Cradle of Filth
Existence Is Futile


4.2
excellent

Review

by Fernando Alves STAFF
October 22nd, 2021 | 357 replies


Release Date: 10/22/2021 | Tracklist

Review Summary: May the demons of old rejoice, for Cradle of Filth are back on stage.

Oddly enough, the memory that emerges immediately when I think of Cradle of Filth is not about the very first time I listened to them or some album cover I might have stumbled across at the record store, but rather an interview Dani gave to the now-defunct French Hard Rock Magazine. A then skinny, funny-looking Dani Filth appeared in his home kitchen doing the dishes like just another day at the office. Something that surprised me at the time, as it contrasted with the usual bad boy trademark image associated with black metal. This eccentric scene, along with the fact that some friends claimed the band was a travesty that shouldn't be taken seriously, left me with a rather dubious first impression. I've never been the type to follow the herd or judge the book by its cover, but this awkward (non-musical) first encounter somehow generated some backlash against the lads, as silly as it sounds now. In a way, part of the conservative black metal community (of which I never belonged) had a similar response, though not entirely for the same reasons. Cradle of Filth's theatrical goth side has always triggered mixed reactions from the dark horde, more devoted to Nordic blasphemies than to the baroque-ish incursions of the Brits. Whatever one's interpretation of the band's early tensions with the genre's fanbase, or at least with part of it, the truth is that it somehow helped to separate Cradle of Filth from the rest of the pack, while allowing them to broaden their target audience beyond the orthodox circuit. Although I’ve never been a devoted enthusiast of the band's early days, I have come to increasingly appreciate them, particularly their last two albums which curiously coincide with the recruitment of guitarists Rich Shaw and Ashok. Even though Hammer of the Witches and Cryptoriana didn't present anything really new, they did bring some excitement to a formula that was already wearing thin. They weren't exactly a breath of fresh air, in the full sense of the term, yet they represented a moment of renewal and reconciliation with a niche somewhat displeased with the band's latest outputs.

The band's latest gothic horror novel, Existence Is Futile, embodies the reinvigorated spirit of the previous two chapters much due to the now stable line-up, which, except for the addition of Anabelle Iratni, has remained unchanged. Even old acquaintance Doug Bradley (known for his role as Pinhead in Hellraiser) lends his voice once again in 'Suffer Our Dominion', a song that revolves around overpopulation and its deleterious effect on the planet. A narrative attached to the album's main concept which deals with existentialism and the possibility that there is no purpose to life. Musically, the band wanders through safe territory, delivering a stylistic cocktail that blends a range of melodic flavors in its symphonic black metal formula. Be it the Jeff Waters-ish thrash riffs on 'Suffer Our Dominion' or the hardcore punk fragrances in 'The Dying of the Embers', Cradle of Filth always embed contrasting textures in their musical approach. The Alice Cooper-esque theatrics in 'How Many Tears to Nurture a Rose?' which features an interesting symbiosis between Dani's vocals and lead guitar, or the power metal nuances in songs like 'Existential Terror' and 'Necromantic Fantasies', are other examples of the diversity present in Existence Is Futile. This three-dimensionality is hardly new in the band's portfolio, yet it manifests itself here with remarkable fluidity.

There is a restrained cinematic feel to Existence Is Futile that provides some simplicity to its grandeur, much like a fantasy movie that avoids overproduction by focusing mostly on plot and characters. This greater simplification and catchiness (within the band's scope, of course) are possibly the aspects that most distinguish it from the two previous albums. The gap is not significant, but it does exist, however subtle it may be. And I loved these little peculiarities, as a matter of fact, I found myself immersed in them. Songs such as 'Crawling King Chaos', 'Black Smoke Curling from the Lips of War' or 'The Dying of the Embers' were my loyal companions these last couple of days. Of these, I would like to highlight the epic chorus of the former and the guitar solo of the latter, which while not technically outstanding is of striking appeal. Necromantic Fantasies' bridge and subsequent chorus are also among the album's many standouts while being its most iconic moment as well. Although I can't claim Existence Is Futile to be Cradle's best release to date, given the lads' vast portfolio, it certainly ranks among their greatest achievements. As such, it not only solidifies the new cycle launched by the current line-up but also celebrates the band's thirty-year career in the best possible way.

Orbiting around the frivolity of human existence and overpopulation, Existence Is Futile is yet another successful chapter in a gothic horror novel that began thirty years ago. It is thus both a celebration and a testimony to the power of perseverance. And even if the song remains the same, the audience will not budge, for the show has lost none of its glamour.

Let all candles be blown out in this theatre of horrors. May the demons of old rejoice, for Cradle of Filth are back on stage.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
TheNotrap
Staff Reviewer
October 22nd 2021


17129 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

It may be due to the fact that I've been immersed in the album these past couple of days, but I think it's one of the band's best releases to date.

Existence Is Futile is available on all streaming platforms.

Hyperion1001
Emeritus
October 22nd 2021


21515 Comments


really great review. i love how you highlight that cradle's biggest strength is that, at heart, they really arent a black metal band. sure the influences are there, but there was always so much more to it.

stoked to hear this.

Digging: Cygnus - 100% Dope

AaroN911
October 22nd 2021


3369 Comments


great album dig Hyperion, and great review notrap! Will have to give this a go since I haven't really gave them a shot since going back to Midian

TheNotrap
Staff Reviewer
October 22nd 2021


17129 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

Thanks guys, I appreciate it.

What is or is not black metal would lead us to a long conversation, Hyperion ;)

CottonSalad
October 22nd 2021


1455 Comments


good review!

Never been a huge fan of the band, just dug a few records here and there, but this 3 album streak makes me wanna reconsider haha

Digging: Gareth Liddiard - Strange Tourist

Eons
October 22nd 2021


3391 Comments


Gotta listen to the whole album tonight. The band were pretty stale for a few years (though I think albums like Godspeed on the Devil's Thunder are tragically overlooked, there are some amazing songs on there, like Honey and Sulphur, for example)

Demon of the Fall
October 22nd 2021


22522 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Good stuff. Yeah I’m still digesting this, but with the exception of the rather good Midian, this streak is my preference when it comes to CoF. The progressive leanings definitely give them a tasty flavour. Although they’ve always had elements to an extent.



P.S. Johnny can doubt the ‘best new music’ tag no more. Here’s the staff review evidence!

Digging: MONODRAMA - mndrmooaa

Muzz79
October 22nd 2021


1530 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Great rev Notrap and ive always appreciated Dani as a pretty affable dude on one hand and a metal lunatic on another. And as someone who has followed them from the very beginning and followed their many twists and turns (Christ I was shattered when Nick Barker left the band !) I’m surprised as anyone that they’re this good this far into a career. The current lineup for this trilogy of albums was a masterstroke by Dani. Album is so good on early listens, with a great sound and feel to it

Digging: Sgaile - Ideals & Morality

Pikazilla
October 22nd 2021


20630 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

hawks where tf are you

Frost15
October 22nd 2021


1017 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

OMG what is going on with this one?? Is it hype or is it really that good? I loved their last two, posibly my fav CoF, but this is getting me pumped

Digging: Dolorian - When All The Laughter Has Gone

BigPleb
October 22nd 2021


64156 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

To be brief yes, it is that good.

Ryus
October 22nd 2021


26787 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

only heard like one album by this band but gna check this because the cover art is amazing

Digging: Bladee - Royal Mix

BigPleb
October 22nd 2021


64156 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Riffs hard, feels like the band is more self aware than ever on this one.



They embrace the cheese and pomp, which I'm all here for.

Ryus
October 22nd 2021


26787 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

yeah i dont think this one is rly for me, dusk and her embrace is pretty good though from what i remember

BigPleb
October 22nd 2021


64156 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Very different albums, so I get that.



Hammer onwards is my favourite era of Cradle, probably in the minority on that one but these 2 guitarists Dani recruited are something special.

DePlazz
October 22nd 2021


3370 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Existence Is Futile? That name already belongs to an album that is most probably better than this.

Pikazilla
October 22nd 2021


20630 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

reported

Hyperion1001
Emeritus
October 22nd 2021


21515 Comments


hawks where tf are you [2]

TheNotrap
Staff Reviewer
October 23rd 2021


17129 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

"though I think albums like Godspeed on the Devil's Thunder are tragically overlooked"

Except for Thornography, I enjoyed revisiting the band's entire discography.



Thanks Muzz79. Yeah, recruiting the two guitarists was a good call, Cradle has been on fire ever since.

Pikazilla
October 23rd 2021


20630 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Godspeed rules, Thornography very bad yeah



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