Countless labels, 20 band members and ten studio albums later Cradle of Filth is back paired up with Nuclear Blast to release the band’s 11th full-length studio album- Hammer of the Witches.
Obviously, Cradle Of Filth has gone through an evolution over the years, but Dani Filth has always kept the aesthetic and objective of the group rather focused. Since their time with Sony and obvious shift to appeal to a more mainstream market they became a bit of a guilty pleasure band for serious metal heads…. well they are one of my guilty pleasures. However, guilty pleasure love is not unconditional. So after the previous releases, as a fan of the old COF, I was definitely skeptical to give this next album a listen. To be fair, I was pleasantly surprised by the album as a whole. It’s not perfect, but it has some old COF tones to it and is not overly loaded with goth interludes and commercial “Hot Topic” cheese.
Well what exactly does Hammer of the Witches have in store for its listeners? A handle of decent synth/orchestral interludes, an epically bombastic opening track, fantastic production, killer drums, Dani Filth vocal acrobatics, handful of guitar solos that don’t belong and female vocals that make you cringe a little. Like I said it’s a mix. So let’s start with good! Yours Immortally is the opening track of the album (probably the best track) and is all that was and is good about COF. You are immediately assaulted with a whirlwind of guitars, melodic keys, and the quintessential Dani cry. The intensity is maintained throughout the track only broken up by a few breakdowns and more melodic passages. The album as a whole is not loaded with female vocals, but this is the one track where Lindsay Schoolcraft’s addition really blends and accentuates nicely.
Enshrined in Crematoria maintains the energy of the previous to lead up to Deflowering the Maidenhead, Displeasuring the Goddess. It is a very grand track with a great guitar riff and not sure anyone else says the word “goddess” quite like Dani… that is certainly one thing that hasn’t changed over the last decade. This track and the next – Blackest Magick in Practice – both have guitar solos that are kind of just plopped in the middle. All the songs on the album are long, averaging about 6+ minutes and they certainly do not feel drawn out. The guitars and keys have so many interesting melodies to keep you engaged, but those solos just feel more disruptive than anything else.
It seems that things start to peter out though after the second interlude track. The title track is solid, but Right Wing of the Garden Tryptich and Onward Christian Soldiers are low points for the album. Both suffer from overly direct lyrics and terrible melodies. The opening to Right Wing… is one of those times when Ms Schoolcraft’s vocals are utilized incorrectly, but the rest of the song makes up for it though. It’s super catchy melody and little symphonic bits make it no surprise that it is the first video to be released.
OK so with all of that said I still give Dani and the newer members of COF credit for refreshing the band while simultaneously bringing back the speed and brutality of old COF. Plus Dani still sounds… well like Dani and it is awesome. The tone and aesthetic of this album make it clear that COF teaming up with Nuclear Blast finally after all these years was a very very good thing. Excited to see what comes next.
4 out of 5 Rating:
- Walpurgis Eve
- Yours Immortally…
- Enshrined In Crematoria
- Deflowering the Maidenhead, Displeasuring the Goddess
- Blackest Magick In Practice
- The Monstrous Sabbat (Summoning the Coven)
- Hammer of Witches
- Right Wing of the Garden Triptych
- The Vampyre At My Side
- Onward Christian Soldiers
- Blooding the Hounds of Hell
- King of the Woods
Genre: Extreme Gothic Metal/Black Metal
Record Label: Nuclear Blast
Dani Filth- Vocals
Daniel Firth- Bass
Richard Shaw- Guitars
Lindsay Schoolcraft- Keyboards, vocals