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I'm Stumped on This One. - 56%

woeoftyrants, February 24th, 2007

In a sense, Midian is both the best and worst album for Cradle of Filth. This album single-handedly divided the band's entire fanbase into several camps, and made tons of little goth kiddies swarm to the feet of this band. (Most likely due to the promotional video for "Her Ghost in the Fog".) At the same time, it also showed the new face of Cradle of Filth with its then new to the fold members. Midian both helped and hurt the band; this is the album that always gets praised by the fanboys, and is the same one that gets slammed by long-time haters or old-school fans. In another aspect, it brought back the gothic edge to the band's sound, but in a much different and accessible way.

Firstly, I will say that the induction of new members did seem to help the band. Adrian took a big step by stepping into Nick's shoes; and though he isn't a technical or mind-numbingly fast drummer, he suits the music better. The majority of his work here is pretty simple, but he can rip shit up on "Tortured Soul Asylum", "Lord Abortion", and "Death Magick for Adepts" with skull-crushing double bass and some impressive blast beats. Adrian also uses a more natural drum sound than Nick, but this can falter at times; the snare is a little too boxy for my tastes, and the production renders the cymbals inaudible at times. (This is only a minor complaint, since a lot is happening in the music.) Paul's guitar lines breathe new life into the band's sound, as do Martin's keyboards. Paul puts a larger emphasis on melodic riffs and harmonies, as seen on the powerful "Saffron's Curse". Even with this, he still bashes out power-chord based passages that bring the band's earlier work to mind. There aren't many solos to be found, with "Amor E Morte" being a slight exception.

Martin Powell's induction to the line-up also helps things out, but his work on this album was also a catalyst for many to take shots at the album. I've never heard so many fucking organs in my life, people. Sure, it works out on the opening track, and for some of "Cthulu Dawn"; but holy shit, it gets nerve-grating by the time you're halfway through the album, and there's plenty more where they come from. When organs aren't present, it's either harpsicord, which is used rather effectively here; choirs, always a trademark of the band's sound, but are way overused; the occasional string section, which is more annoying than atmospheric here; or the grand piano, which has its moment of fame on the openings of "Lord Abortion" and of course, "Her Ghost in the Fog". Yes, Martin does a great job of providing atmosphere and tension; but he overdoes it, which is Midian's downfall. Everything gets to a point where it can only be described as cheesy, forced, and stale. There is no emotion in the synth work, and it makes the rest of the band look bad with its B-movie simplicity.

The ultimate thing that kills Midian is Dani's vocal work. Not only are the majority of the lyrics low-brow and pretentious, ("Tortured Soul Asylum" and "Saffron's Curse", being exceptions) but Dani's delivery is sloppy and irritating. His screams are lifeless and weak, and though the lows were tolerable once upon a time, they sound nothing more than terrible on this album. He also uses a senseless "narration" voice, which is a mix between a whisper and low talking voice. And damn, it's annoying. You'll hear it in full swing on "Amor E Morte". Another fault is the layering of the vocals; I'm convinced that Dani layered his vocals this much to hide the initial weakness in his voice, but his vocals overpower the music to a point of almost ruining it.

Now, the thing that really gets to me about this album is the unnecessary use of Sarah's female vocals. It's totally effective on "Her Ghost in the Fog" and "Saffron's Curse", as the operatic touch does help to add some texture and beauty to the songs. But other than that, they're always in the background and do nothing worth adding to the album. The bad thing is, they never stop; in one way or another, those damned female vocals are always lingering.

Despite these large problems, Midian still does manage to have some classic tracks. Though "Her Ghost in the Fog" is overrated, it nonetheless is an important display of the band's evolution into their current musical style. "Saffron's Curse" easily tops most of the band's other songs in melody and atmosphere, and "Tortured Soul Asylum", while a bit on the cheeseball side towards the end, is one hell of an epic track with impeccable songwriting.

I'm a bit stuck on this one. It's very possible to love and hate a release at the same time, and Midian is a prime example of such a scenario.