Cradle of Filth_Total Fucking DarknessNo, your eyes are not deceiving you. This is neither a YER METAL IS OLDE! nor an Indefensible Position. Allow me to explain: there’s a hard, fast rule at Angry Metal Guy in that we don’t usually review re-releases of older material. The reason for this is normally, said material is readily available to the public, and our limited time and energy can be better spent reviewing newer, upcoming releases that hopefully don’t suck. Certain extenuating circumstances can, and do, change all that. Suffolk extreme metallers (and eternal underground whipping martyrs) Cradle of Filth, have given Mordgrimm the official go-ahead to release their infamous third demo, Total Fucking Darkness, to the masses over 20 years after its initial release, remastered with more tracks, rarities, and new cover art by famed painter, Daniel P. Carter. How does it sound, and more importantly, how does it hold up? Surprisingly, quite well!

And even more surprising is that none of the songs from the original demo open up the actual album! Instead, “Spattered in Faeces,” the lone survivor from the ill-fated Goetia sessions (!), whooshes in with symphonic melancholy, before pummelling forth like a slightly catchier, almost punked-up early My Dying Bride. Riffs by the Pauls Allender and Ryan forecast what would eventually show up on their classic début, The Principle of Evil Made Flesh. Speaking of which, halfway through is the unmistakable keyboard melody that would make its reappearance on Principle‘s “A Dream of Wolves in the Snow.” And Dani Filth’s voice, a long-time turn-off of mine, is refreshingly varied on this, going from guttural growls to his now-trademark (and WAY overused) banshee scream.

As for the demo itself, I can see why so many people heralded it as among the band’s best in terms of sheer relentless aggression and atmosphere. “As Deep as Any Burial” barrels forth with sharp riffing, surprisingly tight drumming by Darren White (yep, Anathema‘s then-vocalist), Robin Graves’ clean bass work, and a tasteful lead-out by keyboardist Benjamin Ryan. “The Black Goddess Rises” sounds more primitive and dark on here than on the début album, and “Unbridled at Dusk” lurches midway like a creepy spectre. As for the other bonus tracks, only “Devil Mayfair (Advocatus Diaboli)” is a fully-fledged unreleased tune, with the rest being even more crude versions of other songs here, and two incredibly well-played keyboard instrumentals by Benjamin Ryan.

Cradle-of-Filth_1993Like I stated earlier, this album was remastered from the old demo tapes. Having not heard the original, I can say that everything is audible and discernible from each other. One thing to keep in mind, though, is this is a demo. Don’t go expecting tight musicianship, mindblowingly poetic lyrics (I couldn’t figure out what Dani was screeching or bellowing 90% of the time), sultry female vocals or dance remixes, and I think you’ll be just fine. This is just straight up, primitive symphonic black metal goodness.

So just as torn we were with reviewing this classic demo, I was torn with what to give it. Yes, it’s old and no, it’s far from perfect. This is, however, an accurate snapshot of a band who would later dominate the metal world like few others before or since, for better or worse. I personally enjoyed hearing this demo and am thankful for its second lease on life (and afterlife). Sadly, I’m also torn in that they wouldn’t continue down this path of atmospheric brutality, as I would kill to hear what that would have sounded like instead of what they actually released since. Definitely a must-have for fans of their albums, or those who loved Principle.


Rating: 3.0/5.0
Label: Mordgrimm
Websites: CradleofFilthOfficial | Facebook.com/CradleofFilth
Release Dates: EU: 2014.05.05 | NA: 05.27.2014

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  • OzanCan

    This is weird… :/

  • sweetooth0

    I can confirm this sounds light years better than the original demo. Kind of amusing it’s getting such a lavish re-issue though.