Review Summary: The freedom given to create a small handful of good guitar riffs is too little, too late to save Darkly, Darkly, Venus Aversa from the same problems that have been haunting Cradle Of Filth for some time
It seems that Cradle Of Filth have immersed themselves in crafting intricate theatrics and lofty keyboard melodies that have, at this point, become a critical staple of their sound. The problem is, though, that the band has come to rely almost wholeheartedly on them, creating a make or break situation for listeners who are contemplating a listen to their latest album Darkly, Darkly, Venus Aversa
. The reworking of basics like drums and guitars should have brought fresh life into the album, but sadly this is not the case. Instead, the epic symphonics are launched like mortars from the second Darkly, Darkly, Venus Aversa
begins, leveling into ruin any deviant instrumental moments that threaten to undermine their almighty reverence.
Take, for instance, the riffs and solos of guitarist Paul Allender, who tries so admirably to break the chains of his cyclical tremolo-picked riffs and stagnant chords with melodic leads that achieve moderate success in their own regard, but are often pummeled into submission by prominently mixed keyboards and atmospherics that aren’t nearly as interesting. Even his solos, which at times rip pretty respectably when looked at in the context of the rest of the instruments (the solo at the end of “Forgive Me Father (I Have Sinned)” is particularly awesome, albeit swallowed by Dani Filth’s wails), are often plastered over shamelessly. Often times, it’s Dani Filth’s own voice that simply doesn’t seem to be able to take a moment of silence for the riffs to advance and progress, instead they are left to do their work in the backdrop, leaving voids and transitions that don’t seem entirely logical or smooth. It is very easy to notice the drastic lack of bite or emotion in Filth’s voice, with his screams unable to approach any level even close to his former range, and his whispers and singing grow tiring and become overused. Thankfully, his deep growl isn’t entirely a wash, but its infrequent use is disappointing.
It seems as if the ambition of what is churning in Dani Filth’s mind is way beyond his songwriting talent, a syndrome suffered by acts such as Dimmu Borgir, producing wandering and nonsensical keyboards that add absolutely nothing to the album aside from their misguided grabs at atmosphere. When the core instrumentation of Darkly, Darkly, Venus Aversa
(the bass, drums and guitars) are all passable, it leaves little space for criticism outside of their signature theatrics, which have also found a way to leak their infectious mediocrity into the vocal department. The female clean vocals are cheesy and pretentious, so swallowed in their own grand aspirations that they don’t realize their own shortcomings. The orchestration is grandiose and prominent, but has no place being so prevalent or oppressive in a metal album, regardless if its point is to be symphonic. It all sucks the life and enjoyment out of the few qualities Cradle Of Filth still have that are worth listening for, and instead it is a tiresome endeavor that, at just over an hour in length, is far too long for its own good.
The ambitions of Dani Filth and his band have become all-consuming, it seems, because with Darkly, Darkly, Venus Aversa
, Cradle Of Filth have crafted the worst album of their career, one that is so misguided and lost in ego that it doesn’t even realize this. Filth’s vocals are weak and emotionless, the keyboards and symphonics used as a crutch, the songwriting repetitive and tiresome, the concept shallow, the execution sloppy; all sad facts because, at its core, the drumming, bass and some of the guitar work is surprisingly good. It may be a sign that Cradle Of Filth are running short on real, quality, original ideas, but at this point it is still too early to tell. Fans of Cradle Of Filth may still find something to revel in on this album, but even they will notice the drop in quality compared to the older albums they may love. Overall, though, it cannot be denied that the horizon looks quite dark indeed for Cradle Of Filth, unless they scrounge together an album that doesn’t rely on aspects that have been recycled dozens of times over.