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Count Dracula meets black metal - 92%

newengland7, January 16th, 2020

Cradle of Filth's debt album is by far, objectively (though I tend to be rather opinionated on this issue), their best album. The vampire themes infecting black metal on this album are made musically abound in the atmosphere. The Gothic romance style of the lyrics somehow is weaved into a crushing sound that has far more in common with the Scandinavian scenes than any of their other music. It's creepy, it's melodic, it's eerie, it's horrifying, and it is extreme. This album really should have set the tone for the English black metal scene but for some reason, it did not as a whole new style was developed afterward.

The major highlight of the album are the keyboards and the more classical components weaved into the black metal style. The organ keyboards are very Transylvanian-sounding as if taken directly from a classic vampire movie and then put into a heart-thumping metal onslaught. There are dark melodies throughout the album on "Black Goddess Rises", "To Eve the Art of Witchcraft", "Of Mist and Midnight Skies", and "Summer Dying Fast". The synthesizer keyboards are implemented perfectly within the stronger and more fast-tempo songs such as "Crescendo of Passion Bleeding". The keyboards are really what sets the tone and atmosphere for the album. Spider webs crawl over the mansion.

The drumming is another solid highlight. It's rhythm provides a heavier tone to the gloominess of the keyboards. It hotly increases speed to provide a head-banging lashing to the listener. It swings from blast-beat to droning. It is ominous and abusive throughout the duration of the album. The keyboards and the drumming are the two most "clear"-sounding instruments on the album.

The guitars are heavily distorted and come out very frizzy. Common sense would dictate that guitar work this "poor" should create a far worse sound but with Cradle of Filth, the sound is almost entirely forgivable. In fact, in the overall set-up of the atmosphere, the poor production of the guitars probably aids the argument in favor of this being one of the best black metal albums in the English metal scene. It would be one thing if the guitars were fuzzy on an album that intended to sound crisp but that is a rarity for the black metal style to begin with. And Cradle of Filth also occasionally lowers the tempo to create more of a blackened doom effect throughout the duration any way. The point is that crispness is supposed to be done away with and so they give no intention to add a more crisp sound to their guitars. They are left fuzzy and it creates an even greater effect of drudginess than it would otherwise have had if the guitars were actually clear.

Dani Filth's vocals are frightening. They'd better be if this album is supposed to be scary and invoke a feeling of fear into the listener. Filth really nails the demonic shriek required of a black metal vocalist. The main question in black metal is whether or not the vocals sound like the one singing is the one being scared or the one doing the scaring. Filth passes the test. He sounds as if he is actively being possessed by a demon himself on the album. He sounds demoniacal. Even on the parts where he narrates rather than sings, his vocals carry that feeling of spookiness. The feminine vocals on the album supplement the Gothic romantic style that Cradle of Filth has uniquely developed.

The Principle of Evil Made Flesh is a landmark on the English metal scene and should have become a template for the direction that English black metal would follow. Rather, English black metal took a turn toward a more symphonic style with Cradle of Filth's later works serving as a template. As a result, this has become a severely underrated album within Cradle of Filth's overall works.

Beneath an Average Release - 65%

EvilAllen, June 1st, 2019

Cradle of Filth are currently (at this time of the review) a British multi-genre band from England. Where tea parties thrive and the humans die. Or something like that. Anyways, this might be Cradle's first release, but it's totally...well...I don't know? Odd, even for the band themselves? I mean, this doesn't really relate to the later Cradle records and Dani sings the-way-that-he-does once on this record. He sounds like an angry alien, something we never seen from the band again. I mean, what vocal style is that? It sounds fucked up. I guess we'll jump into this more on the next paragraph.

The band's overall image, in terms of sound and visual aspects were heavily in development around this time of the release. It's worth noting that Dani Filth has such a weird-ass vocal style he used as his primary style on this release. He never used it again after this album. I guess that's what turned me off from the record a lot of the time, it was just nasty and didn't appeal to me, even for Cradle. His highs were good, the track "The Forest Whispers My Name", his screams sounded like a fucking pterodactyl. Sometimes his...weirder-used vocals that he displayed on this record heavily, sounded like sickly sounds of disgusting vomit. His vocals were layered as well, but it didn't sound good. The mixing is a little bad on this record, but what can you expect back then? I mean, some British folks wanting to join the metal scene and record a record. Well, they sure did bring something new to the table...this.

The guitars are decent on this record. They're very atmospheric and mysterious-like. It's like watching a blue-filtered film (like the artwork) amd the most horrifying murders are happening in the most deranged way possible. I do like the decent production that's used for the guitars, they sound chilling and cold. Sometimes it sounds like the guitar-playing had some riffing mistakes on the record, but that again, is how shit was done back then. So, whatever. Times used to be primitive, nothing to be done about it now. Dani Filth these days hates that people have to record records in their bedrooms, well, Mr. Filth.. Not everyone was born when you were, and grew-up at a time where shit was still affordable. So, we lazy fucks have to sit on our ass, at home...and record music because the cost is almost unreal. You're lucky you were born to do this, especially at your time. The '90's were the final generation of recording music the way that it was, before a new era/generation came along and changed everything. So...no offense, you had it "easier", in a way than us...Mr. Perfect.

The bass seems so quiet, it's like non-existent. It's like it doesn't even exist... It's like someone stole the power behind the music and made it sound like a wimp. This album isn't garbage, but it's hardly a bronze medal, too... This album is a little painful to listen to...so much is going on it's hard to rate complex music unless it's well-defined. These guys were purely testing shit out. The drumming is really intense, it's easy to see why the drummer, Nicholas, is one of metal's best drummers. He's just fat. That's all. The keyboards are on a different level entirely. They add the haunted-related theme of the whole concept. Really darkened and black. It's like frost on thin windows during the winter, it's enough to make you think about death. And the result of it.

The artwork is totally fucked up, really different for its time. It played well, and still sometimes make the "modern" people feel "uneasy", that's the price you pay for being "normal", apparently. It's almost pornography...of the bloodiest kind. Boy, am I hard just thinking about it. Or am I? They always used females as their prime image to their stories. And I don't blame them... Girls aren't used as much as topics, compared to men, in my opinion, that's not a fact that I'm aware of. It's nice to know that this album is nearly an hour in length, it better have been, with thirteen tracks. It was one of Cradle's most-track-listed albums for awhile, than came "Damnation and a Day" (2003), that changed it all. I feel this album isn't mentioned enough in its rivalry with Emperor's "In the Nightside Eclipse" (1994), never mind "Dusk... and Her Embrace" (1996), The two 1994-releases (this one and Emperor's) came out the same year, but if I'm correct, I also think they came out within a week (possibly longer) apart. And both of them used a deep blue as their artwork, cool right? Oh well, just a small fact, I guess. It's an obscured one, too. Well, I guess that just about ends this review guys. I wanted to throw in my decently-detailed thoughts of this record. A shame I don't care to really go into it more.

Fresh boiling blood. - 90%

DSOfan97, February 28th, 2016

While there were demos preceding this, it all starts here. 'The Principle of Evil Made Flesh' remains as one of the most influential debuts in the black metal scene not because of its groundbreaking sound, but because it is a record written by a bunch of teenagers who were passionate about what they did. It is not as good as the two albums that followed but why should that be a problem?

Comparing this album to what Cradle did in the mid 00's is a sacrilege. First of all, 'The Principle...' is full of ideas. Good ideas. Ideas that have actually been worked after much thought. Teenagers or not, Dani and co. had a vision and they fulfilled it in the best possible way. This is one of the very few Cradle albums that do not exceed the one hour mark. You know what that means? It means that back then they were capable of delivering the goods in less than an hour whilst now they go on a rampage and achieve nothing.

The album is all about aesthetics. No complex riffs or technical showdowns here folks, apart from the drums. This album also is the only Cradle album in which the keyboards do not show off in the main tracks but in the interludes (we'll talk about them later). In the black metal tracks they subtly accompany the other instrument usually sounding as an orchestra or choir. You will also hear a rendition of Bach's infamous Toccata in D minor (there's no way you haven't listened to the original, even unintentionally).

The rest of the instrumentation is top notch. The guitars are heavy in the real sense of the word. Their lines are simple but they work because of the way they are split in the left and right channels. The sound of the bass is thick and full, really a pleasure to listen to. As for the drums... The drums are out of this fucking world. Especially when it comes to fills. Nicholas was truly efficient at using double kicks, shifting from conventional notes to triplets and filling any void with extra snares and toms.

And then we have the intermissions. Apart from the glorious intro and the (unfortunately) mediocre outro, there are three more tracks that are pure keyboard work. The one that left me speechless was 'One Final Graven Kiss' but 'Iscariot' is very nice as well. Such small things like those interludes is what's mostly missing from today's Cradle. This is what makes this album superior to almost everything else in their entire career.

Dani is in his best moment here. Both vocally and lyrically he is delivering a mind-blowing performance. Well this is way before he fucked his voice and that's probably why this is his best, but still you can hear how his voice is still relatively close to the black metal standards and not just the usual 'duck whose ass is on fire' impression he does. As for the lyrics, you can still see where the evil woman staple began but - what a surprise! - it works very, very well.

At the end of the day 'The Principle of Evil Made Flesh' is one of the most essential listens for every Cradle of Filth fan out there, but also for the fans of goth music and the early 90's second wave of black metal. As for me, I loved it from the first listen and I still love it today, four good years after that moment. Classic

Favorite tracks: 'The Forest Whispers My Name', 'Of Mist and Midnight Skies'and 'Summer Dying Fast'.

90/100.

Frustrating Release - 55%

ClusterFuct, May 4th, 2014

Cradle of Filth's debut LP, The Principle of Evil Made Flesh, is so much about musical and stylistic duality. Although synths had always been part of the Cradle of Filth sound, there lacked a gothic element to their music that is first introduced on this album. Principle also marks a shift in songwriting for the band. Gone are songs driven by atmosphere, replaced by jarring structures and lengthy "compositions."

Cradle of Filth expand their lyrical style more than they do subject matter--their lyrics more poetic and competent than before...but the improvements generally end there. The band's newfound finesse is belied by their inability to invoke what is necessary for a truly evil release. For an album with the word "Evil" in the title, I'm not really feelin' it.

The title track, "To Eve the Art of Witchcraft," and "Summer Dying Fast" are definite standouts. These songs are excellent examples of a band expanding their sound in all the right ways. Principle also has Dani experimenting vocally, and his vocal versatility is an asset to the record--for the most part. The remainder of the album either presents too much of a frustrating experience of failed potential, or just plain bad songs.

"The Forest Whispers My Name," while lyrically one of Cradle's best ever songs, is SOOO FUCKING SLOOW on this record. Way too slow. And lame. A single listen of their re-work of the song featured on Cradle's followup EP, and arguable greatest release, V Empire, will quickly remind anyone to forget the original travesty. The same goes for the equally embarrassing rendition of "The Black Goddess Rises," which comes nowhere near to achieving the atmosphere and darkness the song evoked on the Total Fucking Darkness demo.

One bonus is "A Dream of Wolves In the Snow." Not only does the track feature the excellent Darren White on vocals, but it's also just a good song--very different from anything Cradle have done before (or since for that matter).

All in all, the highlights of Principle cannot save the listener from what is ultimately a frustrating and overlong listen.

The first chapter in Black Metal's most wild ride - 70%

doomknocker, April 20th, 2007

This album was meant to be a milestone, pure proof that "you don't have to be Norwegian to release quality Black Metal! See?! Even Englishmen had Pagan roots millenia ago!" Of course they did, guys. Of course they did.

CRADLE OF FILTH began their illustrious career as a third-tier death metal act, but it wasn't until 1993/94 that they came to cavorting around cemetaries dressed to the nines in Gothic attire and plenty of undead corpsepaint, blasting away their own brand of symphonic Black Metal to their evil li'l hearts' content. I guess they blasted loud enough to spark attention from their Scandinavian peers to take these vampiric kiddies seriously (as a tour with EMPEROR showed), so to an unsuspecting crowd comes "The Principle of Evil Made Flesh".

Problem is, a lot of CoF fans nowadays either have never heard this album until they've been entranced by their latest offerings or don't even know this album exists. For shame, you goth kids! FOR SHAME! "Principle...", though not by any means a perfect album, does have more than a few moments where musical tastiness is abound. The standards which CoF would base their music on would show its infantile stages (grinding guitar riffs coupled with creepy keyboard lines and Dani's traditional screeches, though this time around, he sounds more like a constipated death metal kid), in both song-writing and delivery, but it's still delivered in an earnest matter, as though the band really wanted to take themselves seriously. Obviously, this is CRADLE OF FILTH at their most black metal (whether or not they're considered black metal is based solely on your open or closed-mindedness), in both photos and lyrics structures, which straddles the band's infatuation with vampirism, gothic romance, and Satanism (though, by CoF's later standards, they come off as rather hokey and not very well thought out). Simply put, it suffers from "First Album Syndrome", where the first release is usually the band at their most nervous, wondering if their hard work would pay off to whatever scene/crowd they would shoot for.

Say what you will...personal musical taste is that and nothing more, so to force your own will and take on bands by genre because YOU believe is so is grounds for war. Me? I've been a fan of CoF for years (that includes both old and newer releases, too), but I can say they have/had plenty of Black Metal in their sound, mostly in their earlier albums (up to "From the Cradle to Enslave"). So if you don't like that kind of opinion, if all it does is shatter the ends of your glasshouse-like view of the world to the point where suicide is considered mercy, then read no more.

Angela Carter's Soundtrack! - 90%

Ouijamage, March 7th, 2005

What? You say! Anyone who has read Angela Carter's "Bloody Chamber & Other Stories" will know what I mean. This album combines hints of black metal with vampiric orchestration to conjure up imagery of the darkest fairytale ever written.

Broken up by morbid instrumentals, such as "Iscariot" and "In Secret Love We Drown" which are a tranquil contrast to the rest of the album, Cradle present many powerful anthemic metal tracks, many of which are real metal classics now, such as "The Black Goddess Rises", "The Forest Whispers My Name" and of course the title, "The Principle of Evil Made Flesh."

But it was the album's ending which made me fall in love with this band. The melodic ending to "Summer Dying Fast" had me begging for more. Never before have I heard such a catchy and enchanting melody in a metal song.

And no one before seems to have mentioned "A Dream of Wolves in the Snow". This short masterpiece seems to have gone unnoticed. The rolling keyboard and guitar riff actually makes the listener believe that they are on a frosty tundra at night, and this summarises the unique cleverness of this album. Original for its time, this is perhaps one of the most evocative atmospheric albums ever written, second only to the follow-up, Vempire.

I think the comments surrounding the inferior quality of this album are unfair. Although not a black metal band, I believe Cradle were aiming for a somewhat compromise between necro and clear production on purpose.

Meh...Good But Not Great - 65%

corviderrant, July 20th, 2004

After scouring my local record shop for this CD a ways back, I finally got it, to my delight. And I have to say that, well...this is good but not as revelatory as most "tr00 kvlt" fanboys claim it is. Then again, most of those types cream over everything a band does until they either get signed or until their second album comes out. Get a life, kids. Anyways, on to the album.

This is more or less the embryonic Cradle sound we all know and love/hate, with the major differences being: a more imprecise and loose musical delivery (Nick's drumming is not quite the devastating experience it rapidly became by the time "Vempire" was released), Dani's vocals being more slurred, incoherent, and growling as opposed to the definition he later acquired on top of the now-familiar uber-scream approach he has, and the balance between the Gothic and extreme moments being not as even as what came after this. In other words, the keyboard instrumentals are too frequent, and the songs aren't as well-arranged as the material that came after this album. And, well, it's a debut, folks. The version of "The Forest Whispers My Name" on here is not as confident or tight as the "Vempire" version, and while they were ambitious even at this stage (the female spoken-word bit in German in the title track, for example), their musical ability wasn't quite up to delivering their vision as well as they hoped to.

This CD has its share of good moments, though, like the middle part of "The Black Goddess Rises" when it goes slower and more Gothy, for example, and some good riffing in the title track, despite the solos being buried in the mix--they sound pretty decent although not great. But then, Cradle has never been a band to have virtuosic guitarists. The production is another big black mark with its decidedly muddled mix--the drums are weak, the guitars thin and often buried under washes of keyboards (especially the leads, as I said), and the bass is too clanky and lacks low end. This is for the completists out there like me more than anything else, honestly, and while this is not a world-ending release, it's nice to see where Cradle got started and how they've progressed from this debut.

Wake up, everybody! - 75%

Shadow_Hunter, March 8th, 2004

Ok, let's get this straight: Cradle of Filth does not play blackmetall! Neither do they try to do it, or make it seem so. CoF Plays some sort of selfdefining, gothic metal. With this in mind, let's look at this objectively, hmm?

First: The bandphoto: Dear god, this is about as silly as it gets. The makeup looks like smudge and Dani himself has the looks of a little child. I like the hat, though....

Next (The thing that really matters:) The music. Well, the quality of the sound is rather poor. This might come from the fact that he economical side of the band fell through here. This puts some sort of a killer on the melodic side, which is a shame, since this is the band's stronger side. Drummings also lose some of the potential and dani's vocal sounds just weird.
This might also be the reason most true blackmetallers hate CoF. For the screaming. Still, this isn't blackmetal, so you can just shut your trap!

Lyrics: Awesome! Great, great, great poetry, unlike anything similiar at the time. Only Opeth and Moonspell can compete with this. I have a feeling the copyrightlaws forbid me in printing them. You'll just have to read them for yourself.

Melodig Interludes: Beautifull, just beautifull. The mood in these instrumentals are really good and the female backing vocals on the tracks keep maintaining this feeling.

All in all a fair start for a band that has grown to the supreme dominating in all of the UK. And not without reason!