Review Summary: Welcome to the black metal, guitar driven version of Dusk and Her Embrace.
Every Cradle of Filth fan is familiar with the band’s Cacophonous Records era. We all know that after the release of their debut album, The Principle of Evil Made Flesh
, things started to sour. We know in order to get out of their contract, the band rushed through the recording of their EP, Vempire
, before signing to Music for Nations. What most probably didn’t know is Cradle of Filth’s sophomore album had also been recorded for Cacophonous Records, but it was shelved after half the band left to form The Blood Divine. The remaining members didn't want to release an album that wasn't representative of their revamped line-up, so the decision was made to re-record the album with Music for Nations; and the version of Dusk and Her Embrace
that we’re all familiar with was born. I’m not sure why this part of the band’s history is almost never mentioned – the all-knowing Wikipedia didn’t mention it, and the band’s official pages don’t even have a history – but after 21 years, the original version of this landmark album is about to be released. So, if Dusk and Her Embrace
was already re-recorded and released through Music for Nations, why should we care about the original? How much could have really changed in the short year (or so) that lapsed between the original recording and the one we all are familiar with? It turns out that quite a bit could change in that brief time.
The changes begin, most obviously, with the production. The final release of Dusk and Her Embrace
featured a very warm and full sound that allowed the keyboards and goth-inspired overtones to dictate the atmosphere. The Original Sin
’s production is still very much black metal-inspired; sitting somewhere between the muddy delivery of the debut and the sharp production of Vempire
. This results in songs that contain a decent amount of bottom-end (including an audible bass guitar), that also deliver a guitar-driven visceral edge. There is one part, in particular, where this change becomes very obvious and welcome. There is a section of ‘A Gothic Romance’ that occurs near the middle of the song and again near the end; the part where it shifts to a very aggressive and thrashy riff. On the final version of the album, it always sounded totally out of place surrounded by the warm and keyboard-driven parts that make up the rest of the track. Worse, the production totally neutered any edge that part may have otherwise had. On this version, with this production, that thrashy section totally pushes the aggression into a totally new realm and is actually the pinnacle of the track as opposed to the odd-man-out. There are plenty of places where the guitar-dominated sound gives the Dusk
songs balls they never had before, but that’s not the only change The Original Sin
has to offer.
Every track on The Original Sin
is going to be instantly recognizable to anyone familiar with the Music for Nations versions, but there are still a ton of differences. Essentially, the shell of each song is still the same, but within that framework the music ranges from subtly different to entirely new. Returning to ‘A Gothic Romance’, the Music for Nations version features the main riff and keyboard parts repeated a few times before awkwardly lurching into the second thrashy section. The Original Sin
version features the same riff/keyboard section, but over the top is dueling guitar solos that allow the song to transition seamlessly into the final thrash part. It should also be noted that despite The Original Sin
featuring an aggressive edge that the Music for Nations version lacked, this version is still much easier to get into. The reason is that The Original Sin
is led by Dani’s black metal growls, and not the piercing screech that would come to dominate the re-recording. Also, Dani’s vocal layering acrobatics hadn’t reached critical mass yet. So, instead of the screech and multifaceted vocals of the Music for Nations version, we’re treated to a much more manageable black metal style that is only accentuated by the screams, death growls and spoken word styles that would eventually replace a lot of the conventional black metal stuff.
I could fill pages discussing the differences between this album and the final release, but that would destroy the surprise. Whether or not you own the Music for Nations version, The Original Sin
should still be required listening for any fan. The guitar-driven, black metal highlighting, original version of Dusk and Her Embrace
presents the songs in a way that may actually appeal to fans more than the Music for Nation version does; I know it does for me. What’s more, for those fans whose allegiance begins with the debut and ends with Vempire
, you’ve got another Cradle of Filth album to add to your limited collection because The Original Sin
is in that same spirit. While there are parts I appreciate more about one album over the other, overall I feel like this is the better version of Dusk and Her Embrace
, and I only wonder what took so damn long to get it to the fans.