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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.
Ah, if it isn't the notorious Cradle of Filth. We all know them, we all love them or hate them. And they have managed to bring something new in the metal scene as whole, playing an unique type of music. Personally, it took me a little bit to get into them, but once Midian caught me, I knew I'd never leave the Filth camp. Personally, I prefer their older albums up to Midian and Bitter Suits, BUT the shit they started doing from Godspeed onwards is bad ass and definitely worth a try, so you might say that I'm looking eager for their future works. Leaving this aside, this band had begun its long career in the underground, releasing a couple of demos which consisted of raw death metal, quite different from what they are today. However, with The Principle of Evil Made Flesh, they began the transition from death metal to symphonic black metal, and in their attempt of doing so, they've actually released their best album. Now let's take a look upon the actual songs:
Darkness Our Bride(Juggular Wedding) is keyboard intro, featuring a main bell melody which has choirs and strings in its background. Pretty creepy atmosphere, and the church bell at the ending along with Dani's whispers add more to it. Fantastic way to begin an album! Now the titletrack is so much in opposition with the first track: it's raw and fast, the few keyboards in there are to create some atmosphere, and Dani's vocals are primitive. This song is a delight for those who'd like to see how Cradle of Filth would sound if they attempted to create some trve black metal. The lyrics speak about a sacrifice to Set, Baphomet, Artemis, Bastet, Valkyrie and Astarte, as a goddess is reborn. To make it more 'trve', dani also added some blasphemies here and there. As for the music... The guitars are raw, the drumming is filled with blast beats, the few keyboard parts create lots of atmosphere and the Dani's vocals are primitive. The guitar solo in the middle, along with the keyboards, creates an overall epic feeling. Another awesome thing about this song is the bass solo near the end. After that they repeat the beginning and that's it. Now that we've gotten into the brutal mood, the next song is trying to calm things down a bit. The Forest Whispers My Name begins with a slow piano intro which is soon accompanied by the drums and guitars. Once the piano stops playing, the brutality and rawness returns, along with Dani screaming like an eagle for teh lulz. Then after some more screeching, clean vocals and guitar riffing, the song gets a catchy choir interlude. After that we get some tremolo picking, and thus the song ends. Truly one of their best ones.
Iscariot is a haunting gothic song, with special effects and strings. Sadly, that's all to talk about it. The Black Goddess Arises begins with the sound of a door opening and some creepy piano notes. Then the actual song begins, this one being mid-paced, rather than fast-paced as the rest of the album's songs are. We notice that Dani once again makes reference to many goddesses in his lyrics: Gabrielle, Lilith and Ishtar. The few brutal and fast moments this song has are short, and soon we come to the interlude, which has one of the most beautiful piano songs I've heard. With orchestral strings in the background, this part makes this song one of the album's masterpieces. The guitars add more to the romantic atmosphere, and then Dani and another woman recite a romantic poem from his wacky darkly erotic works. After this finishes, the song becomes raw and fast once again, but not for long. Actually, this is one of Dani's favorite songs, as it talks about his wife, so no wonder they put so much emotion when they wrote it.
One Final Graven Kiss is a great atmospheric instrumental. Even though it's a simple piano riff, it gives you the feeling of death's approach and the wish of enjoying your last moments with your love. Truly a great piece! A Crescendo of Passion and Bleeding returns to the raw brutal speed that we were introduced to with the title track. This song has some great drumming, courtesy of Nick Barker, and Dani's vocals are varied from black shrieks and death growls to clean singing. Nice touch. And once the rawness disappears, a church organ suddenly makes itself heard. What is this? It's none other than To Eve the Art of Witchcraft! Arguably one of the album's best songs, and a favorite song for the band to play in the 90's. It features catchy organ melodies, raw guitar riffing and great vocals by Dani. I love how he shrieks 'desire'', it adds a nice touch to the song. As we approach the end of the song, we are greeted with a little break for all the instruments, except the keyboards, and a speech delivered by the same woman who made clean vocals on The Black Goddess Rises. It's pretty creepy, almost makes you think a witch is talking, and she intends to enslave all men. Then Dani and the other instruments make a return and end the song on a fast matter. Of Mist and Midnight Skies is another great song, featuring an organ intro similar to Bach's Toccata in B minor. The other organ parts of this song are meant to make it creepy in a 'vampyric' way. These keyboard parts, combined with the mid-paced drumming and guitar riffing, are sure to make this song a pleasant listen. The lyrics take an anti-christian approach, Dani trying to be as satanic as possible in both lyric writing and vocals. If he has succeeded or not depends totally on the listener's opinion.
In Secret Love We Drown is a beautiful instrumental, feturing slow drumming, even slower keyboards, some 'star' effects and the sound of a water falling. This one is so peaceful, it makes you imagine two lovers sitting embraced under a waterfall, being left without worries and enjoying every second of them being together. A Dream of Wolves in the Snow isn't too fast either, having some great bell riffs along with great drummng and guitar riffs, but the keyboards are the main instrument. Darren White is the vocalist this time, and his voice makes this song even more emotional than the previous instrumental. The first part of the lyrics is actually a speech of Dracula from Bram Stoker's novel with the same name. Nice touch for the vampyric atmosphere, Dani.
And now, ladies and gentlemen, I bring you my favorite Cradle of Filth song: Summer Dying Fast! *insert insane drumming* Thank you, Nick Barker. This last song of the album has everything that I love from Cradle's 'raw' era AND keeps you more interested in it. Practically, it becomes better after each riff ends. The song begins with Barker's insane drumming which I've mentioned before, to which Dani screeches a bit, and then continues with some melodic tremolo picking. Once this part is done, the church organ of Benjamin Ryan returns once again, this time with Dani delivering a clean vocal speech along with it. Then another church organ melody comes and Dani moves to screeching. Afterwards they repeat some riffs, and once this is done, the song gets more raw, and this is when Dani screams as loud as he could: WAR! Everything turns into a speed and raw fest until Dani screams: WE ARE WHAT WE WANT, WHAT WE SHALL BE! AGAIN! That is when the tremolo picked guitars play some sad riffs, as if the album is also regretting that it's about to end. Dani does some semi-clean vocals too and then we're only left with the keyboards. The symphonic approach is evident: orchestral strings and pizzicato strings create the most beautiful instrumental melody Cradle of Filth ever had in its history, and they just make you wish for more black metal Cradle. Sadly, the song fades away, and thus finishes the album.
Over all, this is the best Cradle of Filth album. Its melodies are catchy and atmospheric, the rawness of the recording brings a great black metal feel and Dani's screeches aren't as annoying as on Vempire or Dusk and Her Embrace. If only Cradle would've recorded Vempire, Dusk, Cruelty and Midian with the same quality as Principle, not only would they be a little more respected in black metal circles, but probably they might be able to dethrone Dimmu Borgir from being my favorite ex-black metal band.
As for favorite tracks, if I were to pick, I'd pick the whole album. So I'll list the recommended tracks for people *not neccesarily black metal fans* who want to get into this amazing album.
Recommended tracks: The Forest Whispers My Name, The Black Goddess Rises, To Eve The Art of Witchcraft, Of Mist and Midnight Skies, A Dream of Wolves in the Snow, Summer Dying Fast
Frankly, Cradle of Filth has never been my favourite band in “black” metal. Their first demos were death metal oriented, being the main extreme genre back then (at the beginning of the 90s), while going on this band was quite creative in changing the sound and evolve. The death/black roots were still recognizable but some more symphonic moments started to fill the already dark atmospheres, creating a sort of primordial form of symphonic extreme metal. During that period there was another band doing more or less the same path, Dimmu Borgir from Norway. Soon they turned to be the two most representative acts in this genre even if the differences in style and lyrics were quite evident.
Cradle of Filth is a band that took a lot of influences from the English stories about vampirism and occultism, while Dimmu Borgir was heavily influenced by the Norwegian environment to create their own personal approach to this new genre of metal. In 1994 the Cacophonous Records gave Cradle of Filth a shot to record the debut album, The Principle of Evil Made Flesh. The evolution seemed complete and now the symphonic elements were quite well-stuck in the aggressive soul of the band. This album is in my opinion one of the most fitting examples of extremism with symphonic touches. The following Dusk…and Her Embrace would have been the definitive consecration for this band but we must give the right credit to this one too.
There are a lot of things I like on this debut album. This is where you can perfectly hear the most violent and primitive side of the band, filtered down through the elements of the recent innovation. The production is quite essential but never chaotic and it gives you the idea of simplicity and purity. Forget about the too pompous productions of the recent days or the prevalent keyboards parts that suffocate the guitars. Here everything is still bound to the extreme scene of those days: the guitars’ sound is just massive, low-tuned and truly evil while the drumming of a young Nick Barker is still raging and truly death/thrash in most of the moments (the short but violent blast beats sections on “The Forest Whispers My Name” are an example of this, among the others). But let’s go in order…
The introduction of this album is for the gloomy, gothic overture of Darkness Our Bride (Jugular Wedding). The atmospheres are truly dark as the first, violent notes of the title track crush this dark introduction. The guitars are relentless in putting out riffs, as the first vocals enter. They are shrieky with high pitches. The drums are immediately impulsive with blast beats and up tempo sections. The few keyboards are for the more mid-paced parts, the other ones are completely naked of them and this is perfect. The guitars lines give the right melody and they are really interesting. The dynamic switches of tempo, the relentless rhythmic session and the incredibly evil vocals by Dani lead us to the following “The Forest Whispers My Name”.
As I said before, this song is more than remarkable for the bass/keyboards beginning and the calmer breaks. The guitars are always heavier but just when the clear blast beats enter the atmosphere turns to be incredibly hellish. The screams are piercing and the nastiness of the furious parts knows no limits. The crust style riffs and the up tempo with triplets clashed perfectly with doom moments and clean vocals. The keyboards are never excessive and they never invade the scene with egoism. Once again the atmosphere is truly gloomy and ritualistic. “Iscariot” is just an instrumental prelude with the keyboards and the sound of the pouring rain. The gothic touches are far more audible with that horror and mysterious touch.
“The Black Goddess Rises” is the first almost completely mid-paced masterpiece (the few speed restarts are not so long). The atmospheres reach great levels and the other instruments are not that fast, following the same progression. There are even piano notes to introduce it but the best can be found in the middle with the piano notes and lead guitar the follows the same style. Terrific. “One Final Graven Kiss” is another instrumental track to give the right gothic atmosphere as “A Crescendo of Passion Bleeding” comes in with its burden of extreme riffs and faster tempo sections. The vocals are always nasty but the few mid-paced breaks come always with some keyboards parts just to sustain the darker atmosphere.
“To Eve the Art of Witchcraft” features incredibly gloomy parts with the organ and sudden fast tempo (blast beats and rabid up tempo). The keyboards are once again truly creepy and dark under the guitars, just to sustain the whole progression. There’s the return of the female vocals during some sections and it’s a good choice for the general atmosphere of this album. “Of Mist and Midnight Skies” is a long track in which the general attention towards the atmosphere is higher. The long organ intro is the first example but as we go on, the general tempo is definitely more mid-paced with different vocals tones and the doomy sections with long notes.
“In Secret Love We Drown” is an ethereal instrumental track and the following “A Dream of Wolves in the Snow” is a speech with the slow march of the instruments as a base. The atmosphere is more important, once more but we never fell in intensity or catchiness. “Summer Dying Fast” has a faster approach at first but we can already notice the quite sad guitars riffs for some moments. The keyboards are there to add a sense of grotesque and decadence at the same time. So, they achieved the goal if we look at the lyrics. The final part is definitely sadder thanks also to the refrain, ending perfectly this very good album.
I like these Cradle of Filth a lot and I believe this is their real style and approach. After Midian everything turned to be far more commercial but if you like a great approach to melody, sadness and anger all in an album, don’t hesitate and take The Principle of Evil Made Flesh.
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, I will admit...it is tempting to bash this album. We all know of the exploits and commercialism Cradle of Filth had incorporated over the last few years.
But, this is great music...in its purset form. This is unadulterated extreme metal. No pretenses here. Nearly ten years later, this album still kicks some major metal ass. The melodies, the rythms, the harmonies - this album posseses it all.
By far, this is Cradle of Filth's greatest album, an album which will remain hard to find for the masses. And that is the way it should be. This is a gem. Something that should stay cult.
When I first became aware of Cradle of Filth I was into Motorhead, Iron Maiden, Overkill, etc. This album was an eye-opener. Only those wishing to broaden their horizons should listen to this. It should be something which is hard to find, a treasure of sorts.
The music is simplistic, but catchy throughout. It may have been called black metal by some, but only by the uninitiated. This is very unique music - extreme metal in the transition between death and trendy Goth.
The music varies from extremely fast to slow, doomy Goth. The production is right on - nothing fancy, nothing terrible. The guitaring showcases some fast solos. The drumming is fantastic - Nick Barker was always awesome. The keys are simple, but catchy. The vocals are the best Dani will ever record.
It may be cool nowadays to bash Cradle of Filth, but they sure had it going on a decade ago.
Find this. Buy this.
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!
This is Cradle of Filth's first official record, and my God...this is a must have for any black or even death metal fanatics. It shows the first efforts from the brit boys where we can hear clearly that they were trying to make something new and fresh in these kind of sounds...and I might say that they fuckin succeeded!! This is pure VAMPIRIA!!!
Of course that this is not a black brutallish record...This one marked the beginning of a new style that was ripped off by a countless number of wanna be's over the following years, that eventually developed the style to the technical brutality we know today...
Ok...you have to understand...no hyperactive drum and blast beats (yes...its still Nick Barker!!!) and no amazing technical polishment in their guitar sound...
But this was the spirit of early Cradle of Filth and the formula to get an excellent obscure record was: Brutal screaming and primitive vocals (forget Dani from "Cruelty and the Beast" or "Midian", you'll think they changed vocalist...), sublime vampirical keyboard melodies in the middle of the heavy songs and some strong and simple guitar riffs.
This one starts with "Darkness Our Bride (Jugular Wedding)", a little keyboard introduction and nothing very special (like all the other keyboard solo interludes, the weak point of this album for me...) being followed by one of C.O.F's best songs of all time, "The Principal of Evil Made Flesh". This one really kicks ass with some great riffage by Paul Allender and Paul Ryan and with those powerful drum strokes by Barker. Dani's vocals are just amazingly primitive...if you had to listen to only one song of this album, this should be the one.
After "Principle" comes one of their classics...they practically play this one at every concert. This version of "The Forest Whispers My Name" is the original one and although being slightly slower, it’s a little bit superior to the one present on "Vempire..." Although having some gothic influence, is still one of their best songs...
Next come "Iscariot"...Boring keyboard interlude (yes...another!!!) and another C.O.F epical song: "The Black Goddess Rises". This one is really damn heavy and really brutal...Dani's vocals and the guitars on that song are showing no mercy...
I would say that the rest of this album is basically pretty much the same in the tracklist and musical structure... It has another great songs like " A Crescendo of Passion Bleeding", "To Eve the Art of Witchcraft", "Of Mist And Midnight Skies" and the very impressive, thunder drum cracking "Summer Dying Fast", yet another of Filth's classics.
This is the best you can get from Cradle of Filth. This one captures the most pure Satanas worshiping ever felt or heard... Don't expect an excellent production like the ones you've heard in albums like "Dusk and Her Embrace" or "Cruelty and the Beast". This one is really supposed to be raw and brutal...and I think that if this one had been better produced it just wouldn't be the same fuckin thing... It's badly produced, but it's really worth the listening...AH...and if possible try to skip those irritating and boring keyboard instrumental interludes...you'll be doin' a favour to your ears...