Latest release: The Manticore and Other Horrors

Cradle of Filth has been one of metal’s more popular and polarising acts since breaking out in the 90s with a series of sinister concept albums decorated with busty lasses and blood. Over the years their style has evolved from a break-neck black metal to a bombastic and crowded symphonic approach while band membership has fluctuated from around seven to the current three – singer and lyricist Dani Filth, guitarist Paul Allender and drummer Martin Škaroupka — who have produced latest album The Manticore and Other Horrors, their tenth. The latest effort sees them stepping away from heavy-handed concepts to a back-to-basics outlook. Loud caught up with Paul Allender when the album first appeared to talk about Cradle of Filth AD2012.

When I was speaking to Dani about the last album, he said that he was pretty much done with concept albums. So is there a theme running through The Manticore…?
No isn’t not a concept album. Concept albums don’t really affect the music at all, it’s just a pain in the arse coming up with the lyrics and imagery and stuff like that. This time we wanted to keep away from that, because we’ve done it to death. We wanted this album to be something different and not the usual shit that we usually put out [laughs]! I think it’s worked.

What is the general vibe of the album overall then?
It’s a ticket into your own nightmares really. The album is a collection of tracks, and each song is about completely different stuff. Personally, I don’t do the lyrics so I can’t really talk about that, so whatever Dani comes up with, whatever he wants to write about is completely up to him. But this time it’s definitely not a concept album. It’s just a collection of horror stories. And the songs were specifically written to be shorter. Because on the last albums, I felt that it was too long! You need a degree to actually listen to the stuff [laughs]. You can’t just put it on and go, “Fuck yeah! This is brilliant!” There’s so much going on. On the previous albums, it’s like, “What the fuck is this? This isn’t music!” [laughs]. It’s just way too much going on.

So it was a deliberate move to make the album less complex than previously?
Oh yeah, and also it was a completely deliberate move to… because it was me and the drummer who wrote the whole thing and there was a completely deliberate move on our behalf to make it more punker and get the real punk vibe back in that used to be on Principle. And it’s stripped back. So basically, we feel it’s more like Principle, but [a] more modern Part Two. And for this album, we’re all super hyped about it. We’ve got the same vibe for this album as what we had right from the very beginning. The groove’s been completely nailed on this album, which is fucking great. And that’s what the band’s [been] missing.

It certainly has a much less processed and symphonic sound than what we’re perhaps used to from Cradle of Filth.
The drummer and I, we recorded it all live instead of just copying and pasting and all that stuff. It’s something we don’t do enough of now. Originally I wanted to go in a studio that had tape – had a tape machine – and leave the whole digital thing behind. But we couldn’t find one at first and then, when we did find one, they wanted to charge us fucking ridiculous amounts of money just for the tape reels. So we used Pro Tools just to capture the ideas. There was hardly any cut and paste this time out. Because we wanted to have the whole band feel that we had back in the day. And I think it’s worked really well.

What’s been the general reaction from the fans towards The Manticore… so far?
Well the album’s only just come out so I’ve no idea yet because it hasn’t had time to circulate for people to get into it. But you got the usual stuff like people bitching and wanting Dusk… and Her Embrace and Cruelty like some magical thing’s gonna happen if the old members come back again, which is crap because it’ll never happen. My argument is, if that time was so great, then why aren’t those members in successful bands now? And then why aren’t they in Cradle of Filth still? But this could be knee [-jerk] reactions because people want the full orchestra sound and all the rest of it, but there’s no point in us doing that because there’s another band doing that, which is Dimmu Borgir. Why would we want to be the same as that? There’d be two bands in the scene doing exactly the same stuff. But we know this album’s gonna work because of the fresh aspect of it, and when we’ve done interviews, everybody’s completely loved it.

On the issue of band members, Cradle of Filth certainly has a history of people coming and going. What’s the dynamic like in the band now that it’s essentially down to three guys?
It’s just me and Dan in the band and everybody else is like session players. That’s the reason why there’s a lot of people coming and going. Because they’re session players. But Mart our drummer’s completely thrown himself into it, and he’s brilliant. And me and him, when we write and play, it gels so well. Playing with Mart… he actually listens to the riffs and he plays the riffs on the drums. He’s the best drummer I’ve ever played with, to be honest. He’s just fucking brilliant.

Does that make your job as a song writer easier?
Oh it’s fucking loads easier! The key to a fucking good band is the drummer. It’s not the guitar player, it’s not the singer. If you’ve got a fucking shit hot drummer in your band it makes stuff so much easier. Especially this type of music. The drummer is the key to this band. He’s just so easy to write with.

Can you tell us something about the the artwork for this album? To be honest, it doesn’t look much like a manticore to me.
The band’s always been based around having a female figure as the key feature of our artwork, and in the songs and stuff, so we had to have some kind of female figure. Personally, I would have liked to have been able to go back to having the old style photo shoots where they were scantily clad and with heels and boots and that sort of stuff. But because we had such a deadline we couldn’t find a photographer who was able to do that, so hence why we went back into the digital realm again. We just wanted to come up with a manticore kind of image, but using the female figure and make it look more like a statue.

Had you been able to do the sort of cover that you originally planned, do you think there would have been some kind of backlash?
No, I think it would have gone really well. Because back in the day when we were doing the whole bestial masturbation shirts and that type of imagery – the whole ‘Dead Girls Don’t Say No’ and the artwork we did on that – that type of photographic artwork and not the digital type stuff, that worked really really well. It’s just that nobody’s doing it anymore.

Finally, when will Cradle of Filth be back in Australia again?
Well mate, we’re ready to come down anytime! It’s just a matter of someone asking us to come!