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This is what Heaven exploding sounds like - 100%

Subrick, April 18th, 2016

You ever notice how oftentimes a band's best material is born out of periods of insane stress and everything going wrong? Never more true did that ring than in 1995, when Cradle of Filth, fresh off their debut with The Principle of Evil Made Flesh, suffered a one-two punch for the ages. First, the band splintered right down the middle, with the band experiencing a situation similar to the modern day woes of Gorgoroth or Queensryche or Immortal or Venom or Entombed or whatever, with one Cradle of Filth comprised of Dani Filth, Robin Graves, and Nick Barker, and another made up of Paul & Benjamin Ryan and Paul Allender. To add to all of this, the Dani-led half, despite regaining ownership of the name from the Ryans and Allender, were engaged in a fight with Cacophonous Records, the label responsible for the release of The Principle of Evil of Made Flesh, wanting out of their contract immediately. To do so, the band had to release one more record of original material. Thus was born Vempire or Dark Faerytales in Phallustein, the band's other crowning achievement of the mid-90s.

There exists one word to sum up this EP: Madness. Complete, utter, absolute madness. Even Dusk and Her Embrace, the full length that followed this EP and is still the benchmark of perfection for symphonic black metal 20 years later, is given a run for its money by its immediate predecessor in the department of savagery. The anger and frustration that the band were surely feeling during this period of their career comes out in full force on Vempire, with the band unleashing its most violent material possible for 37 straight minutes. "The Rape and Ruin of Angels" in particular features the single most extreme sections of a song the band have ever written, and the overall piece remains the band's most underrated, overlooked tune in their history. The re-recording of "The Forest Whispers My Name" from the debut LP so greatly outshines the original version that it doesn't even make sense to go back and listen to the latter unless you've got the debut disk on in sequence. Very little time is given for the listener to catch their breath, with brief moments of brevity coming in the keyboard-and-bass-driven middle sections of "Queen of Winter, Throned" and "Nocturnal Supremacy", as well as "She Mourns a Lengthening Shadow", the band's greatest interlude written to date. Beyond those brief sections, the rest of the EP is razor sharp guitars, thick, pounding basslines, unending blast beats on the drums, and Dani Filth's ultimate triumph in the vocal department. Everyone is on point, all participants deserve a bleeding virgin angel as reward for their efforts.

I absolutely love the sound of this EP, and these songs in this specific collection with any other sort of sound just would not work in the same way. This is probably the most crisp, clear, and song-enhancing production the band has ever given a record of theirs. It's extraordinarily "modern" sounding for a record from 1995, and it stands in stark contrast to the murkier, rougher, lo-fi(ish) sound of the two full lengths that bookend it. It's loud, crisp, and clear (some might say a bit too clear for a black metal record, especially from this time period, but to each his own), with everything existing on an even level, but not to the point of drowning anything out or brickwalling and clipping like crazy. That's what separates it from many newer records of the past decade that attempt to do this style of production and fail; the EP doesn't go so far over the top with the loudness that it ruins the music. Special mention goes to whatever effects were used on Dani Filth's "narration" voice to make it as deep and inhuman sounding as it is here. It's very clear that his voice has been doctored to make it sound more inhuman in these speaking parts, and in the majority of cases I'm against vocal effects to this degree, but, quite frankly, I don't fucking care, because the end result is absolutely amazing. This is probably the best Nick Barker's kit has sounded on any album he's ever played on as well, and his performance matches the sound perfectly, holding nothing back and showing the world exactly what he can do when you let him loose. Stuart Antsis more than holds the weight of two guitars in his position as the sole axe wielder, and Robin Graves maintains his role as a very solid backbone to everything going on with his performance on the bass. It really must be heard to be believed, for everyone on here.

There are two very telling moments in the opening and closing tracks of this EP, "Ebony Dressed for Sunset" and "The Rape and Ruin of Angels", that perfectly sum up exactly what the record is about. At the end of both tracks, amongst the black metal craziness going on around them, the listener hears the screams and weeps of many young women, inferred by the final track's title to be angels in Heaven above. In the latter track, as the angels' collective anguish makes itself audible, one can also hear a burning fire behind the screams. That, in a nutshell, is what can be surmised from Vempire or Dark Faerytales in Phallustein; Heaven is being firebombed by agents of the Devil, its women taken as prizes for the successfully invading armies of darkness, and someone took the exquisite noises that arose from such an occasion and made a black metal record out of it. In the grand scheme of the band's legacy, this sits right up there with Dusk and Her Embrace and Midian as one of their three perfect records, and, as a result, is one of the finest black metal records in the genre's 30+ year history. Find this, embrace it, hold it close, and never let it go.

Elaborate black metal - 89%

gasmask_colostomy, June 25th, 2015

There are some things that are just designed for people to argue about. One of those is the narrowness of distinction between a full-length album and an EP. Metal fans may bring to mind such cases as Opeth's 'Orchid', which the band insist is an EP, yet straddles 65 minutes and is longer than 5 of their other albums; then there's Gorgoroth's 'Pentagram' that clocks in at 24 minutes and only contains 5 real songs, yet is regarded as an album; Sacred Reich are more famous for their EP 'Surf Nicaragua' than any of their full-lengths; and so on. Then there's Cradle of Filth, who would appear to have shot themselves in the foot by releasing 'Vempire' (I'm not going to write the full title, because it's a bit stupid and I can't spell most of the words) as an EP when it might well represent their best work. In my eyes, whether EP or album, this length of release suits Cradle's early, more extreme sound, since it allows the attack to be preserved without having to resort to too much of the storytelling/interlude breaks which are often tedious. If the songs are going to be long, I would rather the band chose a few great ones rather than a couple too many, some of which lack quality.

The main things that Cradle gain when releasing 36 minutes of music are brutality and focus. Pre-2000 Cradle was always more of a black metal prospect than many would admit nowadays and 1996 would appear to be an annus mirabilis for these guys, with two great records. The style is reasonably similar to the following full-length 'Dusk...and Her Embrace', though there's something more extreme and traditional going on in songs like 'Queen of Winter, Throned', when at the 7 minute mark Dani Filth screams like Varg Vikernes at his most perturbed, following which a vaguely folk/viking melody crops up that wouldn't embarrass Enslaved if it appeared on their late 90s work. Of course, it's followed by the sound of a woman climaxing and the famous line that inspired the 'Vestal Masturbation' t-shirt, but that's par for the course for these guys - I mean, there's a naked and bloody woman on the cover. (Just out of interest, does anyone know if Cradle got the female singers to do the sound effects, or if those were supplied by the "model succubi", or even the backing vocalist known only as Rachel? I mean, Dani has a high voice, maybe we've just been listening to him jacking off on every Cradle album for years.)

What stands out about this release is that there aren't really any poor songs. It does irk me a little that 'She Mourns a Lengthening Shadow' snuck in when it's basically an interlude instrumental parked right between two decent songs, but that interlude isn't too awful and sets up the heavy opening of 'Rape and Ruin...' very well. The general style of the songs is black metal first and symphonic or gothic afterwards, with few keyboards for the most part and rather a lack of slower sections, except in the longer songs, which need them more and make better use of this dynamic than on 'Cruelty and the Beast'. When the guitars drop out of 'Queen of Winter, Throned', there is a distinct black metal atmosphere of danger and the smell of flame that wouldn't be out of place on 'A Blaze in the Northern Sky' or 'De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas', the female vocals aside. I'm dropping big black metal names in here to emphasise the fact that 'Vempire' doesn't sound a million miles away from those guys, even if there are distinct rhythms, riffing styles, and vocals that you couldn't mistake for anyone but Cradle. The extremity is all there, and that's what makes the extra trappings all the more palatable: an hour of poncy goth wank this is not, there's substance on which to place the dressing and heaviness with which to make a contrast.

The individual talents on offer are generally better represented than other Cradle albums. The production is good, with no necro fuzz nor too much polish: everything has its place in the mix and neither rhythm nor melody dominates, making both the fast and the slower moments sound heavy and huge. The drums are slightly clattery for me, though I must say that Nick Barker does a very good job, never settling down to blast his way through a song or rest in the breaks. The riffs are a good mixture of tremolo black metal, doomier and atmospheric parts, and a sort of churning deathish style, all of which are represented to great effect in the closing 'Rape and Ruin...'. There's also one guitar solo, which doesn't necessarily define 'Nocturnal Supremacy' but is a big plus for the song. Robin Graves plays a surprisingly important role on bass, perhaps resulting in the much more interesting slower parts and more varied sound when anything other than blasting is happening; for example, the gradual opening of 'The Forest Whispers My Name' gives him about a minute to add detail, nor does he disappear as the band plunges into the heavier riffs. Dani Filth has his own unique style, a part of which I usually dislike: here, his high-pitched shrieks occasionally get on my nerves (it's impossible to hear what he's singing, which is a shame since he's an overblown yet terrific lyricist), but they are better than on many other albums, and he straddles the divide between almost every extreme vocal style, adding in some of his own for good measure.

'Vempire' doesn't end up a perfect release by any stretch of the imagination, but it does represent the point at which Cradle of Filth assimilated all of their talents into a meaningful whole and contains some of their better songs. This shits all over 'Cruelty and the Beast' and 'Damnation and a Day', and I would rather listen to 'Vempire' than many other black metal releases.

A Magnum Opus... - 100%

XuL_Excelsi, November 26th, 2009

This is, in my humble opinion, Cradle of Filth’s finest moment to date. With this EP they proved how good they once were.

COF certainly set the bar for their genre with this interim release. Despite its length, I consider it an album all on its own. It is unfortunate they were never able to reach these heights again, as every subsequent release failed to match or better V Empire.

This is an epic album! Its entire duration feels like a dramatic build-up, with each highlight reached feeling darker and more emotional than the one preceding it. Every track, including the instrumentals, is essential, each subtle nuance resonating long after it has ended. The mood on this album is much darker than anything Cradle released after it.

On V Empire, COF achieved the perfect balance between the raw production and overall feel of “The Principle Of Evil…” and the over-produced, polished sound of later albums like “Damnation And A Day”. Though it is questionable whether or not the music is deserving of its black metal label, V Empire definitely belongs in the collection of any extreme metal fan.

Many, even Cradle Of Filth themselves, have tried to emulate this milestone of melodic black metal and failed. It is a memorable EP where every track is fully progressed with highs and lows developed beautifully, with the exception of “Ebony Dressed For Sunset”, which is more of an interlude. For me, the definite highlight is “The Rape And Ruin…”, starting as brutally intense black metal and rising paradoxically into intricate symphonic melodies, the standout crescendo of an already stellar tracklist.

One crucial element of Cradle of Filth’s creations that is always overlooked, is the eloquence of Dani’s lyrics. Parting dramatically from the tried and tested content of blasphemy and evil, instead it weaves a poetic tapestry of darkness, vampirism and the darkly erotic. The words add excellently to the overall effect and atmosphere of the songs.

Although the mid-length songs, namely “The Forest Whispers…” and “Nocturnal Supremacy”, stand alone excellently, I feel the album is best experienced in its entirety, with each song flowing into the next seamlessly. It is certainly a passionate effort from one of the finest extreme metal acts of the 1990’s.

Since discovering this album I have searched in vain to find more to stand among its ranks. It will always stand out to me as COF’s greatest release, an inspirational album no matter what genre you place it in.

A malevolent and unholy pleasure to behold - 90%

doomknocker, August 6th, 2009

When CRADLE OF FILTH burst onto the scene with "The Principle of Evil Made Flesh", it was a decent foray into the increasingly crowded black metal world, nothing wholly ground-breaking. Not necessarily rewriting the Satanic Bible musically, the FILTH boys continued to plug along rubbing elbows with the highers ups in the genre, not really differentiating themselves.

That was, until THIS little beauty came about...

Rumour has it, "Vempire" was a rush job to get them out of their Cacophonous contract...if so, then it would seem CoF write and perform some of their best material under pressure, as this ended up being one of their best albums to date. Usurping the unholy daliances of "Principles..." and before the ultra-serious "Dusk...and Her Embrace", CRADLE OF FILTH were right on the money with severe aggression and mesmerizing darkness, showcasing some of their heaviest and, dare I say, "blackest" metal they would be unable to repeat until many years later. The heaviness first shown on "Principles..." is multiplied several-fold, where guitars and bass perform a dual act of musical decapitation sandwiching almost MARDUK-ian speed ("Ebony Dressed for Sunset", the first few minutes of "The Rape and Ruin of Angels" and the faster parts on "Queen of Winter, Throned") with slower, more horrific drawls ("Nocturnal Supremacy", the latter half of "Rape and Ruin...").The keyboards also take more of a front-seat approach moreso than previous recordings, helping develop the black-as-pitch, gothic appeal that would appear in fathomless droves from this point onward. The drumwork of ol' portly Nick Barker also improved vastly, both in the intensity and technicality departments, crushing the riffs and symph-etics beneath consistant double-bass abuse and machine-gun style blast beats. And rounding things off, Mr. Dani Filth's vocals started to present the banshee screeches and Boris Karloff-ish dramatic monotones he'd become (in)famous for in the albums to come, spouting off well-written Queen's English-infused curses of vampiric romance and irreverant blasphemy like so much brimstone and half-digested virgin blood. When it all comes together, the sensation of a blessed afterlife and holy light diminish to nothingness, leaving the listener in a thick, endless shadow, hunted in the grasping dark until a violent death is ushered forth.

So in the end, this album espouses a malevolence the band, unfortunately, would not be able to repeat in future releases. Still, this should serve as an immortal testament to the majesty and sophistication of British black metal. The blood truly is the life.

Quite Simply, A Msterpiece - 99%

sickandweak, May 19th, 2008

Vempire or Dark Faerytales in Phallustein is Cradle of Filth's second realese and their first E.P and it is quite a big change from their first album The Principle Of Evil Made Flesh. This is by comparison a superior album in many aspects.

Made in a rush to escape their legal obligation to the record company, Cradle quite possibly made their best record ever. This shows with some amazing lyrics, majestic keyboard tones and spine snapping guitar riffs and drums beats. All of these make V Empire a masterpiece.

The opening track "Ebony Dressed For Sunset" starts of slow but kicks in with some outlandish drumming from Nick Barker. Both guitar's are played well and Dani ripps the song up with his scretching vocals. With both Sarah and Danielle on back up vocals this becomes one of the most memorable Cradle tracks made.

"The Forest Whispers My Name" is a re-made track which was introduced on The Principle Of Evil Made Flesh. On this record from the very start where the magical keyboard tones comes in you can tell that this version has picked up the pace from it's predesesior. The drumming is faster and it is a more put together song then the original. Dani's vocals seem to be clearer and everything else stays the same (instrument wise) excluding the pace in which they are played.

Next and at their best Cradle of Filth made "Queen of Winter, Throned" and holy shit is this Cradle at their best. The intro is taken from TPOEMF song "A Dream of Wolves in the Snow" (which guest stared Darren White). From the moment the whining guitar's come in you get the feeling that this song will be an epic. Clocking in at 10:27 it is long, but hell every second of it is worth my time. Dani's vocals are at his pinical. Switching from his deep growls to his rampant high shrieks at a consitant rate makes it a pleasure to listen to. The guitaring is also at it's peak with Stuart (even though the faggot he is) and Jarred do an amazing job. With the riff they produce after the first verse is just... I can't even summon the words to describe it. The drum blast are perfect from Barker. Everything he does is this track with double bass, snare, symbols and fills is perfect. Robin on bass is very well done. You can hear when you listen to the song carefully, and lastly Damien on keyboards with Cradle's keyboards at their best this song got better when you hear the eerie tunes that he summons onto what comes out to be, Cradle of Filth's best ever track.

"Nocturnal Supremacy" is a good song, but is not in the same league as "Queen of Winter, Throned". This is why i gave the album the rating i did. It just misses something. I can't pin-point what it is but it is lackluster compared to the masterpiece which is played beforehand. This song took away the one percent. Don't get me wrong, i like the song

"She Mourns a Lengthing Shadow" is a very somber quite interlude which i love. It comes in the right time in the album (being the 5th track) and it captures a moment not long after "Queen of Winter, Throned" on of their best interludes in my mind.

Lastly "The Rape and Ruin Of Angels (Hosannas in Extremis)" opens with hectic guitaring. This is another hightlight on this album. While being a very long song it goes past quickly.

On a whole this is an amazing album that you have to have in your hands so you can relise the pure beauty of it. A must by for any Cradle fan.

A Quantum Leap Beyond - 95%

corviderrant, July 16th, 2004

After a good but not great debut, this is the release that crystallized Cradle's sound as we know it today, for me at least, and is probably the one that all the "tr00 nekro kult" sorts immediately began hating them for. Well, screw 'em, cos this is one of their best ever. The production, the musicianship, their level of tightness are all 100% better than the previous release, and Dani's trademark paint-peeling shriek first surfaces here, setting them apart and away from that debut in no uncertain terms. I think Dani is quite the unique character vocally, albeit a little much for some at times.

Anyway, after some eerie ambient keyboard noise, "Ebony Veiled For Sunset" tears into you like a rabid wolfpack with its buzzing hornet guitar riffing, blasting drums (but Nick was still cheating on the blast beats) that are obviously triggered on this release like every Cradle release since, and not only can you hear the bass for once but Robin is an essential part of each tune on this release, riffing right up there with the guitars. Dani delves into his "Andrew Eldritch on crack" vocal bag and the usual female vocals surface as well, erupting into chaotic shrieks of terror as the song crashes to an end.

"The Forest Whispers My Name" is a better version than the debut due to everything being superior to the original--it's tighter and more concise and delivered with much more confidence. Rob's bass is all over this one, ripping at top speed and hitting every note cleanly--how many bassists can you cay that about in extreme metal? But "Queen of Winter, Throned"...oh my God, is this a triumph for them! Ten minutes of epic passion and emotion, delivered with intense fervor--I get chills listening to that incredible ending with its vaguely Middle Eastern-sounding female vocal part.

"Nocturnal Supremacy" does kind of pale in comparison, but still holds its own with Dani alternating the Goth vocals with his usual screeching to nice effect. Nice middle bit too, with the only solo on the album as well as a vigorous punk-sounding riff rearing its head to batter you into submission. "She Mourns A Lengthened Shadow" is a poignant and sad keyboard instrumental that is a forerunner of things to come in the Cradle camp, and is one of my favorites of theirs. "Hosanna In Excelsis" is good but not one of my faves on this release, but the middle part again is effective as well as the crushing doomy ending dissolving into women wailing in terror again, the implication being angels being raped by demons--a little cheesey, but what else would you expect from a band inspired by equal parts classic Hammer Horror films and metal?

I consider this an essential Cradle album, as it heralds the beginning of the sound they refined so well and quickly into a highly influential force in the extreme metal scene. It's all there, now seek it out and bask in the glory!

A little big masterpiece - 95%

Lord_Jotun, February 6th, 2004

If the first album had set Cradle Of Filth's standards in the seething Symphonic Black Metal scene, the second coming would prove to be one of their most important releases in terms of prgression and evolution towards a more personal sound. A lot of people who had discovered this band with their later works could barely recognize their sound when they finally got to hear "The Principle Of Evil Made Flesh", but the essence of "Vempire" is pure Cradle Of Filth, doing what they do best: highly atmospheric Symphonic Black Art, a lot more easy to associate with works such as "Dusk And Her Embrace" (which would be released some later in 1996, the same release year of this offering). Line-up changes definitely had a part in this, as half of the line-up who had partecipated on "The Principle Of Evil Made Flesh" (the two guitarist and the keyboarder) had been replaced, but the remaining members all show a much more competent approach: Robin's bass rumbles along as an essential melodic complement and rocksteady backbone, Nicholas drumming begins to stand out as the work of one of the best skin-thrashers of his generation and Dani's insane vocals have developed the dealy range we all know and love / hate. The new entries, however, are just as fundamental, consisting of Stuart on guitars and Damien on keyboards (both of which will contribute to "Dusk And Her Embrace"), plus Jared from December Moon as a session second guitarist, put up a really impressive performance.
Whether "Vempire" is to be regarded as an EP (as it has just 6 songs) or as a full-length (as it has a rough duration of 40 minutes) is still not clear to me, so I'll just refer to it as an "album" to avoid further complications.

The album begins with "Ebony Dressed for Sunset", a semi-instrumental composition blazing along at full speed, sustained by Nicholas's fierce beats and great guitar work, as well as sparse recitation from both Dani an dthe inevitable female vocalist.
This intro of sorts fades in turn into "The Forest Whispers My Name", a re-recorded favourite from the debut; why the band decided to rework a song after such a short period of time is beyond me, but that's another story. Anyway, the song itself is definitely one of the highlight's of Cradle's early discography, with its fascinating patchwork of moods and dynamics (just listen how the mid-paced intro becomes a blasting section backed by Robin's amazing bass, then turns into a headbanger's ball verse riff and then slows down again for an eerie break); additions to the original version include a more varied interpretation from Dani, more layers of female vocals (boh spoken and sung) and generally a more solid performance from the whole band (and a better production). Some people think this is better than the original, others don't, so I'll just leave this judgement to the listener.

Next, we have the highlight of the record, and definitely a peak in Cradle's career... "Queen of Winter, Throned". This is an epic with a duration of ten minutes circa, and a spectacular structure of great riffs which keep it varied but never dispersive (quite an achievement, considering the length). The song opens with yet another flashback to the first album (the opening is the carbon-copy of "A Dream of Wolves in the Snow"), but when it really kicks off, we realize this is a completely new Cradle. Dani switches from deep spoken words to his well know shrieks, and such a variety is also displayed in the music, in the constantly shape-shifting melodies and rhythms which however still blend together perfectly. The whole band's performance is astonishing in terms of techinque, and more so when it comes to the songwriting and arrangements, as there isn't a single throwaway riff or passage to be found here. Furious blastbeats, harmonized tremolo parts, expectant pauses and majestic keyboards: this song has it all, and more. Even those who hate Cradle should give this one a try, at least for the musicianship hereby displayed.

After such a masterpiece, "Nocturnal Supremacy" is bound to suffer from the comparison and sound slightly anonymous at best... fact is, this track really is the least interesting of the lot. It's far from bad - we still have good riffs and tempo changes going on - but seems a bit underdeveloped compared to the rest. Maybe it's just me, as Cradle themselves definitely liked this one: so much they actually re-recorded it for the limited digipack version of "Dusk And Her Embrace". Whatever... still, a nice song, well worth listening.
"She Mourns a Lengthening Shadow" is the trademark keyboard instrumental, and luckily, much better than any of those featured on the debut. This time around, rather than scattering several minimalistic (and not too useful) keyboards pieces all along the tracklist, the band decided to include just one, but much more developed. The reult is much better, as this is to this day one of my favourite instrumentals from the band's whole production, fascinating in its atmosphere and interesting in its subtle tonality shifts, as well as in its in-depth arrangements to recreate the feeling of a real orchestra using several different synthetic patches.

The final song "The Rape and Ruin of Angels (Hosannas in Extremis)", opens with the most violent riff Cradle had written so far, but soon gives way to a very nice piano break, and from here it's all twists and turns, although this one isn't as epic or atmosperic like "Queen of Winter, Throned" - it's more technical, though. The balance between aggressive parts and more "contained" ones is really well done, and culminates into a spectacular slow, melodic break introduced by Robin's deep bass and widened to immense proportions by the wonderful keyboard interventions. Easily the second best song on the record, and a rather underrated epic.

This record is definitely a big step forward from the debut, and captures a crucial moment in the history of the band. Anyone who liked "Dusk And Her Embrace" can feast upon these songs, while those new to Cradle can find a great introduction to the band in this disc.

Those Phallus Crazy Boys! - 60%

Shovel, January 27th, 2004

Cradle of Filth. Everyone knows the name. Everyone has an opinion on them. Vempire (lets just leave the title at that, people), introduced the band to a lot of people, as it was more accessible than their previous works.

The opening track, Ebony Dressed For Sunset, actually kicks some ass. The guitars are blazing, Dani uses some interesting vocals, and the entire song is fast.

Ebony melts into the next song, The Forest Whispers My Name, almost seamlessly. "The Forest" kicks of with a great riff, mixed with some fairy keyboards, which takes away from the riffs. Then comes the blastbeat/bass work duo. One of the most memorable moments on the album. More albums should have blastbeats mixed with bass solos. Then you get Dani's "rape me in the ass" screams, which take even more away. The song starts off great, but ends up being sup-par.

Queen of Winter, Throned opens with a 'spoken' (if thats what you call it) intro, which turns into a mellow riff. Throw in some wolf howls, and you got a decent intro. Dani actually speaks an exerpt from Dracula, the "listen to them, the children of the night, what sweet music they make" part. The songs picks up after said exerpt, as if Dani commands the guitars and drums to do some work. The riffs are simplistic, almost to the point of boredom, but the keyboards and drums keep you interested. At about 2:45, the song totally kicks ass, turning into a headbanging fest (yes, you can headbang to Cradle of Filth). Unfortunately, the song drags on for 10+ minutes, which is about five minutes too much.

Nocturnal Supremacy starts off with a great "you will die" drum beat, almost like something you would hear at an execution. Then we get Dani's "fuck me up the ass" screams again, and the song looses it's edge. The same formula is used in this song as the others. Build up some speed, throw in a boring interlude, add some female vocals, build up some more speed. While it keeps you listening, it also makes you want the choke whoever wrote the song. If only it was all fast, minus female vocals.

She Mourns a Lengthening Shadow is an intstrumental, and is the best song on the CD. Whoever does the synthwork on this album needs to be hired by a theatre or movie producer. Almost, but not, as good as Jonny Maudling's work in Bal-Sagoth.

The Rape and Ruin of Shadows follows the same formula as the previous songs, great intro with awesome riffs, but ends up being ruined by Dani and slow breaks. You have to love Dani's puking sounds at 2:40.

So all together you have six songs that have almost infinite potential, but end up being par, above average at best. If Cradle of Filth decided to be an instrumental act, they would be praised a lot more. Not that Dani sucks, just his high end sucks. He has a great growl, and he should use it more often. The best parts of the CD are when Dani is growling, not screaming. Also, the female vocals just ruin some of the songs. Completely useless. Also, this CD would completely own if not for the slow downs which seem to infest the entire album. Once you get into a song, they throw you a curve ball, and the song looses it's edge.

This CD is a great introduction into extreme metal. A genre which seems to be in between black metal and the rest of the metal community. Now if only they had come up with a better album name...

A Masterpiece - 95%

Draconist, September 27th, 2003

After releasing what I consider one of the greatest debut albums ever ('The Principle Of Evil Made Flesh'), it would have seemed almost impossible for a band to surpass themselves and continue to amaze some and curdle the blood to others. Cradle Of Filth, however, were never intended to be one of the many UK undeeground bands chancing their luck in the resurgent black metal world. They had ambitions which went beyond to just playing in a pub to local scensters.

Although widely mistaken, 'V Empire' is not a full length album but just an intermediary release before the next album and served to fulfill the band's contract with their record label, Cacophonous, who they'd been in dispute with since the release of their debut. Considering this is just an EP it is truly a remarkable piece of work.

'V Empire' starts with what could be described as their best intro to date. 'Ebony Dressed For Sunset' builds up from keyboards and launches with classic fast-paced drumming combined with frenzied guitar riffs and effects with deep vocals along the way. The track flows into a re-worked version of their 'The Forest Whispers My Name'. This new version has been sped up and some effects and female vocals were introduced. In fact this track outlines the main differences between 'Vempire' and 'The Principle Of Evil Made Flesh'. Whereas the former is faster with more female vocals occurrences and a polished sound, the latter is generally slower, perhaps more impassioned with medium-quality production.

Next track is 'Queen Of Winter, Throned'. It starts with the first spoken verses from 'A Dream of Wolves in the Snow' off their first album. However, it evolves into what can be defined an epic song clocking 10 minutes long. Then comes 'Nocturnal Supremacy' which starts off slowly then kicks into catchy bass and snare drumming and builds up speed alongside Dani's trademark voice and female spoken parts. Unlike their former release, this EP only contains one insturmental track being the succeeding track. Possibly this is one of their best interludes which builds up beautifully to the final attack that is 'The Rape and Ruin of Angels'. This track starts immediately with sped-up guitars and drums to a short keyboard intermission, gaining speed to close the album in a masterful way.

In my opinion, this release is possibly one of their best works, pinpointing a new direction the band was aiming at.