Review Summary: "sick and offensive" - the Lord Provost of Glasgow
Cradle of Filth have always sounded British, or perhaps closely French. Like Lord Byron and other grand poets of the English countryside, the band should be known more of poets than, "Metal musicians". Still, no matter the title, critics would still like to garner them as sick and terrible; terrible poets. Case in point, Cruelty and the Beast displayed a fervour for the Gothic; gaunt castles, erotic sinews.. and then Dusk and her Embrace was a slide into misted Romantic landscapes; Midian last of all was an eerie commercial album that owed its scars to the imagination of Clive Barker. And this is why Cradle of Filth are a rare bird, they are poetic, the lyrics read like a Victorian novel and the music more a cobwebbed storyline. A breath of dark air compared to Dimmu Borgir preaching misanthropy (misanthropic bank accounts!) or Obituary grinning over being chopped in half.
However well, *cough* after Midian, the floodgates opened. The band along with their predecessor became popular all across the globe. Similar to Satyricon and their last opus Nemesis Divina, you can view Dani Filth (the lead singer) in a Porsche driving into the studio to record glossy and unfitted albums. Midian was the last hallmark of a shocking, imaginative and original band.
So it is literally nine years later, with the dissapointment of DaaD, Nymphetamine and Thornography, many of the old perhaps, "true" fans have jumped ship. Shockingly an album slightly like Cruelty and the Beast is released called, "Godspeed on the Devil's Thunder" being and adventurous although *expected* release.
Almost as sadistic as the Marquis de Sade or perhaps Elizabeth Bathory, the French nobleman, war hero and later child pervert, "Gilles de Rais" is documented throughout the album, from such a silly repose as, "Shat out of Hell" to sometimes the masterful ballad in The Death of Love. The lyrics at times sure.. may conjure images of misted hovels, french castles and the perverted macabre of De Rais; abd yet lyrically, the fervour is missing. The early Cradle of Filth writing scheme is but a memory.
A snippet from Cruelty and the Beast:
Through the maw of the woods, a black carriage was drawn
Flanked by barbed lightning that hissed of the storm
(Gilded in crests of Carpathian breed)
Bringing slaves to the sodomite for the new-born
On that eve when the Countess' own came deformed
A tragedy crept to the name Bathory
From this album:
Now the treetops bowed to whisper
In a thin Disney veneer
They knew the howls so exquisitely honed
Were those of children, disappeared
Yet, if the lyrics are important for the band, what about the music?
Unfortunately, we have (shudder) Andy Sneap at the helm recording another perfect, "polished" album. The production is quite sterile. Here, every note, instrument and wail is clear and processed and processed and processed... This album's production is the fine example of modern metal. Sadly, this sound makes me miss the repulsive and glamorous atmospheres of Midian or Cruelty. It may not have been perfect but it had personality, something that the concrete sounds on this album miss.
As the album starts like any other Filth album, their is the opening keyboard intro of In Grandeur and Frankincense(more like orchestra). Although it is overdone, it works. It sets the classical and almost french overtone for the album. Shat out of hell gives the listener the basis for the album, tremolo picking, blast beats, classical overtones. Other than the name, like the rest of the album, it isn't half bad. But then, "The Death of Love," comes into play and it is gorgeous. Like the earlier, "Courting Baphomet" Cradle is starting to get into this happy and sugary sound. The dual harmonies, the sputtering female vocals may be pop at it's highest but It's brilliant. It recounts what made Her Ghost in the Fog one of my favorite songs and perhaps why they are the most popular band, they are actually composers.
And more importantly Doug Bradley (Hellraiser fame) narrates the introductions to the album. Somehow when we get to the song, "Midnight Shadows," I have to smile at his low croaking voice, "Sometimes I beheaded them with daggers, with poniards, with knives Sometimes I suspended them in my room," this paints Gilles de Rais, in a dark medieval room smiling over a cart of corpses.
All the other songs are slightly derivative and not as much worth the mention like the gleaming, "Death of Love". There are high points. The large choirs in Honey and Sulphur, the memorable riffs and eastern and almost, "french" keyboard passages in Midnight Shadows and the 13th Ceaser. Like Thornography and it's excellent track, "the Byronic Man" the evergrowing personable and commercial guitar harmonies still are in play. Luckily, Dani Filth's voice isn't as gravelly as on Thornography; but it will never be the wailing and annoying banshee from Dusk and her Embrace, ever ever again.
Godspeed on the Devil's thunder is not quite as eloquent of the underrated Nymphetamine let's be sure and although Cradle of Filth always prove they were unique and above their contemporaries; they still should be judged on quality. The guitar tone is genuinely Filth, the themes and lyrics still almost as portent as ever. Yet, the constant blast beats, repition and overproduction just doesn't make this classic. Yearning for the past, the wintry brilliance of Cruelty and the Beast, proves wrong; But for a story of the ornate and perverted medieval imagery of Gilles de Rais, the low narration of Doug Bradley, the classical overtones and sometimes shining moments like, "the Death of Love", Godspeed on the Devil's Thunder is worth the price tag. Just do me a favor and pick up their first five albums (yes, that includes Vempire).