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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Cradle of Filth

Midian

Review by Mike Korn

Cradle of Filth are possibly the biggest thing happening in the metal underground right now. I know they sell ungodly (pun intended) amounts of merchandise and inspire tremendous fan devotion. I really haven't been terribly impressed with them previously, especially after seeing a lukewarm performance at Milwaukee Metalfest a couple of years back. Still, I have to admit "Midian" may have me changing my mind. This record may be the ultimate statement of "Gothic metal". I don't mean a few choirs here and there, a little bit of church organ, some medieval riff patterns. I mean, "Midian" reeks of absolute metallic decadence, a merging of classical and chamber music with a variety of metal styles. Most consider COF a black metal band. I really don't. To me, black metal is either old stuff like Venom and Bathory or new stuff like Darkthrone or Marduk. Cradle of Filth is extremely heavy metal mixed with what sounds like the soundtrack to a Hammer horror movie.

Often these guys do go way over the top with female voices spouting dark poetry, horror movie keyboards and, most of all, Dani's grotesque vocals,but they create some passages of surprising beauty and memorability. Their talent can't be denied, as guitars, keyboards and blasting drums are all superbly played, aided by a pristine and clean production. This is all pretty amazing, because most of the band is new. Their predecessors were sacked by vocalist Dani after their last record "Dusk and Her Embrace".You'd never know it here. There's a lot of complexity in the songwriting and each song is a mini-opera. "Midian" requires a lot of attention and sometimes mine did flag but this is a very strong release that could appeal to fans of straight Goth, prog or even classical music, if you are adventurous enough. Open the gates of "Midian"!

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2001 Year Book Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
At The Gates of Midian
This instrumental intro shows that you are going to be in for a dark and wild ride. It builds up from whispering voices and sound effects to a full classical piece full of Gothic dread, like something out of a major Hollywood horror movie.
Cthulhu Dawn
Starting right up from the intro with a powerful blast, Dani's screeching, wheezing scream ignites a morbid death metal riff. Probably the most straightforward and to the point song, it still has twists and turns in it. It has a catchy chorus, relatively speaking.
Saffron's Curse
Some beautifully played keyboard melodies start this epic track, one of the best mergers of Goth and metal ever. Seductive female vocals and some gorgeous sopranos accompany Dani's devilish tale. Cradle of Filth is one of very few bands that can pull off total blast beats and melody at the same time.
Death Magick For Adepts
This cut starts as fairly straightforward death/black metal. The organ accentuates the wildly bouncing riff, creating the feel of a carnival gone mad. It includes some heavy, heavy bass work in the middle, with Dani's lower pitched vocals accentuating it. The track also has a faint feel of Iron Maiden during certain parts.
Lord Abortion
This one is a very morbid sounding track, with more death growls from Dani than elsewhere. As with the other tracks, it cycles through a variety of riffs,speeds and moods. I thought it dragged a bit in spots.
Amor E Morte
Starting up so neatly from the previous track, I thought it was the same song. It has a sort of power metal feel to the main theme. This one wandered around and lost me.
Creatures that Kissed in Cold Mirrors
Another mood setting instrumental piece, this is a very well done orchestral number that really conjures up the feeling you'd get watching a classic horror film.
Her Ghost In the Fog
Like "Saffron's Curse", this is another good blending of Gothic and metal elements, starting again with spooky keyboards before blasting into some heavy metallic riffs. It is very doomy in spots. Dani's wheezing vocals are kind of hard to take.
Satanic Mantra
This is merely the repetition of the phrase "Archangel/Dark Angel/Lend Me Thy Light/Through Death's Veil/Until We Have Heaven in Sight" by first one voice, then two,then many and increasing until it is a whole chorus of whispered, evil voices. It s diabolically effective.
Tearing The Veil From Grace
By the time this one rolled in, I was starting to get exhausted with Cradle's "Everything But the Kitchen Sink" approach.This is another bombastic merger of classical and black metal elements, but sounds rather overdone and lacks strong riffs and melodies.
Torture Soul Asylum
As with the previous track, the band lays it on too thick here. The track is too long and too cluttered. Although ffective in spots, they should have quit while they were ahead.
 
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