One way or another, Cradle Of Filth have kept the British metal underground reeling for years. Whether the Suffolk act hit a wrong nerve with the so-called black metal ‘purists’ or ring a chord with lovers of all things extreme and escapist, their reception has been volatile.
You might chase them with sharpened pitchforks or kneel to their seductive shrine of unashamed cinematic pomp and flirtation with Satanic imagery. Regardless, this is a significant British success story – and since when do you get a success story without its critics?
Our 18-year love/hate affair with the Filth continues with the conveniently Halloween-released ‘The Manticore & Other Horrors’. This is album number ten, and unlike previous releases, it’s not a concept album. The central piece of the album is ‘Manticore’, based on a mythological creature with the body of a lion and head of a human, used as an allegory to describe Queen Victoria’s unwelcome colonialism in India. Musically, Filth have exploited some of that accessible melodic territory they flirted with in 2010’s ‘Darkly, Darkly Venus Aversa’. At times, Paul Allender’s guitar-playing ventures into NWOBHM styles with some dual guitar harmonies and solid soloing – the latter prevalent in impressive video single ‘Frost on Her Pillow’ and focal piece ‘Manticore’. Dani Filth follows on with the new vocal patterns he briefly began to develop in their last single ‘Forgive Me Father (I Have Sinned)’ too. Undoubtedly, the 39-year-old singer can still scream like a tormented kettle boiling over on the hob, but his experimentation into melodic traditional metal-tinged vocalising is again a refreshing prospect. But don’t be mistaken; the Filth still have their beastly blackened edges. ‘Huge Onyx Wings Behind Despair’ and standout track ‘Pallid Reflection’ shows there’s still a vicious body of smart black riffery to provide the hearty crunch needed behind that ambitious, ghostly and extravagant orchestral work.
Lyrically, the luscious imagery of Dani Filth never fails to illicit the strongest visions of grand baroque hallways soaked in blood and gilded nobility with their heads on platters – no doubt because of some elaborate affair involving lycanthropic transformations and rampant vampirism. ‘The Manticore & Other Horrors’ might not be a concept album, but that hasn’t prevented Dani from putting in the extra legwork of research for the songwriting process. All in all, ‘The Manticore & Other Horrors’ might not speak to you on first listen. But rest assured, after this glittering ceremony of dark tales intoxicates your bloodstream, you’ll be confident enough to not only call it your soundtrack of Halloween, but of winter.
The Manticore & Other Horrors is out October 31st on Peaceville.
You’ll like this if… you suckle from the fruity sustenance of exotic blackened riffs, but prefer it blasted in glitter, soaked in Lovecraftian panache and elevated with grand symphonies to provide the soundtrack to your steamy gothic love affair.