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Go Throw Your Tomatoes at Someone Else - 62%

MutantClannfear, January 18th, 2011

Despite what most modern black metal fans will want you to believe, Cradle of Filth isn't all that bad. Eccentric and mediocre, maybe, but it's no Brokencyde in terms of shittiness. Midian is an album that, though bland and overly theatrical at times, satisfies the listener with its crushing riffs that are some of the heaviest noises resembling gothic metal out there.

If you come into this album looking for anything like conventional black metal, you may as well turn around and head out the door. This is hardly black metal in any way: the screams aren't raspy in the loosest sense, the riffs resemble death metal more than black metal, and then you add in the synth elements which are the nail in the coffin. This is Cradle of Filth displaying their new gothic metal sound, stripping away whatever resembled black metal in favor of a much more mourning, melodic sound.

Unlike their also-mainstream partners Dimmu Borgir, Cradle of Filth have wisely made the decision to utilize their guitars in the music more often, which is very helpful: not only would a lack of guitars as predominant instruments make the synth parts that sucked, suck more; but without the guitars, the tone of the album would secure its place as ridiculously cheesy flower metal. The guitars still sometimes only feel like a supplement to the symphonic riffs, but they still keep the music sufficiently "metal" when this occurs. Tremolos abound throughout the music (though eighth-notes are popular as well), and the riffs usually resemble a darker version of power metal in that they are still melodic, but a bit slower, and contain taints of evil and sorrow. As for the symphonies, they are usually hit-or-miss, sometimes genuinely helping the music and at others simply bringing a good riff down to nothing. One of the best symphonic examples is the intro, "At the Gates of Midian", which feels like it could be the opening theme to some epic movie about ancient war. "Creatures that Kissed in Cold Mirrors" has another epic (albeit darker) feeling, but drags down to utter drama at 0:55 when the piano kicks in. As I just described, there are some parts on this album that just feel so melodramatic and cheesy that I can't stand them. (I'm talking about you, "Satanic Mantra", and your ridiculously stupid chants.) Some of them are decent slabs of music, but they're simply out of place and just shouldn't be anywhere near an extreme gothic metal album; others are just fairyish in their prancy, rhythmic tone and shouldn't be anywhere near any serious musical compositions. The music changes tempo quite a bit, not annoyingly, but in such a way that it changes the tone of the music before it gets boring. Drums are a high point for this album. The playing style is decent, I suppose - typical syncopated blasts, hardcore punk beats, and bass drum rolls - but the sound of the snare isn't emphasized at all, so when a full-out blast beat arrives, it doesn't break up the song's rhythm with every hit and instead leads to a very fluid, guided sound to the music. As for the bass drum, it has a very low, well, bass-ish sound, and with most bass guitars nowhere to be found in modern metal, it's a welcome addition to the music.

Dani Filth may be the vocalist who gets the most shit in the world of metal, next to Jonny Davy and Don Campan (of Job for a Cowboy and Waking the Cadaver infamy, respectively). Honestly, I don't see where all the butthurt comes from. Sure, his voice sounds like his balls are getting caught in a bear trap every time he screams, but sometimes it actually works with the music. Well, for what Dani does, he does it right, as he manages to use the same vocals techniques throughout the album. Then, like Dimmu Borgir, you get the low, muttered vocals that sound like self-musings. Every now and then, you'll find a raspy, so-so, death growl. Finally, you have my favorite, the mid-level vocals that are sort of like vehement spoken word passages. Add to that the deep, old man vocals (no, Shagrath, they're not electronic, so you can't sue for plagiarism; that's still your purely original, shitty idea, ), the female whispers, and the choir in "Lord Abortion", "Amor E Morte", and "Tearing the Veil from Grace", and you have an album that simply never runs out of ideas vocally. As for lyrics, well...the lyrics tell some story about...something. I am truly terrible when it comes to interpreting lyrics, so I would just say that most of them are about some sort of demented love story, incorporating necrophilia, coprophagia, and God-knows-what-else. So yes, the lyrics are pretty meaningless (at least to my anti-poetic mind), but the vocal execution is very good because of the perfect timing used in the words Filth is saying.

Though there are quite a few boring parts in Midian, some sections show what the band is capable of if they combine the great symphonic parts with the great guitar riffs with the good parts of the vocals. Of special notice is 1:43 in "Death Magick for Adepts", where the dissonant screams and growls of "ENTER PENTAHOLOCAUST" are melded with a melodic riff and beautiful symphonic support, soon followed by the fluid blast beats I spoke of earlier. Also of notice is the song "Lord Abortion", which is a cut above the rest of the material in general. If the whole album was like this, it would very well be the best album of 2000, but most of the album struggles to break above mediocrity because of a lack of coordination between the instruments, which all have a ridiculously different feel to them.

It will take a few spins for this album to grow on you, and even then, it's not groundbreaking. But there are moments on it that are absolutely stellar, and almost worth looking through an hour's worth of material to find them. Though certainly not for everyone, Midian pretty much knows who its target audience is and sets out to please them. It's not an essential listen, but I mean, it won't assrape you to attempt to listen to it, which is a favor Dimmu Borgir won't give their listeners.