Cradle of Filth
The Manticore and Other Horrors
29 October 2012
by Hugh Platt
I’ve got a confession to make. I have a very, very simple yardstick by which I gauge how much I like an album by Cradle of Filth. It’s not scientific, it’s not fair, but it’s still 100% a better system than going through the rigmarole of reviewing The Manticore and Other Horrors like I would any other album.
It’s simple: the more songs on a Cradle of Filth album that sound like ‘The Twisted Nails of Faith’, the better the album is.
Hold on – I can tell there’s some incensed Cradle of Filth fans a-huffing and a-puffing at their keyboards already. It’s okay to get hot under the collar about such a blasé attitude to reviewing, but in doing so, you’re just reinforcing my reasons for doing so: everyone has already made their mind up about this album before I even started typing. This album came out – at the time of publishing – about three whole weeks ago. There’s a good chance you’re reading this review either because you’re a Cradle of Filth fan (and therefore will probably think I’m low-scoring this record, no matter what kind of review I give it), or you’re a casual reader of online metal blogs, and probably don’t even care about an album that came out three whole weeks ago that isn’t about to be bothering the impending Album Of The Year lists for most blogs/publications/whatever. So calm down, make yourself a nice milky cup of tea (or whatever your beverage of choice happens to be be) and keep on reading.
And why The Twisted Nails of Faith? Why measure Cradle of Filth’s recorded output against a song they haven’t (apparently) performed live in nearly two years? A song that ranks only in at number 13 on the list of songs they most play live ever? Because The Twisted Nails of Faith is everything that was great about Cradle of Filth when they were at the height of their powers. It’s got ridiculous keyboards that sometimes fit with the rest of the music, and sometimes jar horribly with it. It’s got Dani Filth doing that strangled scream and that burping croak of his. It’s got a pseduo-serious spoken word sample. It’s got guitars playing just fast enough that they don’t trip over themselves, and some gratuitous flanger-action. It’s all done with just enough knowing camp and childish glee in the use of naughty words to not really offend anyone – not really – despite the best efforts of unintentionally hilarious BBC2 documentaries from the late 1990s would have anyone believe.
And yeah, for the sake of comparison, listen to the bloody song in question:
So yeah, The Manticore and Other Horrors – let’s break down this ‘Twisted Nails Of Faith’ comparison, shall we? Dani Filth’s vocals have indeed evolved over the years – perhaps in part due to age, but at least in some degree out of intent. The strangulated-screams aspect of his vocals has been turned down, as is evident within the album’s first true song, ‘The Abhorrent’, but the beefier croaks suit the more bullish guitars. The keyboards are less ostentatious, which strips some of the mischievousness out of the everything, but again also fits better with Cradle’s move from the “extreme” (“speech marks are the writers own”) end of the British metal mainstream, to that of a more out-and-out metal band. Even ‘Pallid Reflection’, which relies of keyboards to give itself the necessary sonic thickness while a – yes! yes! yes! – a ridiculously OTT female spoken-word passage plays out, doesn’t use them to the point of near-silliness that pre-Millenium Cradle sometimes did.
Was this a “fair” review? Was applying such a ludicrous, rigid, and almost nonsensical set of criteria to a record that a lot of people have put time and effort into writing, recording, rehearsing, marketing, distributing, and will in the very near future, spend time touring in support of? Of course not. But is it a pretty good Cradle record, despite such an idiotic reviewing premise? Yep. There’s still ridiculous flanger use in ‘For Your Vulgar Delectation’, there’s still just enough Amicus/Hammer Horror melancholy to raise a smile out of our jaded old faces, and the loyal Filth fans have all already gone home happy with a copy of the album in preparation for the next tour. Why do you even care anyway?
Sounds Like: 66.6% like ‘The Twisted Nails of Faith’.
Standout Tracks: ‘Illicitus’, ‘Pallid Reflection’, and ‘The Abhorrent’, because they’re songs that sound the most like ‘The Twisted Nails Of Faith’.