Perhaps I'm biased due to this being my first metal album, but it still sounds damn good to me years later. Is it perfect? No, not by a long shot. But it certainly isn't as flawed as one may think. What Cradle does here can be seen both as the end of an era and the beginning of the era: the glory days are over, but the trash that was to come hasn't yet gained control.
On this album, Cradle shows a variety in their music that had never been present in the previous albums without falling too far down the slippery slope of change. Some more bludgeoning double bass sections are still present (IE Nemesis
), along with Dani's trademark shrieks, both of which would soon be subdued, but newer elements are also present. Song structure leans away from Cradle of Filth
's typically 7 or so minute long songs with long bridges and favors the newer, more compact style with less symphonic elements. This compacting of the songs is necessary without the symphonic-heavy sound to preserve momentum and keep interest. This isn't to say that any vestige of symphonic has been abandoned though.
Starting with the most fundamental part of any metal album,the riffing. This album has some straight-up mean riffs. The end of the otherwise calm Gabrielle qualifies here, as does the entirety of Gilded Cunt. Oddly, despite becoming auspiciously less black metal over time, Cradle decided to include more tremolo riffs than ever before here. Every song has at least one decent tremolo riff, which is a welcome respite from the rest of the riffing. Coffin Fodder is a prime example of the guitar work here; it features everything.
The drum work is decent, but far from exemplary. It gets easily lost behind Dani's vocals and the guitars, not only due to the mix, but also due to its average and plodding execution. Erlandsson does the job, but he doesn't do it with panache. The bass drum is on the clicky side, which is a turn-off for some, and the cymbals seem incessantly muffled.
Everything else is pretty standard, except the quality of the melodies. Absinthe With Faust
is an absolute standout. Not only does it have some of the most beautiful melodies found in Cradle's discography, but it tells Goethe's story of Faust
, who sells his soul to Mephistopheles
for years of opulence of every kind. Nymphetamine
) is a similar type of song. Of the song's three sections, the first and last are harsh, with the female-fronted part in the middle. Dani delivers an astoundingly emotional vocal performance here, and despite the Gothic
aspect, the female vocals are enjoyable and the melodies are great.
The album does slack off towards the end with Filthy Little Secret and Swansong for a Raven
, but is wrapped up with the awesome Mother of Abomination. This last track is as black metal as Cradle dares venture here, so it gains big points in my eyes. The bonus of Nymphetamine
(Fix) is a nice touch to finish the album. It revisits the previous Nymphetamine
track without the intro and outro sections.
Like all Cradle albums to this point, the tempos vary and the songs never really get stagnant, so I can't doc any points there- each song has quite a few tempo changes, even if minor ones. Medusa and Hemlock is a prime example, as the synth-shrouded verses speed along with fast riffing while the chorus slows down considerably and gets darker. A bridge is thrown in for good measure and reverts to the fast tempo.
Overall, I'm not overly thrilled with the direction they took this album (compared to the first few). But it certainly isn't anything like Thornography
, so I can't give it anything below a 70%. It has its moments, but isn't stellar and therefore is worth a listen, but probably won't become an integral part of your collection.