Cradle of Filth is all about their historical/Biblical figures. It’s what they do with the music surrounding said figures that matters for the band anymore.
Added to the list of historic killers and ne’er-do-wells such as Elizabeth Bathory (Cruelty and the Beast) and Gilles De Rais (Godspeed on the Devil’s Thunder), among others, the band takes on Lilith – the first wife of the Bible’s Adam – in their newest effort, Darkly Darkly Venus Aversa. Instead of telling her story in the Bible, however, Cradle of Filth goes the other way, weaving an original tale about Lilith’s emergence as a modern-day Goddess.
The story, subtextures, and influences on the band’s lyrical content could be discussed all day in proportion to the nuances of the band’s canon and how each album is a finely-weaved tapestry using its subject matter as a discourse on the evils of man and the brutality our race is capable of. But then, the same could be said for Slayer – and no one would buy that, either.
You see, Cradle of Filth has a lot in common with bands like Slayer in those respects. The concepts and subject matter can be analyzed all day, but the music is more-or-less the same blinding, choral gothic brutality that Cradle of Filth has become known for (to the point of influencing scads of black and gothic metal bands whether they would admit to it or not).
“More-or-less” has to be used here, however, because there are slight stylistic differences that both unite and divide the metal community with each passing record. Damnation and a Day and Thornography are great examples of that division with the band going full-on symphonic for the former (thanks to Sony’s backing for an album) and a little too experimental for the tastes of many with the latter.
Darkly Darkly Venus Aversa seems to be an album that has united them once again, and it’s easy to see why. The album takes a step away from predecessors by incorporating a much shorter intro than usual in to the opening track, “The Cult of Venus Aversa”. It’s a subtle switch that heralds the fact that this is the first Cradle record not to include an instrumental.
For Darkly Darkly Venus Aversa, the band doesn’t have time to play it slow or to build a mood. The ass-kicking boots are on almost immediately and aren’t taken off until the ending. In-between, Paul Allender’s hyperspeed riffing, Dave Pybus’s bass gymnastics, and Dani Filth’s howling-to-growling-and-back-again are all where they should be, representing the band’s cohesive, trademark onslaught.
What’s missing this time, though, is Sara Jezebel Deva. The band’s long-time female vocalist has moved on to form her own project. Suspect timing for Darkly Darkly Venus Aversa, which has been called a “feminine counterpart” to Godspeed on the Devil’s Thunder, to not have the band’s main feminine voice. Others are employed, such as Lucy Atkins and new keyboardist Ashley Ellyllon, but not having Deva represent one of the biggest female characters/figures Cradle of Filth has ever taken on feels a little wrong.
All said and done, though, it actually matters very little. While sounding like Mercyful Fate on steroids, Darkly Darkly Venus Aversa marks another chapter of Cradle of Filth’s reign as the biggest black metal band in the world. Fortunately for fans, it’s not one that strays too far away from the band’s main territory or what they do best, making for a non-stop buzzsaw that the Filth-ful should be proud of.