The Year In Review – Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2017

“We sort of find that music tames the beast, you know.” – Malcom Young

It’s that wonderful time of the year again, and I’m obviously not talking about Christmas and the holiday season. In a year where we lost so many talented and important musicians in rock and heavy music for various reasons, including Malcolm Young (AC/DC), Chris Cornell (Soundgarden), Chester Bennington (Linkin Park), Trish Doan (Kittie), Martin Eric Ain (Celtic Frost), Warrel Dane (Nevermore, Sanctuary), John Wetton (Uriah Heep), David Zablidowsky (Adrenaline Mob, Trans-Siberian Orchestra), Chuck Mosley (Faith No More) and Cherry Taketani (Okotô, Hellsakura, NervoChaos), among several others, not to mention the end of the unmatched Black Sabbath, who we were able to witness live one last time during their farewell tour The End, only the freshness and energy flowing from brand new metal music can give us hope, not allowing Heavy Metal and Rock N’ Roll to die as many like to prophesy every single year.

Having said that, it’s time to blow our goddamn speakers with The Headbanging Moose’s Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2017, excluding EP’s, best of’s and live albums, taming the beast inside us all as wisely said by AC/DC’s heart and soul Malcolm Young (R.I.P.). And as 2017 was the year of bands that cannot be considered dinosaurs in metal (or at least not yet), such as Trivium and Mastodon, that certainly points to a bright future ahead for Heavy Metal with their recent releases because, as you know, we won’t have behemoths like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Metallica kicking ass on stage forever. By the way, this was definitely a fantastic year for Mastodon, who not only released one of the best albums of 2017, the excellent Emperor of Sand, but they also had some extra energy to burn with the classy EP Cold Dark Place, which by the way is part of our top 10 EP’s of the year (as you’ll see after our top 10/20 list). Alright, without further ado, turn up the volume and enjoy our 2017 list… LET THERE BE ROCK!

1. Trivium – The Sin and the Sentence (REVIEW)
A superb album full of fast and intricate riffs, poetic lyrics, a sensational new drummer and, above all, the return of Matt’s trademark screams.
Best song of the album: Betrayer

2. Kreator – Gods Of Violence (REVIEW)
We shall praise the best Teutonic Thrash Metal institution of all time, as the gods of violence come alive.
Best song of the album: Totalitarian Terror

3. Blaze Bayley – Endure And Survive (REVIEW)
The indomitable Blaze Bayley returns with the second installment of Infinite Entanglement, his most ambitious project to date.
Best song of the album: Blood

4. Mastodon – Emperor of Sand (REVIEW)
Follow the inspirational story of a desert wanderer who has been handed a death sentence in this excellent album of Progressive Metal.
Best song of the album: Word to the Wise

5. Accept – The Rise of Chaos (REVIEW)
Let total chaos and destruction rise to the sound of the brand new album by the unstoppable Teutonic masters of Heavy Metal.
Best song of the album: Analog Man

6. Moonspell – 1755 (REVIEW)
An orchestral and emotional concept album that will take you to the year when a giant earthquake destroyed the city of Lisbon.
Best song of the album: Todos Os Santos

7. Striker – Striker (REVIEW)
Canadian Heavy Metal has never been more vibrant and rapturous than this.
Best song of the album: Born To Lose

8. Divine Element – Thaurachs Of Borsu (REVIEW)
Witness the passage of a soldier through various levels of consciousness about the reality of war and human society.
Best song of the album: Thaurachs Of Borsu

9. Torture Squad – Far Beyond Existence (REVIEW)
Don’t cross the path of one of the most respectful bands from the Brazilian Thrash and Death Metal scene.
Best song of the album: Blood Sacrifice

10. Solitary – The Diseased Heart of Society (REVIEW)
Four veteran thrash metallers canalizing all the hatred, degradation and perversions of our modern-day society into their music.
Best song of the album: Architects of Shame

And here we have the runner-ups, completing the top 20 for the year:

11. Karkaos – Children Of The Void (REVIEW)
12. Prometheus – Consumed In Flames (REVIEW)
13. Battle Beast – Bringer Of Pain (REVIEW)
14. Terrifier – Weapons of Thrash Destruction (REVIEW)
15. Body Count – Bloodlust (REVIEW)
16. Dzö-nga – The Sachem’s Tales (REVIEW)
17. Cradle of Filth – Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay (REVIEW)
18. Cannibal Corpse – Red Before Black (REVIEW)
19. Infernäl Mäjesty – No God (REVIEW)
20. Katharos XIII – Negativity (REVIEW)

As aforementioned, we also have for you this year our Top 10 EP’s of 2017, ranging from the most rebellious form of Deathcore to the most melodic type of Symphonic Metal, from visceral Doom Metal to demonic Black Metal, and so on. In addition, those bands hail from all four corner of the earth, proving once again that it doesn’t matter where you go you’ll always be able to find first-class metal music, including all of its genres and subgenres, to please your avid metallic ears.

1. Primal Age – A Silent Wound (REVIEW)
2. Sinners Moon – Far Beyond The Stars (REVIEW)
3. Aversio Humanitatis – Longing for the Untold (REVIEW)
4. Loathfinder – The Great Tired Ones (REVIEW)
5. Ljosazabojstwa – Sychodžańnie (REVIEW)
6. Lorn – Arrayed Claws (REVIEW)
7. Jupiter Hollow – Odyssey (REVIEW)
8. Dö – Astral: Death/Birth (REVIEW)
9. Mastodon – Cold Dark Place (REVIEW)
10. Afire – Afire (REVIEW)

Do you agree with our list? What are your top 10 albums of 2017? If you want to check another awesome list, I highly recommend Antichrst Magazine’s Top 10 Albums of 2017 (Editorial Staff), a great online publication that we at The Headbanging Moose also contribute to on a regular basis. Also, don’t forget to tune in to Timão Metal every Tuesday on Rádio Coringão for a blazing fusion of metal and soccer, and to The Headbanging Moose Show every Thursday on Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio for the best of underground metal from all over the world!

Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year! See you in 2018!

Actually, before all is said and done, here’s for you the 2017 Christmas single from Norwegian Melodic Power Metal project Aldaria called When The Time Has Come, featuring several renowned guest musicians such as Ralf Scheepers (Primal Fear), Yannis Papadopoulos (Beast In Black),  Lars Rettkowitz (Freedom Call) and Morten Gade Sørensen (Pyramaze), among others, with 100% of all income of this single being donated to Cancer Research. “This is a very important cause for me, as I lost my mother to this horrible disease in 2010. The single will be available across all streaming and digital platforms, and on Aldaria’s official webstore, where you will get a special edition with a lossless audio file, instrumental, high resolution cover art, and lyrics”, commented guitarist Frode Hovd, the mastermind behind Aldaria. Let’s all support such important cause!

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Album Review – Cradle of Filth / Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay (2017)

UK’s most visionary and hellish outfit returns with another blast of malignancy and eroticism in the form of the twelfth studio album in their undisputed career.

After their 2015 majestic and imposing album Hammer Of The Witches, British Extreme Metal institution Cradle of Filth had the arduous task of maintaining such high level of malignancy, electricity and eroticism in their brand new opus, stylishly titled Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay, the twelfth studio album in their undisputed career. Despite not being as fantastic and cohesive as its predecessor, Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay still brings forward the classic sound by Cradle of Filth we all learned to love through the years, solidifying even more their already distinguished reputation among fans of extreme music.

The band’s iconic mastermind and vocalist Dani Filth said the album “is deeply infused with Victorian gothic horror and thus the title is a reflection of that.’Cryptoriana’ implies the Victorians’ infatuation with the supernatural, the grave and the ghoulish. And the subtitle, ‘The Seductiveness of Decay’, further cements this attraction to death and the glittering lengthy process of self-annihilation”. In addition to that, one very interesting fact about Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay is that this is their second album in a row with the exact same lineup, which for an ever-changing band like Cradle of Filth is a huge milestone. The artwork was also created by the same artist from Hammer Of The Witches, Latvian designer Arthur Berzinsh, and form that you can have a very good idea of how similar both albums are visually and musically speaking, although as aforementioned the band had an almost impossible mission to surpass Hammer Of The Witches in regards to its exceptional quality.

Exquisite Torments Await can be considered a 2-minute “expanded” intro, showcasing demented and dark noises together with the band’s characteristic melody and potency, already bringing forward their usual blast beats and devilish orchestrations. Well, Dani’s first high-pitched scream says it all. The following tune, the first single of the album titled Heartbreak and Séance, kicks off at full speed with the gentle but powerful guitars by both Richard Shaw and Marek “Ashok” Šmerda bringing balance to the havoc led by the flammable Dani and the insanely talented drummer Martin “Marthus” Škaroupka. In other words, it’s classic and modern Cradle of Filth united in a solid and exciting manner (and don’t forget to check the uncensored version for its official video, it’s definitely worth it). And in Achingly Beautiful, an esoteric beginning quickly explodes into Cradle of Filth’s unique Black Metal, feeling like two or three songs in one due to its complexity and all breaks and variations, with the keyboards by Canadian beauty Lindsay Schoolcraft generating an amazing vibe in the background, not to mention her always pleasant backing vocals.

The main riff in Wester Vespertine reminds me of some of the guitar lines from their 1998 cult album Cruelty and the Beast, more specifically from the classic “Thirteen Autumns and a Widow”, proving Dani knows how to blend the past, present and future of his band in a very cohesive manner. Moreover, Marthus continues his sonic onrush with his potent and unstoppable beats and fills, enhancing the song’s potency considerably. Then it’s time for Richard and Ashok to lead the epic intro in The Seductiveness of Decay, before the band speeds up the pace delivering a neck-breaking, smashing tune tailored for both old school fans and newcomers to the world of Cradle of Filth. Dani has an absolutely flammable performance with his demonic growls and screeches, with the music becoming a symphonic devastation halfway through it with highlights to the awesome solos by Richard and Ashok. And featuring Liv Kristine as a guest vocalist (turning it into some sort of “beauty and the beast” duo with Dani), Vengeful Spirit maintains the album at a high level of seductiveness, vileness and darkness, with Marthus being totally diabolical on drums whereas Lindsay continues to deliver delicate and whimsical key notes to bring more balance to the music.

Despite bringing the trademark wicked lyrics by Dani (“Purring the sweet tempered soughing / Of lucrative Savannah wind / Stirs the great flotsam of clouds that are vowing / To usher the evening in / Affecting the set of the reckoning sun / From burnished gold to crimson hue / Before this night is quite sorely undone / The Devil is coming for you”), You Will Know the Lion by His Claw doesn’t sound as inspired as the rest of the album, presenting generic guitar lines and no gripping moments at all; whereas a beyond imposing beginning, full of symphonic elements, opens the gates of hell for Dani and his bandmates to blast the mysterious and funereal tune Death and the Maiden. Furthermore, a somber shadow remains above the band from start to finish, with Dani spearheading the musicality with his satanic growls, while Marthus and Lindsay craft a truly powerful atmosphere with their respective beats and keys until the song’s hellish finale.

And if I were you I would certainly go for the special edition of the album, which contains two amazing bonus tracks that are worth your additional investment. The first one, named The Night at Catafalque Manor, brings more of Cradle of Filth’s renowned Symphonic Black Metal, with highlights to its amazing orchestrations and the rumbling bass lines by Daniel Firth. Then closing the limited edition we have a flawless cover version for Annihilator’s biggest classic Alison Hell (if you’re from another planet and has never listened to the original version, you can take a shot at it HERE), from their 1989 cult album Alice in Hell. This is indeed a superb tribute to this Canadian institute, and Dani simply nailed it like what he did in the past with other all-time metal hits like Iron Maiden’s “Hallowed Be Thy Name”, Slayer’s “Hell Awaits” and Venom’s “Black Metal”.

Dani and his Cradle of Filth still have a lot of fire to burn in their career, and Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay is a strong statement that they’re still relevant to the world of heavy music, being capable of producing excellent material year after year. Simply visit Nuclear Blast’s official webstore to pick your version of the brand new album by UK’s most visionary and hellish outfit in the history of extreme music, and be more than prepared for when Dani and his devilish horde take your city by storm with their live performances (if they haven’t done so yet).

Best moments of the album: Heartbreak and Séance, The Seductiveness of Decay and Alison Hell.

Worst moments of the album: You Will Know the Lion by His Claw.

Released in 2017 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. Exquisite Torments Await 2:15
2. Heartbreak and Séance 6:24
3. Achingly Beautiful 7:02
4. Wester Vespertine 7:24
5. The Seductiveness of Decay 7:38
6. Vengeful Spirit (feat. Liv Kristine) 6:00
7. You Will Know the Lion by His Claw 7:22
8. Death and the Maiden 8:48

Limited Edition Digipak/Vinyl bonus tracks
9. The Night at Catafalque Manor 7:31
10. Alison Hell (Annihilator cover) 5:01

Band members
Dani Filth – lead vocals
Richard Shaw – guitars
Marek “Ashok” Šmerda – guitars
Daniel Firth – bass
Lindsay Schoolcraft – female vocals, keyboards
Martin “Marthus” Škaroupka – drums

Guest musician
Liv Kristine – female vocals on “Vengeful Spirit”

Metal Chick of the Month – Morgan Lacroix

morgan01

In your nightmares you will find me… In this twilight you will taste my embrace…

Whenever a female performer is selected to be the Metal Chick of the Month here at The Headbanging Moose, she’s not chosen only because of her skills as a musician, but mainly due to her significant contribution to the development of women in the world of heavy music. Having said that, it couldn’t be different this month with our metallic diva, the darkling Italian succubus Morgan Lacroix (or MorgaN LacroiX), the sexy frontwoman, lyricist, composer, producer and (why not?) lady vampire of Italian Gothic/Dark/Industrial Metal band Mandragora Scream (also spelled MandragorA ScreaM). Are you ready for a journey through the dark realms of vampirism with our enigmatic modern-day medusa?

It was more than obvious that I wouldn’t be able to find anything about Morgan’s age, place of birth or music background. We’re talking about a vampire, creatures that, above all things, must remain in the shadows and keep their lives as secret as possible. Well, as Mandragora Scream is a band from the comune of Lucca, located on the Serchio river in Italy’s Tuscany region and famous for its intact Renaissance-era city walls, let’s assume she was also born in that same city. Whatever she did between being born and founding Mandragora Scream is something yet to be revealed by Morgan Lacroix herself, which means the focus will be solely on her career with the band.

Although Mandragora Scream were formed back in 1997 by Morgan, it was only in 1999 that the band released its debut self-titled demo containing four songs. Then in 2000 Morgan was introduced to Italian singer, guitarist and composer Terry Horn, and that artistic union resulted in their first full-length album, entitled Fairy Tales from Hell’s Caves, released in the year of 2001. According to the band, “Fairy Tales is definitely a concept album: a trip throughout the Dantean Hell, tormented by passion, anguish and insanity, where the character of Virgil is surprisingly replaced by an unusual bewitching vampire fairy.”

After that amazing debut, the band released the albums A Whisper of Dew (2003), Madhouse (2006), Volturna (2009) and Luciferland (2012), as well as the singles Jeanne d’Arc (2007) and From the Heart (2010), and a DVD named Dragonfly (2008), always providing us the lustful voice of our diva of darkness and also her own devilish touch to all lyrics, cover artwork, mixing, mastering, production and booklets. In addition, from those releases, A Whisper of Dew is also a concept album, centered on a vampire story purposely written for the band by Julio Angel Olivares Merino, horror-gothic literature writer and teacher of English Philosophy at the Spanish University of Jaén. Drawing inspiration from this tale, Lacroix composed the entire album lyrics. Also, in regards to their latest album Luciferland, there’s an interesting and extensive three-part interview on YouTube where both Morgan and Terry discuss about the album with Metal Hammer, which can be seen HERE, HERE and HERE.

Mandragora Scream are also featured on the international compilations Beauty in the Darkness Vol. 5 (2001), Mystic Art (2001), Nuclear Blast Vol. 6 (2001), Off Road Tracks Vol. 45 (2003) and Beautiful Voices (2005), toured with renowned dark bands Christian Death and The 69 Eyes in 2010 and with British Extreme Metal masters Cradle of Filth in 2011, and were the special guests in the 2010 edition of the Fantasy Horror Award. There are numerous videos on YouTube (and other platforms) where you can relish Morgan’s alluring vocals, sensuous moves and bewitching performance, as for instance in the songs A Vision They Shared, Blight Thrills, Medusa, Blindness, Breaking Dawn, Silent Lullabies, Bloody Ballade, the whimsical The Chant of Furies, and her awesome cover version for Cher’s Bang Bang, among others. Besides her work with Mandragora Scream, you can find Madame Lacroix lending her voice to the bonus song Watch Me Crawl Behind, from the 2012 album Happy Deathday by Greek Gothic Metal band SadDolls, and to the song The Promise, from the 2004 album Follow Me by Italian Power Metal band Wonderland.

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When asked in 2001 to provide more details about the history of Mandragora Scream, her explanation was beyond eccentric. In her own words, “The history of the name Mandragora Scream goes back to the medieval period. At that time witches used a root to make love and death potions called ‘Mandragora’.This root with man-shape was generated by the ejaculations of a hanged man and it needed to be pulled out from the earth with particular magic rites during full moon nights. When extracting the root from earth, witches had to be very careful not to break the arms or legs of the root, otherwise it would have screamed so loud to bring witches to death.” Interesting, isn’t it?

In regards to her unique style, our vampire queen mentioned her lyrics and the atmosphere found in her music reflect her soul, her life and her personality, preserving that way her own musical identity. Furthermore, Morgan grew up with fairy tales, in which she truly believes, feeling and living her own life like a fairy tale. In one of her old interviews, Morgan mentioned she wrote a book (probably in 2000) that is a fairy tale for her angels in the form of decadent poetry called “The Ballad Of The Angels”, but yet again I couldn’t find anything online about that book. It should be a very interesting and unusual reading, if that has ever been published, of course.

Another remarkable fact about her personal life is that she doesn’t actually feel Italian as her ancient blood is Transylvanian, and because of that she is fascinated with Dante’s La Divina Comedia (The Divine Comedy), considering it a masterpiece (who doesn’t?) as it deals with the dead and eternal pain.  And to make things even more complex, Morgan also loves the Scandinavian culture and is attracted to Vikings. Add to that her lovely obsession for fairy tales, and there you have one of the most distinctive and diverse fusion of topics you can think of.

Her favorite albums of all time are a classy mix of progressiveness, passion and liveliness, and do not expect to find anything too Gothic, modern or ghoulish on her list, as it includes Blackmore’s Night’s best album to date Shadow of the Moon, Dream Theater’s classic album Metropolis, Pink Floyd’s masterpiece The Dark Side of the Moon, King Crimson’s In the Wake of Poseidon, Yes’ Close to the Edge and Genesis’ Nursery Crime. In addition to that, she’s also a huge admirer of Queensrÿche and obviously of the vocals by Geoff Tate, especially the song Someone Else?, which she used to listen to when she started singing.

At long last, are you curious to know what the meaning of life and death is to our goddess of Dark Metal? Morgan firmly believes in reincarnation, which means life for her is a long path we are following and while we walk along this path we have to learn lessons, sometimes highly spiritual lessons. She completes her train of thought by saying that we always have to give our souls a chance to fly a little higher, closer to the divine, and that we could probably say that death is a little like “changing skin”. In my opinion, this is a stunning concept by an even more stunning diva of heavy music.

Morgan Lacroix’s Official Facebook page
Morgan Lacroix’s Official Twitter
Mandragora Scream’s Official Facebook page
Mandragora Scream’s Official Twitter

“Try and wake up the valiant warrior sleeping within you, he may have fallen asleep in one of your previous lives. And, first and foremost, don’t let your flesh be just food for worms.  Let there be someone with your blood after you, in this way you’ll be able to prove you did not live in vain and your image will be reflected by your heirs as if in a mirror.” – Morgan Lacroix

Concert Review – Cradle of Filth (Phoenix Concert Theatre, Toronto, ON, 03/06/2016)

As Toronto turned 182 years old yesterday, nothing better than celebrating the anniversary of our beautiful city with a gargantuan amount of fuckin’ “filth”.

OPENING ACTS: Ne Obliviscaris and Butcher Babies

COF_Inquisitional Torture 2016What a lovely day in our stunning, charming and multi-cultural city of Toronto. It might not be Summer (and not even Spring) yet, but sunny Winter days with temperatures above the freezing mark like this Sunday are such a thing of beauty they make us completely forget how harsh Winter can be sometimes. Perhaps that was Mother Nature giving her “birthday gift” to all Torontonians who were celebrating the 182nd anniversary of their beloved city. And what could have been better than hosting one of the most influential Extreme Metal bands of all time at the Phoenix Concert Theatre to properly commemorate the date? Finally, after five long years, the iconic Cradle of Filth returned to the “Land of the Moose”, as Dani Filth himself stated during the show.

This metallic feast started at around 7pm, when Australian Extreme Progressive Metal band NE OBLIVISCARIS hit the stage with their fusion of Symphonic Metal, Black Metal, Heavy Metal, Folk Metal and several other subgenres of heavy music blended in their sound. It took a few minutes for those guys from Melbourne, Australia to actually warm up and start entertaining the crowd, but once their concert took off it was indeed a nice experience, especially due to the amazing performances by Tim Charles with his violin and left-handed guitarist Benjamin Baret with his wicked riffs and solos. I confess I didn’t know much about the band before this gig, which means I’ll obviously go after their music to truly understand what they’re all about. And, of course, it’s good to know there’s more high-quality metal music coming from Down Under.

Setlist
Devour Me, Colossus (Part I): Blackholes
Of Petrichor Weaves Black Noise
Xenoflux
Painters of the Tempest (Part II): Triptych Lux
Pyrrhic
And Plague Flowers the Kaleidoscope

Band members
Xen – harsh vocals
Tim Charles – clean vocals, violin
Benjamin Baret – lead guitar
Matt Klavins – guitar
Cygnus – bass
Dan Presland – drums

When their concert was over and we all had a few minutes to rest and have a beer before the next attraction, I have to say it’s always nice when people come to talk to you about anything without being too wasted or high. That happened to me when a guy from Oshawa wearing a Bad Religion T-shirt approached me to say he liked my Pantera T-shirt, and from then we started chatting about music in general, focusing on bands such as Anthrax, Megadeth, Iron Maiden and Volbeat. So kids, next time you go to a concert try not to be so wasted, falling like a bag of potatoes on everyone around you, or too “Justin Bieber-ish” that no one else can touch you or talk to you. There’s always somewhere in between that works a lot better for everybody, got it?

IMG_1117Getting back to the concert, it was then time for the dynamic duo comprised of Heidi Shepherd and Carla Harvey, known as the BUTCHER BABIES, to kick some serious ass on stage and make everyone in the audience go absolutely mental before the main attraction of the night. It was also my first time seeing them live, and I must say those girls know how to put up an entertaining show. Armed with their demonic voices and supported by very competent musicians, especially bassist Jason Klein, those two girls from Los Angeles, California (dressed like an evil version of Babymetal) didn’t stop banging their heads and screaming for a single second, showcasing their deep passion for heavy music while playing every song of their setlist, which was mostly based on their 2015 album Take It Like a Man. There were a few technical issues with their sound, but no one seemed to care about that. All people wanted were more “excuses” to slam into the pit and do some stage diving, and both Heidi and Carla knew exactly how to ignite that fire with their Alternative Metal, playing some high-octane songs such as National Bloody Anthem, The Butcher and, my favorite of the night, Monster’s Ball. Girls, Toronto loves you and we can’t wait to have you back in the city!

Setlist
National Bloody Anthem
Blonde Girls All Look the Same
The Butcher
Gravemaker
Igniter
Jesus Needs More Babies for His War Machine
Monster’s Ball
Magnolia Blvd.
The Deathsurround/Goliath/I Smell a Massacre
Axe Wound

Band members
Heidi Shepherd – vocals
Carla Harvey – vocals
Henry Flury – guitar
Jason Klein – bass
Chris Warner – drums

CRADLE OF FILTH

IMG_1144It was around 9pm when the diabolical intro Humana Inspired to Nightmare announced the gates of Hades were open wide, therefore releasing the devil’s favorite dark angels to spread hell on earth with their unparalleled Extreme Metal. Promoting their latest opus Hammer Of The Witches under their current tour entitled Inquisitional Torture 2016, British titans CRADLE OF FILTH began to mercilessly discharge a flawless mix of classics with brand new chants, driving all fans at the venue utterly crazy. When a concert starts with Heaven Torn Asunder and Cruelty Brought Thee Orchids, you know it’s going to be a fuckin’ massacre.

The most interesting fact for me about their setlist was that it was divided in two “acts”, like a theatre play. There was an intro for each act, followed by a sequence of blasting classics (covering almost all of their albums) that put a huge smile on the face of this guy here, a longtime fan of Dani and his crew. I simply love songs like Lord Abortion, Honey and Sulphur, Her Ghost in the Fog and my top Cradle of Filth song of all time, the insane From the Cradle to Enslave, but their newer stuff such as Right Wing of the Garden Triptych and Deflowering the Maidenhead, Displeasuring the Goddess work so well when played live I’m sure they’ll become a constant part of their future tours. In addition, Dani (who was the demon himself last night), as a treat to all fans for waiting patiently for the band’s return to Toronto, dedicated to all of us For Your Vulgar Delectation, from their previous album (which unfortunately could not have a Canadian tour due to visa issues).

dani_toronto2016_02The whole band was on fire and Dani’s performance was epic, screaming like a rabid demon and wearing his Stygian attire and corpsepaint the way we all love, but I have to say last night belonged to the adorable keyboardist and singer Lindsay Schoolcraft. Although she’s not exactly from Toronto (technically, she’s from Oshawa), she was so excited and pleased to play together with Dani and his crew in her hometown she couldn’t stop smiling, waving to the fans and headbanging like a maniac during the entire concert. I guess I don’t need to say how memorable the night was for our talented Canadian girl, right? The only band member I couldn’t really watch well was drummer Martin “Marthus” Škaroupka, who was “hiding” not only behind his drums, but also behind some kind of aquarium/glass cell to the left of the stage. That was a weird stage setup, by the way, as if they were keeping Marthus caged before he could escape and kill someone, but nothing that would make the whole concert less memorable.

dani_toronto2016And can you guess why Dani, Lindsay, Marthus and the other band members played so well and were so electrified last night? That’s exactly it, because of us, loyal and demented Cradle of Filth fans. I don’t remember seeing a crowd so insane and in sync with the band like that. What the fans did during Gilded Cunt, growling the lyrics together with Dani, and the furious mosh pits during Nymphetamine (Fix), which is in fact a heavy ballad and not a sick blasting tune, was truly outstanding. Even Gimli, the brave dwarf from Lord of the Rings, was among us weating a Testament T-shirt! If you were there, you know who I’m talking about. Anyway, Cradle of Filth provided us fans another memorable metal night at the Phoenix Concert Theatre, and I’m pretty sure we also made the night memorable to the band as well, especially to Lindsay. I just hope Mr. Dani Filth and his horde of darkness do not take another five years to return to the Land of the (Headbanging) Moose. Actually, how about celebrating each and every anniversary of this distinct city together with the band? That’s the type of “filth” I’m sure no one would complain to have around all the time.

Setlist
ACT I
Humana Inspired to Nightmare (Intro)
Heaven Torn Asunder
Cruelty Brought Thee Orchids
Blackest Magick in Practice
Lord Abortion
Right Wing of the Garden Triptych
Malice Through the Looking Glass
Deflowering the Maidenhead, Displeasuring the Goddess
Gilded Cunt

ACT II
Walpurgis Eve (Intro)
Yours Immortally…
Nymphetamine (Fix)
Honey and Sulphur
For Your Vulgar Delectation
Her Ghost in the Fog
From the Cradle to Enslave
The Principle of Evil Made Flesh
Born in a Burial Gown
Blooding the Hounds of Hell (Outro)

Band members
Dani Filth – lead vocals
Richard Shaw – guitars
Marek “Ashok” Šmerda – guitars
Daniel Firth – bass
Lindsay Schoolcraft – female vocals, keyboards
Martin “Marthus” Škaroupka – drums

The Year In Review – Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2015

“Good day
My name is Necropolis
I am formed of the dead
I am the harvester of the soul meat
And I suck the lives from around my bed
My own two sons I gave them breath
And I filled their living corpses with my bile
What humanity I knew I have long forgotten
For me eternity is nothing
But a short while…” 

– If Eternity Should Fail, by Iron Maiden

Eternity might be nothing but a short while for the harvester of the soul meat, but for us mere mortals it looked like 2015 was never going to reach its end. Well, the year is finally phasing out and 2016 is already knocking on our doors, promising to be a much better (and less tragic) time for mankind. With that said, once again as a tribute to all bands and musicians who kept our hearts warm in the throes of a world crisis, here is The Headbanging Moose’s Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2015, excluding of course all EP’s, best of’s and live albums. Profitez-en bien!

Iron Maiden_The Book of Souls1. Iron Maiden – The Book of Souls (REVIEW)
As you read through the pages of The Book Of Souls you’ll inevitably realize that Iron Maiden’s gonna get us all, no matter how far.
Best song of the album: The Red and the Black

moonspell_extinct2. Moonspell – Extinct (REVIEW)
While this distinguished Portuguese Dark Metal band is among us, we can rest assured good and meaningful music is far from being extinct.
Best song of the album: Extinct

Stratovarius_Eternal3. Stratovarius – Eternal (REVIEW)
The Finnish masters of Power Metal are back with a beautiful album made to be eternal.
Best song of the album: My Eternal Dream

battle beast_unholy savior4. Battle Beast – Unholy Savior (REVIEW)
Battle Beast want the world and everything in it, and they’re definitely on their way to conquer it all with their brilliant brand new album.
Best song of the album: I Want The World… And Everything In It

My God-Given Right5. Helloween – My God-Given Right (REVIEW)
It’s our God-given right to keep banging our heads to the music by the happiest and most awesome Power Metal band in the world.
Best song of the album: Creatures in Heaven

scorpions_return to forever6. Scorpions – Return to Forever (REVIEW)
This rock may be rolling home after so many years of good service, but it still has A LOT to teach the world on how to make true Hard Rock.
Best song of the album: Rock ‘N’ Roll Band

cover7. Marduk – Frontschwein (REVIEW)
The Babylonian gods of Black Metal return with more of their blasphemous and apocalyptic war-themed music.
Best song of the album: Thousand-Fold Death

CoF_Hammer of the Witches8. Cradle of Filth – Hammer Of The Witches (REVIEW)
The metallic coven instituted by one of the most important Extreme Metal bands of all time keeps haunting our world with their music.
Best song of the album: Onward Christian Soldiers

Survivalist Album Cover9. 4ARM – Survivalist (REVIEW)
A phenomenal heavy music album full of groove, fury and energy by an extremely talented Thrash Metal band from Down Under.
Best song of the album: Poisoned Mind

Slayer_Repentless10. Slayer – Repentless (REVIEW)
Live fast, on high, repentless, and keep listening to Slayer until the day you die.
Best song of the album: Repentless

And here we have the runner-ups, completing the top 20 for the year:

11. Vanden Plas – Chronicles of the Immortals – Netherworld II (REVIEW)
12. Monolith – Against The Wall Of Forever (REVIEW)
13. The Agonist – Eye of Providence (REVIEW)
14. Acrassicauda – Gilgamesh (REVIEW)
15. Vingulmork – Chiaroscuro (REVIEW)
16. Vorna – Ei Valo Minua Seuraa (REVIEW)
17. Dys Inbunden – One With Morbidity, The Opus Misanthropy (REVIEW)
18. Deadly Circus Fire – The Hydra’s Tailor (REVIEW)
19. Tsar Bomb – Exterminans IX:XI (REVIEW)
20. Profane And The Sacred – Chapter 1 : A Long Time Coming (REVIEW)

As this year we had tons of amazing EP’s being released by extremely talented bands from all over the world, why not providing you our Top 10 EP’s of 2015, right? (To be fair, although shorter in duration, some of them are significantly better and more complex than several full-length albums that became available throughout the year.)

1. Goatchrist – The Epic Tragedy Of The Cult Of Enlil (REVIEW)
2. Dö – Den (REVIEW)
3. Chip DiMonick – Uncaged (REVIEW)
4. Omega Diatribe – Abstract Ritual (REVIEW)
5. The Passion Of Our Souls – Soulmates (REVIEW)
6. Velaverante – My Dark Images (REVIEW)
7. Novallo – Novallo II (REVIEW)
8. Meridius – Meridius (REVIEW)
9. Judas Avenger – Judas Avenger (REVIEW)
10. Pergana – The Visit (REVIEW)

One thing that 2015 taught us all is that Heavy Fuckin’ Metal is still alive and on fire, and based on the music by countless independent bands reviewed here (that for different reasons did not make it to our top 10/20), it will keep shining brighter than ever for many years to come. Take a listen at the music by Rifftera and Amanita Virosa (Finland); Reanimator and Fractal Generator (Canada); Sarpentra and The Prophet (Russia); Dzhatinga and Irreversible Mechanism (Belarus); Helligators and Lykaion (Italy); Warmask and Hateful Warfare (Brazil); Morkesagn and Gasoline Guns (Ukraine); Void Creation (Austria); Nachtlieder (Sweden); Fjorsvartnir (Denmark); Broken Rain (Slovakia); Lanthanein (Argentina), among many others, and there you have the future of heavy music. And, obviously, don’t forget to listen to the METAL MOOSE RADIO SHOW every week, and to always HAIL SANTA!

Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year! See you in 2016!

And now, last but not least, a Christmas message from Eddie and the boys…

Album Review – Cradle of Filth / Hammer Of The Witches (2015)

The metallic coven instituted by one of the most important Extreme Metal bands of all time keeps haunting our world with their thrilling and malevolent music.

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CoF_Hammer of the WitchesI don’t understand why some people are so skeptical when British Extreme Metal behemoths Cradle of Filth are about to release a new album. Despite some very few letdowns, and I’m not talking about entire albums but just one or another song, Dani Filth and his sinful horde have always delivered first-class dark music, where the combination of symphony, heaviness, controversial themes and intricate and deranged lyrics goes beyond what almost all metal bands in the world can do. And now joining their collection of perversity, which includes masterpieces such as Cruelty and the Beast, Midian, Damnation and a Day and Godspeed on the Devil’s Thunder, we have Hammer Of The Witches, the eleventh studio album in their distinguished career and, more important than that, another solid display of black magic by one of the most important extreme bands from the past decades.

The album is named after the Malleus Maleficarum, a medieval document of guidelines regarding the persecution and torture of witches, just for you to have an idea of how obscure Hammer Of The Witches is. In regards to the artwork, designed by Latvian artist Arthur Berzinsh, Dani mentioned in one of his interviews that it is “a lavish walk-through of the lyricism, drawing on rich renaissance themes and displaying them in beautiful-yet-unsettling scenarios. Half of the detailed pieces are totally original for the release, others are Berzinsh classics cunningly tailored to the themes of the album, which are themes rife with heady witchcraft, be it persecution, retribution or unfettered spiritual liberation. The female form is rampant throughout the artwork, unashamedly displayed in its classical rendition of beauty… and horror.” In my humble opinion, that stylish explanation summarizes not only the imagery, but also the music found in the album. You can also see Dani giving more details about it in this official interview on YouTube.

Is there a better way to start a Cradle of Filth album than with one of their traditional intros, like Walpurgis Eve? This is already a good sign that the album will be kick-ass, which is confirmed when the havoc begins in Yours Immortally…, a song that perfectly represents the mix of raw Black Metal and traditional Heavy Metal only Dani & Co. can provide us. In addition, while Dani delivers his trademark high-pitched demonic screams, Martin “Marthus” Škaroupka keeps improving his importance in the bestial sounding crafted by the band. Enshrined In Crematoria has its good and bad moments, the good ones happening when they speed up the rhythm and the guitar riffs by Richard Shaw and Marek “Ashok” Šmerda lead an awesome sonic attack, whereas its slow parts sound too bland and generic; followed by Deflowering The Maidenhead, Displeasuring The Goddess, with its musicality containing elements from Midian and The Manticore and Other Horrors boosted by some crazy guitar solos. Moreover, I guess I don’t need to say Dani is by far one of the best lyricists of all time (“Religion caw epistles / Twisted laws extend their thristles / A crown to justify / Our place atop this hellbound carriage”), and Lindsay Schoolcraft not only delivers some wicked keyboard notes but her smooth and powerful voice also adds a lot of passion to the song.

CoF 2015Blackest Magick In Practice showcases a beautiful and melancholic start, focusing on Symphonic Gothic Metal without losing the band’s characteristic ferociousness. Its guitar riffs couldn’t sound more amazing, and Dani’s vocals sound great during the entire track, it doesn’t matter if he’s simply screaming like a demon or delivering his deeper dark growls. Then the band offers us the calm but somber intro The Monstrous Sabbat (Summoning The Coven), right before the title-track Hammer Of The Witches comes ripping with its imposing sounding where the keyboards by Lindsay get a lot more focus. It’s the most symphonic of all tracks so far, an awesome feast of the Symphonic Black Metal that longtime fans of the band learned to love. I have to say the initial “electronic” seconds in Right Wing Of The Garden Triptych (check the uncensored version of the official video HERE, it’s much better than the censored one on YouTube) scared the hell out of me especially because this was the first single released, but fortunately that was just a quick intro as the music itself is simply outstanding, varying from sheer brutality to gentle piano passages. Dani is absolutely on fire with his diabolic screams as well as Marthus and his wicked blast beats, not to mention the band’s Stygian lyrics being a delight for fans of devilish music as always (“Unforgiving proof accrual begs this cruel rebirth / A living fuel for the blaze of renewal, razing the earth / Pariahs and Messiahs of the highest worth / Fodder for the denizens of risen, hissing Hell”).

It’s not a true Cradle of Filth release without a ghoulish song about vampires, and in Hammer Of The Witches that comes to light (or darkness) in The Vampyre At My Side, an old school Cradle of Filth tune where you can feel the music rising to its climax amidst rawer moments in which the guitar riffs get thrashier than usual. Do I need to say anything about yet another excellent performance by Dani and Marthus? Anyway, the organ intro in the next song, Onward Christian Soldiers, generates a somber atmosphere perfect for the dense and violent exhibit of modern Extreme Metal that follows. This is one of the best tracks of the album (if not the best), a stunning epic composition with lots of variations where its riffs remind me of some of their songs from the brilliant Dusk… and Her Embrace. And finally, Blooding The Hounds Of Hell is a more-than-suitable symphonic outro to close all the stories told throughout the album, transpiring sorrow and darkness.

You can choose your version of the album at the Nuclear Blast webstore, but if I were you I would definitely purchase one of the special editions that come with two bonus tracks, King Of The Woods and Misericord, as they’re both savage and erotic. Based on the magnificent witchcraft found in Hammer Of The Witches, it looks like the metallic coven instituted by Cradle of Filth, who are in their best shape of the past few years, will keep haunting our world with their thrilling music for many years to come.

Best moments of the album: Yours Immortally…, Right Wing Of The Garden Triptych, The Vampyre At My Side and Onward Christian Soldiers.

Worst moments of the album: Enshrined in Crematoria.

Released in 2015 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. Walpurgis Eve 1:29
2. Yours Immortally… 6:00
3. Enshrined In Crematoria 5:46
4. Deflowering The Maidenhead, Displeasuring The Goddess 6:59
5. Blackest Magick In Practice 6:50
6. The Monstrous Sabbat (Summoning The Coven) 1:51
7. Hammer Of The Witches 6:28
8. Right Wing Of The Garden Triptych 5:54
9. The Vampyre At My Side 5:45
10. Onward Christian Soldiers 6:59
11. Blooding The Hounds Of Hell 2:10

Deluxe Edition bonus tracks
12. King Of The Woods 6:17
13. Misericord 6:19

Band members
Dani Filth – lead vocals
Richard Shaw – guitars
Marek “Ashok” Šmerda – guitars
Daniel Firth – bass
Lindsay Schoolcraft – female vocals, keyboards
Martin “Marthus” Škaroupka – drums

Metal Chick of the Month – Ashley “Ellyllon” Jurgemeyer

ashley01

Fall for the love of me… Crawl for the love of me.

If you’re a fan of Cradle Of Filth, Abigail Williams or Orbs, you must have already heard of the red-haired diva Ashley “Ellyllon” Jurgemeyer, Ashley Ellyllon or Ashley Jurgemeyer, a very talented pianist, keyboardist and songwriter involved in so many different projects and bands, including scoring for film and television, that it’s quite hard to list all of them here without missing anything.

Born on July 30, 1984 in Scottsdale, Arizona, but currently residing in Los Angeles, California, Ashley started her music career at the age of six by taking classical piano lessons, finally earning some years later her Bachelor’s degree in Music Theory and Composition from Arizona State University in 2006. During her years at the Arizona State University, she studied with John Metz, Jody Rockmaker, and James DeMars, and was granted the Louis Kerr Grant in composition. After her graduation, she began her career in Rock N’ Roll and Heavy Metal in New York, where she was able to combine her background in classical music with the more modern musicality of genres such as Experimental Rock, Symphonic Black Metal and Extreme Metal.

Our redhead pianist was one of the founding members of American Symphonic Black Metal band Abigail Williams in 2005, with whom she recorded one EP called Legend, in 2006, and two full-length albums: In the Shadow of a Thousand Suns, in 2008, and more recently Becoming, in 2012, this time just as a guest musician. During her years with the band, where she was always responsible for all piano, synths, and orchestration parts, and sometimes also for some background vocals, she was able to go on tour and share the stage with Extreme Metal icons Emperor, Dark Funeral, Enslaved, among many others. If you want to know more about her contribution to the music of Abigail Williams, my suggestions as a start are the awesome songs FloodsInto the Ashes and Acolytes, all three from the album In the Shadow of a Thousand Suns.

Between her departure from Abigail Williams in 2009 and her return in 2012, Ashley became the new keyboardist for English Extreme Metal band Cradle Of Filth, replacing English keyboardist Rosie Smith. She toured with the band for a while, even taking part of the music video for The Death Of Love (watch it at the end of this text), from the album Godspeed On The Devil’s Thunder (which she didn’t record), and then recorded her only album with the band, the excellent Darkly Darkly Venus Aversa, in 2010. Her beautiful keyboard and piano lines can be enjoyed in powerful and heavy songs such as The Cult of Venus Aversa, Retreat of the Sacred Heart, and especially Lilith Immaculate (although she’s not in the official music video for this song). However, she mentioned her favorite Cradle Of Filth song to play live was not from her album with the band, but the sonic massacre Cthulhu Dawn, from the masterpiece Midian (2000).

She’s also part of American Experimental Rock supergroup Orbs, together with Dan Briggs (Between the Buried and Me) and Adam Fisher (Fear Before), with whom she recorded the album Asleep Next to Science, in 2010, the single These People Are Animals, in 2014, and now in 2015 the band will be releasing a new full-length album entitled Past Life Regression. The music here is completely different from Abigail Williams and Cradle Of Filth, as you’ll notice in the songs Sayer of the Law, Megaloblastic Madness, Something Beautiful, and The Northwestern Bearitories B – Kid Cancer, which is something mentioned by Ashley in one of her rare interviews like this one for PunkWorldViews.com.

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Besides those bands and projects, Ashley was also responsible for the programming and string arrangement in the album Until I Feel Nothing (2011) by American Deathcore band Carnifex, and helped American Shock Rock singer Ryann Donnelly with the songwriting for her Girl EP (2012), which can be seen for example in the song Bang.. But hold your breath, because there’s still a lot more to go: our gorgeous “ginger” musician is also working on a solo classical piano album; composed the song Sunday Sundress for the Handmade Hostess Official Book Trailer; played keyboards and composed Casting The Circle, a very interesting song by a project called The Dreadful Hours; and was named “Best Keyboardist of 2010” by Alternative Press.

Are you tired already? Well, Ashley is definitely not, and it looks like she’s always ready for more when it’s about music, as she’s also featured on a video called Antiquity Music Sessions – Ep. 1 – The Baldwin Solid Body Harpsichord, where she beautifully plays the Baldwin Solid Body Harpsichord and, although we cannot see her pretty face, we can enjoy some of her abilities as a musician (and her perfect red hair, of course). And don’t forget to check all her other contributions, compositions and projects on her official website. In addition, one can imagine how much time Ashley has to spend on the road with all her bands and projects, and what she likes to do to spend free time on tour. She mentioned she loves exploring any city she’s in, reading, writing new music, connecting to her family through the internet, and of course playing her keyboards.

Ashley’s list of idols in the world of music is very eclectic, including many classical masters such as Russian pianist Sergei Rachmaninoff, Polish composer Frédéric Chopin, French composer Claude Debussy and Russian classical pianist Vladimir Horowitz, as well as more contemporary artists like English musician Matt Bellamy (Muse) and American keyboardist Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater). Moreover, her top 5 albums simply corroborate her broad music taste, as the list is composed by Muse’s Origin of Symmetry, Darkest Hour’s Undoing Ruin, Dimmu Borgir’s Enthrone Darkness Triumphant, Radiohead’s OK Computer, and Sigur Rós’ Agaetis Byrjun, which means she’s a fan of Alternative/Experimental Rock, Melodic Death Metal, Symphonic Black Metal, Post-Rock, and remember we’re only talking about her favorite albums, not everything that she listens to while performing her day-to-day activities!

In regards to her personal life, Ashley loves yoga, running, cooking, traveling, and curiously one of her favorite hobbies is making comic books. I tried to find anything she’s already produced in terms of comics on the web, but nothing came up. Maybe it’s just a personal thing for her, in other words, something she’s not willing to share with anybody else? Anyway, talking about her likes and dislikes, among her top places are Greece and New Zealand, her favorite movie is the unparalleled classic Silence of the Lambs, her favorite books are “Mozart in the Jungle” by Blair Tindall and “Still Life With Woodpecker” by Tom Robbins, and finally her favorite food and drink are, respectively, Thai food and Blood Mary. Why am I not surprised our redhead rocker loves a drink that has BLOOD in its name and is completely RED?

Equipment
Roland Fantom G8
Yamaha S90 ES
Roland Juno
Nord Stage 2 88

Ashley Jurgemeyer’s Official website
Ashley Jurgemeyer’s Official Facebook page
Ashley Jurgemeyer’s Official Twitter

Album Review – Cradle of Filth / Cruelty and the Beast (1998)

This is how any band in the world should record a concept album.

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410309-300Today is my birthday and I was thinking about which classic album that has helped define my musical taste should be reviewed. I could go for one of my favorite albums of all time, which would be Iron Maiden’s Powerslave, Judas Priest’s Painkiller or Slayer’s Reign in Blood, but instead I chose something more complex and unconventional: Cradle of Filth’s Cruelty and the Beast, a unique concept album dedicated to the legend of the serial killer Elizabeth Báthory, the “Blood Countess” from Hungary who tortured and murdered hundreds of young women in the 16th and 17th centuries, and who many believe used to bath in the blood of her victims to rejuvenate her skin like if she was a vampire. The story itself is inspiring enough for a really dark Heavy Metal album, and no other band rather than Cradle of Filth would have been capable of creating such a masterpiece.

I love the intro Once Upon Atrocity, not only because I’m totally fond of obscure intros like this one, but also because the thrilling transition to the amazing Thirteen Autumns and a Widow is beyond perfect. And what can I say about this song? Despite being probably too heavy and heinous for most of our society, it’s a mesmerizing chef d’oeuvre that no other band is capable of doing (not even the current Cradle of Filth is anymore).The drums and keyboards are terrific, providing the song a unique atmosphere. Then comes one of the band’s most famous tracks, Cruelty Brought Thee Orchids, which is not as fast as the first song, but it’s also excellent and has some very good riffs.

Cradle+of+Filth+Cruelty+and+the+BeastBeneath the Howling Stars was the first song I’ve listened to ever from Cradle of Filth, and until today it makes my day a lot better when I listen to it. From its horror movie-like intro in the keyboards to the chorus, it’s a perfect fit for the soundtrack to apocalypse. I know Dani cannot reach the same high-pitched notes anymore, but it’s still great to listen to this song and I hope the band adds it back to their future setlists. The next track, Venus in Fear, is an instrumental song that is not recommended at all to listen to with your parents or your little sister, while Desire in Violent Overture is another musical typhoon from this Extreme Metal band from England.

The Twisted Nails of Faith is one of my least favorite ones, which doesn’t mean it’s not a furious track (it’s not just as brilliant as the others), followed by what can be considered an “Extreme Metal Opera” called Bathory Aria: this 11-minute insanity starts in a melancholic way with Benighted Like Usher, evolves into a storm with A Murder of Ravens in Fugue, and finally ends with a poem-like part called Eyes That Witnessed Madness. I REALLY would like to see them playing this live one day, that would be a dream come true. The album ends with another instrumental song, Portrait of the Dead Countess (this one you can listen to with anyone around you, no problem), and the fast and heavy track Lustmord and Wargasm. And if you’re still alive after this infernal tsunami, it means you enjoyed it and you’re ready to listen to everything again and again.

All musicians in this album are awesome (including the guest musicians) despite none of them being with the band anymore except for Dani Filth, the mastermind behind Cradle of Filth. Well, he’s the main reason why Cruelty and the Beast is so good, because without him it would be just a regular album. Although Dani’s trademark voice was not as high as in their previous albums, he was singing like a demon, adding a lot of violence and despair to the musicality of the whole album. Not only that, the lyrics in Cruelty and the Beast are also as creative, evil and wonderful as always, this time even better due to the whole storyline involving Countess Bathory as the main character, and the front cover and the rest of the album art are the perfect finishing touch for it.

Cradle_Of_Filth-Cruelty_y_The_Beast_(Limited_Edition)-Frontal

Koch Records’ 2001 two-disc edition front cover

If you’re lucky enough to find the Koch Records’ 2001 two-disc edition bonus disc, you’ll be amazed by their superb covers of Iron Maiden, Venom and Sodom, bands with a high influence on Cradle of Filth’s music. The only bad thing about this bonus disc is the mix version for The Twisted Nails of Faith: I don’t like when a Heavy Metal song are mixed into some generic electronic song, and this one is not different from that.

Anyway, if you love Extreme Metal and a good story, you must listen to Cruelty and the Beast. Cradle of Filth might not be the best Heavy Metal band in the world, but this album helped redefine extreme music for sure and destroyed all the remaining boundaries between music and art for good.

Best moments of the album: Everything in this album is gold, but if I had to choose only a couple of songs they would be Thirteen Autumns and a Widow, Beneath the Howling Stars and Bathory Aria.

Worst moments of the album: None, unless I can choose a song from the Koch Records’ 2001 two-disc edition bonus disc, then I would say Twisting Further Nails (The Cruci-Fiction Mix).

Released in 1998 Music for Nations

Track listing
1. Once Upon Atrocity (Instrumental) 1:43
2. Thirteen Autumns and a Widow 7:14
3. Cruelty Brought Thee Orchids 7:18
4. Beneath the Howling Stars 7:42
5. Venus in Fear (Instrumental) 2:20
6. Desire in Violent Overture 4:16
7. The Twisted Nails of Faith 6:50
8. Bathory Aria (Benighted Like Usher/A Murder of Ravens in Fugue/Eyes That Witnessed Madness) 11:02
9. Portrait of the Dead Countess (Instrumental) 2:52
10. Lustmord and Wargasm (The Lick of Carnivorous Winds) 7:30

Koch Records’ 2001 two-disc edition bonus disc
1. Lustmord And Wargasm (The Relicking of Cadaverous Wounds) 7:58
2. Black Metal (Venom cover) 3:27
3. Hallowed Be Thy Name (Iron Maiden cover) 7:10
4. Sodomy & Lust (Sodom cover) 4:47
5. Twisting Further Nails (The Cruci-Fiction Mix) 5:33

Band members
Dani Filth – lead vocals
Stuart Anstis – guitars
Gian Pyres – guitars
Robin Graves – bass
Lecter – keyboards
Nicholas Barker – drums

Guest musicians
Sarah Jezebel Deva – backing vocals
Danielle Cneajna Cottington – backing vocals
Ingrid Pitt – Lady Bathory’s narration on ‘The Twisted Nails of Faith’ and Bathory Aria’s ‘Eyes That Witnessed Madness’