Cradle of Filth is a band that I have been meaning to get into for quite some time. I think I was intrigued more by their name than anything else, it just struck me as something I’d like.
So, I decided to give their latest album Nymphetamine a spin. What I was expecting was something in the hardcore or grindcore arena. What I got was black metal.
Black metal has always been an interesting genre. I take the occasional trip to the darker side of metal. I never stay too long, but each visit is always an experience. I think the thing that I like about black metal as opposed to many of the xcore type styles is the increased use of melody. There is a stronger sense of flow throughout the music. It isn’t quite as broken apart.
There are more interesting and complex arrangements and an increased use of keyboards. Cradle of Filth has done a good job bringing these elements together to deliver a good album.
A friend has told me about how he thinks that there is a sense that Filth has sold out to the Hot Topic crowd of faux-goths. I cannot really comment on that as it is not a circle in which I travel, nor am I terribly familiar with the band’s back catalog. What I hear, may not be quite as extreme as, say, Emperor, but it is still an edgy dark album. I cannot claim that it has turned me into a lifelong fan, but I can say that I enjoyed the trip that it took me on.
I have listened through the album a few times and can honestly say that most of the time I have no idea what Dani is saying, not necessarily a bad thing as he does some interesting things with his voice, but the words escaped me. What I liked was that it was not as far to the black metal side as some I have heard, making this seem a bit more accessible to the non-black metal fan. There is an epic feel to the songs going through numerous tempo changes, bringing the moods all over the map. At times it’s somber and sad, at other times aggressive and biting. Sometimes floating between the two.
Dani Filth’s voice is an interesting beast, always seeming layered with effects, playing in a grating upper register most of the time, and occasionally dipping into the depths conjured by the back of his throat. It’s more another instrument then a conveyor of words. It creates its own rhythm on top of the instruments laying down a complex sound board for him to weave in and out of.
The two guitar players, Paul Allender and Germs Warfare, have some interesting interplay, lead harmonies, screeching solos, hard clipped riffs, and open chords, melody fills. They give a lot of the body to the sound.
I must admit, that bassist Herr Pubis is not terribly evident. There is a definite low end, but he seems to be following the kick drum or rhythms and gets lost down there. Drummer Adrian Erlandsson has a good sound, mixing up straight speed with some good kick drum fills and keeping the rhythm going strong. Finally there is Martin Foul, who adds a lot of atmosphere to the chaos with his keyboard playing. It may not be as technically evident as some I have heard, but the atmosphere supplied is more than enough. I have always enjoyed the use of keyboards in the extreme metal styles, they often add a new dimension to the sound.
There are some songs that grabbed me right from the start. The first being the third track, “Nemesis,” a long grinding dirge, with a repeated line backed by a chunky chord progression that just begs for the slow head bang. Another is the title track, “Nymphetamine (Overdose),” which features a slower somber moment with a female singing lead – an interesting opposite to Dani’s growl.
Then there is “Filthy Little Secret,” which features a more straight forward power metal styling. Throughout the album are keyboard intros to maybe half the songs which go a long way to setting the mood. I would be remiss if I failed to mention the bizarre “Mother of Abominations.” It opens with a bizarre chant which grows in power and number of voices only to give way to some speedy guitar progressions leading into the song proper.
There is also a bonus track, “Nymphetamine (Fix),” which is more mainstream sounding and features more interplay between Dani and the female singer. It plays out a bit slower, and has this eerie segment where Dani is whispering and it switches between the left and right channels (especially eerie when wearing headphones). An excellent alternate version.
Bottomline. It is an interesting album to say the least, one that would not be recommended to the novice metal listener, but for those with a bent towards the more extreme, this may be a good one to check out. As I said earlier, I may not be a completely converted fan, but I would not be adverse to delving into other releases.
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