Concert Review – Cradle of Filth (The Opera House, Toronto, ON, 03/27/2019)

One year after storming Toronto with their Cryptoriana World Tour for the first time, the one and only Cradle of Filth returned for another fantastic round of blasphemy, darkness and seductiveness.

OPENING ACT: Raven Black

First of all, I would like to ask anyone to explain to me why WEDNESDAY 13, the Hollywood-based Gothic/Dark Metal band led by Murderdolls’ frontman Joseph Michael Poole (aka Wednesday 13), didn’t open for the almighty Cradle of Filth last night at The Opera House like they’ve been doing together with Los Angeles-based Gothic/Dark Metal unity RAVEN BLACK during this second round of the Cryptoriana North American tour, nicely named CRYPTORIANA WORLD TOUR 2019 – THE SECOND COMING OF VICE. All websites showed Raven Black scheduled for 7pm, Wednesday 13 for 7:45pm and Cradle of Filth for 8:55pm, but what actually happened last night in Toronto was a huge (and tedious) delay that ended up with Raven Black playing at 7:45pm and Cradle of Filth at 8:55pm, with no sign of Wednesday 13 at all nor any communication from the venue or the organizers. Unless they played at 5pm when no one was there to watch them, or if they wanted to make a very bad joke with their own name saying they were “late” two weeks (as yesterday was Wednesday 27), there’s no official reason for their absence. Can anyone out there explain to me what happened, please?

Anyway, without Wednesday 13, Raven Black was left with the always demanding duty of warming up the fans at The Opera house for another night of wicked, sulfurous and dark metal music. Comprised of the stunning, talented and very sympathetic Raven on lead vocals, The Doctor on lead guitar and backing vocals, Stitches on bass and Muppet on drums and harsh vocals (plus another mysterious, unnamed guitarist who would go on and off stage depending on the song played), Raven Black put on a great show, entertaining the fans avid for the more extreme music by Dani Filth and his horde. Still promoting their 2018 album 13, Raven Black played a fairly different setlist from the ones of this same tour, either by changing the order of the songs or by adding new ones, such as their brand new single named Carnival (a very good song, by the way), probably due to Wednesday 13’s cryptic absence. And it was impossible not to keep your eyes turned to the darkly, darkly sexy Raven, who delivered a very entertaining performance impersonating an evil doll with a special artifact per song, including a hula hoop, handcuffs and a giant teddy bear. My favorite songs of their concert were Dollhouse and Twinkle Twinkle Little Scars, and if you also enjoy this type of freakish, circus-inspired metal music, go take a look at their BandCamp page not only to purchase those two songs but their entire (short but already solid) discography.

Band members
Raven – lead vocals
The Doctor – lead guitar, backing vocals
Stitches – bass
Muppet – drums, harsh vocals

CRADLE OF FILTH

After a short break it was time for British Extreme Metal warlocks CRADLE OF FILTH to haunt The Opera House once again for our total delight, still promoting their 2017 album Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay, almost exactly one year after their 2018 concert in the city, coincidentally also on a Wednesday night. The setlist was very close to their previous one, with a few changes to some of the songs such as the removal of Beneath the Howling Stars and The Death of Love and the inclusion of Nemesis and Honey and Sulphur. I love all those songs, so I was more than fine with those changes as it’s always a pleasure to see a fantastic band like Cradle of Filth playing different songs live, but there was one huge “mistake” made by the band, which was NOT closing the show with the all-time classic From the Cradle to Enslave. Sorry, Dani, but I can’t forgive you for that even after seeing your Instagram post where you say you were quite sick last night (so sick he said they dropped Saffron’s Curse instead of From the Cradle to Enslave). Just kidding, of course.

Anyway, I can’t get tired of watching Dani growling like a demonic beast (even when he’s under the weather) while his bandmates make sure the atmosphere remains as obscure, devilish and aggressive as possible, with one of the nicest keyboardists in the world, Lindsay Schoolcraft, and the unstoppable guitarist Richard Shaw providing an extra touch of delicacy and madness to the show, respectively. Richard didn’t stop jumping up and down, spinning around, spitting and urging the crowd to go crazy into the circle pit, and all that while at the same time he was flawless with his riffs and solos. That’s what I call a true metalhead, my friends, providing Dani some effective support and relief due to his illness. If you were there, I bet their performance during the unparalleled 10-minute infernal beast Bathory Aria left you completely disoriented. That says it all.

In the end, although we didn’t have Wednesday 13 for some unknown reason, it was indeed another amazing night of Extreme Metal, with Raven Black and specially Cradle of Filth, of course, showing Toronto everything they got. When all was said and done (and after all the devastation the fans were promoting inside the endless circle pit in the center of the venue), everyone had a huge smile on their faces, and not even an exhausting day at work (like the one I had) could stop the crowd from enjoying the concert to its fullest. Furthermore, there were several amazing Cradle of Filth shirts being sold by their crew or worn by the fans as usual, but there was a guy wearing a very specific one that caught my attention, where in the back it said “DANI FILTH LOVES YOU”’. Well, how can we argue with that? He surely loves Toronto, and Toronto loves him and his iconic band back. That is pure, mutual respect and admiration that makes them come back to the city again and again. Hence, it’s been just less than a day after the concert was over, but I’m already eager to see the mighty Cradle of Filth possessing our souls once again here in our beloved Toronto.

Setlist
ACT I
Ave Satani (Intro)
Gilded Cunt
Nemesis
Right Wing of the Garden Triptych
Heartbreak and Seance
Bathory Aria: Benighted Like Usher / A Murder of Ravens in Fugue / Eyes That Witnessed Madness
Wester Vespertine
Dusk and Her Embrace
You Will Know the Lion by His Claw
Creatures That Kissed in Cold Mirrors (Interlude)

ACT II
A Bruise Upon the Silent Moon (Intro)
The Promise of Fever
Saffron’s Curse
Nymphetamine (Fix)
Honey and Sulphur
Her Ghost in the Fog
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

Advertisements

Concert Review – Cradle of Filth (The Opera House, Toronto, ON, 04/11/2018)

Four American boys, four Ukrainian metallers, a multi-cultural Extreme Metal institution and endless mosh pits. That’s what Toronto got in another memorable night of heavy music.

OPENING ACTS: Uncured and Jinjer

My neck and back still hurt today, and I don’t think it’s (just) because of my age, but because the three bands that hit the stage at the small but flammable The Opera House this Wednesday night in Toronto kicked some serious ass from start to finish, igniting nonstop circle pits during the whole night and, as a consequence, making every single fan at the venue more than happy to have spent a few good bucks on their concert tickets. It might be taking a while for the weather in Toronto to warm up in this beginning of spring, but the temperature inside The Opera House on Wednesday was definitely as hot as the fires from the depths of hell for another night of the CRYPTORIANA WORLD TOUR NORTH AMERICA 2018 with the bands Uncured, Jinjer and, above all, the majestic Cradle of Filth.

Photos by Laura Springall – https://www.instagram.com/lspringallphoto/

After having two slices of pizza in order to properly face the hurricane of metal music that was about to come, I headed to The Opera House (which by the way seemed to be sold out) to enjoy the first band of the night, the technical and heavy American Progressive Death/Groove Metal UNCURED. Formed in 2014 in New York City, the quartet comprised of brothers Rex and Zak Cox sharing the vocals and guitar duties (and before you ask, they’re not twins), Jon Kita on bass, and Liam Manley on drums delivered a very solid performance on stage, still promoting their latest album Medusa, released in 2017 (which you can listen in its entirety HERE). Those boys didn’t stop headbanging and shredding not even for a single second, receiving a very positive feedback from the crowd already jammed in the floor section. This is the second time I saw Uncured live and they’re just getting better and better, pointing to a bright future ahead of them. From their setlist I highly recommend the songs Stygian Valley and Myopic (both from Medusa), and their brand new song Terminal, the best of their concert in my opinion. And lastly, I just want to send a quick message to the guy from the crowd that called them “Backstreet Boys”: they might be boys, but they’re talented metalheads, so shut up and try doing something useful for society like what Uncured are doing with their first-class metal music, right?

Setlist
Stygian Valley
Petrified
Myopic
Dilate
Persia (Spontaneous Regeneration alternative version)
Terminal

Band members
Rex Cox – vocals, guitars
Zak Cox – vocals, guitars
Jon Kita – bass
Liam Manley – drums 

Photos by Laura Springall – https://www.instagram.com/lspringallphoto/

After a short break it was time for an explosion of Metalcore made in Ukraine, courtesy of the sexy frontwoman Tatiana Shmaylyuk and her interesting band JINJER. If you’ve never heard of Jinjer, the band was brought into being in 2009 in the city of Horlivka, having already released a few interesting studio albums, like their 2014 opus Cloud Factory (reissued now in 2018, only a couple of years after its original release for reasons beyond my comprehension). Their concert was energetic and straight to the point, with Tatiana leading her henchmen and having a very good interaction with the fans. The only issue for me was the quality of the sound coming from the drums, which sounded during most of their set like the annoying “frying pan beating” sound from Lars’ drums in Metallica’s hideous St. Anger, but nothing that could stop the band and their fans from having a very good time. As I enjoy Tatiana’s deep, enraged growls a lot more than her clean vocals, my top moments of their concert were for sure Who Is Gonna Be the One (from their 2014 album Cloud Factory) and Captain Clock (from their 2016 album King Of Everything), not only warming up the fans at the venue for the main attraction of the night, but also urging everyone to jump up and down and break their necks just like what we always expect from a good Metalcore band.

Setlist
Prologue
Who Is Gonna Be the One
Words of Wisdom
Sit Stay Roll Over
I Speak Astronomy
Just Another
Pisces
Captain Clock
Outlander
No Hoard of Value
Bad Water
Beggars’ Dance

Band members
Tatiana Shmaylyuk – vocals
Roman Ibramhalilov – guitar
Eugene Kostyuk – bass
Vlad Ulasevich – drums 

CRADLE OF FILTH

Photos by Laura Springall – https://www.instagram.com/lspringallphoto/

One thing that always impresses me at The Opera House is the insane speed and very little amount of time the bands and their crew take to switch the whole equipment from one band to another, which is why we didn’t have to wait for too long for another superb, violent and blackened performance by British Extreme Metal institution CRADLE OF FILTH. Spearheaded by the iconic Dani Filth and promoting their latest opus, the excellent Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay, released in 2017, the band didn’t show any mercy on our souls, blasting some of their most visceral, complex and beautiful compositions from their unparalleled career that already lasts for impressive 27 years (and please don’t ask me how Dani can still growl and scream flawlessly like a demon after almost three decades). Well, when you open the show with songs like the aggressive Gilded Cunt and one of my favorite songs of all time, the masterpiece Beneath the Howling Stars, you know the whole concert will be brutal.

The rest of the band was also on fire, providing the perfect instrumental for Dani to thrive on vocals, in special the bestial drummer Martin “Marthus” Škaroupka behind his glass cage (not sure if that cage is for sound or security purposes), and Oshawa-own beauty Lindsay Schoolcraft, who once again could not hide her happiness for playing with Cradle of Filth in front of her very own people. She was fantastic throughout the entire concert, and didn’t even know how to thank the fans for such warm reception. Actually, it’s us fans who have to thank her for such awesome performance, embellishing classic tunes like The Death of Love, Nymphetamine and Her Ghost in the Fog with her powerful voice.

One of the highlights of the night was undoubtedly the execution of the 11-minute extravaganza Bathory Aria, a marvelous and intricate song I honestly never thought I would be able to witness them playing live. Dani explained they’re playing it as the start of the celebrations of 20 years of what’s in my opinion the best Cradle of Filth album of all time, their 1998 concept opus Cruelty And The Beast (and get ready, because Dani mentioned already they’re planning to release a very special 20th anniversary edition of the album). The brand new songs from Cryptoriana also worked really well, with Heartbreak and Séance sounding simply astounding live, proving once again that Cradle of Filth are a band that don’t just defy time, they kick it in the ass and keep delivering awesomeness album after album, year after year, for our total delectation.

Photos by Laura Springall – https://www.instagram.com/lspringallphoto/

One thing I really enjoy about Dani is how fun and somehow cryptic he always sounds when interacting with the crowd (and he knows we love that). When he’s in town, he always makes sure he praises his Canadian fans, he shows his respect for his supporting acts (demanding a huge ovation for Uncured and Jinjer for their excellent performances), and always finds time to make a peculiar joke about something very Canadian. I remember a few years ago when he said he loved getting to Canada during winter, as our Canadian winter is truly unique, and this time he mentioned a lot of times his admiration for Canadian professional tennis player Eugenie Bouchard. I have absolutely no idea why he mentioned “Genie” Bouchard and dedicated so many songs to her, as she has pretty much no connection to heavy music as far as I know. Apart from being a bombshell and for having lots of serious issues in her tennis career, I don’t see why Dani loves her so much. Well, maybe those are the two reasons why, right?

Anyway, after the classic From the Cradle to Enslave, and after almost two hours of nonstop, electrifying mosh pits (even during a dark ballad like Nymphetamine there were people crushing their skulls inside the pit like wild beats), the concert was over and fans could head home, have another beer, take pictures with the guys from Uncured and Jinjer, and start thinking how they would be able to work the following day after a true avalanche of high-quality extreme music, courtesy of four American boys, four Ukrainian metallers, and a multi-cultural outfit that knows better than anyone else in the world how to perfectly blend Extreme Metal with a theatrical performance, fantastic lyrics and endless energy and pleasure for being able to be on stage for all of us fans.

Setlist
ACT I
Ave Satani (Intro)
Gilded Cunt
Beneath the Howling Stars
Blackest Magick in Practice
Heartbreak and Séance
Bathory Aria: Benighted Like Usher / A Murder of Ravens in Fugue / Eyes That
Witnessed Madness
Dusk and Her Embrace
The Death of Love
You Will Know the Lion by His Claw
Creatures That Kissed in Cold Mirrors (Interlude)

ACT II
A Bruise Upon the Silent Moon (Intro)
The Promise of Fever
Nymphetamine (Fix)
Her Ghost in the Fog
Born in a Burial Gown
From the Cradle to Enslave
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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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”

Album Review – Karkaos / Children Of The Void (2017)

As we’re all the children of the void, let’s raise our horns and bang our heads to the superb new album by one of the most reputable and celebrated metal acts hailing from the beautiful province of Quebec.

Founded by guitarist Vincent Harnois in the year of 2003 under the name Sinister Vengeance, Melodic Death Metal/Metalcore outfit Karkaos soon evolved into one of the most reputable and celebrated metal acts hailing from the stunning city of Montreal, located in the province of Quebec, in Canada. Melodic yet heavy, this unstoppable female-fronted band is unleashing upon the earth their brand new full-length installment, titled Children Of The Void, which features new frontwoman Viky Boyer, drummer Justine Ethier (Blackguard) and lead guitarist Samael Pelletier (Aeon’s Fall), and let me tell you that all these lineup changes were extremely positive to the band and to their sound, especially if you’re a fan of the music by bands such as Epica, In Flames, Children of Bodom, Arch Enemy and Amon Amarth.

Featuring an elegant artwork by the immensely talented Colombian artist and designer Marcela Bolívar, as well as collaborations with guest artists Lindsay Schoolcraft from Cradle of Filth and Morgan Lander from Kittie, Children Of The Void offers the listener a considerably different sonority from the band’s previous albums, the 2011 EP In Burning Skies and the 2014 full-length release Empire, sounding more symphonic, imposing and polished than before. “We have been working hard for a long time to be able to give you an album that combines beautiful melodies to our own symphonic signature, groovy and brutal riffs to intensity as well as catchy choruses”, comments the band’s mastermind Vincent about Children Of The Void, and let’s say his “summary” of the album was spot-on to depict all the beauty and aggressiveness found in its 12 amazing compositions.

The cinematic intro Babel leads us to the symphonic and metallic world of Karkaos before the explosive Skymaster hits us with heaviness and might from its very first second in a perfect fusion of the music played by Arch Enemy with Dimmu Borgir and Nightwish. Furthermore, pay attention to the precision of Justine behind her drums and to the song’s powerful chorus (“All hope is gone, I scream at heavens / This is not yet the end! / Brothers and sisters moan, I howl / Truth will prevail!”), as well as to the amazing Viky, who steals the show with her superb vocal performance. The following tune, Kolossòs, is a song tailored for breaking your neck in half due to the passionate vocals by Viky, its thunderous riffs and bass lines, and the infinite epicness that permeates the atmosphere. This is a newborn underground Melodic Death Metal classic showcasing mighty lyrics (“Kolossòs! The earth has spoken! / To the sun, you were reaching! / Kolossòs! The earth has shaken! / On the ground eternally, you’ll be laying!”) and the awesome guest vocals by Kittie’s Morgan Lander, as previously mentioned.

Let The Curtains Fall ventures through the realms of Symphonic Black Metal the likes of Dimmu Borgir, but with a more melodic twist thanks to the potent keys by Sébastien Belanger-Lapierre while Vincent and Samael add their share of heaviness to the overall musicality; whereas Pale, one of the fastest and heaviest of all songs, is a brutal composition by Karkaos where the colorful-haired Viky is absolutely on fire while the other band members deliver amazing metal music, in special Justine with her potent beats and once again Sébastien and his cinematic keyboards. And their onrush of epicness goes on in the title-track Children of the Void, which will inspire you for some intense headbanging due to its accelerated pace, with Vincent, Samael and bassist Eddy Levitsky (who recently left the band) blasting sheer electricity through their strings, all spearheaded by the unstoppable Justine.

Then it’s time for Rêverie, an epic bridge that rises in intensity and mystery until it reaches the form of the sensational Tyrants, a first-class Melodic Death Metal hymn with tons of symphonic elements to increase its obscurity and potency flawlessly delivered by all band members, with Viky beautifully growling like a she-demon, not to mention her also amazing clean vocals during the more melodic parts of the song.  And changing a bit their style and sonority, they offer a very interesting and gripping song named Where Mushrooms Grow, sounding very harmonious, melancholic and dense, perfect for singing along its catchy chorus with the band (“Fields of sorrow / Where mushrooms grow / All trees, all hollow / We reap what we sow / Fields of chaos / Where mushrooms grow / Fading as we cross / Forgetting what we know”). This is indeed a side of Karkaos I would love to see them exploring more in their future releases so captivating it sounds.

But the band obviously has more of their fast-paced metal to offer like what we see in Lightbearer, another solid composition showcasing beautiful vocal lines, thunderous riffs and bass lines and a rhythmic drumming. In my humble opinion, this song would sound simply superb with a full orchestra accompanying the band in the background, don’t you agree? Anyway, in The Beast, Vincent and Samael fire their cutting riffs while Sébastien is responsible for the epicness in the background, sounding highly inspired by contemporary Arch Enemy and The Agonist and also highlighting the excellent job done by Justine on drums, adding tons of intricacy to the musicality. Closing this amazing album of contemporary metal we have Bound by Stars, which sounds a bit generic and doesn’t keep up with the rest of the album, despite its purpose being to sound more complete and introspective than the other tracks. Nevertheless, there’s still a lot to enjoy in the song, such as the perfect vocal lines by Viky and the powerful performances by Justine and Sébastien with their instruments.

If you also consider yourself a “child of the void”, you can join Karkaos in their quest for Melodic Death Metal by following them on Facebook, listening to their fiery music on YouTube, and buy Children Of The Void at their BandCamp page, on Amazon or on CD Baby. Children Of The Void is undoubtedly going to be among the best releases of 2017 not only in Canada but also worldwide, and the band more than deserves that due to their commitment to their work and passion for melodic heavy music.

Best moments of the album: Kolossòs, Pale, Tyrants and Where Mushrooms Grow.

Worst moments of the album: Bound by Stars.

Released in 2017 Independent

Track listing
1. Babel 1:13
2. Skymaster 3:50
3. Kolossòs 4:32
4. Let The Curtains Fall 4:34
5. Pale 4:04
6. Children of the Void 4:45
7. Rêverie 0:59
8. Tyrants 4:26
9. Where Mushrooms Grow 4:19
10. Lightbearer 4:20
11. The Beast 4:20
12. Bound by Stars 6:49

Band members
Viky Boyer – lead vocals
Vincent Harnois – guitars, vocals
Samael Pelletier – lead guitars
Eddy Levitsky – bass
Sébastien Belanger-Lapierre – keyboards
Justine Ethier – drums

Guest musicians
Morgan Lander – additional vocals on “Kolossòs”
Lindsay Schoolcraft – backing vocals

Album Review – Mondoscuro / Mondoscuro EP (2016)

Enter the exciting dark world newly created by Italian legendary bands Cadaveria and Necrodeath, and your life will never be the same again.

Rating4

mondoscuro_coverartworkMore than just a regular split album, what you’ll find in the special release entitled Mondoscuro (the fusion of the Italian words “mondo” and “oscuro”, meaning “dark world”) is a fresh and vibrant cooperation between two legendary bands from the Italian metal scene, those being Biella-based Gothic/Horror Metal act Cadaveria and Genoa’s own Black/Thrash Metal squad Necrodeath. Our stunning diva Raffaella Rivarolo, commonly known as Cadaveria, has defined this unique project as “a blood pact between two diabolic entities that will give life to a new irreligious and obscure soul”, while Alberto Gaggiotti, known as Necrodeath’s frontman Flegias and also as Cadaveria’s drummer Marçelo Santos, also defined this collaboration between these iconic bands as “a pact between these entities, which has been haunting us for some time, and now the time has come to exorcise it, entering together in the same studio.” Based on the hellish words by both Cadaveria and Flegias, you can have a very good idea of what you’ll find in Mondoscuro.

The creepy artwork by Italian artist Paolo Perrotta Mazza is a precise depiction of the dark world crafted by Cadaveria and Necrodeath, portraying a mutilated woman with her throat slit and a dead fetus hanging from her stomach. Nothing could better represent the fusion of Black, Death, Gothic and Horror Metal than that, a diabolic combination of different subgenres of extreme music brought forth by two of the most important groups of the Italian underground scene. Furthermore, the way this amalgamation of evil is presented to the listener also deserves our attention, as the bands invert their roles, playing each other’s classics, firing brand new material composed together and paying a tribute to some of their favorite artists, all wrapped up in around 30 minutes of high-quality music emanating professionalism and passion for what they do. What else can you ask for in a heavy music album?

bandpicturecadaveria

Cadaveria

This devilish masquerade ball kicks off with Cadaveria playing Necrodeath’s sonic havoc Mater Tenebrarum, from their 1987 album Into the Macabre (check the original version HERE). There was absolutely no doubt this version was going to sound darkly delicious, with Cadaveria firing her trademark demonic gnarls blended with ominous clean parts after the song’s  somber intro. Not only this song presents a wilder and more metallic side of Cadaveria, but the epic operatic ending (from Keith Emerson’s Inferno outro) features some very special guests including the multi-talented Lindsay Schoolcraft (Cradle of Filth, Schoolcraft, The Astroplex). Then it’s Necordeath’s turn to provide their view of Cadaveria’s Spell, from their 2002 album The Shadows’ Madame (listen to the original version HERE), sounding as infernal as possible. Flegias does a great job on vocals, turning the original song into a more hellish tune, as well as guitarist Pier with his old school Thrash Metal attack through the sound blasted from his six-stringed ax.

The second act brings forward two brand new songs by Cadaveria and Necrodeath, starting with Dominion of Pain, where Dark and Black Metal are united by the demonic vocal duo of Cadaveria and Flegias, who together blast the song’s psychological words flawlessly (“Overtaking the boundaries of consciousness / Dominating the fevers of pain / Exorcising all fears with the violence of truth / Dissipating the ashes of uncertainty.”). In addition to that, Marçelo Santos (or Flegias, if you prefer) does a very good job with his rhythmic beats, with the last piece of the song offering that type of sluggish and somber Doom Metal powerfully blasted by bands like Cadaveria and My Dying Bride. Rise Above, a wicked marriage of Thrash and Gothic Metal fired by Necrodeath with guest vocalist Cadaveria and guitarist Dick Laurent, showcases truly Stygian lyrics (“I found your name trace in the ancient Book of Shadows / I felt your strength inside the circle of a spell / I want reality obey your dark commands / My soul is troubled by indomitable sensations.”) and a fiery Peso providing his share of aggressiveness and harmony to the musicality through his bestial drums. Moreover, its chorus couldn’t sound more old school, highly inspired by the darkest and most macabre metal music from the 80’s.

bandpicturenecrodeath

Necrodeath

The last duo of compositions are in fact cover versions for two of the most important bands in the history of music, American Gothic/Doom Metal band Type O Negative and the unparalleled The Beatles. Cadaveria is the first one to pay homage to Type O Negative through her outstanding version for Christian Woman (check the original version from the 1993 classic Bloody Kisses HERE), a powerful and passionate tribute to Peter Steele (R.I.P.) and his iconic band. Although it doesn’t beat the beauty of the original version for obvious reasons, the low-tuned obscure guitar lines by Dick Laurent and the devilish performance by Cadaveria deserve our humble recognition so amazing they are, all embraced by atmospheric keyboards and a lustful vampiric vibe. And closing this special album we have Necrodeath playing a thrashier-than-ever version of one of the biggest classics by The Beatles, Helter Skelter, from their 1968 cult album The White Album (see the difference from the original version HERE). In this eccentric version of an old school rock anthem, the whole band is on fire, especially Flegias with his deranged growls, turning what used to be just a fast-paced Rock N’ Roll song into a brutal mosh pit-generator.

If you think you have what it takes to survive this brand new dark world created by those two iconic bands from Italy, all you have to do is go check both Cadaveria’s and Necrodeath’s Facebook pages, and purchase your copy of the EP at Cadaveria’s official webshop or at the Black Tears’ webshop. But let me warn you that once you enter this “mondoscuro” built by Cadaveria and Necrodeath there’s no turning back, as you’ll be consumed by their vile and merciless extreme music, becoming a prisoner to their realm of darkness. To be fair, I guess that’s what you’ve always wanted to happen when the band in question is Cadaveria, no doubt about that.

Best moments of the album: Mater Tenebrarum and Dominion of Pain.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Black Tears

Track listing  
1. Cadaveria – Mater Tenebrarum (Necrodeath cover feat. Lindsay Schoolcraft) 5:29
2. Necrodeath – Spell (Cadaveria cover) 5:14
3. Cadaveria – Dominion of Pain (feat. Flegias and Pier) 5:59
4. Necrodeath – Rise Above (feat. Cadaveria and Dick Laurent) 4:44
5. Cadaveria – Christian Woman (Type O Negative cover) 8:39
6. Necrodeath – Helter Skelter (The Beatles cover) 2:30

Band members
Cadaveria
Cadaveria – vocals
Dick Laurent – guitars
Peter Dayton – bass
Marçelo Santos – drums 

Necrodeath
Flegias – vocals
Pier Gonella – guitars
GL – bass
Peso – drums

Guest musicians
Lindsay Schoolcraft – lead lyric soprano on “Mater Tenebrarum” (Keith Emerson’s “Inferno” outro)
Tiziana Ravetti – dramatic soprano on “Mater Tenebrarum” (Keith Emerson’s “Inferno” outro)
Cristiano Caldera – tenor on “Mater Tenebrarum” (Keith Emerson’s “Inferno” outro)
Ignis Forasdomine – organist on “Mater Tenebrarum” (Keith Emerson’s “Inferno” outro)

Album Review – The Astroplex / The Chronicles of Azhul’Tar (2016)

In the distant world of Azhul’Tar, who will reign supreme in the battle between the young and brave Satis and the tyrannical emperor Zarkhonn? Only this excellent Canadian band can answer you that through their cinematic blend of Melodic Death and Black Metal.

Rating4

the-astroplex_artwork“Way beyond our stars, lies a world in ruins. Kingdoms where people are left fighting over basic needs. Independent groups of space explorers, named Travelers, are hired to look for such resources throughout the different planetary systems.

One band of Travelers, led by the young Satis, has struggled for years to find such scarce goods. Flying an old war vessel, the Astroplex, Captain Satis and her crew are about to see their fates changed.

A monumental event that will take its toll throughout the entire galaxy…”

Deeply rooted into science fiction soundtracks from the 80’s such as the masterpieces Alien, Blade Runner and Terminator, creating a cinematic blend of that vintage sound with contemporary extreme music, Canadian Modern Melodic Death/Black Metal act The Astroplex will take you on an exciting journey to a world far, far away in their debut full-length album The Chronicles of Azhul’Tar. From the opening credits to its climatic ending, The Chronicles of Azhul’Tar tells a compelling and epic post-apocalyptic story of survival and death, all embraced by high-end metal music.

Born inside the minds of two former band mates in 2014, Herr Nox (lead singer, lyricist, keyboardist, graphic designer and instrumental composer for the project) and Commander John Steele (guitarist, bassist, drummer and the one responsible for the background story in The Chronicles of Azhul’Tar), The Astroplex aim at blurring the line between science fiction and heavy music, bringing forward a fresh and exciting experience to the listener. As the third member of the project we have the charming Lindsay Schoolcraft, keyboardist for British Extreme Metal titans Cradle of Filth, who beautifully portrays the story’s main character Satis and, consequently, makes you more and more attracted to the events happening in the distant world where the story takes place.

Just like in any good sci-fi movie, The Astroplex provide us all the Opening Credits, an instrumental intro from outer space (sounding like the iconic Terminator theme at times) informing the journey is about to begin, before Prophecy explodes into a modernized version of Melodic Death Metal led by the bestial growls by Herr Nox. At this point, the story already starts to take shape and form (“The world is changing / The suns are rising / Light fills the empty ship / Darkness is gone / There may be hope, there may be One / Time is running out / Life is running short / ‘Tis Azhul’Tar that you’ll behold”), and the music itself couldn’t sound more perfect for the whole concept proposed by the band.

In the atmospheric instrumental track Travelers, our brave captain Satis leads her crew in pursuit of a spacecraft named Xenova-2, guiding the listener to A Dying World, with additional elements from Groove and Progressive Metal giving the song more stamina and heaviness. Herr Nox has a precise performance, blasting some deep guttural vocals while the guitar riffs by Commander John Steele pierce your brain until the song’s ferocious ending. Modernity blended with old school Death Metal is offered once again by the band in The Red Emperor, where Commander John Steele and the stunning Lindsay beautifully craft the futuristic ambience needed for Herr Nox to tell the story through their magnificent guitar riffs and solos, potent beats and operatic backing vocals, turning this into one of the best compositions of the entire album.

the-astroplexVa’Hel (The Prison Moon) is another sci-fi movie-inspired instrumental track that shows us Satis became a prisoner to Zarkhonn (also known as the Red Emperor, ruler of Azhul’Tar and its three moons, master of the Life Stream, to the people of Earth), an exotic voyage through space and time in the form of music with highlights to the crisp sound of its keyboards and synths; whereas the epic and gripping composition The Rise and Fall of Satis presents a melodic approach of Extreme Metal with the exciting guitar lines by Commander John Steele guiding the musicality, while Herr Nox continues to translate the world of Azhul’Tar into words.

And as the story advances to its ending, we have Battle for Azhul’Tar, another epic hymn where you can feel the agony and pain of all characters of the story being told and the perfect soundtrack for an intergalactic war, with its lyrics depicting the brutal devastation caused by this sanguinary battle (“The sky is burning, bombs are droping / Lazers blazing, who’ll get out of here alive / Such suffering, greed is causing / People dying, who will see the next sunrise”). Moreover, Commander John Steele lets his beast arise through his Black Metal-ish blast beats and sick guitar solo, only making things even more exciting. Lastly, the cinematic outro The Heir (End Credits), highly inspired by classics such as Star Wars, Star Trek, Blade Runner and many others, leaves us questioning what will happen next to the newly crowned empress Satis, to the fallen emperor Zarkhonn and to the entire world of Azhul’Tar. If this will become a trilogy, only time will tell.

While we all wait for the next episode of such metallic saga (if it happens, of course), you can go check The Astrpolex’s Facebook page, YouTube channel (where you can listen to The Chronicles of Azhul’Tar in its entirety) and SoundCloud page to know more about the band, their music and their plans for the future. You can also buy this movie in the form of heavy music through their BandCamp page, and if you don’t do that, well, I have a special message from Zarkhonn himself (wherever he is now) telling you what he will do to you in case you “forget” to buy your copy of The Chronicles of Azhul’Tar. He seems to be a very reasonable guy, don’t you agree?

Best moments of the album: Prophecy, The Red Emperor and Battle for Azhul’Tar.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Independent

Track listing 
1. Opening Credits (instrumental) 1:53
2. Prophecy 4:29
3. Travelers (instrumental) 0:56
4. A Dying World 5:17
5. The Red Emperor 5:51
6. Va’Hel (The Prison Moon) (instrumental) 4:00
7. The Rise and Fall of Satis 6:14
8. Battle for Azhul’Tar 6:11
9. The Heir (End Credits) (instrumental) 3:26

Band members
Herr Nox – male vocals, synthesizers
Commander John Steele – guitars, bass, drums, additional synthesizers
Lindsay Schoolcraft – female vocals and voices

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

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.

Rating3

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