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In Cradle of filth's discography, there are things I love, nice things, things I've been disappointed with and... this. "Thornography", the one COF album I couldn't finish the first time I heard it because of how it failed to keep me interested.
Because Cradle definitely have one flaw: when they don't make something great, they make something really boring, unoriginal and which borrows so much from their better albums that it borders into self-parody. And they never parodied themselves as much as in "Thornography". Every cliché possible about COF, or about gothic metal, they are all there. Reference to a goddess (here called Diane and not The black goddess, just to sound not to evil) ? Check. Weird-sounding growly/screamy vocals? Check. Female vocals here and there? Check. Lyrics all about sex and Dani's obsession for a mysterious woman ? Check. We get it, Dani, you love Toni King, you just have to give her other exotic names because Toni doesn't sound original and evil enough. The incessant drumming, too fast to be played by human hands, the little anti-religious/satanist thingy, and the obligatory cover? They're here too.
But of course, the COF clichés have been reduced to the extreme and the music is also radically simplified. Most tracks are short and have an obvious verse/chorus structure. While somewhat energetic on "Tonight in flames", "Cemetery and sundown" and even "Lovesick for Mina", the riffs are ten times less heavy than on previous albums, and not very interesting. "Cemetery and sundown" has a nice gothic rock-ish intro, something quite new for Cradle of filth, but that's all that really stands out. Vocals are still harsh, but they don't have the madness they used to have. "Under huntress moon" is in a more heavy old school COF style, but it's nothing original for them. All is a re-use of everything they've done before, nothing exceptional at all!
But the lyrics are where this simplification hits the hardest. They're just phrases put together, and there is no particular writing effort like there used to be. For a band like Cradle of filth, that's disappointing. As for the themes... Oh, dear. They are trying to show off cultural references as usual, but this time it's limited to what some dumb high school students think they know about gothic literature. There's Mina like in "Dracula", and Faust, well, I prefer girls so, he he, I invented his female from, Faustina, and then I call myself a Byronic man. There is even some Libertina Grimm out there, I don't know who the hell she is but that sounds good! To go with these random themes, some lyrics are pretty stupid. Read those for "The byronic man" and "I am the thorn" in particular. Really. You get what I meant by self-parody and Cradle of filth for dummies? It's not funny anymore.
All of this flanderization, as TV.Tropes would call it, already gives us a mediocre album. But here is our little bonus, the obligatory cover I mentioned earlier, namely: "Temptation", originally by Heaven 17. Oh lord. Maybe it's the absurdity of the concept of Cradle covering a song like that. Maybe it's the pseudo-heavy female vocals, by some "Dirty Harry". Maybe it's the music video where everyone is naked. But there is something incredibly ridiculous about Cradle's version. Actually, it's one of the most ridiculous things I've ever heard. One of these songs I hate so much I listen to it all the time just to make fun of it and destroy my brain cells. You have to make something really, really bad, to accomplish this.
Unfunny and dumb self-parody, uninteresting vocals, stupid lyrics and a really, really awful cover. What's not to... dislike on this? If you like COF or are just looking for good music, avoid this. This is the only COF record I really hate. I gave it points for "Cemetary and sundown" and "Tonight in flames". "Temptation" got a few points for being so bad it's funny, but it's so bad that I could rate this 30%. It deserves my ultimate award of "What the hell where they thinking ?"
Alright, well mixed reviews here mostly bad and that was my opinion at first listen as well. However, there is a different and less aggressive COF exhibited on this release. Just because it lacks the atmosphere that "Dusk...And Her Embrace" flourished with, "Thornography" still to me is a 60+ minute underrated release by the band. The vocals aren't really reaching that high end screaming here. More of a darker output with occasional spews of Dani Filth's efforts here. The music is more thrash metal like guitar work. It contains some original writing, but isn't as captivating as it's previous releases.
This release is still considered to be gothic metal with a slower, yet catchy riff-writing. The guitar fits the music pretty well. Though the mixing isn't the greatest nor is the guitar fueled with heavy tone distorted sound, it is a little fainter tone of axe-written riffs. The music is a lot slower like I previously mentioned, but I think that the band was just experimenting with their sound. Not nearly as good as their previous recordings, but still worth picking up if you're a die-hard COF fan. I enjoyed this album immensely, though I think that they could have put in more heavier or thicker guitar.
It sounds like they tune lower than D than their predecessors which in effect blends well with the throat. The rhythms seem to be well meshed in with Dani's everchanging voice. Some of the music is REALLY heavy and yet some of the guitar is more melodic. It's really all over the place, not in tempo changes, but the music. There really aren't many blast beats on here, just slower tempos filled with a lot of vocal screams mixed heavy end derivatives. Best to listen to the whole album before you end up criticizing it. They just wanted a different approach to me. Even though it isn't the best work they've done, it's still somewhat quality.
There are some lead guitar work going on here, though it's mostly filled with heavy dosing of rhythm guitar with melodies that are well fitting with the vocals. I'd have to say that one should listen to the WHOLE album before making an opinion of it. It is all over the place as I've previously mentioned. There are some quality tracks on here. Just because they slowed down here doesn't make it less worthy of praise in my view. There is still a dark atmosphere with the synthesizers and aura to it. Just less brain wrenching riffs that are catchy, yet totally slowed down like I said.
If you're looking for a mild COF release, "Thornography" is it. But if you're so ingrained and used to hearing them belt out high end screams and blast beating galore, I think that you would deem this album less than worthy than it should be. To me, I'd have to conclude that it's average, yet a lot of the music I really dig because it's fueled catchy riff-writing. Again, my view is to listen to the entire album before you begin to bash it. COF put forth a release that's totally gothic, thrash metal based and hits home well for me. That's just my view at least. Like it or hate it, I choose the former.
Most people now-a-days call Cradle of Filth mainstream. Most people also write off all of their albums after Midian claiming that they have "sold out" and "abandoned their roots." Thats not the case. Just because the albums aren't "kvlt black metal" like The Principle of Evil Made Flesh that doesn't mean that they don't kick some serious ass. Thats exactly the case with their 2006 release Thornography. On this album, the band keeps their usual blend of symphonic black metal and gothic metal, but they also add in another element and that is thrash metal. They even go as far as to make a pretty much pure thrash song with The Foetus of a New Day Kicking. They experiment like this throughout the whole album pretty much and the end result is great.
Like I said earlier, the band mixes three different types of metal on this album. You have the black/thrash songs like Dirge Inferno, the pretty much pure black metal songs like Cemetery and Sundown, and like I mentioned earlier the pure thrash songs like The Foetus of a New Day Kicking. They also add a pure instrumental song that lasts a little over 7 minutes with Rise of the Pentagram. No matter what style they go with on this album, it always sounds good. Every song on the album is in at least one of the styles mentioned above.
Now to the instrumental aspect of this album. When most people think black metal drumming they most likely think blast beats. This album is probably the heaviest album the band has released in their career and yet there are no blast beats to be found on this album. Most of the time Adrian is playing some pretty fast and complex beats, but he never gets to the blast beats. The guitar playing by Paul and Charles is more often than not fast, melodic black metal tremolo picking. They also throw in some thrash riffs on the purely thrash songs. They also add some rare guitar solos on Tonight In Flames and I Am the Thorn. The bass by Dave Pybus is audible on some songs such as Dirge Inferno and Libertina Grimm and he keeps the fast rhythym of the songs going along with Adrian. Now if you think these guys forgot how to make epic, vampyric songs then you're wrong. Lovesick for Mina and Under Huntress moon will take you back to the days of Midian with their great symphonic arrangements and keyboard domination.
Dani Filth has changed his vocals a little bit on Thornography. At the time when this was made in 2006, Dani was having problems with his voice and he couldn't go as high pitched as he usually does. His voice on this album is still high pitched, but he does a lot more deep talking and growling than on previous albums. This is by no means a bad thing. He still sounds amazing and this might be some what of a relief for people that couldn't get into his higher pitched vocals from albums such as Dusk and Her Embrace and Cruelty and the Beast.
I'm going to state a very important fact right now. This is Cradle of Filth's best album since Midian and for all the people who write this album off because its cool to hate Cradle of Filth, you're missing out on one hell of an album. It is definitely the band's most experimental album to date, but its still Cradle of Filth. The only thing that's wrong with this album is that god awful cover of Temptation. If they got rid of that, this album would be extremely close to being perfect.
I have a pretty mixed opinion of Cradle of Filth’s music. Some of their albums are decent (Dusk and Her Embrace, Cruelty and the Beast and Midian) while some are half-retarded (Nymphetamine). Thornography pretty much falls down in the same basket as Nymphetamine, as it’s got some decent ideas mixed with some very shitty ones.
First of all, on a positive note, Dani’s shrieks aren’t as horribly high as they used to be. Now his vocals are tolerable almost all the time. They might sound somewhat blander overall due to the reduced amount of variation but I still prefer this to his lame high shrieks of the past, to some extent (it gets excruciatingly boring after a while).
The composition of the songs here really makes me think that the band is trying to become more commercially successful as there’s almost no complexity to be found in the music anymore, none of the intricate work which gave Dusk and Her Embrace such a dark and compelling atmosphere. They’re all pop-style compositions with no interesting variation, and this really gets boring after a while. Not after the first few listens, when the increased catchiness of the songs helps draw listeners in and makes the songs seem different, but after one has either listened to their older albums or to this one for some time, the repetition will become obvious and the whole album will become boring. The identical structure of the songs makes them all seem alike and makes me want to either fall asleep or listen to something better.
The intro is typical of Cradle, with some rather random noises trying to evoke an evil atmosphere before the not very interesting opening song, Dirge Inferno, consisting of bland riffing and drumming which tries to be aggressive but gets on my nerves. All this continues the magnificent tradition since Nymphetamine’s Gilded Cunt of making shitty opening songs. The following song is pretty decent…Tonight in Flames consists of some pretty decent melodic riffs, drums which don’t try to be the first instrument heard and vocals which don’t totally suck. The only others worth really mentioning are Cemetery and Sundown, which is probably the best song here, having some very nice instrumentals and even good vocals, and Rise Of The Pentagram, starting with some random spoken part at the beginning by Dani and then developing into a very good instrumental song, enjoyable until the very end. Maybe it’s the absence of Dani’s mediocre vocals which makes this so good. The rest of the album consists of a pretty good seven-minute song, Under Huntress Moon, and of Temptation, a song originally done by Heaven 17. This cover song is pure pigeon shit which was somehow recorded and then sold. I have no idea who Heaven 17 are, nor do I know why Cradle of Filth decided to cover their lame song, let alone make a damn single out of it, but it’s the worst idea Dani had in many years, and that’s saying something.
On a side note, Ville Valo of the ‘Love Metal’ band H.I.M. gives some guest vocals on the song The Byronic Man, which despite this is pretty bland and unremarkable. I actually consider Ville and H.I.M. to be pretty good at times, so I don’t see his presence as being a bad thing, but it just doesn’t help in any way since you barely recongnise his voice.
Overall the album is neither very good nor very bad. Four or five good tracks out of twelve, plus a few decent yet unremarkable songs make for an album which I can hardly recommend except for hardened Cradle of Filth fans. For the rest, I just suggest downloading it and listening to the decent songs I’ve mentioned earlier.
As a huge fan of every album up to this point, well, most of Nymphetamine, I really tried to enjoy this for what it is and find some good in it. The only redeeming thing I came up with was one bonus track on the rerelease, "Devil to the Metal." This song isn't bad, it struck me as Nymphetamine with a Midian twist, and I enjoy that one song. Unfortunately, it makes the rest of the album seem even worse. Knowing they can still write a good song suggests that the entire album could have been good, and they intentionally made it suck.
I can't hear this album as "experimental" or a "new sound," it's the opposite, it is completely generic in every way. Their old sound was very experimental and unique, this one sounds like anything you'd hear on the radio. For one, Cradle of Filth always used unique song structures, organizing their compositions to the flow of the lyrics. Their songs were structured more like tragedies, with a rising action, climax, and falling action, rather than standard verse/chorus structures. Whenever they did have a chorus, it was usually not more than "beneath the howling stars," (I don't consider the repeated stanza in the song to be a chorus due to the structure) or at most "a queen of snow, far beyond compare, lips attuned to symmetry sought her everywhere," but now they are often more than half of the song. You can't be "experimental" if you're doing exactly what everyone else is doing.
But on Thornography, every song follows the standard structure: ABABCB. Nymphetamine also did this, and it wasn't good there either. It's just a sign of lazy composition.
The old sound would use melodies for atmosphere, rather than the basis of the song, and everything coming together would make the overall impression. On Thornography, they tried to make a more guitar oriented sound, but rather than doing it with interesting and experimental melodies, they only wrote riffs to be catchy. This isn't composition, it's selling records. There is so little emotion on this album at all that it is completely boring for anyone who is accustomed to their original style.
Another staple of their career has been Dani's lyrics. Up until now, their songs have been lyrical masterpieces, all of them, even Nymphetamine. On Thornography it's like he's not even trying, just throwing words together. There is no deeper meaning to anything he wrote, and no poetic merit to the entire album. If he had put any effort into the lyrics then maybe the band would have had to write better song structures to go along with them.
You might think that only a musician like myself would see these problems, but I tested someone who knows nothing about theory or playing any instrument, by having them listen to "The Foetus of a new Day Kicking" and then "Queen of Winter, Throned." After the former, he commented that he wondered why Cradle of Filth suddenly sounded like Slipknot. Of course he vastly preferred the latter, giving reasons such as "better vocals, actual good melody, good backup vocals, diversity, nothing at all generic."
In fact, most people I've met who actually liked Thornography had never listened to Cradle before. When I handed them Dusk and her Embrace or Cruelty and the Beast they never listened to Thornography very much.
I won't go through every song on the album, I'd have mostly the same complaints about all of them. But since I elaborated on the best song I may as well cover the worst; their cover of "Temptation." This was the first song I heard from this album, listening to it was absolutely painful. I was consoled a little when learning that it was a cover and they did not actually write this atrocity. It was still extremely disappointing though, because their covers have always been amazingly executed, like "Hallowed Be Thy Name" or "For Those Who Died."
This is in my opinion the second worst release in metal history, only behind St Anger. I believe they have the potential to come back if they decide to stop making the most generic mainstream excuse for metal possible and get back to doing what they're good at, so I'll give the next album a fair chance as well, but this one is dead to me.
Unlike a lot of the people here I am not utterly into black metal and the like, I am fond of many genres and instead of basing this review on "This is the shittiest black metal ever", I will judge it based on what it is, extreme Gothic metal. this is the last time black metal will be mentioned in this review.
Thornography, although not completely horrible, doesn't really do anything new or amazing. The sound has changed a lot since the last album of theirs I've heard (Cruelty And The beast) and it is a lot easier to digest, although it does take away the dark atmosphere and exchanges it for something more campy. But it still beats the shit out of Deathstars (Man I hate that band). Sometimes the new sound works and sometimes it is just annoying as often it does not suit the lyrics.
Dani Filth's cleaner vocals sounds good on some of the songs and is actually more inviting, like in songs such as Byronic Man, which sounds good BUT it does sound devoid of emotion, this goes for quite a few of the songs. Hence why I call it a "safe" album, it doesn't try to portray strong emotion or be innovative, which usually requires the sound to be more obscure or "not for everybody".
I've heard some people say "Well it sounds like Cradle Of Filth have learned how to play their instruments", this is true but not necessarily a good thing, as it means it has become watered down, you can still bang your head to a lot of it (and probably feel guilty in doing so) as it's not yet pop, but I really do hope COF - if they bring out anymore albums - go backwards as opposed to forwards which seems to be walking towards decadence and the fact that they do it with a smile makes me uneasy.
The lyrics on this album have gone downhill, I miss the good old darkly sexually poetic lyrics like in A Gothic Romance (Dusk And Her Embrace) which were much more impressive. Sometimes I doubt the existence of lyrics on this album, it's almost as if they are just there for the sake of it being an album as opposed to actually being a key part or artistic piece of the album.
Overall it's probably worth a download if you don't mind more "mainstream" sounding stuff, but I wouldn't buy it unless it was very very cheap. You'll likely only listen to a couple of songs more than twice, if you put them in a play list or something. If you liked Nymphetamine you'll most likely like this album. If you're a Dusk And Her Embrace fan however... you might want to check out older albums that you may not have heard yet, like Cruelty And The Beast or V Empire instead.
I've never really listened to Cradle of Filth, they'd sold out before I was into metal, and the general consensus prior to me hearing the band was that were a bunch of pussies who were an insult to black metal, not that I'm a BM fan. Add photos around the internet, and the band hit my 'don't try out list'. Well, I got my first taste thanks to a local metal radio show, who were playing the songs 'Cemetery and Sundown' and 'I am the Thorn'. And to my surprise, I found both those songs great. Nothing like black metal, but quite cool, melodic rocky songs, and the vocals didn't sound so stupidly high as I had previously thought.
So now, with a full album in front of me, how has the album turned out? Unfortunately for CoF, they haven't got a new fan. Other than those two songs and maybe another pair, this album as a rule feels like a horrible mess, full of bad ideas and crappy lyrics. Most of the time the band does try to do that rock-based fun sound, but they tend to fail, with most of the riffs being boring. For the rest of the time they focus on terrible keyboard based stuff and fail at making a dark atmosphere.
The album starts off strong enough, Dirge Inferno is comparable to either of the previously mentioned songs, and Tonight in flames has a few fun riffs and some energy. However it's got a few "angry old woman" vocals on it. But overall it's not a terrible song.
However, after that there's only two or three songs to look forward to, as the songs get unlistenably awful, such as the nauseating Byronic Man. Which gives us lots of old woman screams, and set of boring riffs, keyboard based sections, bad melodies, and one of the worst choruses ever put onto CD. Libertina grim is average, "Thorn..." and "Cemetery..." are great, but other than that "Foetus of a New Day Kicking" is the only other song on the album worth listening to. Not just on an enjoyment level, every other song on the album is just unlistenable in their boring, gothic, drawn out-ness.
The guitar team of Paul Allender and Charles Hedgen don't exactly hit us with any real show of technicality or speed, but they do give us some effective catchy riffs at places, unfortunately half of the riffs suck. Supposedly there’s some solos on here too, but hell, I can't remember them. Adrian Erlandsson is pretty average on the drums, simply sitting in the background and keeps time, with pretty standard fills every now and then.
Dani Filth surprised me, he really doesn't sound as gay as he looks. For the main part he's got a decent enough scream, and he does the odd Death Growl quite competently. However, he's got a higher scream, which just sounds like an old woman screaming. Picture yourself a crazy old woman with 14 cats, who screams at passer-bys. That's pretty close to what Dani sounds like.
Production wise the album is quite good. There's no real bass sound, but the guitars are big and have a pretty nice sound to them. The keys and orchestral elements are pretty much in the background to the standard instruments which helps the album overall sound nice and metallic rather than overly gothic.
So, CoF haven't got a new fan, I'm not going to buy any of their other albums, but at the same time I'm not going to join in on the next big CoF insult fest I see. I recommend downloading I Am The Thorn, Cemetery and Sundown, Dirge Inferno, and The Foetus of a New Day Kicking. They're basically all that's worthwhile on here, and they are fun songs which are good to listen to, unfortunately very little of the rest of the album is passable, and for the reason doesn't even feel like filler, it's just plain bad. If the filler on this album were listenable, it'd be an ok album.
Nymphetamine showed CoF's new side as one of Roadrunner's biggest new clients. The change in sound was clear to see; not only had things become increasingly ear-friendly, but the band also did it with a smile on their faces and claimed it as a natural evolution of the existing sound. The introduction of more rock-ish elements to the band's melting pot of gothic metal and thrash certainly did raise a few eyebrows, mine included. This new formula comes full swing on Thornography, where the band seemingly find a balance with thrashy/punky segments, slower moments similar to earlier albums, (Cruelty and the Beast comes to mind) and the semi-melodic parts that the band are known for.
I'll start with Dani, since his vocals on this release have long been a source of debate for fans and haters alike. A new vocal style has been introduced here: clean vocals. I use the word "clean" very loosely, because his singing itself is very rough and gutteral, and quite frankly, annoying at most points. It's better than the cheesy narration seen on Midian, but ultimately, still sucks. This is especially prevalent on "Tonight in Flames," which features a fairly catchy chorus, but ends up being ruined a little more towards the end because of the clean vocals. (Thank God for the melodic guitars throughout the song.) Some of it isn't too bad, though; "Libertina Grimm" and "Cemetary and Sundown" show the more menacing side of this new vocal style, and many of the clean vocal spots in other songs are overlapped with other vocals, usually female. Aside from this little introduction of voice techniques, Dani hasn't really changed much. His style is a little more throaty this time around, and he clearly can't hit the highs like he used to; everything seems a bit more restrained this time, even more than in the past. (Almost to the point of where he sounds as if out of breath.) There are some good moments though, especially on "The Foetus of a New Day Kicking," which could easily serve as a single for the album with melodic leads and a thrashy demeanor.
Paul and James exercise the use of leads and solos more extensively here, both of which are along more melodic territory. There are plenty of harmonies on "The Byronic Man," "Libertina Grimm," and the instumental, "Rise of the Pentagram." Generally, the solos aren't overdone or even memorable, but they do add some extra flair to the more rock-oriented sound brought to the table. Like the previous two albums, the guitars switch roles between power chord-driven verses, semi-melodic tremolo picking, and the melodic tendencies that have been disappearing lately in this band's sound. "I am the Thorn" is a perfect example of this: galloping rhythms power the verses, and lead to a chorus that seems more along the lines of what was acheived on Damnation and a Day.
The overall production of the album may turn a few people off: the drums are brought more to the front this time, especially the snare drum and bass drum. (The bass drum almost sounds distorted.) This helps in the more assaulting moments, but some passages on "Rise of the Pentagram" could have used a more dynamic sound. Guitars are also boasting more beef here, probably due to the different style of playing. By no means is it a "wall of sound" motif, but this is a little disappointing considering that CoF are known for the crystal-clear, articulate sort of production.
My only other qualm with the album is the choice of cover song as the closing track. Sure, they've done plenty of covers; most of which have been abominable, especially the Misfits song they butchered on the soundtrack for the movie Underworld: Evolution last year. But "Temptation" takes the cake above all the others. I can see the band's reason for choosing this one, as it seemed totally pious to cover an 80's dance-pop song that was, above all, a gay anthem. This, however, is not an excuse for what we hear. Dani hits an all-time low, and the rest of the band doesn't really seem to care what's happening in the song. Also, the female vocals on the chorus are almost as irritating as Dani's. Hell, at least their cover of "Hell Awaits" had some nads behind it.
Thornography shows a new chapter for CoF, and it's not a great one; at the same time, it's not total shit.
Favorite tracks: "Tonight in Flames," "The Byronic Man," "Foetus of a New Day Kicking," "Rise of the Pentagram"
Before listening to this album, I had heard many mixed feelings on it; some claiming it a masterpiece, while others set a personal vendetta against Cradle. When I listemed to it for myself, my opinion was to neither extreme. While it might not be the best material Cradle has written, it is certainly interesting. It is much more thrashy than other other recording. (It seems as though Cradle want to experiment with as many genres as possible during their career seeing as how they have already tried death and black and are currently experimenting with gothic and thrash.) Anyway, this album seems to be highly experimental.
Dani Filth seems to try several new vocal techniques completely unorthodox to his style. He does all the old stuff like the black metal rasp, the deep throaty growl, and the piercing screech, but he also tries an almost hardcore shout, clean singing, and spoken word. This record seems to be a vocal goodie bag.
Adrian Erlandsson definitely shines in this record. The drums are drawn much more to the foreground in this record than in previous Cradle releases. Adrian gets to show off his Swedish, Melodeath-esque drumming talent. Lots of blast beats and exceptional musicianship on his part.
Dave Pybus, while he may not be a shining star in the band, still does his part to create the Cradle sound. His bass skills accentuate the album's darkness and heaviness, giving the music more depth.
The twin guitars of Charles Hedger and Paul Allender truly bring out the newest Cradle evolution in sound. This album is by far the most thrashy effort Cradle has ever put out. Cradle has done covers of some of thrash's best in the past (Sodom, Slayer, Venom) and this record seems to build directly upon their foundations. The guitarwork is surprising different from other Cradle releases, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. The music on this album also seems to be faster than typical Cradle songs.
In addition to the band's change in general sound, the band seems to also be changing its policy on guests. For years, Cradle almost exclusively used Sara Jezebel Deva of Angtoria (with a few exceptions) for additional vocals until Nymphetamine (in which Liv Kristine and King Diamond made appearances). The band seems to be using more high profile guest vocalists with the usage of Ville Valo of the mainstream-successful, Finnish band H.I.M. and Harry (who was formerly known as Dirty Harry).
All in all, the album is actually not bad. It may not be the best Cradle release ever, but it is a solid release. It is definitely an interesting change from the deeply Gothic-rooted Nymphetamine and shows a new facet to the Cradle of Filth library.
If you thought that Cradle of Filth was black metal (at any point in their career) than Thornography will surely put that thought to rest. Thornography is not black metal, melodic black metal, or even melodic death metal. What is it then? I’m not sure. Extreme Gothic Metal doesn’t seem to be right anymore. Thornography is sort of a mixture of a lot of genres all mixed into one album.
First off, I would like to state that Thornography is not as bad as everyone seems to claim it to be. Compared to Cradle of Filth classics like Midian than it may seem a little off – but on it’s own, without predisposition, the album is pretty solid. Whether or not you like the newer sound Cradle of Filth is leaning towards is up to you. With that out of the way let’s begin analysis.
Musically, the first aspect one is going to notice on Thornography is that Cradle of Filth has really moved away from created an album atmosphere. There isn’t much atmosphere created here and don’t expect much to be conjured up either. Each song is very much a separate track with no particular running theme or sound. That leads me to say this: each song incorporates a lot of different styles of music. There are tracks with a major rhythm without much melody, there are tracks with a lot of Maiden-esque guitar parts, there are keyboard driven tracks that sound damn close to Goblin (Italian horror movie soundtrack gods), and there are even tracks that are mostly spoken word. There is a lot of variety.
It’s hard to say what the guitars exactly sound like due to their variety. In reality, expect thrash moments intermixed with melody and heavy power chords. That’s not completely right but it’s as close as I can explain.
The production is top notch with drums and bass being properly placed and guitars that sound slightly different from track to track but with a good focus being placed firmly in the fretwork and the vocals courtesy of Dani Filth.
Dani Filth really spreads his wings on Thornography. Some success can be found here and some failures too. He does a lot of variation with his voice and not variation as found with his range. He tries some different styles too. Distortion overlays, oddly sung notes, screams, grunts, and spoken parts. You name it and he tries it. The oddly sung parts are hard to describe but it kind of sounds like he purposely sings out of key.
This review sounds slightly ambiguous, I know. That is because the album is so different song to song – that to do a general concept of the album is almost impossible. Some listeners say the music is poorly written whereas I think this experimental album has its moments of victory too. Some songs are as catchy as hell with sing-along choruses (The Foetus of a New Day Kicking) and some are long drawn out snooze fests (The Byronic Man). This is not for everyone. WARNING: THIS IS EXPERIMENTAL AND SHOULD BE JUDGED AS SUCH.
Songs to check out: I Am the Thorn, The Foetus of a New Day Kicking, Dirge Inferno.
*Note: The inclusion of the cover track “Temptation” is still a mystery to me. The bigger mystery is that they picked it for a single. A funny and silly B-side is one thing. A single A-side is another.
When a band has been around for many years and many albums, I tend to look at their musical repertoire like an economics stock line graph...they release one album, and with each successive release, the stock rises as the band continues to musically grow. But once a high point is reached, there's nowhere to go but down, down, down. CRADLE OF FILTH seemed to hit their high point with "Dusk...and Her Embrace" and "Cruelty and the Beast", but once "From the Cradle to Enslave" and "Midian" hit the market, the price began to droop, only to rise a bit more with "Damnation and a Day". "Nymphetamine" again began the downward spiral, only to hasten the price drop with this, "Thornography".
Upon first listen, it seemed evident that troubles were a'brewin' when the only only song not written by the band is probably the best one on the album (the obligatory keyboard intro, written by Chris Rehn of ABYSSOS and ANGTORIA), and once the metal floweth forth, that's when the troubles commence in full-swing. Maybe it's me, but once Gian left the group, the music started to get a bit stale, only to be freshened a bit more with the inclusion of James. Now that he's out of the picture for good, the band employed some jamoke named Charles, whose further musical prowess I have yet to experience. Firstly, it's pretty clear that Paul's riff well has run dry, pushing the music further away from their black metal roots with chunky, second-tier thrash riffing and some rather piss-poor solo work (it's obvious Mr. Allander is NO Alexi Laiho, and I hope this isn't a "talent" he prides himself on). Secondly, a bit of advice to a trend I'd noticed in keyboard-lead metal groups....DO - NOT - MAKE - YOUR - MUSIC - GUITAR - DRIVEN! There's a GOOD REASON why the keyboards are the fore-front, mainly if the guitar riffing is secondary. CHILDREN OF BODOM, DIMMU BORGIR, and NIGHTWISH all had albums where the guitars were the main instrument, and it left quite the sour taste (although DIMMU is the only group so far whose reclaimed their symphonic past, CoB at in second...NIGHTWISH should redeem themselves, as they seem pretty washed up, but then again, I could be wrong). CRADLE pushed the keys further back, if added any at all, with "Thornography", which was NOT a good idea (look back at my take on why it shouldn't have been so). However, the few and far-between keyboard lines are rather tastefully done and nice in their own right (the piano interlude in the middle section of "Tonight in Flames", for example), only to be squashed by walls of half-hearted guitarwork once more.
Let's not forget the lyrics and vocal delivery...Dani at one time was the master of the lyrical pen back in his "Vempire" days, but you can tell something is amiss when "Disney-esque" is considered a usable verb in a song. And I thought "Nymphetamine's" lyrics were sub-par...these take the cake. The delivery isn't any better, as one can tell Dani's voice isn't what it used to be (and don't get me started on the "singing", which is actually pretty funny in their own right, or the duet with uber-fag Ville Valo...). So enough of that...
At the end of the day, "Thornography" is a serious stumbling block from a band that should know better. Maybe it was the Roadrunner Records contract that compromised their ability, in order to make them a more viable product for the mallcore goth crowd, like they did with NIGHTWISH and DRAGONFORCE, or maybe they need to take a longer break than usual. Maybe then they can release something much more note-worthy. Maybe.
Cradle of Filth have been around for going on sixteen years now (one of the older metal bands I enjoy), and with Thornography it's becoming evident that they are quickly running out of ideas. Although this one did start off on a great note with the first track.
One thing I think drags this album down is the lack of a permanent keyboardist. Martin Powell is a hard act to follow, and while I'm sure Rosie is skilled, her parts didn't have the power that Martin's did. Keyboards have been a very strong part of this band's history, and he provided several horror-style and classic motifs that the band could build the rest of the music on. The relatively new guitarist, Charles Hedger, might be another factor since he hasn't had too much time to meld with the band and understand who they are (or were). With James on the last album, though, he was in the band for a year before Nymphetamine came out and went with them on the Damnation and a Day tour. And it shows, Nymphetamine was a solid album in my opinion.
Now on to what music we do have. This album continues in the Nymphetamine style of juxtaposing the band's gothic metal with another genre. Whereas Nymphetamine was more modern rock-based, Thornography uses more punk and thrash elements. And while this may seem better on paper, it isn't executed very well. The riffs are pretty repetitive, uninspired, contrived at times, and overall weak. This band has used punk-influenced riffs before, but they aren't convincing or enjoyable this time around. When the guitars go into lead-mode, though, it's usually pretty good although nothing new in terms of melodies. The solos don't stand out much either. Without the strong keyboard backing, it sounds like the guitars are floundering on their own. The trademark abrasiveness and rhythmic complexity is also gone, so the songs don't have much of a feel to them. And while we're on the subject of uninspired, the drum performance was the most lackluster I've heard from this band.
There are a few experiments to note on this album, with Byronic Man being the first. Ville Valo of HIM actually does a great job on that song (I know many people in the metal community cringed when they heard he would be here). While I can't stand HIM, Ville's voice is pretty well-suited for gothic/atmospheric music and his tone (when he uses his lower ranges) is very enjoyable. The concept of characters being voiced by guests is one that I'd like to see Cradle look more into as it's very intriguing for me. Maybe if the newbies work with the band more and everybody works very hard musically we can get some kind of gothic metal version of The Human Equation. It would be the perfect comeback after this album, Dani!
The next experiment is Dani singing. That's right, Dani Filth doing clean vocals. And while I'm glad he can actually sing, but I'm also underwhelmed. It's clear and has decent strength, but he sounds like some punk vocalist. I don't think this works with the general idea of Cradle of Filth at all, and I'd rather that he concentrates on getting his harsh vocals back to the Damnation of a Day or even Nymphetamine level. His higher vocals sound more throaty and it's like he's lost something, maybe range or strength or something.
Right after we hear Dani belt out sing-along choruses, Rise of the Pentagram comes up. This is the first band instrumental done by Cradle of Filth, and it's pretty good. I'd on a musical level this is the best track here. Good guitar play and good keyboard parts. The intro narration was a tad ridiculous and sounded forced, though.
The last experiment comes in the form of the last song, Cradle's cover of Heaven 17's Temptation. A very peculiar song choice for this band, and it comes off as weird and out-of-place on the album. The cover itself is pretty enjoyable, but I never want to hear synths in a Cradle of Filth song again. I prefer their classical keyboard instrumentation much more.
This album is kind of like Cruelty and the Beast, Part 2 in that both albums are transitional and awkward at times. But Cruelty and the Beast had great moments and glimpses of how good the albums after would be; Thornography offers no such hope. I'm sure that the future albums will be better as the newbies gain more experience and improve, but hopefully the band will get back on track musically. Thornography is a weak album overall, but it has its moments. As long as they don't continue in that direction, they'll be fine. But if they are truly out of ideas, maybe it's time to throw in the towel. Only time will tell what the outcome of this album will be.
Oh how my hopes have been dashed once again. Being someone who has listened to Cradle for about 7-8 years now, this album has served to get them out of my system. They should have titled it Metalmucil. It was hyped as being thrashy, with talk about Paul flexing his soloist muscle. Too bad he can't write a riff for shit.
That's right I said it. This band has suffered since the departure of Gian and more so Martin, and Thornography would be exhibit A in the trial of the Metalheads v Cradle of Filth, for the charge of Attempted Music.
When I listen to an album I hear someone who has written 12 riffs, and decided to base a song around each one. Now while this can work for some, Cradle has failed miserably as the filler to pad the songs out is utterly boring. Take "Byronic Man" for instance, the main structure and pace of this song is so tiresome that you are actually happy to hear Ville Valo chime in towards the end. At least "English Fire" had some feeling to it.
Dani's vocals are completely messed up. I read on their website about how he tried all sorts of coaching and therapies to help his clean singing. Too bad the singing was terrible and the rest of his performance is flat.
The only highlight I could think of on this album would be "Rise of the Pentagram", the 7 minute instrumental (bar Doug Bradley's intro). Gone is Dani and in his place is some nice simple Violin; funny they do something like this after Martin's departure. I was hoping he would eventually bring in some of that heart wrenching My Dying Bride string work with him to Cradle, but alas....
As far as compostion goes, "Rise of the Pentagram" is decent. The guitars are nothing special, but they are layered well. The whole song is layered well, with Synths and choral arrangements keeping it interesting.
It beggars belief how people can compare this rubbish with the greatness of Midian. Midian was an album that came together so well, despite being a dramatic departure from their previous sound. Dani's lyrics were brilliant, Martin's compositions were beautiful and brilliantly complimented the guitars which just completely kicked arse. Thornography is like Caffine Free Diet-Midian; devoid of all flavour and enjoyment.
If you are new to Cradle I'd suggest Dusk, Midian, Vempire, and Cruelty (and yes, I actually listen to this for the riffs, 13 Autums, Bathory Aria, and Lustmord and Wargasm have some great guitars. The guitars and Synths on this album complimented each other perfectly.)
Hopefully once the boys are done touring for this album (why bother though, I wouldn't jump to hear any of this live), they will take some time off - much like Dimmu are right now - and return more visceral and venmous than ever.
Despite much talk accusing the selling out of Suffolk's metal band, Cradle of Filth, I have decided to remain a filthest Order of The Dragon devotee, much to my reputation of Cradle of Filth Whore, and gotten myself their latest opus to date, Thornography.
Though lacking in vocal prowess on the part of Count Dani and the eye-pleasing display of wordplay, I must say I ain't *too* disappointed with this latest installment. Off the 12 tracks this ritual offers, I am utmostly satisfied with Tonight in Flames, Libertina Grimm, The Bryonic Man, Cetemetry and Sundown, and Under Huntress Moon. And I am equally, or not more, disgusted at their rendition of Temptation. It irks me off totally.
An analysis of how the whole album sounds here, Thornography departs what Midian or Nymphetamine offers: keyboards. The guitars takes centre stage, ripping your hungry earwalls off in their relentless barrage of assualt. Drums are prominent, providing ample backbone for the entire album. Vocals... Let me see. It is expected that Dani has past his glory days of a strong, full, shrieky vocal strength. What now left is a reminisence of low growls and not-up-to-scratch high shrieks that he used to be able to pull off with ease. This album also lacks the orchestral grandeur that Damnation and a Day possesses, which is both good and bad. Somehow, Under Huntress Moon reminds me of a good old classic, A Gothic Romance from their earliest of album, Dusk and Her Embrace.
The narrated poetry by Pinhead Doug in their so-called first instrument track (She Mourned a Lengthening Shadow from their 1997 EP V Empire was their first, ignorant fools), Rise of The Pentragram, was suspense-building ableit somewhat cheesy and unfiting especially the 'Peter Pan" part. Oh Hell, Dani, get your muses back... =)
I have yet to inspect the lyric booklet and its contents. However, I sincerely hope that the standard is still in tact and that I will not be hugely disappointed. In Dani, we trust. Heh!
In brevity, if you are new to the cacophony of Cradle of Filth, I strongly recommend you into getting this record, as it is highly accessible and not to hard to stomach for beginners. For hardened Filth followers who sought pleasures in their earlier works, like Midian or Cruelty and The Beast, I would part you with a word of advice that this is merely to add some spice to your array of Cradle records that you might want to maintain.
I rate this 4 filthy virgins, motherfuckers! Which translates to 75%.
Until recently, CoF were one of my favorite bands, an act that, were one a fan, one could always count on for quality material. They had a sound that they owned, and a way with composition that never seemed to fail. Things began to go awry on Damnation and a Day, which was an interesting record, in that the band made motions towards going outside the box a bit on some tracks, while on others it seemed to revert to an earlier sound based more on riffs than compositional dynamics (the latter had been the band's strong point for years at that juncture; does anyone really listen to Cruelty and Beast for the riffs in and of themselves?). The followup, Nymphetamine, while not awful, was worrisome. The return to a more basic sound made sense (they couldn't possibly outdo DaaD for bombasticity), but the large majority of the tracks were reminiscent of DaaD's weaker songs, relying solely on what I assume were meant to be catch y riffs, as opposed to any actual songwriting. Nemesis was a prime example, boasting two nice riffs but ultimately going absolutely nowhere after plodding along for nearly seven minutes.
That brings us to the band's latest effort, which completes the regression that began on the last two records (see the title of this review). Thornography is more reminiscent of The Principle of Evil Made Flesh than anything the band has done in the meantime, and replaces it as CoF's weakest record, bar none. The comparison is apt for two reasons. First, there is the fact that the emphasis is solely on the riffing, which Dani has described as thrashy. Much of the riffing does have a classic thrash bent to it, but it's nothing that hasn't been done to death by countless actual thrash bands, and the brighter feel to it doesn't work within the band's sound at all. The riffing and the keyboards alternatively sound completely out of place (as an aside, with Martin gone by the wayside, I'm not even sure who exactly is providing the keys). Further, I'm pretty much convinced at this point that Gian was the man with the riffs back in the day, and that the best material on DaaD was mined from his leftovers. Writing seemingly on his own since Gian's departure (assuming short-termer James and new guy Charles contribute nothing), Paul Allender is completely out of his league, almost blatantly recycling older material.
The second, and perhaps more important reason the record is so reminiscent of the band's debut, is Dani himself, who is unrecognizable for a good ninety percent of the record (unless, of course, one owns TPoEMF). With the exception of Under Huntress Moon, his high shriek, which made him instantly recognizable, is gone. The vocals, almost all of which are of the mid-range or lower variety, could quit literally be any of dozens and dozens of "extreme" vocalists. He has no power, and no passion. Anyone with half a brain realizes how tongue in cheek CoF have always been, but Dani's talent in the past was that he was a master storyteller, making the listener believe, for six-minute intervals, that he was living and breathing this stuff. That Dani is gone, replaced by a guy who is very clearly going through the motions. Even his accenting screams and croaks are weak; one almost has to wonder if he's lost his voice over the years. "Croaking" is also a good description of the vocals on many of the choruses, which (disturbingly) approach an attempt at clean singing. There are tracks (see The Foetus of a New Day Kicking) on which, if one imagines the choruses as being presented in the old shriek, one can see the potential. Sadly, that potential is never reached. It's a bad day for CoF when the best track on a disc is an instrumental (Rise of the Pentagram).
In sum, I literally do not have a single positive thing to say about this record, other than that, like TPoEMF, it may make good fodder for another Bitter Suites years from now (i.e. an EP on which the band turns former garbage into gold). For the present, though, it seems there isn't much left in the tank for this band, if anything at all.
The last two Cradle Of Filth albums have been…well terrible, and I was almost one hundred percent sure this one would be no exception, and I am very glad to say I was wrong, on this album for the first time since the classic ‘Cruelty And The Beast’, Cradle Of Filth sound, inspired with new ideas, fresh and just plain out fantastic.
The first thing you will notice after the epic opening track is that the material is in the vein of the more thrashier sound of the last two albums, without the gothic keyboard sound draining out the riffage and brilliantly layed down drums by the highly underrated Adrian Erlandsson(prepare for blast beats), Dirge Inferno may be one of the weaker tracks on the album, but all faith is brought back by the mighty ‘Tonight In Flames’, here we have fast drums, harsh vocals, and thrash riffs even destruction fans could appreciate, and a great keyboard breakdown in the middle, also Dani Filth shows his clean side to his vocal range, which to be honest are pretty mediocre but they fit very well with the music.
The most ironic thing about this album is the fact that the song that most people dreaded has turned out to be a fan favourite (including myself), like Ville Valo or not, he sounds outstanding on ‘Byronic Man’ for the short time he spent singing on it, the melody he sings in and the twenty seconds of duet like vocals between him and Dani sure were a personal highlight for me.
Other tracks on the album are just a pleasure to listen to, so much experimentation, its really is a relief to hear this, when have you heard cradle of filth use robotic ‘Cynic’ like vocals?, when have you heard clean vocals backed up with high screams?, shredding solos, Acoustic guitar and a full blown band instrumental? I am very overwhelmed by how good this is, and I advise people who have given up faith on them to give this a chance, a strong contender for album of the year, and I cant believe I am saying that.
I guess Cradle of Filth would be considered a "guilty pleasure" for me. I like all types of metal ranging from more popular bands like famous death metal to some fairly obscure black. CoF has always appealed to me for some unexplainable reason. Maybe it's the sheer catchiness of their riffs, the melodies, the intricate orchestral backing...whatever it is, I always come back for me. I won't waste six paragraphs of your time by trying to refute the claims that Cradle is a band of posers, sell-outs, fags, or whatever else people may think. If they choose to degenerate themselves to the level of immature name-calling then that's their business.
Thornography, their newest after Nymphetamine, has the band going back to their Midian/Damnation style of heavy riffing while combining it with Nymphetamine melodies and atmospheres. On top of all the familiar elements are some completely new factors making this a rather notable album in Cradle's discography.
The album already attracted quite a bit of hype from faithful fans as the band had announced prior to the release that they'd be using some new techniques that they had never done before. The basis of the album was one that they had been using for several albums and in Thornography they use it as well as ever. The riffs are abnormally rhythmic without coming to the level of brutality of Midian (with the exception of Lovesick for Mina, a rather heavy track). The whole of Cemetery and Sundown and Libertina Grimm are heavy yet flowing throughout, despite the many symphonic/melodic breaks the band takes within. The bass definitely gets more exposure here, as Dirge Inferno and Cemetery and Sundown (to name a couple) both have multiple mini-bass solos.
The melody and solos here are what gives the album its charm. Paul Allender admits that he's never been much of a shredder, but he sure gives it a shot on this album. For example, Tonight in Flames and I am the Thorn both feature pretty impressive solos efforts, though none of the guitar work here is worthy of the title "virtuosity". He and Charles Hedger also utilize quite a bit of their familiar lead guitar harmonies throught the album, which carry the structure of songs like Dirge Inferno and The Foetus of a New Day Kicking.
As a whole, the album carries on Cradle of Filth's gothic theme, and the music itself presents that more plainly than any album since Dusk and Her Embrace. Under Huntress Moon is heavily laden with fitting female singing, keyboard synth, and melodic guitar work giving it that familiar CoF romance. Rise of the Pentagram, the CoF's first full-band instrumental, features great guitar techniques and several minutes of gothic piano playing. Despite the obvious groundwork for extensive soloing, Allender and Hedger stick with solid riffing and lead melodies, which make for another highly enjoyable 7 minutes of metal.
Easily the most controversial of all the songs here is Byronic Man, which features guest vocals by Ville Valo of HIM. No doubt the band will catch quite a bit of flack from "true" metalheads for even considering that. Pity, considering how well the finished product turned out. To clarify, no, I do not remotely like the band HIM. But like them or not, Ville's singing works very well on this song. For about 30 seconds he creates a captivating melody amongst the metal foundation. Also a skeptical song is The Foetus of a New Day Kicking, in which Dani Filth himself uses clean vocals in the entirety of the song's many choruses. It's surprising he had never used them sooner seeing as Dani is quite a singer. While I generally like his high screams, the singing provides a wonderfully entrancing moment while relieving the listener from a solid hour of heavy metal.
Finishing off the album is a cover of the song Temptation, originally by English synthpoppers Heaven 17. Let us not speak of this horrific cover. Had it not been for the fact that this song is a cover my rating would've been considerably lower. But overall, the preceding tracks more than make up for a single crappy cover song. Thornography was a hell of a pleasant surprise for me, as Nymphetamine left me rather skeptical as to where the band would go next. But you've got to hand it to Cradle of Filth; they know how to craft a unique style while adding something new to it with every album. They broke new ground on this album and managed to put out some of their best music in many years. Will it convert people to Filth fans? More than likely, no. If you already dislike them than this album will not change your mind. But if you're like me and you've followed Cradle of Filth for some time, than Thornography will be more than worth your while.