Cradle of Filth
Hammer of the Witches


4.0
excellent

Review

by Trey Spencer STAFF
July 9th, 2015 | 649 replies


Release Date: 07/14/2015 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Who saw this coming? Cradle of Filth return with a new line-up and a renewed vigor that has lead to their best album since Midian.

Cradle of Filth have been operating without a firm direction for the better part of fifteen years. Ever since Damnation and a Day, they have been trying to figure out how to blend their goth-inspired black metal with a more mainstream, guitar-dominated, approach – and they’ve never quite got it right. This revelation shouldn’t come as a surprise; if we’re being honest, Paul Allender, Charles Hedger and James McIlroy were never really prolific riff-writers. In the beginning it didn’t really matter because they had a really talented drummer and everything was immersed in a layer of keyboards. Unfortunately, they eventually lost that drummer and made the unwise decision to devalue the role of the keyboards. This change left the guitarists carrying the workload; leaving fans with a handful of bland releases that lacked the creativity and energy of the band’s pre-Sony days. Fortunately, after nearly fifteen years of marginal releases, Dani Filth has returned the band to what made their first four albums great. As should be expected, this has led to their best album since Midian.

Ever since ‘Cthulhu Dawn’, it has been tradition for the opening track to be one of the more aggressive songs on the album, and ‘Yours Immortally’ continues that trend. The song opens with a break-neck tempo and a dual guitar harmony that is mirrored by the keyboardist, and even in the opening moments the leap in quality is obvious. Unlike the previous 15 years of releases, though, the quality doesn’t diminish after the ferocious opening track. The follow-up song, ‘Enshrined in Crematoria’, brings back memories of ‘Nocturnal Supremacy’ before smoothly transitioning into a modern Midian sound that contains one of the coolest solos of the band’s career. Essentially, there isn’t any filler on Hammer of the Witches. Each song has enough fresh ideas that the album never really blurs together. If I was to make a ‘fan’ comparison, I would describe this as a blend of Midian and Cruelty and the Beast with the diversity and melody of Dusk and Her Embrace. If that description seems like a stretch, you obviously haven’t heard Hammer of the Witches.

While it is likely that Dani Filth set the direction for the album, credit must be given to the new guitarists and keyboardist for taking that direction and running with it. These two new guitarists are easily the best at writing actual riffs that Cradle of Filth has ever seen, and they can rip out the solos whenever necessary. They’re also just about as proficient at the dual guitar harmonies and melodies as (the much-missed… until now) Stuart Anstis and Gian Pyres of the Dusk/Cruelty era. The same kind of praise could be heaped upon the band’s new keyboardist, too. She is just as good at filling the empty spaces, creating atmosphere and giving the songs a soundtrack-ish feel as Les Smith (Cruelty and the Beast) was. Basically, this might not be Cradle of Filth’s best line-up, but it’s damn near close. Even Dani’s vocals sound re-invigorated.

If your expectations for a truly great Cradle of Filth album have slowly eroded as each post-Midian release failed to meet the standard, it’s time to get your hopes up. Cradle of Filth have come back with an album that should thrill fans that have been craving the dark, gothy, black metal that embodied the band’s first four releases. Hammer of the Witches is more than just a nostalgia release, though. The new members have injected a renewed life into a band that had started to sound like it was going through the motions. Hammer of the Witches is the post-Midian release fans have been asking for while retaining the riff-oriented sound the band have been attempting for the past 15 years – only this time they’ve actually pulled it all off.



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other reviews of this album
B R A N D O N S C O T T CONTRIBUTOR (4)
the black goddess rises...

Ben Kuettel STAFF (4)
The return of twin-guitars and a wise restraint of vocals and keyboards make for Cradle’s best rel...

Hawks (4.5)
Look who decided to release their best album in 15 years.......


Comments:Add a Comment 
Willie
Moderator
July 9th 2015


17209 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Enshrined: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BSMWrqZmZK8

Deflowering: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Zj5g3bTWQ0

Right Wing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t2Y4uZ0rnRk

Digging: August Burns Red - Phantom Anthem

Angelboros
July 9th 2015


1344 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

"Unfortunately, they eventually they lost that drummer and"



You might want to consider taking the second "they" out. Other than that, great rev. I used to own a physical copy of Midian, and this sounds promising.

Hyperion1001
Emeritus
July 9th 2015


19975 Comments


if we’re being honest, none of Cradle of Filth’s guitarists have ever been gifted riff-writers.


disagree with this pretty hard, back during the dusk/cruelty era when they had Stuart that dude wrote the best riffs theyve ever had. cruelty and the beast is basically non stop good riffs.

other than that i dig the review, although i cant help but think a lot of the praise for this album is more because theyve been so average for so long that seeing a little bit of a creative spark is more surprising than anything else.

Hawks
July 9th 2015


50130 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Review rules, album rules. m/ m/ m/



But yeah this is def their best lineup since the Dusk/Cruelty era. Hopefully they all stick around for a while.

Digging: Cradle of Filth - Cryptoriana ? The Seductiveness of Decay

BallsToTheWall
July 9th 2015


48013 Comments


Cash review Willie.

Digging: Old Sorcery - Realms of Magickal Sorrow

Ocean of Noise
July 9th 2015


9682 Comments


Willie likes CoF???? Now THAT'S something I wouldn't have seen coming.

Great review (duh), though I could never get into these guys.

Digging: Therion - Vovin

Hawks
July 9th 2015


50130 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Willie has like Cradle for a pretty long time as far as I can remember.

TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
July 9th 2015


16346 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Great review, will post mine soon. Definitely their best since Midian

Digging: Godspeed You! Black Emperor - Luciferian Towers

Gameofmetal
Staff Reviewer
July 9th 2015


10125 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

interesting



need to check this

Digging: Wolves in the Throne Room - Thrice Woven

zaruyache
July 9th 2015


17533 Comments


Hopefully they all stick around for a while.

I think you just jinxed them tbh. Seems like nobody can stand to be in business with Dani for that long for whatever reason. I'm guessing that reason has to do with his lulzy vampire fascination and awful vox ;3

Digging: Gabor Szabo - Dreams

Hawks
July 9th 2015


50130 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Hahaha guess we'll see....

TheSpirit
Contributing Reviewer
July 9th 2015


21818 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Hmmm I pretty much disagree with eveything in the first paragraph. Since Godspeed the guitars have taken a major backseat to the keyboards I feel like.

Digging: Nocturnal Triumph - Into Light's Graven Wound

Acanthus
July 9th 2015


9812 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Can't wait to pick this up tomorrow, so looking forward to hearing all of this!

Hawks
July 9th 2015


50130 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Hoping this will be on Spotify at midnight. Not trying to listen to it on YouTube again lol.



I'll probably end up buying it too though.

Acanthus
July 9th 2015


9812 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I like buying, especially since my car only has a cd player right now.

Hawks
July 9th 2015


50130 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I have all their full lengths Principle-Thornography plus Vempire, From the Cradle, and Butter Suites, but I haven't felt the need to purchase Godspeed-Manticore, but this is definitely worthy of buying.

Nocturnalize
July 9th 2015


2463 Comments


This is Cradle reinvigorated I honestly didn't think they had it in them but they came back strong

Hawks
July 10th 2015


50130 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Fuck it just bought this on iTunes. m/

wwf
July 10th 2015


5536 Comments


I don't think I could ever take this band seriously considering the only songs I've ever heard from them are from their truly awful newer stuff

manosg
Staff Reviewer
July 10th 2015


10453 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Never felt the need to take these guys seriously but when I listen to their music it's like I'm watching a gothic horror movie. However, I need to really be in the mood to jam an album of theirs.



I absolutely love their first four LPs plus Vempire ofc so I'm pretty curious to see how this one feels like.



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