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Having finally deciding the cease and desist with death metal (Thank God…), Suffolk based Cradle of Filth decided to change their sound to black metal that would eventually lead them to the “love it or hate it” sound they play today, and the Total Fucking Darkness demo was the first step in the path they chose.
Production wise, as can be expected from a 90s black metal demo, is awful. I’ve never been one to understand why so many black metal fans like to have their music with terrible production; I’ve always thought sounded like it was recorded by people who didn’t much care for music. But since this is just a demo the poor production can be somewhat overlooked.
The music style is very like that of the band’s first full-length album, with lead vocalist Dani Filth’s vocals baring very little resemblance to what they sound like today. The odd shrill shriek appears every now and then but for the most part he grunts and snarls his way through the music. At various points throughout the whole demo though, he uses a really annoying echoing effect that sounds a bit cheap. The guitars are used effectively, with good hard riffs spread throughout the whole demo, although the bass, for all I can tell, doesn’t seem to have been used at all. The drum work, while not as good as it would be on later releases, is still very solid. We have Darren White on the drums here, and while he is no Nick Barker, he certainly shows that he is a more than capable drummer.
The keyboards though are the shining point of the demo. Benjamin Ryan really knows how to create a dark and chilling atmosphere, with his use of organ and choir sounds he really does help form what would always be a figure point in Cradle of Filth’s sound. Just listen to his work on the song As Deep As Any Burial, and of course on the instrumental outro, Fraternally Yours 666, which for the record is one of the band’s finest instrumentals to date. Sadly, neither of these songs, or any of the other songs apart from The Black Goddess Rises (Which despite being one of their most well known songs often labelled as a classic, I’ve never been a huge fan off) would ever find their way on to a full-length album. Shame really, because they could really benefit from the better production and go down as classics along with such songs as Summer Dying Fast.
In short, the demo is really worth listening to if you’re a fan of the band, and maybe even if your not such a huge fan. It really shows just how much this band has evolved, taking on several different sounds throughout their career rather than sticking with the same sound, and never evolving at all.