Latest release: Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay (Nuclear Blast)
To celebrate the 30th anniversary of their biggest-selling album, Whitesnake’s record label has just reissued a special edition of 1987 with 44 tracks, most of which are simply remixes and remastered recordings of the original songs. The anniversary issues of the first two Ramones albums are also similarly bloated, pushing their playing times from barely half an hour to almost three. 2018 will mark twenty years since the release of Cruelty and the Beast, Cradle of Filth’s third album and a fan favourite. Dani Filth, the only remaining member of the band that recorded Cruelty… has one very simple plan for its re-release – to fix the lousy production.
“Due to popular demand over the years, we’re going to remix the entire thing,” he says pleasantly. “We’re remixing that and we’re going to put ‘Hallowed Be Thy Name’ on the end. We [he and producer Scott Atkins] are working on a test mix for the record company. We didn’t want to give it to anybody because we understand the importance of that album to people. It was one of their favourite albums, but the mix wasn’t brilliant.”
Cradle’s backing vocalist at the time, Sarah Jezebel Deva, reportedly burst into tears when Dani played her the album, so upset was she with the sound. Nevertheless, Cruelty has earned its place as a firm fan favourite, and Filth hopes to make it sound the way it was originally intended.
“We want to make it crushingly heavy, but at the same time we don’t want to make it sterile,” he explains. “We don’t want to take away any of the atmosphere. That’s a very tricky line to walk, and that’s why we undertook a test mix. Hopefully we’ll spend two or three weeks working on it, and re-package it with an artist’s interpretation of the original artwork, which was by Stu Williamson. So something really new and exciting.”
For the present, Filth and the rest of the band have new album Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay to keep them busy. Their twelfth album of new material, Cryptoriana explores the fascination with death of Victorian age England, a breeding ground of horrors both real and imagined that still fascinate and inspire to this day. The music was developed during a working holiday for the band in the Czech town of Brno, home to guitarist Ashok and drummer Marthus.
“It was part team-building exercise, part band holidays and it was mostly to collate all the ideas that people had been working on in their own collective galaxies and bring them together so they would hopefully work in such a way to become a record. In fact it was so successful and we did so much research and background work that we came away with 80%, maybe more, of the album written.”
The concept presented itself to the vocalist after he spent a period devouring Gothic fiction from the 1890s.
“I was able to discern a theme mainly because I’d been reading, over the summer, a lot of Victorian ghost stories. Don’t ask me why!,” he says with a bright chuckle. “I’d been reading the work of people like E F Benson, Arthur Conan Doyle, Oscar Wilde, Algernon Blackwood, Rider Haggard, and it just seemed to fit very well to hang around the umbrella theme of the album.”
Living in a Victorian home surrounded by artefacts of the period, Filth has more than a casual interest in the subject of the album, the title of which is a play on the words crypt and Victoriana. It implies the era’s fascination with death and the supernatural, echoed by the cover art that riffs on Botticelli. Modern representations of the Victorian age tend to focus on Gothic horrors or the intimacies of the ladies and toffs of the upper reaches society and their facade of upstanding moral behaviour, but there was of course much, much more going on.
“The age of industrialism and science was moving along at a rapid rate,” Filth declares. “They were starting to develop motor vehicles and trains and war machines, and obviously you had the upper tiers, and then you had all the people who were making it [all], spilling the blood to make this time what it was, so there was a close proximity to death any way. There were a lot of strains of diseases that were killing people, as well. So people, if they had the time, would seek to infiltrate the porous borders of death, which is the whole premise behind the art of Spiritualism. Then you had the lower classes, people rife with cholera and there were workhouses and it was dirty and that is where a lot of what I’m looking at comes from. The rotten underbelly that was masked by that air of respectability and morality.”
Cryptoriana is the second successive album to feature the same personnel and comes during a streak of renewed creative vigour for the band that has seen them garnering some of the best reviews and fan appraisal since the end of the 90s. It also, Filth reckons, sees them stepping away from some of the tropes that have marked their output while retaining and strengthening other aspects.
“There’s a few things that are a little different about this album,” he surmises. “There’s acoustic work, there’s more guitar solos – but not just willy-nilly for the sake of it – they’re very well thought out and they add a lot to the song. We’ve dispensed with, probably for the first time, an intro, outro and middle section that’s orchestral and instead incorporated them into the main bulk of the songs. There’s a choir with a lot of emphasis on the soprano so it’s very eerie and ghostly.”
Liv Kristine makes a welcome reappearance on a Cradle of Filth album following her turn on 2004’s ill-considered Nymphetamine.
“Liv appears on the track ‘Vengeful Spirit’. She plays the protagonist of the piece, so it’s very different from Nymphetamine. We’re probably written our heaviest song in ‘Death and the Maiden’. It’s very slow and meandering with an epic build up, so it’s different from what we normally do – we normally finish a record with a fast track, although it does get fast in places. There’s a lot of twin guitar work on the record as well.”
Cryptoriana has a slightly shorter running time than most of Cradle of Filth’s work, but Dani urges his fans to get their hands on the bonus version which includes two extra tracks, one “that’s about eight minutes long, very reminiscent of Cruelty and the Beast and Midian” and a cover of a metal classic ‘Alice in Hell’ that has apparently received the full endorsement of its original creator. Filth is quite proud of such approval.
“We’ve got a cover of ‘Alice in Hell’ which we worked very hard on and Jeff Waters has said it’s the best cover he’s ever heard that anyone’s done of their material, which is obviously a great accolade that made it all worthwhile. So my recommendation to fans is to get the bonus version of the album. It’s endorsed by Jeff Waters. What more could you ask for?”