Cradle of Filth - Cryptoriana - The Seductiveness of Decay 01If I were tasked with handing out an award titled “Band That Most Successfully Got Its Shit Together,” England’s black/gothic/extreme metal veterans Cradle of Filth would be on my shortlist. After encountering and subsequently ignoring them for years during their radio-friendly phase, they finally hooked me with 2008’s Godspeed on the Devil’s Thunder. But delving into their back catalog afterward unearthed such an inconsistent discography, that I treated subsequent offerings with justifiably tempered optimism. That was, at least, until 2015’s Hammer of the Witches dropped. An intoxicatingly melodic and thrashing blend of goth metal melodrama, it ultimately pulled me in much more strongly than it had our resident cat-man, becoming one of my favorite releases of its year. Its follow-up, Cryptoriana: The Seductiveness of Decay, may lack the same “wow” factor, but that’s only because this time around I knew that a great album was a real possibility.

If Cryptoriana can be accused of being disappointing, it’s only because it’s not a revelation on the same level as its predecessor. This is still Cradle of Filth combining elements of black, goth, melodeath, thrash, and power metal in a catchy and memorable cocktail of symphonic extreme metal that stands head and shoulders with the best of their older material. These compositions are defined by their dynamism; yes, they’re as lengthy as ever with most clocking in around seven minutes, but instances such as the melancholic black/aggressive thrash duality of “Wester Vespertine” and the surprisingly catchy, nearly post-rock vibe in the chorus of “You Will Know the Lion by His Claw” make for tracks that fly by so fast that many feel half their length. Part of this fleet feeling certainly comes from Cryptoriana‘s sheer riff count, which rivals the number of times Dani Filth has ever shoehorned the word “cunt” into his lyrics in what might just be the most guitar-driven record of CoF’s career.

I’m willing to heap equal praise on both Hammer of the Witches and Cryptoriana, yet back-to-back listens of both albums admittedly leave me inclined to elect the former as my favorite. Though nearly identical stylistically speaking, each record has unique strengths; Cryptoriana wins out on the songwriting front thanks to tracks that rarely stagnate despite their length (“Heartbreak and Seance” being the sole exception due to its cyclical structure), but Hammer was, in general, the catchier effort, with downright infectious rhythms and guitar flourishes that took months to leave my head. Even so, Cryptoriana’s thick, melodramatic atmosphere makes it feel like a successful extension of Hammer, maintaining its rhythmic style while delving into the realms of romantic horror deeper than I’ve heard since Godspeed and Darkly, Darkly, Venus Aversa.

Cradle of Filth - Cryptoriana - The Seductiveness of Decay 02

Cryptoriana’s production makes it one of the best sounding records in Cradle’s oeuvre, but considering how dreadful some of the band’s albums have sounded, this isn’t as significant a claim as it appears at surface level. The typewriter bass and tinny cymbal presence make for a somewhat synthetic sounding kit, and the bass is almost entirely obscured any time the rhythm guitar chugs along in the low-end (so, most of the album), but the instruments otherwise sound well-spaced in the mix and Dani Filth’s ever-distinctive vox are kept at a relatively unobtrusive volume. He sounds much the same here as he has for the past decade or so; call that “phoning it in” but he at least knows at this point how to balance the various “modes” of his voice to craft an entertaining vocal playbook, so long as you can stomach his style. Regardless, the precise tandem in which guitarists Ashok and Rick Shaw operate is the album’s true driving force, and I highly suspect their recruitment three years ago is largely responsible for CoF’s renewed vigor.

If, dear reader, you slept on Hammer of the Witches, this album is your wake-up call. Proving that Hammer’s success was no mere fluke, Cryptoriana is a clear signal that Cradle of Filth is currently in the middle of one of the best phases of their career, blending several genres with their trademark gothic atmosphere so effectively that it sounds deceptively simple in its execution. Ignore the awful album art, disregard the horribly Photoshopped band photo above, and check out Cryptoriana sooner rather than later if you have even a passing interest in this band.


Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Nuclear Blast
Websites: cradleoffilth.com | facebook.com/cradleoffilth
Releases Worldwide: September 22nd, 2017

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  • Nukenado

    Sorry, Dani, but you can’t be cool, hip nor threatening when you look like you guys have missing textures and your pose all the black-metal-ness of a KISS high-school cover band whose frontman has played too much cheesy JRPGs and watched a bit to much edgy/cheesy 90s anime and read too much edgy Western comic books.

    Music’s my jam though.

    • basenjibrian

      Junior High cover band. Junior High.

    • Eli Valcik

      Hahaha, they forgot to render face textures.

      • Nukenado

        And 90% of equipment textures. Shading’s okay though.

  • george

    The oh-so-dark little brother of Iron Maiden did it again.
    Up the Filth

  • Lou Daz

    From the band photo, Dani looks like he should be fronting a visual kei metal band.

    • Igor Alencar

      I was about to say that. I saw the picture and thought it was baby metal

  • Benevolent Sun

    “Death and the Maiden” has some of the heaviest Cradle parts in years. That opening riff and headbangable drum beat rips! I’d give the album a 4/5

  • Yolo Swaggins

    So, why can’t bands create cool album art?

  • manimal

    Typewriter kicks with a typewriter lyric video ^_^

  • HeavyMetalHamster

    The most annoying singer in metal.
    No thanks.

    • Jae_Aytch

      His style is an acquired taste.

      • HeavyMetalHamster

        I guess.
        His shrieks or whatever they are make me want to kill puppies. …and I LOVE puppies.

        • Ivan E. Rection

          Agreed, I have not yet acquired the taste, and by now likely won’t. Band photo looks like a bunch of the world’s worst chimney sweeps went camping. The puppy body count will be high with this one.

          • Chigo

            I literally laughed out loud at this comment. Well done, sir.

          • Eli Valcik

            Bravo sir

    • wayne the devil

      Nor my cup of tea…I’ll pass…

  • Jae_Aytch

    First thing that came to my mind with that photo was “Black face? Really?” I know, that was probably not the intent, but score one up to social engineering.

    Anyway, this album has a tendency to stay on looped playback for me. Like mentioned in the review, the songs don’t feel as long as the they are.

    Unlike some of their previous releases, my ears aren’t wore out from listening. I’m actually surprised to see the DR7 rating.

    One of my favorite additions are the choirs.

    • Nukenado

      This is more literal blackface than pretending to be black/sub-Sahara African…

      • Eli Valcik

        Demon face?

      • Matt slatz

        Maybe that was too much lighter fluid

        • Nukenado

          Not enough.

      • RuySan

        It’s more “Chimney Sweeper-Face”. Maybe that’s a British thing to do.

    • Monsterth Goatom

      I’m remind of that creepy “Got a light?” guy from Twin Peaks.

      • Poop King

        The Woodsman and the Black Lodge Hobos

  • Danny

    I’ll take this as my signal to finally get around to Hammer! And this, too.

    • basenjibrian

      Revisited Hammer…agree with several comments that it is really enjoyable although still ridiculous. Still missing the pinhead narration thouhh!

  • Dr. Wvrm

    I’m loathe to admit it, but this is doing it for me. Dani aside, hokey lyrics aside, these riffs are so juicy.

  • Eli Valcik

    BEWBS

    • Nukenado

      Sometimes with nudity, less is more. I like the goth lady on the left way better.

  • DeathComesRipping

    Great album. Nice to see them getting some love again

  • Metal and Hockey

    Biggest surprise of the year for me. Did not expect to love this album as much as I do now I can’t stop listening to it

  • This sounds very good. Cruelty and the Beast was the album that turned me off COF and I haven’t gotten into an album since. Many I haven’t even bothered to listen to at all. Hammer had some appeal, but the tracks I heard didn’t make me listen further. From what I’ve heard so far of this one (around half), this is stronger.

  • The Unicorn

    I absolutely hate this band.

    • herrschobel

      yes

  • Iain Gleasure

    I don’t know what’s worse, the rip off of Sandro Botticelli’s masterpiece ‘The Birth of Venus’ or the fact the Madame didn’t review it.

  • Wilhelm

    Not really on the same level as Hammer of the Witches, which was amazing. I was actually a bit disappointed with this one.

  • Excentric_13073

    This is a test, just a test… nope, still hate them.

  • Their early stuff is some of my favorite music ever, but I had given up on them around “Godspeed on the Devil’s Thunder.” Never bothered listening to Hammer… perhaps you’ve goaded me into giving them another chance. If I don’t like it, I’m placing the blame squarely upon you. I hope you can live with that, Mr. Ostrich Elitist.

    • Eldritch Elitist

      I can and I will. I live to disappoint!

  • Me

    Bout time. Just kidding. I too have to give the edge to Hammer but this is still an awesome album. I love the increase in choir. The end of Lion has been stuck in my head for days. The new lineup has done wonders. All of them. This is the Cradle I fell in love with during Cruelty. Wester Vespertine is one of the best they’ve ever done. All around solid album. I really hope Dani can hold this lineup together. The chemistry is amazing….even if the album cover isnt. Oh, and the cover of Alison Hell has to be heard at least once.

  • Master of Muppets

    Oh woah, I hadn’t realized CoF were still doing stuff.
    Can they not?

  • I appreciate that their stocks plummeted for a few years, but radio-friendly? Really? What radio stations do they have where you are??

    I’m enjoying this as much as I usually do CoF – that is, quite a bit. I mentioned on another page here that I’ve loved every album from Midian up to this one, excepting Manticore. Not a bad run, at all…

    • Eldritch Elitist

      “Nymphetamine Fix” received a ridiculous amount of airplay on my local rock radio station. It was played every few hours and remained the number one requested song on the station for several weeks until Green Day’s “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” came along.

      Keep in mind that I live in what is essentially the buckle of the American Bible Belt – it’s not like I live in Europe, where I imagine this scenario is far more likely.

      • Wow, there you go. Clearly the type on radio stations we have in Australia don’t compare! :-)

      • Finq

        The heaviest music we get on the german mainstream channels are Nickelback and the Linkin Park ballads. There might’ve been some RHCP on some stations back in the day, but no longer.
        Interesting that there are actually radio stations that play CoF.

  • herrschobel

    this band represents everything i don´t like about metal…it´s the antithesis …capitalist clown bullshit for merch addicts …rant over

    • Master of Muppets

      Remain in the hall.

  • naoto

    When mise-en-scene override music.

  • Mollusc

    Ladle of Milf

  • GustavoMan

    The first thing you fags see is blackface? JFC break the conditioning.

  • Planex

    Today I learned I still don’t like Cradle of Filth.

  • RuySan

    “Cthulu Dawn” is still one of the best sprinting songs when I’m running, but taken as a whole, most of their albums are boring and overlong. And if they aren’t they certainly feel so.

  • Death_Black_Metal_Fanatic

    I would say this album is a little bit below “Hammer…” but a little bit above “Manticore…” I got into CoF when the (criminally underrated) “Bitter Suites To Succubi” EP was released, and I’ve been a fan ever since. For what it’s worth, here’s my take on their releases.
    “The Principle of Evil made Flesh” – it’s ok. I understand the love for it, but it’s not one I revisit due to the fact that I like so many of their albums much much more.
    “V Empire” – a solid EP, and an improvement over their debut.
    “Dusk and Their Embrace” – Very good album, although I think Dani’s “high” vocals are overused a bit.
    “Cruelty and the Beast” – I guess I need to go back and listen to this one, because I haven’t listened to it in probably 15 years, and everyone seems to fawn over it.
    “From the Cradle To Enslave” – another one that I haven’t listened to in a long time, except for the title track, which is a really good song.
    “Midian” – Ok, this is where my love for them skyrockets. This album is AMAZING!!! If not their best, then it’s their second best. So so many great songs. “Her Ghost In the Fog” is possibly my favorite black metal song of all time.
    “Bitter Suites To Succubi” – GREAT EP!!!! The original songs and the cover of “No Time To Cry” are fantastic!!! I never see ANYBODY mention this one!!!
    “Damnation and a Day” – their crowning achievement in my book. I cannot say enough good things about this album. I really don’t know why some of their fans can’t get into it. It is Not a weak track to be found.
    “Nymphetamine” – more “accessible” perhaps, but a wonderful album nonetheless. My 3rd favorite of theirs.
    “Thornography” – yuck. I like maybe 3 tracks, and the rest just fall flat for me.
    “Godspeed…” – A very nice rebound album. Not a GREAT album, but a very solid entry.
    “Darkly, Darkly…” – double yuck. Maybe I need to go back and listen to this one, but I remember listening to it twice when it came out and not liking it at all.
    “The Manticore…” – Another one that I think is slightly underrated. I think it’s pretty good. Definitely worth a revisit from time to time.
    “Hammer of…” – VERY strong album. Their best one since “Godspeed..”, and perhaps even their best since “Nymphetamine”.
    “Cryptoriana” – I like it, but it’s not one I see myself revisiting too terrible often.

    • Jesperten

      I totally agree with you on Damnation being their crown jewel. Thank God for the suffering…
      Nymphetamine is actually the album that led me on to the path of darker and heavier music than the more regular Slipknot, Soulfly and Children of Bosom I was into at that time. Later I’ve realized how cheesy Nymphetamine actually is compared to some of their stronger performances. But I still love some of the tracks. Especially Gabrielle – the vocals on that track is sublime.
      I have to give the Midian album another listen though. I haven’t given this album enough attention.
      In general, I’m not even close to be up to speed with all their recent album. They kind of lost my interest after Darkly Darkly. But it seems that I have to start catching up on this now :-)

  • Svampmoln

    I really like this album, but I guess I´m in the minority here since I’ve liked all their albums. Or at least a few songs on all of them, including Nymphetamine and Thornography, and I also kind of like Dani as a person, character or whatever he is… I have learned not see them live though. Festival, opening band, headliner, they´ve always managed to disappoint me no matter the setting.

  • Dark Self

    ‘Band That Most Successfully Got Its Shit Together’

    Nope, this is Dani and some COF fans to happens to be good are doing cover of COF, that is all…..

    By the way only Thornography was really radio friendly (and pretty good).

    And there are a lot of radio friendly in God Speed too.

    The way I see it is that this band stops involving with Nymphetamine. I mean, the foundation of the instrumentation is quite similar. When I heard the first single of this new album I was like (gush, that song could be on Nymphetamine).

    Ok to be honest I abandoned COF bandwagon with Venus Aversa, which was an extreme but so bland album……

    Why COF did so well in their pre-sony deal (Damnation and A Day) was the solid musicians that were in the band. Nick Barker, Martin Powell, Deva, etc… It wasn’t just Dani gig back then, it was a band effort.

    Anyway I pretty sure COF is still delivering good music for virgin ears. But I am far from that!

    S

  • beurbs

    I’ve been trying to like this band for a long time, and it’s finally coming together for me on this album. He’s not kidding about the sheer riff count, it’s one of those albums that makes you go “oh I guess there are still riffs left to write.” Some Powerslave-level harmonized leads as well.