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Something a Little New - 94%

ShadowsFallen, September 15th, 2006

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.