without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
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.