Cradle Of Filth
Lovecraft and Witch Hearts
Koch / Music For Nations
So, with a heavy heart and a bloody ebon hanky, Cradle Of Filth waves goodbye to once-faithful label Music For Nations. And what a better way to fulfill contrac… er, herald the passing of an era than with “Best Of” and “Odds n’ Sods” compilations all compressed into one megalithic two-disc set! What indeed?
The compiled material begins, conveniently enough, with Dusk and Her Embrace; a perfect place, says I, since that was the first Cradle album that ever corrupted mine ears (and my first Cradle T-shirt, too — ahhh, memories; their graphic designers, for a time, made possibly the most boss bandwear ever). There was much buzz about them in the more discerning American metal rags, but no amount of buzz or corpsepainted/bloodstained group photos could prepare you for the aural insanity inside. Fuck me! It was like black metal as envisioned by a Hammer Horror-obsessed, pill-popping Andrew Lloyd Weber! Overblown, symphonic, ghastly, funny and proud of it, baby! This sort of music polarized people! Shit, I knew this one metalhead couple and the boyfriend totally wouldn’t let the girlfriend listen to Cradle Of Filth in the house, she had to like sneak around, play it in the car, etc. They were onto something, yes they were. I was smitten.
The flame of love died down after awhile, as all things do, and by the time I reviewed Bitter Suites to Succubi a while back, I was having to stifle yawns in certain places. The thrill was gone. What once seemed like the living end in theatrical metal now felt tarnished and overdone, almost forumlaic. I’m hopeful that Lovecraft and Witch Hearts signals an aesthetic clearing of the decks, a new year zero, wherein a Mark II Cradle Of Filth will come roaring back into the picture on a Big Daddy Roth steed and delight and piss off metalheads in equal measure.
On the other hand, Lovecraft and Witch Hearts fills me with some measure of hope on its own merits, as it is such a goddamn pleasure to revisit those old special moments, courtesy of Dani Filth and crew. For my money, the first five songs on Disc I are pure gold, and you’ll be hard pressed to find more lunatic, blackhearted metal whirlwinds anywhere. Disc II is more of a mixed bag — the B-sides are fun, the remixes are what the “skip” button was made for, and the cover versions are completely delicious. (Ever wondered what a Cradle-ized version of Slayer’s “Hell Awaits” sounds like? Wonder no more!)
So, as much as I hate “Best Of” records, Cradle do their bestest to not rip the fans off with the disc of rarities; and besides that it serves as (a) a fabulous introduction point for fresh meat, um, new fans and (b) can provide the lapsed fan a set of old, new, borrowed and blue reasons to fall under the dark spell once again.