I have to be brutally honest...I've always had a soft spot for this band. From their early, pure black metal days all the way to their current gothic metal incarnation, Cradle of Filth have always kept my interest level pretty steady. While many fans who were on board early on kind of jumped off after the band started to lose some of the black metal elements (they were after all a UK band who were competing in a mostly Scandinavian scene), their music has morphed into something a bit more accessible to draw in new audiences, yet it still retains enough of that extreme metal fury for some. The blending of gothic rock, tradional metal, and symphonic black metal is alive and well on their latest The Manticore and Other Horrors, a strong follow-up to 2010's Darkly, Darkly, Venus Aversa.
Leader Dani Filth is in fine form throughout The Manticore and Other Horrors, which, for most fans, will be good news. He's resorted more to his mid-range gothic delivery in recent years, dropping some of his trademark growls & screams, but those elements have returned with a vengeance here. "The Abhorrent" and "Illicitus" feature plenty of pounding blast beats, keyboards, furious riffs, and Dani's howling shrieks, letting the fanbase know that they band still know how to deliver dramatic black metal. "For Your Vulgar Delectation" is a more traditional sounding heavy metal song with gothic overtones, while the pulverizing "Manticore" is one of the more grinding & heavy tracks on the CD, a scorching mix of death & black metal.
Personally, I've always loved how these guys drop in a few symphonic, almost progressive metal style tunes on every album, and "Frost On Her Pillow" is one of those on this release, a delightful, melodic feast of crushing, inventive riffing, orchestral keyboards, and a myriad of vocal styles from Dani. "Huge Onyx Wings Behind Despair" also works well in that fashion, with boatloads of keys floating over massive riffs and extreme yet catchy vocals melodies from Mr. Filth. The band channels Iron Maiden and Epica on the sizzling "Pallid Reflection", while "Siding With The Titans" is majestic black metal, a head on collision of classic Immortal and Emperor. "Succumb To This" might be the one clunker here, a sort of generic sounding black 'n' roll number that is somewhat of a letdown after so many strong tunes before it, and the album is bookended by two keyboard drenched orchestral instrumental tracks that lead in and finish the album in fine fashion.
If you've long been a Cradle of Filth fan, The Manticore and Other Horrors will no doubt find its way into your current listening rotation and please the hell out of you. It might not bring back those who think the band jumped the shark years ago, nor convert the unconverted, but it's a damn good release nontheless.
1. The Unveiling Of O
2. The Abhorrent
3. For Your Vulgar Delectation
6. Frost On Her Pillow
7. Huge Onyx Wings Behind Despair
8. Pallid Reflection
9. Siding With The Titans
10. Succumb To This