Web Exclusive Review: Cradle of Filth, “Darkly, Darkly, Venus Aversa”

Cradle of Filth
Darkly, Darkly, Venus Aversa
Peaceville/Nuclear Blast
****

From the gothic harpsichord intro, tailor-made for an ancient black-and-white horror flick, to the sputtered-and-hissed poetry that closes Cradle of Filth’s Darkly, Darkly, Venus Aversa, the English metal icons are in fine form on their ninth album. Although Dani Filth and his bandmates don’t venture too far from the chaotic shrieking of their last album, 2008’s Godspeed on the Devil’s Thunder—or any recent Cradle album, for that matter—they sound more mature as a group right from the start. 

The first four tracks offer a relentless combination of breakneck riffs, rattling blast beats, and unsettling gothic atmosphere. Frontman Filth’s soaring screeches, coupled with his unearthly barks, conjured straight from the beasts of Dartmoor that haunt the band’s native country, sound violent and merciless. Just when this rapid-fire onslaught starts to become monotonous, the band switches gears on “Deceiving Eyes,” which opens with a riff that could have been taken from Pig Destroyer’s grindcore repertoire. And they build off this on “The Spawn of Love and War,” another highlight, which could be the soundtrack to a sickening carnival dark ride, with its dissonant string sections and piano lines. But nowhere is the group’s greater sense of self more evident, than on Venus Aversa’s black-metal ballad “The Persecution Song.” The song blends a catchy, melodic chorus with bleak wails and a chilling atmosphere more convincingly than past efforts, like “Nymphetamine.”

The only missteps are on tracks like “Lilith Immaculate” and “Forgive Me Father (I Have Sinned),” which cross into cheesiness because of female narrations that are even more over-the-top than usual for the band. The album closer, “Beyond Eleventh Hour,” opens up with one of these exaggerated, theatrical passages; “All mirrors lead to my palace/My exotic pleasure temple.” As silly as this is, though, the music on the rest of the album makes up for these faux pas, making for a piece of art that transcends metal subgenres in a way that only Cradle of Filth can. CODY THOMAS

 

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