The Manticore And Other Horrors probably won’t win over detractors of the band, but fans – and old-school fans in particular – are going to be in supreme, vampyric heaven.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Cradle Of Filth album without a generous helping of operatic female vocals, dramatic orchestrations and gothic grandiosity, but the discussion this time round shouldn’t be about whether Cradle is or isn’t black metal, as any elements of that style are secondary to the death metal, grindcore and d-beat punk influences that underpin the record.
This is the sound of Cradle going back to what Max Cavalera might call the primitive. It’s the sound of a band not caring one jot about whether elitist fans deem them worthy or not, and simply re-discovering a love of the music that inspired their early career and spawned albums like Vempire and Dusk And Her Embrace.
In ditching some of their more fantastical flights of fancy, Cradle sounds as fresh and exciting as it has in many years. “Pallid Reflections” employs the use of female vocals successfully and is suitably sprawling in its scale, but at its center are simple, hard-hitting riffs and an ear for genuine melody that reflects Cradle’s love of all things Iron Maiden.
“For Your Vulgar Delectation” eschews conventional black metal almost entirely and finds Cradle pummeling the ears with the sort of thrash/punk without which black metal would never have existed in the first place. It’s not quite Cradle going full circle, but it is about revisiting their roots.
On an album full of refreshing revelations, one of the most pleasing is the vocals of Dani Filth himself. While not exactly in Dio territory, he nonetheless introduces many surprising twists and turns to his unique – and often maligned – style. A Cradle album with (almost) clean singing alongside the growls and shrieks? Believe it.
Cradle Of Filth has never died, so it would be wrong to describe them as a band reborn, but Manticore is certainly the sound of a band reinvigorated.
(released October 30, 2012 on Nuclear Blast Records)