Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Album Review: Cradle Of Filth - 'Hammer Of The Witches'

Cradle of Filth - Hammer of the Witches
Released Via Nuclear Blast Records
Genre: Gothic Black Metal

Track Listing:

1. Walpurgis Eve
2. Yours Immortally...
3. Enshrined In Crematoria
4. Deflowering The Maidenhead, Displeasuring The Goddess
5. Blackest Magick In Practice
6. The Monstrous Sabbat (Summoning The Coven)
7. Hammer Of The Witches
8. Right Wing Of The Garden Triptych
9. The Vampyre At My Side
10. Onward Christian Soldiers
11. Blooding The Hounds Of Hell

From the opening seconds of the renaissance-reeking ‘Walpurgis Eve’ into ‘Yours Immortally…’ it is only too clear that Cradle Of Filth are back and in inexplicably rude health. Frontman Dani Filth’s voice is on form, to say the least. His trademark piercing screams are pushed further than some may expect, and are littered throughout this record, but not to the point that it becomes ineffective. In fact, effect seems to be the word of the day as far as these compositions are concerned. Regardless of what some people may argue, Cradle Of Filth’s sound is built upon a core of black metal, but the gothic shades make it a different beast, and then within this album, there are other elements that build Cradle’s sound up to even more grandeur than we have heard on the band’s most recent releases. ‘Enshrined In Crematoria’ features riffs which bring the heaviness and intricacy of melodic death metal, whereas ‘Blackest Magick In Practice’ has moments that are akin to technical death metal, as hard as that may be to fathom. Cradle Of Filth have always been difficult to pigeonhole, which has been their greatest strength, and now they’re playing to that strength very, very well. This has doubtlessly been enhanced by new guitarists Marek 'Ashok' Šmerda and Richard Shaw, as the twin guitars bring back a more three-dimensional guitar style than was heard on ‘The Manticore And Other Horrors’. The album’s title track, dealing with the book of its namesake, the Malleus Maleficarum, and the prosecution of witchcraft in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, is razor sharp and shows that Dani still has a flair for poetic lyricism, whilst the heavy-handed first single ‘Right Wing Of The Garden Triptych’ shows Lindsay Schoolcraft to have a beautiful and harrowing voice, capable of taking moments at the forefront, as well as a great ear for slight musical nuances. Altogether, this intense and harrowing journey through the theatrical world of Cradle Of Filth stands not only as a return-to-form, but perhaps as one of the band’s most undisputedly cohesive and quality records to date.
Rating: 10/10



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