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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.