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Dark and epic, but something's missing... - 75%

doomknocker, May 3rd, 2009

After four captivating, mesmerizing and destructive bouts of blackened vampyric fury, you'd think that no matter the weather the fire would still burn on. Everything seemed to be coming up roses for the Filthy Cradle, as they branched away from the simplistic corpse-painted throngs in order to develop their own identity, to which further popularity and derision on opposing sides fell into place. And after a one-off EP of original tracks and rather unimpressive covers, the shit would hit the fan and the dividing rod between the "tr00" fans and the "mainstream" group would drive even deeper.

And so we have this...

To be fair, this is not a bad album at all. It's just harder for the older fans to swallow, as the dark, dramatic romanticism and chaotic, fiery hatred was definately toned down for an album with the dramatic equivilent of a dark Disney film. CRADLE OF FILTH still showcase their tried-and-true formula of coupling crushing guitar riffs with gothic-dipped keyboards, but the recipe seems watered-down this time around, partially due to the departure of riff-smith Stuart, drum-lord Nicholas, and keyboardist Lecter, whose contributions gave us some of CoF's best material. The re-inclusion of Paul and new arrivals of Martin and Adrian stirred the pot a little too much, thinning the musical stylings into a more acceptable "goth metal" format. But even then the songs still stand the test of time, with both heavy numbers ("Chthulu Dawn", "Death Magick for Adepts") and heart-rending gothic meanderings ("Her Ghost in the Fog" "Amor E Morte"). And on Dani's part, he leaves a touch to be desired; yes, his screeches are still there, and his lyrics are still the well-thought-out poetic grace missing in all sorts of bands...but on this they come off a bit more hokey than usual, as though he remembered he was British and needed to inject some of that tongue-in-cheek humour in his performance (moreso on this than other future works). If nothing else, one could consider this album to be "black metal on training wheels"; fast and epic in and of itself, but not quite as miasmic or anti-social to be looked over.

So in the end, this is still a worthy addition to one's metal collection but may not get the attention their earlier acts would get. Things would get both better and worse as years progress, so if nothing else consider this the crossroads to what would come to pass.