Revolver has teamed with Cradle of Filth for a limited-edition, exclusive "black & white marble" vinyl variant of their new album, Existence Is Futile. It's limited to 400 — order yours now!
At the dawn of the 1990s, the young Daniel Davey was not that different from many other extreme-metal-loving kids of the era. Growing up in the eastern U.K. region of Suffolk, he eagerly sought out new underground music and communicated with like-minded fans around the world. He also adopted a tireless DIY approach as he attempted to get his fledgling black-metal band, Cradle of Filth, off the ground.
"I drew all the artwork for all of our early demos," recalls the musician, who is now famously known by his stage name Dani Filth. "I ended up doing demo covers for other artists and was actively tape trading within the underground."
Many of the young metalheads Filth swapped demos with eventually became musical icons (like Mayhem's Euronymous), and Cradle of Filth themselves soon ascended far above the cult scene. Filth and Co.'s breakout moment came in 1998 with the release of their third full-length, Cruelty and the Beast. The record — a concept album about the 16th-century Hungarian countess turned serial killer Elizabeth Báthory — was the group's most popular release to date and has becoming an enduring fan favorite in the years since.
In 2019, Cradle of Filth issued a new remixed and remastered version of Cruelty and the Beast (dubbed Re-Mistressed) and the band was gearing up to launch a 2020 tour during which they would perform the album in its entirety. The coronavirus derailed those plans — but Filth didn't stay idle. Instead, he and the band used the forced downtime to focus on creating the music that would become Cradle of Filth's new and 13th studio effort, Existence Is Futile.
Filth tells us Cradle of Filth's latest album is not about the pandemic, although its core theme — humanity's apparent headlong dive toward self-destruction — is very fitting for the doom-filled anxieties that pervade this COVID era.
"The album itself was inspired by the fact that we'd been on tour for three years and naturally you always go to sprawling metropolises, which are seemingly leading to an inevitable spiral towards overpopulation," says Filth. "We are heading towards self-destruction or disaster as a race. But hopefully we're going to turn it around because suddenly everyone listens to [environmental activist] Greta Thunberg and it's the right thing to do."
With Existence Is Futile on deck — and Cradle of Filth about to embark on the rescheduled fall U.S. tour to perform their Cruelty and the Beast set — we sat down with Filth for a wide-ranging interview to discuss the band reaching its 30th anniversary, those Ed Sheeran collaboration rumors, reuniting with Hellraiser's Pinhead, tape trading with Mayhem's Euronymous and much more.
LET'S DISCUSS THE NEW ALBUM, EXISTENCE IS FUTILE. THE RECORD WAS RECORDED IN THE MONTHS SURROUNDING THE LOCKDOWN IN 2020. BUT WHEN DID YOU FIRST START WRITING FOR IT?
DANI FILTH Well, I basically wrote the majority of the album during the last year that we went on tour — we were on tour for pretty much three years in support of [2017's] Cryptoriana [– The Seductiveness of Decay]. We finished it off at the backend of 2019 into 2020. Our drummer [Martin 'Marthus' Škaroupka], luckily, laid his drums down before the world went into lockdown, which was handy because it can be very difficult to do the whole album without drums. [Laughs]
WAS IT DIFFICULT FOR YOU TO BE STUCK AT HOME DURING THE PANDEMIC?
When I'm at home I find myself tidying parts of the house that just don't need it. I think I'd go completely insane if I had to ... I mean, I love being in my house. It's a great house, but I've been there on and off for the last year and a half. And obviously I can't wait to come back to play America at the moment. I'm actually supposed to be in Russia with my girlfriend, but that, too, is another casualty of the pandemic.
THERE ARE APOCALYPTIC SHADES TO THE NEW RECORD AND PARALLELS TO THE PANDEMIC. BUT DID COVID ACTUALLY INSPIRE ANY OF THE LYRICS?
No, not as such. ... The kind of existential nature, the fear of the unknown, and uncertainty of faith are sort of the main themes in Existence Is Futile, which is vastly different from the two previous albums. Whereas [2017's] Cryptoriana was loosely based around the Victorian era and its obsession with the macabre and the spiritual, this is a slightly modern album.
I mean the lyricism always has that classical vibe to it anyway — we're not talking about rocket ships and women with big knockers or anything like that. But I think the whole idea about existence is a very modern thing and slightly socio-political as well. I mean, we've done it before … But "Suffer Our Dominion" would be the closest thing we've got to about extinction and where the world's going and climate change and pollution.
DOUG BRADLEY, AKA PINHEAD FROM HELLRAISER, MAKES AN EXCITING APPEARANCE ON EXISTENCE IS FUTILE. YOU'VE WORKED WITH HIM BEFORE. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT WHAT INSPIRED THIS LATEST COLLABORATION?
The reason we had Doug Bradley, "Pinhead," back was … there's a bonus track called "Sisters of the Mist." When I heard it, I was like, Oh my God, this is the perfect finale for this story that started in "Her Ghost in the Fog" [on 2000's Midian], which then carried on into "Swansong for a Raven" [from 2004's Nymphetamine] and now culminates in this song. We thought, This is perfect because we need someone with a strong character, a good voice — somebody slightly scary and authoritarian. I think that Doug has become synonymous with us and our sound now. I think this is maybe the sixth partnership with us overall.
2021 IS CRADLE OF FILTH'S 30TH ANNIVERSARY. WHAT MEMORIES STAND OUT FOR YOU WHEN YOU THINK BACK TO THE BAND'S EARLY DAYS?
Obviously, there was a burgeoning black-metal scene and, yeah, it was all very, very underground and very unique. I drew some demo covers and was super involved in tape trading ... Mayhem, Immortal, Impaled Nazarene, Moonspell from Portugal, a bunch of French bands, Beherit, a few American bands like Havohej, Absu, Profanatica and others were all records that I traded for and members of the bands I traded with, like, Euronymous.
WOW. AMAZING. DO YOU RECALL WHAT TAPE YOU TRADED WITH EURONYMOUS?
Well, I gave him one of our demos and I can't remember what I got back from him. I had several letters from him, and I had a very twattish friend that actually ended up stealing the letters and the record that I had.
SPEAKING OF FAMOUS MUSICIANS, YOU WERE QUOTED EARLIER THIS YEAR SAYING THAT A COLLAB WITH ED SHEERAN MIGHT BE IN THE WORKS. DO YOU HAVE ANY MORE DETAILS YOU CAN SHARE WITH US?
Actually, I don't. And you know what, I shouldn't have said anything to a particular journalist — he said that he wouldn't mention it. But he kind of put two and two together and started probing me about it. So, I said, "Well, it's not really relevant to what we're doing, so I'd rather you not mention it." And then two hours later, lo and behold, everybody knew about it.
Ed and I texted a few times since he mentioned that he grew up listening to Cradle and Slipknot. Our manager [and DevilDriver singer] Dez Fafara got in touch with Ed's manager. We just touched base a couple of times and that's basically the sum of it. He seems like a very nice person and we were talking about our life and how it took us from the county of Suffolk, meaning the witch county. [Both Filth and Sheeran grew up in Suffolk, which has a long history of witchcraft.] I don't know where it's gonna go. When he returns to America, he'll be out there in support of his new album and then soon after we're going to be out there. Hopefully, later in the new year I can make it up to his country estate and we can just have a beer and see what happens. Shoot the shit.
CRADLE OF FILTH HAVE BEEN AROUND FOR A VERY LONG TIME. YOU'VE REINVENTED YOURSELF AND TAKEN MUSICAL CHANCES ALL ALONG THE WAY. HOW WOULD YOU SAY THIS NEW ALBUM FITS WITHIN YOUR CATALOG?
Well, it's a big record. We were desperate to make it sound very live, which I guess was a byproduct of being on tour for three years. We decided less is more and, funny enough, you can find it more difficult. But it's not a simple record … I just mean that we didn't go for, like, 20 keyboard overdubs and five guitar overdubs and extra vocal lines all over the place, because, quite frankly, it's just fluff. Some albums are so dense that you listen to them and three songs in say, "Enough, I get it." We wanted to keep it engaging and have some very catchy tunes. It's very cinematic … It's a great LP… and I think Cradle fans are gonna love it.