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Cradle of Filth: Thornography

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.

Track Listing
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
12. Temptation

Added: November 15th 2006
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Cradle of Filth Website
Hits: 6691
Language: english

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Cradle of Filth: Thornography
Posted by Ken Pierce, SoT Staff Writer on 2006-11-15 08:12:09
My Score:

One definitely has to give Cradle Of Filth a lot of credit for doing things the way they do and leave it to them to once again prove why they are continually going to be impossible to classify under one specific genre label. Over the course of the bands fifteen year existence they had been one of the most theatrical groups of them all and they were also among the earliest to blend the Symphonic angle into Extreme Black Metal music. It was the elements in this brand of music along with the over the top dramatics of lead singer Dani Filth that led this band to success and to become as much of a force of nature as they were a musical group. It seemed as though with Cradle Of Filth that the only constant was change and on their second release on Roadrunner Records the fans will find this definitely to be the case once again. Thornography is an album that might come as a surprise to the die hard fans given the fact that it is moving further away from the style they first blasted on to the scene with. Yet by the same token this release might also gain some fans based on its use of a more Gothic essence and the heavy leaning on traditional Thrash Metal vibes. Thornography is a recording that will allow you to redefine your perspective of COF and it's a great follow up to Nymphetamine. If you had to compare the two you will find an equal part of solid and memorable songs and perhaps you will even agree that the new release is the best that the band has ever delivered to the fans. Tracks like "Tonight In Flames" will have you raging with horns raised to the sky while "I Am The Thorn" reflects in the style of the bands in Metal's illustrious past. This feel shows that COF is not as far from the influences of so many as one might think. As in the past so the future as guests appear once again on the new record. We have Sara Jezebel Deva (who is also fronting her own group Angtoria) on one number, while HIM's Ville Vallo makes his mark with "Byonic Man". I had to admit that I never expected these two singers to work together but it is a great follow up to his working with Liv Krull from Leaves' Eyes on Nymphetamine. These guest stars add to the level of the albums appeal and potentially spark added interest from those fans who want to follow what other musical adventures that their favorite performers are involved in.

The continued change in overall style from blistering shrieking Black Metal to a more sedate and eerie Gothic Heavy Metal make it have moments that some might find as a little bit of selling out based on the songs tempo. However, the music is still incredibly strong from start to finish and the inclusion of an instrumental like "Rise Of The Pentagram" shows just how good these guys can play. Metal fans can thank them for these changes for as a result the world has received what appears to be the most accessible COF album of all. I was one of those who did not enjoy them early on, and admit to being a very latecomer to what they are about yet despite my initial misgivings I love this release. This is a perfect jumping on point if you are not already with them.

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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