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Cradle Of Filth
Roadrunner Records

Since their inception in 1991, England's Cradle Of Filth have been affiliated with goth rock, European black metal, and screamo, but their orchestral elements are often overlooked. For their seventh full length studio album Thornography the quintet of Dani Filth (lead vocals), Paul Allender (guitar), Charles Hedger (guitar), David Pybus (bass), and Adrian Erlandsson (drums), have incorporated voluminous string and piano arrangements puncturing the doses of abrasive guitar peals and machine gun tempo drum and bass combos. The album is rich in metallurgy and dark haunting tones that encircle the Neanderthal grunts and howls of Dani Filth, but is equally abundant with thick, rasping melodic textures and lofty rock orchestras.

The album opens with a muscular orchestral rock suite "Under The Pregnant Skies She Comes Alive Like Miss Leviathan" which segues into the dark metal requiem of "Dirge Inferno" embossing COF's signature racy guitar clips and sepulcher-deep rhythmic furrows. The music moves like an epic film, fitting for the Lord Of The Rings trilogy. The grating guitar twists and pelting fretwork on "I Am The Thorn" amass enormous harmonies that push, tug, and foam at the speed of madness. "Cemetery And Sundown" is theatrical in a Marilyn Manson way and tomb-like with a Type O Negative cadence. Cradle Of Filth meets all the expectations that people have for plush heavy metal/goth rock. Thornography places COF at the epicenter of the genre.

The lyrical themes talk about being enchanted and falling into despair like in "Lovesick For Mina" when Filth groans "I kissed her mouth like a dark red rose/ Set upon a marbled dream of white/ So pure of thought like a Vestal statue/ Jeweled with a God-lent grace/ I was close to coming when she bid adieu/ Fuelled by heartache rent upon her face there." The majestic pedestal of string and piano segments hover above the militia-like, metal-soaked guitar coils and chains of drums and bass cleats billowing at the base of the song. "Rise Of The Pentagram" suffuses orchestral tones with metal elements that result in a highly developed melody distributing vacillating variables and multiple deep-toned shades. The final two tracks "Under The Huntress Moon" and "Temptation" use the female vocal harmonies of Sarah Jezebel Deva, which build complementing vocal lines like Arch Enemy and add depth to the theatrics.

Cradle Of Filth's seventh release Thornography could be their most ambitious record to date, imbedding multiple influences into their dark brew of metallurgy. The band's penchant for Gothic looking makeup and leather-clad wardrobe gives them a gimmicky appearance but their songs can really stand on their own. The band takes their songwriting seriously which comes through in their compositions, and they leave an imprint on the listener whether one wants them to or not.

-Susan Frances

Track listing:
1. Under The Pregnant Skies She Comes Alive Like Miss Leviathan
2. Dirge Inferno
3. Tonight In Flames
4. Libertina Grimm
5. Byronic Mann
6. I Am The Thorn
7. Cemetery And Sundown
8. Lovesick For Mina
9. The Foetus Of A Day Kicking
10. Rise Of The Pentagram
11. Under The Huntress Moon
12. Temptation

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