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COF...the gateway band... - 72%

bigdaddydrummer, February 15th, 2014

Cradle of Filth have been a band surrounded by controversy since the beginning. On the one hand you have the fact that they are a more mainstream band than most in their genre giving them a spotlight to the media who has branded them much the same way as Marilyn Manson, a "satanic" and blasphemous group of lunatics. On the other hand you have the true metal heads that believe them to be sellouts to their genre. These two elements have made it very difficult for Cradle of Filth to maintain a fan base as the years go on.

In their early days (their first three albums in my opinion) their product was very much black metal; their sound, their message, their overall delivery oozed with it. Their first full length album, "The Principles of Evil Made Flesh", was pure black metal, as was the following EP, "V empire." The arrival of their next two releases ("...Dusk and Her Embrace" followed by "Cruelty and the Beast") showed a slight departure from black metal but still showed a lot of promise. I personally feel that COF found their true sound here. Then arrived an EP that changed everything..."From the Cradle to Enslave" showed a dramatic change of pace, being slower, cleaner, almost greedy approach to their music. At that time it became apparent that COF decided to make their music more mainstream in the hopes of making more money to a larger fan base. Even the title of this EP says "We aren't really taking this seriously anymore" and that is precisely when most fans began to feel the same way about the band.

Now, onto the album at hand. "Midian" came out immediately following the aforementioned EP that put a sour taste in my mouth from the get go. Prior to my purchasing the album I came across the music video for the first single, "Her Ghost in the Fog." My fears were all but confirmed by this "pop black metal" travesty. The song was mediocre (not terrible but won't get much play from me) but the video is what was most appalling. This is exactly what black metal isn't...The bands singer (Dani "Filth" Davey) seems to be the only band member not taking this seriously. With "Twilight-esque" makeup and an almost comedic delivery this video screams "look, I'm crazy...your parents will hate how demented I am". So the video put my interest in buying the album pretty low on my to do list, right after learning to break dance and waxing my ass crack. Then a few months had passed and I found the cd used at a record store for five bucks and I said what the hell, I'll check it out. I have to admit, even though this was no black metal masterpiece or an album rivaling "Dusk" or "Cruelty," I was pleasantly surprised by its content.

First off let me say that the single, "Her Ghost in the Fog," has never grown on me. That song is easily the worst on the album, which is really unfortunate as I'm sure I'm not the only person that chose against buying "Midian" due to this song being used to promote it. "Midian" starts off with a short instrumental (keyboard) track like most of their albums do which led right into the might song "Cthulhu Dawn." The guitar work here, though not the best I've heard the band play, is quite sufficient and does well to preserve the atmosphere of the album. From here the album flows quite nicely through the next few tracks. Track number 5 is where the album begins to unravel a bit. This is where the listener gets hit with "Lord Abortion" and "Her Ghost in the Fog" and an instrumental track titled "Creatures that Kissed in Cold Mirrors" with only one decent song "Amor e Morte" to break them up.These are the two "attention seekers" this album offers to make sure every pimply seventh grader bored of Marilyn Manson finds this album.

By this point in my first play through I figured the album was just going to fizzle out and this was going to be an album that started strong before the ideas dried up and ended the album with filler tracks. How thankful I am that I kept listening as what was to follow is to this day my favorite tracks by the band. After track number nine, a short eerie chant repeated until climax, the dark masterpiece titled "Tearing the Veil from Grace" unfolds. This eight minute beast is the redeeming quality of the album that made the preceding four tracks worth sitting through. The song begins with keyboard work while Dani alternates his vocals with that of a choir creating a building up effect that is answered about one minute in when the guitars and drums explode into a symphony of aggression that "Midian" had failed to demonstrate to this point. Then the vocals hit, and boy do they hit. Dani is on the top of his game here and even as an adult now, and quite schooled on true black metal, this song still rates on my top ten list. This song goes back and forth in stages from operatic to all out aggression. The lyrics portray a dark hymn of satanic uprising that any black metal elitist could be proud of.

That's pretty much the end of the memorable moments "Midian" has to offer. About half of the songs we have here have more of a pop metal sound, far from black metal, but it's enjoyable for what it is. The keyboards throughout the album sometimes take the overall sound to almost more of an industrial sound rather than that of a dark ambience that you'd expect from black metal, but at this point I'd be very hesitant in calling this a black metal album. Lyrically speaking sure, but the delivery is more like what you would expect from Marilyn Manson if he decided to make a "black metal album."

Ok so, overall I'd say if you are new to the black metal or extreme metal genres this is a good album to get, though I'd recommend starting with "Cruelty" or "Dusk," or better yet...some of Dimmu Borgir's earlier work. If you are a veteran to heavy metal, especially black metal, you will find very little interest here, though I'd still recommend buying "Tearing the Veil from Grace" off iTunes. I like the album personally, but the worst part of this release is best described as how I felt about Metallica's self titled album (the Black Album). I liked the cd, but it was a sign of what was to come. In both cases I was right. Metallica abandoned their sound in search of something more profitable, Cradle of Filth did much the same. Midian is the last release by the band that I actually enjoyed. After this album the band sank like the Titanic with all their previous fans on board.

Think of COF as a gateway band, like marijuana being the "gateway drug". It's best purpose being an introduction to black metal. In fact that's exactly what they were for me. Perhaps that was the bands intentions all along....or maybe they just lost their edge with the loss of all the founding members (except Dani) by this point. Who knows, bottom line is Cradle of Filth's album "Midian" is an indisputable definite maybe. Get it, give it a listen, but don't expect to be blown away.

Best tracks: "Tearing the Veil from Grace," "Saffron's Curse," "Cthulhu Dawn, " "Death Magic for Adepts"