Review Summary: Cradle of Filth's greatest album of all time. Their magnum opus.
Choirs. Orchestral sounds. Gilles de Rais. Demons. Child victims speaking. Sodomy. Wolves. Dani Filth. These are the ingrediants for the slickest, sickest, darkest album of the year and of Cradle Of Filth's entire discography.
Without further babbling on til Babylon, I'll give my general review. I bought the special edition of the album first of all and listened to the songs in the order they were meant to be heard (you'll see what I mean later).
First off was <b><i>"In Grandeur And Frankincense, Devilment Stirs"</b><i>. Trust them to have a long winder title. But as an intro track, it's definatley their most atmospheric with a real sense of medievil ruthlesness before a descending, broken scale sounding eerily similar to a broken child's music box (see the relevance?) before good ol' Pinhead as de Rais himself opens up with a prophetic four-liner (and making a reference to a track of the <b>Dusk...And Her Embrace Album</b>) before the tenor in the background sings the melody that'll be heard in...
<b><i>Shat Out Of Hell</b></i>. Holy Jenova, it hit me like a bomb. Powerful, fast, slick...it had everything. I instantly heard the more profound use of keyboards than previous and the definate improvement in drumming (courtesy of the legend that is Martin Skaroupka). The lyrics even make another reference to a track of a previous album (this time <b>Cruelty And The Beast</b>). Dani's vocals have also improved since <b>Thornography</b>. And the stop-start, breakdown introducing a bit of antiphony between the choir and the guitars? Sheer briliance. The tracks ends with the melody sung by the tenor in the previous track giving an eerie deja vu feeling. The atmosphere and storyline are definatly established before moving on with...
<b><i>The Death Of Love</i></b>. Unbelievable. A love ballad of the highest calibur. The untold "love" story between Gilles de Rais and Joan of Arc. I use quotation marks for "love" because Gilles was homosexual. They were more brother's in arms (or sisters). And the lyrics themselves back this up: <i>She made him click without desire</i>. This is definatly a highlight of the album, especially the new female vocals.
Next up, <b><i>The 13th Caeser</b></i>. I didn't think it would be able to hold my attention as much, especially after <b><i>The Death Of Love</i></b>, but I was certainly wrong. It definatly wasn't as captivating, but an excellent track nontheless. Especially with the melody sung by the choir in the intro which would be heard later in many places. However, this is the one song where I feel Dani's vocals slip back into the <b>Thornography</i> way but still an excellent song.
<i><b>Tiffauges</i></b>. Storyline-wise, the calm before the storm. The moment where Gilles gives into his desires. An interlude track that offers the listener a chance to catch their breath before the real story begins in...
<i><b>Tragic Kingdom</i></b>. This is where the proverbial "***" hit's the fan. A descending main theme is perfect to represent Gilles' descent into depravity. Squandering his money is no longer working for him and he's having to move into the darker side of things to get what he wants. Briliant, fast, hard as nails song, similar to <i><b>Shat Out Of Hell</i></b>.
<b><i>Sweetest Maleficia</b></i>. One of my favourite songs on the album. A non stop, double-pedal-smasher of a song. The split sterio track with one of the pitches lowered works perfectly for that demonic effect on Dani's voice (for an example, just listen to the "Demonised" version of Dani's voice in the first few lines of the song). Briliant lyrically aswell, it really has a sense of desperation arounf the whole song, music and lyrics combining to tell the story of failed feverish summoning of demons.
<b><i>Honey And Sulphur</i></b>. Another excellent song. They don't get any better as they go along because that's not possible. They're all briliant. But it certainly doesn't get any worse. An epic piece of music, especially with the choir singing the latin phrase at the begining which, in reference to the rest of the lyrics and storyline of the song, are actually wuite scary ("<i>Praeclorum Custodem Ovium Lupum</i>" = roughly means <i>"The Best Protector Of The Sheep Is The Wolf</i>"). Tells the story of the child kidnappings in general and of Gilles' cohorts,comparing them to wolves.
<i><b>Midnight Shadows Crawl To Darken Counsil With Life</i></b>. Musically, this is sublime, one of the best but lyrically, this is the real tragedy of the album, story line wise. It tells of what Gilles did to the children, in graphic detail before it all begins to crumble in...
<i><b>Darkness Incarnate</i></b>. Opening up with a small quatrain spoken my Luna Scarlett Davey a.k.a. Dani Filth's daughter. As confused as she sounds reading the scrap of paper which was no doubt thrust into her hands before she was thrust into a recording booth (that's how it sounds!), this is an excellent song. It's almost a <i><b>Midnight Shadows...</i></b> part two but continues on to tell how Gilles is beginning t be haunted by the children he's murdered in his dreams.
<i><b>A Thousand Hand's On The Maid Of Ruin</i></b>. A damn good instrumental. As Dani himself described it: "It sounds like a riot in a haunted house."
<i><b>Ten Leagues Beneath Contempt</i></b>. Lyrically, Gilles is at the end of his tether and assaults the cleric Jean le Ferron (not name given in the song, but his brother bought one of the castles Gilles owned...he didn't like that. Just random info for you all!). You can really hear in the main guitar riff a descent, a sense of it all crumbling down around Gilles with this almost pendulous, swinging melody. And the scary piano melody in the middle? Just plain creepy.
<b><i>Balsamic And Anethema</i></b>. This is the one song where Dani takes complete poetic licence with regards to the storyline. Prelati, the man who had helped Gilles discover his dark side, flees when Gilles is captured and Joan of Arc appears to him in a drea, convincing him to renounce his ways. Musically, fast, progressive (but then again, they all are, bar the previous song).
<i><b>Godspeed On The Devil's Thunder</i></b>. The climax. The fast, crazy, desperate, tragic, end to an equally descriptive storyline. The song gets pregressivly faster before just bursting in an epic crescendo at the end as Gilles is hung <i>"at the stroke of seven"</i>.
<i><b>Corpsflower</b></i>. To be totally honest, I thought this track was unneccessary. As an outro track, it's a bit plain, not really worth listening to and it almost takes away from that stunned, after shock you got at the end of "<b><i>Godspeed...</i></b>" Unneccessary overkill, but hey, who cares?
<b>Songs Worth Highlighting:</b>
<i>It was difficult to pick a select five, but these are the must listen-to's:</i>
1. The Death Of Love
2. The 13th Caeser
3. Balsamic And Anethema
4. Honey And Sulphur
5. Sweetest Maleficia