Cradle of Filth are one-of-a-kind. Led by the five-octave voice and poetically twisted mind of Dani Filth, the English dark lords have charted one of the most unique journeys in metal history, coming up in the European black-metal boom of the mid-Nineties, breaking away to become symphonic masters of theatrical ghoulishness, and becoming one of the only black-metal bands who ever signed to a major label.
The band are still operating at full capacity today, and throughout their career thus far, they've unraveled 13 full-length albums that collectively amount to one of extreme metal's most impressive bodies of work. (COF also recently released their first live album in over 20 years, Trouble and Their Double Lives.) We asked our readers to pick the single greatest Cradle of Filth record, and the top five vote-getters are ranked accordingly below.
Released one year after their triumphant Damnation and a Day, Cradle of Filth's fifth LP is another 75-minute journey through some of their grandest, most operatic material. With tracks like "Gilded Cunt" and "Absinthe With Faust," fans got plenty of classic Filth-isms to wade through, but the undeniable highlight is its epic closing track, "Nymphetamine Fix," a gallant duet with singer Liv Kristine that remains Cradle of Filth's most popular song for a reason — it's fucking glorious.
It's crazy to imagine, considering the content of their lyrics and the extremity of their sound, but Cradle of Filth were once scooped up by a major label — briefly. Damnation and a Day was their one-and-done release through Sony, and the band used the opportunity to go all the fuck out, creating a four-chapter, hour-and-15-minute-long opus that used a 101-piece orchestra and a 40-person choir to make the most majestically ornate COF music possible. Does it slap? Yes, but it's long. Clearly, the fans had no problem digesting this beautiful behemoth of a record.
"Care for a little necrophilia?" The cover art is positively insane. Doug Bradley, a.k.a. Pinhead in the iconic Hellraiser movies, narrates several of the songs. The music is over-the-top in every regard — from the track titles ("Lord Abortion") to the Shakespearian drama in Filth's outlandish vocals ("Cthulu Dawn"). So yes, Cradle of Filth fans obviously love Midian, and especially its tragic standout "Her Ghost in the Fog," which our readers ranked among the band's five best songs.
Cradle of Filth started off their career as participants in Europe's greater black-metal scene, but Dusk and Her Embrace is when they broke away. The band's second album has the raw aggression, tattered riffs and scorching production that characterized so much mid-Nineties black metal, but the vampiric vibe puts them in a whole other league of symphonic heaviosity. Of course, the band would only get more theatrical (and yes, slightly less heavy) from hereon out, so this record holds a special place in fan's hearts.
Sometimes, a band's most popular release really is their best, and that's definitely the case our readers made for Cruelty and the Beast. Cradle of Filth's 1998 masterpiece is one of the most celebrated releases in all of black-metal history; a macabre concept record based on the exploits of the Hungarian "Blood Countess," Elizabeth Bathory, set to the tune of castle-filling symphonies that are best served with a goblet of virgin blood. As sonically and conceptually ambitious as it is relentlessly crushing, this timeless romp crowned COF as extreme-metal royalty. Deservedly so.