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More miss than hit - 55%

doomknocker, October 27th, 2011

Another one? Really? I’d known this here Cradle group for many a year, and I know that they can be pretty prolific when they want to be (done so thanks to a plethora of rather pointless singles padding full-lengths and live DVDs), but another CD, PLUS a DVD, a year after their latest recorded work? Seems a bit iffy to me. Now, that being said, I’m not ready to completely pooh-pooh this, even though time has shown me that when CoF put out a new recording a year after a full-length, it tends to suffer from weaker songwriting and a more rushed feel/approach than the one preceding it, but who am I to condemn a group who’s demanded the eyes and ears of any and all despite so much vitriol and unwarranted hate thrown at them?

With that said, I went for this anyway, albeit with trepidation and a scant mental warning afoot, hoping that at least ONE of these discs would be worth my attention…

First, let’s discuss the audio disc (“Evermore Darkly…”). Of the two, this is definitely the weaker one as there isn’t much to offer; two originals songs, three “Venus Aversa” demo tracks, a strange little remix, and a sample off the upcoming “Midnight in the Labyrinth” album (one of the main things that’s held my attention upon getting this clunker…and clearly worth the wait). Actually, when it comes to the two new tracks, only one of them has music: “Transmission from Hell”, as an intro, is a weird one; no real orchestration, no dark atmospheres, just spooky sound effects and Pinhead reading a letter…odd, but not the best intro they’ve had. But when “Thank Your Lucky Scars” comes at you, it’s rather vindicated. Taking plenty of cues from the year’s previous full-length, this track is pretty ferocious in terms of performance and tempo, but it seems to push the dark and melodic end of things to the forefront, bypassing the snarling riffs and blast beats present in favor of gothic strings and a cold musical temperature. Beyond that, however, I couldn’t help but have my attentive juices run a bit dry with the rest of the disc; the demo recordings are pretty interesting as some of them sound even darker and more brutal than the final recordings, and the “extended” version of “Lilith Immaculate” was a little contrived and unnecessary, resulting in my further desire for more original tracks (I already know these songs rather well, time to move on!) And when it came to the darkwave/trance remix of “Forgive Me Father…”, it could’ve had the album come to a screeching halt, as some of the electronic remixes Cradle’s gone through in the past have not really gelled into a decent listen (“Twisting Further Nails” being the biggest example…), but as it is, it’s a fairly catchy number that isn’t so much a remake/remix of the original song but a new one in general, taking the vocal lines and placing rewritten trance/electronica music underneath. It could’ve REALLY fallen flat on its face, but it thankfully didn’t.

And now, the second disc/DVD (“Venus Diversa”). The video for “Lilith Immaculate” is a decent entry into the realm of music videodom, and while Cradle of Filth’s videos in the past had flirted more with ridiculous ideas and skits rather than showing the band actually playing the damn song, this isn’t too bad, despite only Dani and drummer Marthus showing the most energetic performances of the sextet. Even the cinematic cutaways were more minimalistic, focusing more on the music than telling some silly story. Next up is “You Can’t Polish a Turd…”, a recorded behind-the-scenes showcase of the band during their recent bout of festival touring. While they apparently cut out the choice bits to put into this video, this really isn’t a silly romp into immaturity ala the “Sifting Through Filth” segment off “Heavy, Left-Handed and Candid” and instead paints the vapid picture of a musical act going through the hustle and bustle of being on the road. It had its fair share of good clips and performances, but as a whole it was kinda hollow and a bit sad on my end. Lastly…as a live entity, CoF are usually very good, even when the theatrics border on over-saturation, and for their appearance at Graspop, their hour-long set was indeed worth watching. Despite Dani prattling on longer than he should at times, a rather boilerplate set list and a somewhat sloppy performance complete with bouts of feedback and a few fuck-ups in their performance, the band were the focal point to this particular concert, eschewing much in the traveling carnival of horrors appeal they’ve made their bread and butter for so long. Still, they remain one of the more entertaining live acts to be pissing about on stage and it would’ve been a good time to have been there myself.

In the end, “Evermore Darkly…” has some tasty moments placed amidst less than stellar and unnecessary parts, and I’d hate to say it, but this is best left only for the moderate-to-die-hard fans of the group. The wishy-washy types and casual listeners might want something with more of a real structure and meat on its bones. But I liked it, at least.

Originally written for The Offering