Review Summary: Does everything its predecessor did right, but better, and with more style, flair, and conviction.
When Cradle of Filth released Hammer of the Witches
to early critical acclaim, there were those that dismissed the praise without even hearing the album. They assumed any positive vibes were simply the result of 15 years of low expectations, but It turned out the accolades were totally justified. Not only did Hammer of the Witches
mark the return of the band’s classic formula, it also managed to finally make good on the modern riff-oriented sound they had been fumbling around with for years. If we’re being truthful, though, low expectations and nostalgia probably did play a role in the initial excitement surrounding Hammer of the Witches
even if it did turn out to be justified. The real test would be the band’s follow-up release. It wouldn’t be able to get by on low expectations or a simple return to the classic sound. If Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay
was to succeed, it would need to step up Cradle of Filth’s game… and it definitely has.
Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay
takes its predecessor’s blend of classic and modern Cradle of Filth to a whole new level. It’s a universal truth that Cradle of Filth generally open their albums with a throw-away keyboard introduction that eventually segues into the fastest track on the release, but not this time. “Exquisite Torments Await” begins quietly enough, but within the first minute it has moved into a double bass-filled wall of riffs, keyboards, choir vocals and Dani’s death growls all moving at a break-neck pace. After barely two minutes, it seamlessly transitions into the second track, “Heartbreak And Séance,” which builds on the melodies of the opener and prominently features more choir vocals. It doesn’t fall into the stereotype of being the fastest track on the album, though, mostly because of the visceral nature of every other song. The other songs also don’t return to the dominating choir vocals as an overarching crutch, leaving them for just the two opening tracks.
What they do offer, though, is a wealth of riffs that move effortlessly between thrash and black metal, Iron Maiden-inspired guitar harmonies, relentless percussion, huge keyboard melodies, shredding guitar solos, and the multifaceted vocals of Dani Filth – all improved. It’s honestly not a stretch to suggest Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay
contains some of the best riffs of the band’s long career. It’s also not an exaggeration to say it is the most consistently aggressive album of their career. Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay
also features some of the band’s most nuanced and complicated songs, featuring subtle little flourishes and an abundance of tangents in a way the band never have before. Since I’m making grand generalizations anyway, I’d also say that despite some of my favorite Cradle Of Filth songs residing on other albums, this is probably my favorite overall – and “Wester Vespertine” is definitely top 5 material.
Nobody expected Cradle of Filth to recover from their 15-year slump with such skill when they released Hammer of the Witches
, but they did. Despite that, there were still a lot of questions about the band’s ability to adeptly follow it up. It turns out any concerns were unwarranted. Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay
is easily Cradle of Filth’s most visceral, nuanced, and consistent album in their 23-year career. The riffs are some of their best, the melodies are well-developed, and Dani Filth’s vocals sound better than they ever have. Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay
does everything its predecessor did right, but better, and with more style, flair, and conviction.