Monday, November 19, 2012

Initial Impressions: Cradle of Filth: The Manticore and Other Horrors

Just like clockwork.  Every two years or so around the end of October (Halloween time kiddies), English gothic extreme metal mavens Cradle of Filth drop a new album of horror stories upon us.  And every time, I feel absolutely compelled to pick it up.  Let's face it, I am a Cradle of Filth fan.  I know they have their detractors, but I cannot help but love what they are doing every time.  It's a sickness I know.

This one is a little bit different sounding than the band's typical fare.  For one thing, the sound has been stripped down a little bit.  And this even effects the run-time of the release.  There are no ridiculously long songs, everything is tightened up and a lot of the musical meanderings have been cut out.  The riffs have become much more prominent on this release, replacing a lot of the keyboard melodies.  This is the most aggressive Cradle of Filth has sounded in years.  The riffs frequently resemble punk and thrash metal riffs.  Again, this is something that has been missing from Cradle's sound for a long time.  It is a welcome change.  After so many albums of the band doing basically the same thing, it was time to change up the formula a little bit.

No review of Cradle of Filth's new record would be complete without discussing Dani Filth, the only constant element in the band.  Dani's vocals are not as strong as they used to be, that is an unfortunate inevitability when a band has been around as long as Cradle of Filth has been.  But that is not to say that he does not have anything left, he certainly does.  His high-pitched shrieks and low grumbles still do the trick.  And of course, his songwriting has always been very impressive.  His ability to weave stories of gothic horror into the darkly melodic, atmospheric music of which Cradle of Filth specializes.

This is not one of Cradle of Filth's greatest albums, but it is one of their best in years.  It does not touch the levels of Dusk...and Her Embrace, Midian, or Cruelty and the Beast, but I would stack it up against anything from Nymphetamine onward and it would hold its own.  The riffwork definitely stands out as a welcome change from their previous albums and the stripped-down songs make this a slightly easier listening experience.

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