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Cradle of Filth: Lovecraft and Witch Hearts

"This is the theme to a better Armaggedon/ Nightchords rake the heavens"
-- Dani Filth, "From the Cradle to Enslave"

Love 'em or loathe 'em, Dani & Co. are back, all set to pillage, plunder and cinch your daughters into shiny black PVC outfits.

(Busy collecting drool. Okay, and we're back!) Ransacking CoF's back catalog for greatest hits (sort of), the 2-CD Lovecraft practically gushes cruel, erotic power from the depth of its serpentine heart. Or something like that. Among the highlights of the collection are a tasteful sampling from their masterpiece Cruelty and the Beast, a concept album based on the life and crimes of the 16th Century Hungarian countess Erzbet Bathory; stuff from Dusk and Her Embrace and the MCD From the Cradle to Enslave. In addition, as a nice treat, they've included some of their covers from the Cruelty special edition, Iron Maiden's "Hallowed Be Thy Name" and Slayer's "Hell Awaits" from the Slaytanic Slaughter series of albums. (Sadly missing, however, is Cradle's live standard "Black Metal").

Over a more than decade-long career, Cradle has seen many lineup changes, but it's always been Dani's band; call him the Trent Reznor of black metal, if you like. His Filthy lyrics are steeped in Victorian-era occultism (i.e., they're heavily influenced by late Romantics Byron, Wordsworth, Coleridge and Shelley, then swaddled in psychedelia -- life seen through Dracula's green tea shades, as worn by Gary Oldman, of course). It goes without saying that none of this would have been possible without the Great Beast his bad self, Aleister Crowley, a highly under-rated poet in his own rite.

Shamelessly self-promotional, questionably metaphysical; whether CoF represents P.T. Barnum in goat-god drag, or they're the genuine article, anybody's free to guess. Ultimately, I don't think they're kidding around. Always featuring cutting-edge musicianship and Dani's deliberately shredded voicebox shrieking blasphemous names of power (listen carefully to "Dusk and Her Embrace": Inanna and her insane sister Eriskegal made the baddest two b*tches in Sumerian history), with powerhouse orchestral tracks modeled on Hammer Horror films, CoF over the last couple of years has pushed into chaos magick territory, wiring us all for the PanDaemonAeon (anybody who wants further info on this fascinating subject is encouraged to check out New Falcon's web site and books by Peter J. Carroll. Liber Chaos is a good place to start, although a background in Golden Dawn/Masonic tradition helps). The song "From the Cradle to Enslave" is itself, I believe, a clever riff on Irish poet/occultist W.B. Yeats' classic "The Second Coming," viewed through a pint of acid-laced lager, darkly.

Although every Cradle fan has his/her favorites, Lovecraft and Witch Hearts serves best as a sampler box, introducing new listeners to the world's greatest black metal band. Even if they do turn out to be an art prank. In a time of fractionating nationalisms and the most hawkish Supreme Court in American history, we need CoF in a bad way. Buy this record and support the end of life as we know it (don't worry, a little chaos soothes the soul. And it's better for you than chicken soup).

"And what rough beast,its hour come round at last,slouches towards Bethlehem to be born"
W.B. Yeats, "The Second Coming"

Added: June 28th 2002
Reviewer: Alex S. Johnson
Related Link: Koch Entertainment
Hits: 3311
Language: english

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