The reigning kings of black metal return with new band members (again) and their eleventh full album.
Black metal is a very polarizing sub-genre even to some of the most diehard rock and metal fans. The dark arts, goat blood, demon summoning, ritual sacrifice, it all can be a little daunting to metal fans who are in it for the guitar shredding and not to hear a violent Harry Potter story.
To make a name and a career out of Black Metal can be a difficult task, but Dani Filth has been doing so with Cradle of Filth since the early 90’s and have been a staple in metal ever since. Even people outside of the rock scene have heard the name Cradle of Filth and when your band name is known as common knowledge then you know you have made a huge impact in the world of music, one way or another.
Regardless of how many band member changes have occurred through the years, the name Cradle of Filth has continually delivered to their fans, and Hammer of the Witches marks the 11th full album filled with dramatic performances and a black hole level of darkness. Now featuring two new guitarists and female vocalist, cradle of Filth now step forward yet again with expectations of living up to their past works.
In the press release sent out for Hammer of The Witches, Dani Filth says that: “Not only are the musicians who’ve recently joined the band fans of the band as well, but we really sat down and listened to what the fans wanted and expected from a new album,”…“That was half the fun. We were trying to fulfill different aspects in the best possible light. And we opened the floodgates to more ideas by undertaking things that way, but then we do have an extensive back-catalogue to draw inspiration from!”
Say what you want about constantly refilling positions with new people, but in this case replacing one guitarist with two and being open to ideas from both each other and fans is something to admire. Especially from a band with nothing to prove.
Then comes the first single and video drenched in darkness and imagery. The title and first 30 seconds of the song matched with this video is enough to introduce any music fan what Cradle of Filth is all about.
The opening and buildup of intensity in this song are the big hooks. Hearing the melodic singing of Right Wing of The Garden Tryptych and then being launched into brutal drum work and the screeching of Dani Filth all capitalize on what makes Cradle of Filth such a strong dynamic.
The track does have a changeup thrown just before the two minute mark that makes Right Wing feel like it takes a detour from the opening. As a first single it definitely showcases the talent of the new band members and what to expect from Hammer of the Witches, but I truly feel there are many songs on this album that are stronger and more memorable.
The melody from some of these songs is absolutely heart-stopping. The guitars and percussions create this gorgeous symphony of metal and in a majority of the tracks on this album every element meshes together and you are given an average of over five minutes per track of creativity and intensity.
Although the title of the track may be slightly unnerving, I love this song. The speed and intensity of the guitars and the gorgeous string additions and key work all create this beautiful scene before Dani Filth turns it into a chaotic masterpiece. Deflowering sounds like an intense soundtrack to a medieval battle to the death and in every way defines the black metal scene.
This album altogether feels like the band took countless hours poring over the details and the smaller moments to make something large. The flow from beginning to end, with the exception of a few detours, create an extremely loud and vivid listening experience. There is instant imagery coming out of almost every second of this album.
Despite many member changes over two decades and many different critics of their presentation, Cradle of Filth are undeniably talented and more creative than most bands could ever attempt to be. Their eleventh full album proves this point, and possibly stands as their best work in a decade.
Overall, one of the best known British metal bands has proven they can still claim the throne in black metal as well as deliver a new dark masterpiece years after being in the game. Even if you aren’t as open to the darker side of music, if you give it a chance you might just be blown away.