Review Summary: Look who decided to release their best album in 15 years....
Cradle of Filth is a band that's really under the microscope in the metal community. They entered the mainstream of the metal scene in 2003 and became a band that was subject of mockery from black metal fans claiming that they sold out and that Dani was a money hungry asshole that nobody wanted to work with. The thing is, Cradle has never looked for approval from the black metal community or anyone for that matter. And though many diehard fans claim that every album they've put out from 2003-2012 has been mediocre (even though I personally disagree), even old time fans of the band aren't going to be able to turn off their newest album Hammer of the Witches
The main thing about this release is the brand new lineup. To be honest, Paul Allender leaving the band was the best thing that could've happened to Cradle of Filth. Although he was the longest running member other than Dani, his work was beginning to get a little stale, making a lot of the past 3 albums sound extremely samey. With that being said, the duo of Richard and Ashok that has come together here is the best duo of guitarists the band has had since Gian and Stuart were around. The dual harmonies on this album, take for example the main riff in Blackest Magick in Practice, sound like something that would come from early era Cradle. The best thing about this album instrumentally is how they bring back the feeling of earlier and more successful albums while adding a modern touch. The keyboard duties are handled by another newcomer Lindsey Schoolcraft, and once again, the feeling of Cradle's glory days come climbing back. Not overbearing, but very present, similar to Midian
. With all this going on, Martin is still behind the drum kit and puts on his best performance since joining the band.
Sounds interesting right? But you may be wondering how good ole Dani sounds these days. It's no secret that his vocals have declined since around the year 2000. His world famous banshee screeches are still present, but not as well done as they used to be. Dani isn't in his 20's anymore and can't pull off that kind of range, let's just face it. However his performance here is easily the freshest he's sounded in years and the addition of the new members seems to have struck a nerve in him. His death growls are more powerful than ever and while his screeches aren't as good as they used to be, they're still good in spots. Lindsey provides female vocals as well and she's what the band has been missing in terms of that element since Sarah left the band.
With all that being said, I think it's obvious that I highly recommend this. Not only because I'm a fanboy, but because this is one hell of an album. Listen to songs like Deflowering the Maidenhead, Right Wing of the Garden Tripytch, and Onward Christian Soldiers and you'll hear the epic gothic tinged symphonic black metal reminiscent of Dusk and Her Embrace
and Cruelty and the Beast
. Unlike some of the post-2000 Cradle you've heard, this album actually has no skip worthy tracks and that's what impresses me so much. After over 2 decades and a billion lineup changes, these guys put out an album that can be placed up next to their classics. If you hated this band because of mainstream hits such as Nymphetamine or Temptation, then this could very well change your outlook. As for fans who haven't been on board since Midian
, you finally have a reason to jump back over to the ship because Hammer of the Witches
is easily the best album Cradle has put out in 15 years, and at this point, I'd say that's a damn good reason to check this out.