Cryptoriana: The Seductiveness of Decay
Written By: Dustin Koetsch
I went into this record with fairly low expectations, Cradle of Filth’s output over the last few years has been less than stellar for me personally, with each album release almost feeling forced and putting out and album just to get something out there, I quickly let my once favorite band fall to the wayside and my hopes died knowing they would never quite put out anything as good as “Midian” or “Damnation and a Day” again.
So here we are in 2017 with Cradle of Filth’s 12th studio album “Cryptoriana: The Seductiveness of Decay” I went into this album so ready to just listen to it once, forget about it and never think of it again like I have since 2004 with their records. Imagine my surprise and sheer enthusiasm as each new song revealed its seductive sounds to my ears and once again I felt that hope and excitement from hearing a good Cradle of Filth song. Seriously guys, this is a good record, if like me, you had written this band off or stopped listening all together, before this review continues I implore you to go listen to this record immediately.
The opening moments of this album forge an ominous overtone with striking choir and symphonic arrangements evoking a sinister and bleak feeling, it seriously feels like something is about to be summoned from the lowest pit of hell. And that's when Dani’s shrieking howl ruptures into the moment blasting open this wretched hell mouth unleashing all its misery into your ears. In that respect, the track lives up to its titular namesake, “Exquisite Torments Await”
Over the few listens I’ve given this record I’ve given some reflection on their past discography that I wrote off and I found myself wondering how much of those albums were working out kinks with losing longtime guitarist Paul Allender and adding 2 new guitar players into the fold. On one hand you have a player who for all intents and purposes didn’t seem like their heart was into the band anymore and just wasn’t writing up to par with their previous output. And on the other you have a whole new player(s) added into the band who has a completely different playing style and also has to learn the minutiae of a band who’s been around for almost 2 decades. In that time I think those growing pains became obvious with those records and with this one it seems all the moving pieces are finally in tune with each other and the album writing has been the most successful its been in years.
I realize I keep going on about the fact the band just hasn’t really been putting out quality material since 2004 and that is just this writers opinion. Because I know that Cradle wouldn’t still be around after all these years if people weren’t buying or into their records. And I promise this is the last you’ll have to read about all that, one last thing I will posit here is that, we really can’t call Cradle of Filth a black metal band anymore, while vocally and aesthetically the band shares similar traits, the song compositions just really aren’t even remotely reminiscent of what black metal sonically is, in fact with this record here I have to state that Cradle of Filth have transcended that musical label all together and have crafted and excellent symphonic metal album.
Every track on this record seemingly gets better than the previous one with each one gaining and propelling the momentum to its conclusion, there isn’t any track that feels out of place or too weak in the over all narrative of this record. Now with that being said, this wasn’t my initial sentiment or opinion. When I first listened to this album I got the deluxe edition and had listened to it a few times through, every time thinking “Man, this last track just doesn’t fit and throws off the whole vibe of the album, what a shame to end on such a weak song.” As it turns out and was pointed out to me by my podcast co-host, Matt, the track “Alison Hell” is a cover of the Canadian Thrash Metal Band Annihilator. Not being too familiar with Annihlator, and not having yet done the research on this record before the review, I never would have known and would have always thought the album ended on a very weak track. (See folks, deluxe editions are some times stupid because of how they throw off a vibe of a record as a whole)
Figuring this out and seeing that the final track is “Death and the Maiden” makes this whole album experience exquisitely perfect from start to finish again. There are easily 3-4 stand out tracks on this album, one of which is my personal favorite and that's the song “You Will Know the Lion by His Claw” this song feels epic in scope and as ever throughout not just this track but the album as a whole Dani’s vocals are untouchable, he is easily one of the most recognizable vocalists in heavy metal as a whole and this album truly plays to his strengths once again.
My only real criticism of this record is that there are a few guitar leads and riffs here and there that are pretty cliche and worn out at this point, you have a song where an ascending and descending scale is played pretty slowly over the rhythm and if that hasn’t been done a thousand times in heavy metal I don’t know what else has, but, I think that in the context of the song, while it may be an overused lead it fits into the overall crafting of the song itself. I think this album has been long over do in Cradle of Filth’s storied career, while not entirely returning to their roots of Black Metal, they may have just found their new niche to carve out with how this record sounds and I for one am very glad to have this record, I know it will be played a lot over the course of the rest of this year and I hope whatever they do next blows this out of the water, but yet, I will always have some trepidation with any future release so I don’t get my hopes up again.
"Cryptoriana: Seductiveness of Decay" gets a 7/10