Cradle of Filth have a pretty extensive back catalog of work since their inception in the early 90's, and their combination of horror themes with raging black metal has made them one of the more unique and theatrical band's on the extreme metal scene. With stellar releases under their belt like Midian, Dusk and Her Embrace, The Principle of Evil Made Flesh, Vempire, and Nymphetamine, there were high expectations for this latest platter, Thornography. How does it stack up you ask? Well, if you read many of the numerous blogs and fan reviews on the various websites, there are cries of "sellout" all over the internet, but honestly I think much of that is a little unfair. Truth be told, Thornography is Cradle of Filth's least black metal styled album. Sure, there are moments of intense black metal mania, like on the killer cut "Dirge Inferno", complete with Dani Filth's maniacal screams and no shortage of blast beats, but for the most part this is a dark and moody mix of gothic, death, and classic metal styles, which might be a good thing for those who thought that the previous music of the filthy ones was a bit too extreme.
Check out the almost Savatage sounding "Tonight in Flames", where Dani could almost pass for a young Jon Oliva on the more cleaner vocal passages (yes, there are many melodic and clean vocal sections on the album), and the band is firing away with crunchy riffs and symphonic keys. Orchestral keyboards and Iron Maiden influenced arrangements permeate "Libertina Grimm", a muscular yet highly melodic piece that sees Filth's screeching vocals meeting up with lurid death/gothic growls for a chilling effect. The anthemic and gothic gem "The Byronic Man" features guest vocals from HIM's Ville Valo, who gives this song an accessible edge that has never been heard on a Cradle of Filth song. Speaking of guests, Chris and Tommy Rehn from Angtoria add some keyboard and orchestral arrangements to a few tracks ("Under Pregnant Skies She Comes Alive like Miss Leviathan" is a breathtaking instrumental piece), and their current bandmate, and longtime Cradle member, Sarah Jezebel Deva, again is back contributing her stunning backing vocals.
Other hot tracks here include the plodding death metal of "Cemetary and Sundown" (featuring some tasty lead guitar harmonies from Paul Allender & Charles Hedger), the surprising power metal turn on " Lovesick for Mina", and the raging yet memorable technical metal that is "The Foetus of a New Day Kicking". If you remember the horror movie franchise Hellraiser, the actor who plays Pinhead, Doug Bradley, contributes some narration to "Rise of the Pentagram", an orchestral instrumental rocker with wild keyboard work from Mark Newby-Robson, violins, and blistering rhythms. Fret not though, the band hints at their earlier black metal roots with "Under the Huntress Moon", a thunderous piece with Dani's evil vocals spewing plenty of venom while tremelo picked guitars and relentless blast beats fire away at will. Fans will no doubt be surprised at Cradle's take on the Heaven 17 song "Temptation", turning it into a gothic and blood curdling rocker, with guest female vocals from Dirty Harry. The album is produced byRob Caggiano and mixed by Andy Sneap, so as you can imagine it sounds fabulous.
Lyrically, Thornography gives you more of what you would expect from Cradle of Filth, that being plenty of horror, gothic, religious, satanic, and gory themes, but overall this is a less evil sounding and more accessible Cradle of Filth record. It's no less heavy, but Dani and the band have put together an album that will appeal to a wider metal audience, yet at the same time could potentially alienate some of their longtime fans. Bottom line is it's still Cradle of Filth, just a tad less extreme.
1. Under Pregnant Skies She Comes Alive like Miss Leviathan
2. Dirge Inferno
3. Tonight In Flames
4. Libertina Grimm
5. The Byronic Man
6. I am the Thorn
7. Cemetery And Sundown
8. Lovesick for Mina
9. The Foetus of a New Day Kicking
10. Rise of the Pentagram
11. Under the Huntress Moon