Review Summary: A brilliant return to glory days for a band that was going downhill.
Cradle of Filth is a band that has become synonymous with extreme metal since their origins in The Principle of Evil Made Flesh, though over time their sound changed from black metal to a more symphonic extreme metal. However the band over the last few albums has come of the track a bit, with Thornography and Godspeed alienating their fanbase, then came Darkly Darkly, which only made it worse, and were not even going to mention Midnight in the Labyrinth. Thankfully, The Manticore... sees a return to form for CoF from the deviation that has overcome them since Nymphetamine, with a more black metal influence creeping back into their sound, but this time with a definite punk vibe accompanying it.
The album opens with the expected orchestral piece, The Unveiling of O, though better than In Grandeur and Frankincense, its not quite up there with classics like At the Gates of Midian. This leads into the wonderful The Abhorrent, which immediately harkens back to the days of Midian and Damnation, from its opening scream to its fast beat its a great start for the album. Following this is For Your Vulgar Delectation, another great song, Danis vocals are really back and his screams are superb, the highs no longer sounding strained and not overused. The guitar work has also taken a step up and has great riffs across the album. After this we come into Illictus, opening with an instrumental section it quickly comes into a fast drum led beat with a more noticeable orchestral backing than the last songs its a welcome addition, rather than on previous albums where the orchestra seemed to lead the songs, this is rather adding to the song and improving it. Another good song on the album, a noteworthy part of the track is the spoken section in the middle, Dani's voice is very good for this, bringing the song into a changing tempo, its well done and definitely adds a change to the album which had all been fast thus far.
After Illictus we enter the title track, Manticore, opening with a heavy riff and low growl from Dani, the spoken vocals that open lead perfectly into the signature screeched vocals that Cradle of Filth fans will love. Slower than the last songs, but not by much, the song still carries itself well and is a great song. The drum work on the song is brilliant, with blast beats and double bass giving a heavy undertone to the track. The different guitar licks that go through the song demonstrate greatly the talent of the guitarists. Next song, Frost on Her Pillow opens with a slow and menacing spoken passage from Dani, when the song picks up it proves to be another great song, with the guitars providing another great riff and the drums demonstrating a diversity of beats across the song.
Next we enter Huge Onyx Wings of Despair, a song with one of the most unexpected openings of any Cradle song, its hard to describe, but once the rest of the band joins it makes sense, the song itself, though not as good as the last songs, is still a track worth listening to, with orchestral backing giving it a different tone to the rest of the album and making it almost mysterious. Pallid Reflection follows, it starts with an opening reminiscent of Thornography days, but never fear, this quickly turns into a very un-Thorn like song, another good song on the album, the guitar work is complex, coming to a nice chunky riff in the middle and the rest of the song is spent on fast moving licks. This is the first song to feature female vocals noticeably on it, if even just for a short period.
Entering the last trio of songs we have Siding With the Titans which opens with a fast drum beat and fast keyboard before entering a very fast paced drum lead song. The keyboard on this song is more prominent than previous and adds an elegance to it. The song is another high point on the album. Now comes Succumb to This, in an album that is meant to be like 'Thornography 2.0' according to the band this is the song on the album that is most liken to that album. Me been a person that enjoyed Thornography I enjoy this song, the riffs, vocals, both male and female, and drum work coming together to make an enjoyable song, but others will probably quite dislike it. A great section of female and backing vocals appears in the middle of the song which can only be described a beautiful that harkens in a mellow section that gives it a chance to breath and is highly enjoyable. Enter album closer Sinfornia, a lovely orchestral work opening with a lone piano, that is joined by a orchestra and you have the album.
This album is a frankly brilliant return to glory by Cradle of Filth, a band that looked to many like it was on its way out, for fans of the band this will be a highly enjoyable album for them, full of wonderful songs with great vocals, guitar, drums and keyboard. Dani Filths vocals are back on form, his signature highs are great his regular screams are great. The instruments on the album are all used to the best, technically proffient and aggressive throughout. For people who dislike the band, there is nothing here that will change your mind. But for Cradle fans this will be a welcome addition to any collection.
For Your Vulgar Delectation
Frost on Her Pillow
Siding with the Titans