Cradle of Filth is a band that needs no introduction, one that has released albums that have been regarded as classics of the genre by some, and looked at divisively by others. Their latest string of releases have seen them on a creative upswing so does 2017’s Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay also spring from that same well?
Opening track ‘Exquisite Torments Await’ sets the mood featuring a haunting atmosphere before the band and creative mainstay Dani Filth join the fray. It’s all too brief, but more than lives up to its name.
‘Heartbreak and Seance’ begins with a brief lead and solid drumming before Filth’s piercing shriek gives way to characteristic vocals, over a mid-tempo piece. The track keeps its tempo throughout, but things gradually become more chaotic with the return of that shriek, beset upon a skilful guitar solo. Drummer Marthus displays his skill, technical blasting underpins some chanted vocals that occur later. This track in many ways is characteristic of latter day Cradle, but at the same time it feels like it moves at a much slower pace than its run time will allow.
‘Achingly Beautiful’ opens with a bit more of a frenetic pace, as if to stress the juxtaposition of the title. There’s some impressive interplay in this track between guitarists Ashok and Richard Shaw that provides a brief respite from the chaos that Cradle are known to conjure. There’s some talented keyboard work too that manages, at times, to outshine even Dani Filth’s impressive vocals.
‘Wester Vespertine’ finds form in a more urgent pacing, perfect for Dani’s multifaceted approach. It acts as a solid showcase for the talents of bassist Firth, and of keyboardist/vocalist Schoolcraft, who enjoys a brief call and response segment with Filth amid the ever-changing musical framework under them. More interplay between both guitarists is a highlight towards the song’s culmination.
Mid way through the album finds the title track, beginning at a slower tempo, the measured pace serving as a brief moment where the talents of the band shine through rather than as mere glimpses as often present in the faster sections. This serves as another showcase for both the guitarists, the keyboards, and Dani Filth himself.
‘Vengeful Spirit’ finds Dani weaving in between his characteristic vocals and some spoken narration before ripping into the track proper which soon finds a welcome surprise in the form of guest vocalist Liv Kristine, whose participation lends an additional element of variety, particularly in the extended call and response section. The vocal interplay makes this one a highlight. ‘You Will Know the Lion by His Claw’ features a well-calculated intro, building up and adding elements to culminate in that typical Cradle style. Dani’s vocals feel that much more – excuse the pun – filthy, on this track. This is where all the elements that the band members offer work in synergy as opposed to sometimes clashing with one another.
Album closer ‘Death and the Maiden’, begins with an atmosphere not unlike that of the album opener, before it erupts into a heavy rhythm juxtaposing itself against some welcome acoustic guitar. Marthus again propels the track along, displaying how much of an asset he’s become. This is a perfect closer for a Cradle album. As with the preceding track, everything works together in tandem to create an intriguing atmosphere, and ultimately send the album off in an appropriately grandiose manner.
By now, Cradle of Filth have their style down to an art, particularly with the latest run of albums finding them at somewhat of a creative resurgence. Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay effectively finds them putting forth an offering that leans towards the higher end of their recent output. It’s a fine listen, but one that the listener needs to be prepared for. Owing to the length of much of the tracks, it’s easy to miss a detail here and there, if you’re not offering the album your complete focus.
1. Exquisite Torment Awaits
2. Heartbreak and Seance
3. Achingly Beautiful
4. Wester Vespertine
5. The Seductiveness of Decay
6. Vengeful Spirit
7. You Will Know the Lion By His Claws
8. Death and the Maiden