of ideas. Good ideas. Ideas that have actually been worked after much thought. Teenagers or not, Dani and co. had a vision and they fulfilled it in the best possible way. This is one of the very few Cradle albums that do not exceed the one hour mark. You know what that means? It means that back then they were capable of delivering the goods in less than an hour whilst now they go on a rampage and achieve nothing.
The album is all about aesthetics. No complex riffs or technical showdowns here folks, apart from the drums. This album also is the only Cradle album in which the keyboards do not show off in the main tracks but in the interludes (we'll talk about them later). In the black metal tracks they subtly accompany the other instrument usually sounding as an orchestra or choir. You will also hear a rendition of Bach's infamous Toccata in D minor (there's no way you haven't listened to the original, even unintentionally).
The rest of the instrumentation is top notch. The guitars are heavy in the real sense of the word. Their lines are simple but they work because of the way they are split in the left and right channels. The sound of the bass is thick and full, really a pleasure to listen to. As for the drums... The drums are out of this fucking world. Especially when it comes to fills. Nicholas was truly efficient at using double kicks, shifting from conventional notes to triplets and filling any void with extra snares and toms.
And then we have the intermissions. Apart from the glorious intro and the (unfortunately) mediocre outro, there are three more tracks that are pure keyboard work. The one that left me speechless was 'One Final Graven Kiss' but 'Iscariot' is very nice as well. Such small things like those interludes is what's mostly missing from today's Cradle. This is what makes this album superior to almost everything else in their entire career.
Dani is in his best moment here. Both vocally and lyrically he is delivering a mind-blowing performance. Well this is way before he fucked his voice and that's probably why this is his best, but still you can hear how his voice is still relatively close to the black metal standards and not just the usual 'duck whose ass is on fire' impression he does. As for the lyrics, you can still see where the evil woman staple began but - what a surprise! - it works very, very well.
At the end of the day 'The Principle of Evil Made Flesh' is one of the most essential listens for every Cradle of Filth fan out there, but also for the fans of goth music and the early 90's second wave of black metal. As for me, I loved it from the first listen and I still love it today, four good years after that moment. Classic
Favorite tracks: 'The Forest Whispers My Name', 'Of Mist and Midnight Skies'and 'Summer Dying Fast'.
Cradle of Filth's debut LP, The Principle of Evil Made Flesh, is so much about musical and stylistic duality. Although synths had always been part of the Cradle of Filth sound, there lacked a gothic element to their music that is first introduced on this album. Principle also marks a shift in songwriting for the band. Gone are songs driven by atmosphere, replaced by jarring structures and lengthy "compositions."
Cradle of Filth expand their lyrical style more than they do subject matter--their lyrics more poetic and competent than before...but the improvements generally end there. The band's newfound finesse is belied by their inability to invoke what is necessary for a truly evil release. For an album with the word "Evil" in the title, I'm not really feelin' it.
The title track, "To Eve the Art of Witchcraft," and "Summer Dying Fast" are definite standouts. These songs are excellent examples of a band expanding their sound in all the right ways. Principle also has Dani experimenting vocally, and his vocal versatility is an asset to the record--for the most part. The remainder of the album either presents too much of a frustrating experience of failed potential, or just plain bad songs.
"The Forest Whispers My Name," while lyrically one of Cradle's best ever songs, is SOOO FUCKING SLOOW on this record. Way too slow. And lame. A single listen of their re-work of the song featured on Cradle's followup EP, and arguable greatest release, V Empire, will quickly remind anyone to forget the original travesty. The same goes for the equally embarrassing rendition of "The Black Goddess Rises," which comes nowhere near to achieving the atmosphere and darkness the song evoked on the Total Fucking Darkness demo.
One bonus is "A Dream of Wolves In the Snow." Not only does the track feature the excellent Darren White on vocals, but it's also just a good song--very different from anything Cradle have done before (or since for that matter).
All in all, the highlights of Principle cannot save the listener from what is ultimately a frustrating and overlong listen.
The year is 1994 and a little known band releases their debut album. The sound is harsh and unpolished and the music itself is primitive and unforgiving, adjourned in satanic imagery and lyrics. Like others, they started as a death metal band but over time shifted to a more black metal sound. Over the next several years band members will leave and the music will change triggering an ongoing debate with fans,
Now the above description can apply to many bands at the time, but not many know it also applies to Cradle of Filth and their debut album The Principle of Evil Made Flesh. Yes like many of their Norwegian contemporaries, Cradle too were pioneering an ice cold sound. However unlike many of their peers this ice cold sound is blanketed in gothic imagery, lavishing amongst literature (think Stoker’s Dracula, which is quoted several times throughout the album) as well as retaining the satanic lyrics we’re all too familiar with. Perhaps most notable was this notorious verse from The Black Goddess Rises, which was shown on a British news telecast in which concerned parents and a local priest were attempting to ban black metal music from the country:
“Crush their unworthy idols
No church shall bar our path
Seductive Evil drink your fill
Of the bleeding Christ in your arms.”
Speaking of, all sorts of occult references are abound and personally I was actually very surprised in that they’re quite creative and tend to avoid the clichés which were already rearing their ugly heads at the time.
However lyrics certainly aren't everything and thankfully the music delivers. While some may consider it too primitive compared to the band’s later albums, I had a blast with this album. Everything from the fiery and blazing guitar riffs and occasional solo to Nick Barker’s blasts fill your black soul with energy and want to get you head banging. And yes, you can even hear some of the bass! Plus the keyboards are (for the most part) treated more into the background and never become overbearing or distract from any of the other instruments as they began to later in the band’s career, with the same being said for the female vocals, which are present in few songs and don’t nearly become unnecessarily overbearing. Many of the songs play at a fast and moderately-fast pace, but tempo changes are not uncommon and one track, Of Mist and Midnight Skies retains a slow doomy pace for most of the song. Of note is Dani’s vocals, bearing very little resemblance to high shrieks we all love, hate, or really hate him for. Instead we are treated to a delivery made of mostly guttural rasps and the occasional shriek or two and most surprisingly, I real enjoyed them and thought they fit in well.
Sadly any album is not without its flaw and this album certainly does have them. For one, those god-awful Cradle of Filth instrumentals between the songs are here and while they really aren't that bad, there is no real reason to have them here other than to pad the album out. Iscariot and One Final Graven Kiss are completely guilt of this, and slow the album down while you wait for the chaos to return.
A few notes worth listing here are that many of the songs on this album would be rerecorded with the sound Cradle would be doing after and in all honesty I would much rather prefer the originals on this album. Nothing beats the raw sound and I feel that does translate well into the later sound. Also I got a kick reading through the linear notes in the booklet, viewing the bands’ thanks to many others who were emerging at the time, including Emperor and Grand Belial’s Key. If you’re into the newer Cradle of Filth releases I’d give this one a listen to before buying since I’d consider it much different than the later releases. Hell, the next album had half a different band. However if you’re into black, extreme, or gothic metal and you see this one lying around in the store like I did, you’d might want to give this album a try. Perhaps we can consider The Principle of Evil Made Flesh the black sheep of the Cradle of Filth discography.
This album was meant to be a milestone, pure proof that "you don't have to be Norwegian to release quality Black Metal! See?! Even Englishmen had Pagan roots millenia ago!" Of course they did, guys. Of course they did.
CRADLE OF FILTH began their illustrious career as a third-tier death metal act, but it wasn't until 1993/94 that they came to cavorting around cemetaries dressed to the nines in Gothic attire and plenty of undead corpsepaint, blasting away their own brand of symphonic Black Metal to their evil li'l hearts' content. I guess they blasted loud enough to spark attention from their Scandinavian peers to take these vampiric kiddies seriously (as a tour with EMPEROR showed), so to an unsuspecting crowd comes "The Principle of Evil Made Flesh".
Problem is, a lot of CoF fans nowadays either have never heard this album until they've been entranced by their latest offerings or don't even know this album exists. For shame, you goth kids! FOR SHAME! "Principle...", though not by any means a perfect album, does have more than a few moments where musical tastiness is abound. The standards which CoF would base their music on would show its infantile stages (grinding guitar riffs coupled with creepy keyboard lines and Dani's traditional screeches, though this time around, he sounds more like a constipated death metal kid), in both song-writing and delivery, but it's still delivered in an earnest matter, as though the band really wanted to take themselves seriously. Obviously, this is CRADLE OF FILTH at their most black metal (whether or not they're considered black metal is based solely on your open or closed-mindedness), in both photos and lyrics structures, which straddles the band's infatuation with vampirism, gothic romance, and Satanism (though, by CoF's later standards, they come off as rather hokey and not very well thought out). Simply put, it suffers from "First Album Syndrome", where the first release is usually the band at their most nervous, wondering if their hard work would pay off to whatever scene/crowd they would shoot for.
Say what you will...personal musical taste is that and nothing more, so to force your own will and take on bands by genre because YOU believe is so is grounds for war. Me? I've been a fan of CoF for years (that includes both old and newer releases, too), but I can say they have/had plenty of Black Metal in their sound, mostly in their earlier albums (up to "From the Cradle to Enslave"). So if you don't like that kind of opinion, if all it does is shatter the ends of your glasshouse-like view of the world to the point where suicide is considered mercy, then read no more.
What? You say! Anyone who has read Angela Carter's "Bloody Chamber & Other Stories" will know what I mean. This album combines hints of black metal with vampiric orchestration to conjure up imagery of the darkest fairytale ever written.
Broken up by morbid instrumentals, such as "Iscariot" and "In Secret Love We Drown" which are a tranquil contrast to the rest of the album, Cradle present many powerful anthemic metal tracks, many of which are real metal classics now, such as "The Black Goddess Rises", "The Forest Whispers My Name" and of course the title, "The Principle of Evil Made Flesh."
But it was the album's ending which made me fall in love with this band. The melodic ending to "Summer Dying Fast" had me begging for more. Never before have I heard such a catchy and enchanting melody in a metal song.
And no one before seems to have mentioned "A Dream of Wolves in the Snow". This short masterpiece seems to have gone unnoticed. The rolling keyboard and guitar riff actually makes the listener believe that they are on a frosty tundra at night, and this summarises the unique cleverness of this album. Original for its time, this is perhaps one of the most evocative atmospheric albums ever written, second only to the follow-up, Vempire.
I think the comments surrounding the inferior quality of this album are unfair. Although not a black metal band, I believe Cradle were aiming for a somewhat compromise between necro and clear production on purpose.
After scouring my local record shop for this CD a ways back, I finally got it, to my delight. And I have to say that, well...this is good but not as revelatory as most "tr00 kvlt" fanboys claim it is. Then again, most of those types cream over everything a band does until they either get signed or until their second album comes out. Get a life, kids. Anyways, on to the album.
This is more or less the embryonic Cradle sound we all know and love/hate, with the major differences being: a more imprecise and loose musical delivery (Nick's drumming is not quite the devastating experience it rapidly became by the time "Vempire" was released), Dani's vocals being more slurred, incoherent, and growling as opposed to the definition he later acquired on top of the now-familiar uber-scream approach he has, and the balance between the Gothic and extreme moments being not as even as what came after this. In other words, the keyboard instrumentals are too frequent, and the songs aren't as well-arranged as the material that came after this album. And, well, it's a debut, folks. The version of "The Forest Whispers My Name" on here is not as confident or tight as the "Vempire" version, and while they were ambitious even at this stage (the female spoken-word bit in German in the title track, for example), their musical ability wasn't quite up to delivering their vision as well as they hoped to.
This CD has its share of good moments, though, like the middle part of "The Black Goddess Rises" when it goes slower and more Gothy, for example, and some good riffing in the title track, despite the solos being buried in the mix--they sound pretty decent although not great. But then, Cradle has never been a band to have virtuosic guitarists. The production is another big black mark with its decidedly muddled mix--the drums are weak, the guitars thin and often buried under washes of keyboards (especially the leads, as I said), and the bass is too clanky and lacks low end. This is for the completists out there like me more than anything else, honestly, and while this is not a world-ending release, it's nice to see where Cradle got started and how they've progressed from this debut.
Ok, let's get this straight: Cradle of Filth does not play blackmetall! Neither do they try to do it, or make it seem so. CoF Plays some sort of selfdefining, gothic metal. With this in mind, let's look at this objectively, hmm?
First: The bandphoto: Dear god, this is about as silly as it gets. The makeup looks like smudge and Dani himself has the looks of a little child. I like the hat, though....
Next (The thing that really matters:) The music. Well, the quality of the sound is rather poor. This might come from the fact that he economical side of the band fell through here. This puts some sort of a killer on the melodic side, which is a shame, since this is the band's stronger side. Drummings also lose some of the potential and dani's vocal sounds just weird.
This might also be the reason most true blackmetallers hate CoF. For the screaming. Still, this isn't blackmetal, so you can just shut your trap!
Lyrics: Awesome! Great, great, great poetry, unlike anything similiar at the time. Only Opeth and Moonspell can compete with this. I have a feeling the copyrightlaws forbid me in printing them. You'll just have to read them for yourself.
Melodig Interludes: Beautifull, just beautifull. The mood in these instrumentals are really good and the female backing vocals on the tracks keep maintaining this feeling.
All in all a fair start for a band that has grown to the supreme dominating in all of the UK. And not without reason!