Cradle Of Filth <principle-of-evil>
|New Album In 2008||2/13/08|
|"The world tour for the 'Thornography' album, which last saw COF in Russia, Ukraine, UK, Romania, Slovakia and North America with GWAR is now complete. The band has now returned home to start writing for a new record over the dark months in the rehearsal room. The new album, which is not yet titled, will be released some time in 2008 via Roadrunner Records."[|
|Cradle's first three years saw four demos recorded amidst the sort of rapid line-up fluctuations that have continued ever since (Cradle has generally had around half a dozen members at any one time, but can boast more than twenty musicians in its history). The band eventually signed to Cacophonous Records and its debut album, The Principle of Evil Made Flesh, was also Cacophonous's first release in 1994. A step up in terms of production from the rehearsal quality of most of their demos, the album was still nevertheless a sparse and embryonic version of what was to come, with lead singer Dani Filth's vocals in particular bearing little similarity to the style he was later to develop. The album was well-received however, and as recently as June 2006 found its way into Metal Hammer's list of the top ten black metal albums of the last twenty years.|
Cradle's relationship with Cacophonous soon soured; the band accusing the label of contractual and financial mismanagement. Acrimonious legal proceedings took up most of 1995, and the band finally signed to Music for Nations in 1996 after only one more contractually obligated Cacophonous recording: the EP V Empire (or Dark Faerytales in Phallustein) which, it has since been conceded, was hastily written as a Cacophonous escape-plan. Despite the circumstances of its release however, its handful of tracks are staples of the band's live sets to this day, and "Queen of Winter, Throned" was listed among twenty-five "essential extreme metal anthems" in a 2006 issue of Kerrang! magazine. The EP also marked Sarah Jezebel Deva's debut with the band, replacing Andrea Meyer; Cradle's first female vocalist and self-styled "satanic advisor". Deva has appeared on every subsequent Cradle release and tour, but has never been considered a full band member, having also performed with The Kovenant, Therion and Mortiis, and fronted her own Angtoria project.
 The Music for Nations era
Cover art for Dusk... and Her Embrace by Simon MarsdenDusk...and Her Embrace followed the same year: a critically acclaimed breakthrough album that greatly expanded the band's fan-base throughout Europe and the rest of the world. A concept album of sorts based generally on vampirism and specifically (though loosely) on the writing of Sheridan Le Fanu, Cradle's inaugural album for Music for Nations set the tone for what was to follow. The album's production values matched the band's ambition for the first time, whilst Dani's vocal gymnastics were at their most extreme.
The increasingly theatrical stage shows of the 1997 European tour helped keep Cradle in the public eye, as did a burgeoning line of controversial merchandise; not least the notorious t-shirt depicting a masturbating nun on the front and the slogan "Jesus is a cunt" in huge letters on the back. A handful of fans have faced court appearances and fines for wearing the shirt in public, and some band members themselves attracted a certain amount of hostile attention when they wore similar "I Love Satan" shirts to the Vatican. Alex Mosson, the Lord Provost of Glasgow from 1999-2003, called the shirts (and by implication the band) "sick and offensive". The band obviously approved, using the quote on the back cover of the 2005 DVD Peace Through Superior Firepower.
The infamous "Vestal Masturbation" t-shirt design.Cradle's star continued to ascend in 1998, as Dani began his long-running "Dani's Inferno" column for Metal Hammer, and the band appeared in the BBC documentary series Living With the Enemy (on tour with a fan and his disapproving mother and sister) and released its third full-length album Cruelty and the Beast. A fully-realised concept album based on the legend of the "Blood Countess" Elizabeth Bathory, the album boasted the casting coup of Ingrid Pitt providing guest narration as the Countess: a role she first played in Hammer's 1971 film Countess Dracula. The album led to Cradle's U.S debut, and Dani claimed it in 2003 as the Cradle album of which he was most proud, although he conceded dissatisfaction with its sound quality.
The following year the band continued primarily to tour, but did release its first music video, PanDaemonAeon, and an accompanying EP, From the Cradle to Enslave, featuring the music from the production. Replete with graphic nudity and gore, the video was directed by Alex Chandon, who would go on to produce further Cradle promo clips and DVD documentaries, as well as the full-length feature film Cradle of Fear.
Cover art for Cruelty and the Beast by Stu WilliamsonThe band released their fourth full-length studio album on Hallowe'en, 2000. Midian was based around the Clive Barker novel Cabal and its subsequent film adaptation Nightbreed. Like Cruelty and the Beast, Midian featured a guest narrator, this time Doug Bradley, who starred in Nightbreed but remains best known for playing Pinhead in the Hellraiser films. Bradley's line "Oh, no tears please" from the song "Her Ghost in the Fog" is a quote of Pinhead's from the first Hellraiser ("No tears, please. It's a waste of good suffering...") and Bradley would reappear on later albums Nymphetamine and Thornography. The video for "Her Ghost in the Fog" received heavy rotation on MTV2 and other metal channels, and the track also found its way onto the soundtrack of the werewolf movie Ginger Snaps. Midian created a rift in fan opinion which has only increased with time: whilst taking the band to new heights of commercial popularity, it also provoked cries of "sell-out" from die-hard fans of the early albums.
 The Sony interlude
The longest-ever interim period between full-length Cradle albums was nevertheless a busy time for the band. Bitter Suites to Succubi was released on the band?s own "Abracadaver" label, and was a mixture of four new songs, re-recordings of three songs from The Principle of Evil Made Flesh, two instrumental tracks, and a cover of The Sisters of Mercy's "No Time To Cry." Stylistically similar to Midian, the album is unique among Cradle albums in featuring exactly the same band members as its predecessor, but is generally regarded as an EP and often overlooked in the band's canon. Further stop-gap releases followed in the form of the "best of" package Lovecraft and Witch Hearts and a live album; Live Bait for the Dead. Finally, the band (principally Dani) also found time to appear in Cradle of Fear while they negotiated their first major-label signing with Sony Music.
Cover art for Damnation and a Day by John CoulthartDamnation and a Day arrived in 2003; Sony's heavyweight funding underwriting Cradle's undiminished ambition by finally bringing a real orchestra into the studio (the 80-strong Budapest Film Orchestra and Choir replacing the increasingly sophisticated synthesisers of previous albums) and thus marking the band's belated gestation - for one album only - into full-blown symphonic metal. Damnation featured the band?s most complex compositions to date, outran its predecessors by a good twenty minutes, and produced two more popular videos: the ?vankmajer-influenced Mannequin, and Babalon AD (So Glad For The Madness), based on Pasolini's infamous Sal�. Roughly half the album trod the conceptual territory of John Milton's Paradise Lost - showing the events of the Fall of Man through the eyes of Lucifer - while the remainder comprised stand-alone tracks such as the Nile tribute "Doberman Pharaoh" and the aforementioned "Babalon AD"; a reference to Aleister Crowley. Feeling that Sony's enthusiasm quickly palled however, Cradle jumped ship to Roadrunner Records after barely a year.
Cover art for Nymphetamine by Matt Lombard2004's Nymphetamine was the band's first full album since The Principle of Evil Made Flesh to not be based around any sort of overarching concept (although references to the works of H.P. Lovecraft are made more than once). Cradle's bassist Dave Pybus described it as an "eclectic mix between the group's Damnation and Cruelty albums with a renewed vigour for melody, songmanship [sic] and plain fucking weirdness spat into the smelting bowl." Cradle's growing acceptance by the mainstream was confirmed when the album's title track was nominated for a Grammy award, but the band's cover version of Cliff Richard's "Devil Woman" for the Nymphetamine special edition did little to convince its detractors of the band's integrity.
Cover art for Thornography by Samuel ArayaThe band's most recent album, Thornography, was released in October 2006. According to Dani Filth, the title "represents mankind's obsession with sin and self... An addiction to self-punishment or something equally poisonous... A mania." On the subject of the album's musical direction, Filth told Revolver magazine, "I'm not saying it's 'experimental', but we're definitely testing the limits of what we can do... A lot of the songs are really rhythmical - thrashy, almost - but they're all also really catchy." The artwork by Samuel Araya featured to the left is a modified version of a previous album cover that proved controversial and was scrapped in May 2006, although numerous CD booklets had already been printed with the original image. Thornography received a similar reception to Nymphetamine, garnering generally positive reviews, but raising a few eyebrows with the inclusion of a cover of Heaven 17's "Temptation" (featuring guest vocals from Dirty Harry), which was released as a digital single and accompanying video shortly before the album.
Long-term drummer Adrian Erlandsson departed the band in November 2006. According to an official Roadrunner press release, Erlandsson left with the intention of devoting his energies to his two side projects Needleye and Nemhain: "I have enjoyed my time with Cradle but it is now time to move on. I feel I am going out on a high as Thornography is definitely our best album to date".
Cradle of Filth?s "true" black metal status has been in debate since near the time they became popular. Dani, in a 1998 interview for BBC Radio 5 for example, said "I use the term heavy metal, rather than black metal, because I think that's a bit of a fad now. Call it what you like: death metal, black metal, any kind of metal...", while Gavin Baddeley's 2006 Terrorizer interview states that "few folk, the band included, call Cradle black metal these days."
Their format differs from most black metal, and they have thus, at one time or another, been labeled symphonic black metal; extreme gothic metal; melodic black metal; satanic metal; vampyric metal; speed metal; death metal; brutal death metal; melodic death metal; and horror metal, some of which are regarded by critics and fans alike as entirely apocryphal categories. They are often dismissed for a perceived lack of credibility, along with bands such as Dimmu Borgir whose success followed in Cradle?s wake.
However, the band's evolving sound has allowed them to continue resisting definitive categorisation. They are audibly influenced by Iron Maiden, have collaborated on projects like Christian Death's Born Again Anti-Christian album (on the track "Peek-A-Boo"), and have even dabbled outside of metal music with their controversial dance remixes ("Twisting Further Nails", "Pervert's Church" etc), although these have fallen by the wayside in recent years. In a 2006 interview with Terrorizer magazine, current guitarist Paul Allender said "We were never a black metal band. The only thing that catered to that was the make-up. Even when The Principle of Evil Made Flesh came out ? you look at Emperor and Burzum and all that stuff ? we didn't sound anything like that. The way that I see it is that we were, and still are now, an extreme metal band."
Appearing on the BBC music quiz Never Mind the Buzzcocks on April 9 2001, Dani wryly claimed Cradle's sound as "heavy funk", but his stated position on the band?s genre is that "We'd rather be known as solely Cradle of Filth, I think, than be hampered by stupid genre barriers."