Album Review: CRADLE OF FILTH Cryptoriana - The Seductiveness of Decay
I love writing about Cradle of Filth (even though I’ve only officially done it one other time for this site). The divisiveness and polarity that usually ensues in the comment sections on the articles really show the wide spectrum of opinions metalheads have of them. But amidst all the changes and developments that the band has undergone in their more than 20-year active career, they’ve been able to retain their identity. Everyone knows Cradle of Filth and everyone knows on a basic level what to expect from new albums. But on their latest album, Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness Of Decay, what you might presume to hear may go even beyond that.
Back in 2015, I got to review their previous album, Hammer of the Witches. That album was pretty good, and was also inching even more away from the blackish metal sound of the past and more towards symphonic/gothic metal sensibilities. Not that those flavors were never present in COF’s past, but it was definitely done with more elegance and consideration in Hammer. And COF hadn’t been announcing any new innovations or major concepts leading up to Cryptoriana, so it’s pretty easy to assume that it would be leading off of the same momentum from Hammer. And that actually seems to be a fair assessment, but not exactly for all the best reasons.
"Heartbreak and Seance"
If you happened to listen to all of Hammer, then you pretty much have an exact, accurate expectation of what to hear on Cryptoriana. It’s a melodic death-ish black metal sound, with occasional blasts, some orchestral and choir additions, and Dani Filth. I think “Achingly Beautiful” is perhaps the best representation of the album, as it honestly reminds listeners of “old school” COF, while developing more into symphonic ideas with the choir/chamber orchestra break. And the idea of orchestral elements in COF is also not a new thing, which is why it's welcomed in new albums such as this one. The melodic nature of the album reaches it’s apex with “Wester Vespertine”, which is entirely led by the symphonic elements of the album. I’m definitely a sucker for things like that, so that song ends up being very high on my list.
The problem is that Cryptoriana ends up sounding more like a mirror-image of Hammer of the Witches rather than a follow-up. You’d think with so much going on in any given COF album that I wouldn’t have to use a word like “monotonous” to describe the album, but I almost really want to. There weren’t too many songs that really stood out to me, other than the ones I’ve previously quoted. This might be because I usually tend to listen to albums that I review from top to bottom without stopping. But it appears every song has too similar elements with very little dynamic change. It usually starts with a riff, probably melodic in nature… it develops, the feel changes several times from heavy to a little melodic, including feel changes from duple to triplet, and then the song ends. After a while, the formula gets a little old, and I had to skim through other songs over and over again in order to find things that really tend to pop out at me.
"You Will Know The Lion By His Claw"
But to be fair, the album is definitely not without effort. The symphonic elements are completely well-done to create the gothic, sometimes creepy environments, and in the end, there is really no questioning that this is a Cradle of Filth album. Is it a good one? Yeah sure. Probably not great, and it’s probably not going to be ones that fans are going to clamor to when they have the itch to listen to some Filth. There are a couple gems from Cryptoriana that I’ll definitely be listening to for a bit, but probably not for an inordinate amount of time.