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Sunday Old School: Black Metal History Month Part 4. Cradle Of Filth

Photo of Cradle Of Filth

Band Photo: Cradle Of Filth (?)

Controversy is a word that has appeared so many times over the past month’s columns. Whether it be the blasphemy displayed by Behemoth, the violent acts of some Gorgoroth members, or simply the name of Rotting Christ. However, today we’ll look at a band that caused controversy in a different fashion, when they brought black metal into the mainstream. The group labelled responsible for this supposed crime against metal, is English natives, Cradle of Filth. Cradle of Filth were formed in Ipswich, Suffolk, one of the most eastern counties of Britain, in 1991 by vocalist Dani Filth, guitar player, Paul Ryan, drummer Darren White, bassist Jon Pritchard and keyboard player, Benjamin Ryan. By the end of the next year, the band had recorded two demos, "Invoking the Unclean" and "Orgiastic Pleasures Foul," as well as a split release with Malediction. They soon signed with Tombstone Records and recorded their first album, "Goetia," although this was never released owing to the collapse of the label and the recordings being wiped, forcing the band to seek another record company.

Following another demo, "Total Fucking Darkness," which featured their new second guitarist Paul Allender and a new bassist named, Robin Graves, the band were picked up by Cacophonous Records, who marked a first release themselves with the debut Cradle album, "The Principle of Evil Made Flesh." The record also marked the recording debut of their new drummer, Nicholas Barker and featured a then unusual mesh of black metal and gothic influences, which helped grab the attention of critics who heaped praise upon the album.

Although they had not been with the label long, their relationship with Cacophonous was not a harmonious one and the group quickly wrote and recorded a new EP entitled, "V Empire or Dark Faerytales in Phallustein," which allowed them to be released from their contract. Although the band admits the record was a rushed affair, it was very well received with some songs staying in the live setlist for years to come. In 1996, the same year as "V Empire or Dark Faerytales in Phallustein," hit the shelves, Cradle recorded and released their second album, "Dusk… and Her Embrace," for their new label, Music for Nations. The album was something a concept record, dealing mostly with vampires and such themes and was notable for featuring Venom frontman, Chronos performing a speech on the closing track, "Haunted Shores." It was received very well by numerous publications and to date remains one of the most popular albums amongst the band’s fans, although they would soon gain attention for reasons other than their music. When trying to come up with a slogan for a new t-shirt, someone suggested the simple phrase, "Jesus is a Cunt," which was unanimously approved and printed on the back of a shirt which featured a masturbating nun on the front. The shirt has been banned in such countries as New Zealand and some fans have even been in court just for wearing the design. The group continued to arouse uproar using t-shirts when they visited The Vatican wearing shirts which read, "I Love Satan."

Never afraid of appearing in the mainstream, the band also appeared in a BBC documentary called "Living With the Enemy," which along with Dani Filth’s new column in Metal Hammer, helped build anticipation for their forthcoming third album, "Cruelty and the Beast," which was released in May 1998 to a mostly positive response. It was another concept album, this time focusing on the life and legend of Countess Bathory and featured Hammer Horror actress, Ingrid Pitt providing guest narration. The band followed this with their first home video/DVD release, "PanDaemonAeon," which contained four live songs performed at The Astoria in London, as well as their first music video for the song, "From the Cradle to Enslave," for which an accompanying EP by the same name was also released.

They wasted little time in getting to work on new material and on Halloween 2000, Cradle of Filth released their fourth full length album, "Midian," which was based on the Clive Barker novel, "Cabal" and featured another acting guest, this time from Doug Bradley, who appeared in the "Cabal" film adaptation, "Nightbreed." The record was considered commercial by Cradle’s standards and spawned something of a hit with, "Her Ghost in the Fog," which received heavy airplay on music channels. They followed this full length with an EP the next year, entitled, "Bitter Suites to Succubi," a compilation album, "Lovecraft & Witch Hearts," in 2002 and a live album the same year called, "Live Bait for the Dead," as well as appearing in the movie, "Cradle of Fear," before signing a new record deal, this time with major label Sony, becoming one of the most extreme bands to appear on such a large label.

Although some fans were unhappy about the move to a major label, Sony did spend the money on the Budapest Film Orchestra and Choir to record with the band, allowing the band to finally achieve the sound the sound they had been attempting to create with synthesizers on earlier releases. The album itself, "Damnation and a Day," received mixed reviews from critics, who felt that the record was too long amongst other problems. It produced two more music videos from the band, "Babalon A.D. (So Glad for the Madness)" and "Mannequin." The former was a DVD only single and made the band the first to enter the UK top 40 Singles Chart with such a format.

"Damnation and a Day" proved to be their only release with Sony, who the band felt had begun to lose interest and so the band moved to Roadrunner Records, for whom they released their sixth full length album, "Nymphetamine," in September 2004 and entered the top 100 in the United States. Their appearance in the mainstream was increased further when they were nominated for a Grammy Award for the title track. The album itself did not feature an overall concept, unlike all their other albums with the exception of their debut. It brought back actor, Doug Bradley who went on to appear on their next album, "Thornography," which was released in 2006. "Thornography" was not met with many enthusiastic reviews but many critics at least felt it was a half decent effort, though the cover of the Heaven 17 classic, "Temptation," was dismissed as "ridiculous." A deluxe version of the album was released in early 2008 which contained another unlikely cover, this time in the form of the Shakespeare’s Sister hit, "Stay."

Later that year, the band released another full length album, "Godspeed on the Devil’s Thunder," which marked the debut of their new drummer, Martin "Marthus" Škaroupka, who replaced the popular, Adrian Erlandsson. The album was able to break into the top 50 in the United States and received relatively good reviews, especially when compared to "Thornography." The record was notable for featuring the last performance by backing vocalist, Sarah Jezebel Deva, who had appeared on all the band’s albums bar, "The Principle of Evil Made Flesh." It also marked the end of another relationship, as the partnership with Roadrunner came to an end in 2010, leading the band to sign with Peaceville Records, in a joint effort with their own Abracadaver label. The first album to be released via this venture was initially reported to be, "All Hallows Eve," though it soon confirmed instead to be, "Darkly, Darkly Venus Aversa." Though it was not hailed as a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination, it did garner a generally positive reaction, including from this very site, whose reviewer xFiruath claimed the album was "a return to their 90s form."

More releases soon followed, such as the EP, "Evermore Darkly," which also featured a live DVD of the band’s performance at the Graspop Metal Meeting festival, as well as a second compilation album, "Midnight in the Labyrinth," which hit the shelves in 2012, the same year as their most recent studio album, "The Manticore of Horrors." It received some negative feedback, mostly due to its artwork, as well as from fans who felt the introduction of punk influenced riffs didn’t suit the group, though critically it gained more of a lukewarm response. It seems the band are currently going through their usual flurry of releases which precede a new album, having recently released their own comic book, as well as plotting a new, two disc compilation album, it surely won’t be long before Cradle are back in the studio to record another slab of conceptualised, evil metal music.

Cradle of Filth - "Principle of Evil Made Flesh"

Cradle of Filth - "Dusk and Her Embrace"

Cradle of Filth - "From the Cradle To Enslave"

Cradle of Filth - "Scorched Earth Erotica"

Cradle of Filth - "Her Ghost in the Fog"

Cradle of Filth - "Babalon A.D. (So Glad For The Madness)"

Cradle of Filth - "Nymphetamine Fix"

Cradle of Filth - "The Death of Love"

Diamond Oz's avatar

Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com since 2007 and a metal fan since 2001, going as far as to travel to other countries and continents for metal gigs.

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13 Comments on "Sunday Old School: BMHM Part 4. Cradle Of Filth"

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Jackrum's avatar


1. Jackrum writes:

I missed them getting gobstoppered off stage at bloodstock. I'd left the main stage to go and watch an actual metal band.

# Feb 23, 2014 @ 6:33 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Diamond Oz's avatar

Senior News Correspondent

2. Diamond Oz writes:

I completely forgot about the gobstopper incident. I think the band ever saw this article, they'd probably be grateful I left that out :P

# Feb 23, 2014 @ 6:34 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
3. Mayhem21 writes:

A little confusion. Babalon A.D. not Babylon. Babylon is the akkadian city, Babalon is a goddess in the Thelema.

# Feb 23, 2014 @ 9:00 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Diamond Oz's avatar

Senior News Correspondent

4. Diamond Oz writes:

Right you are. Corrected now :)

# Feb 23, 2014 @ 9:03 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
5. gus from phoenix writes:

I can only imagine what post 1s list conceives of when it comes to " a real metal band".
COF get pizsed on by BM fans, industrial fans, and general metal fans who don't get what they are doing or appreciate it, the band atleast the past 15 years has never claimed to be a BM band nor trying to use the image of being one as a crutch to their success, that's the fans perception, most bands do not brand themselves of any genre, the fans do or writters or record label execs or others behind the scene, COF today is a band that stands on its own, there are not too many bands like them, they do not lack when it comes to writing or creativity especially in this day in age of metal when you got a billion bands out there chasing the same nickel who mostly all sound a like, constructive criticism of any band let alone this one im all for, but pissin on a band unnecessarily is crap, especially one who is really hard working and continues to create well.
the typical cliché moan I hear from cof whiners are " oh they've been going downhill for years", really? godspeed of the devils thunder was one of their better albums that was what 7-8 years ago, the manticore was different, I don't think it was bad but I did not luv it.
In the end, you cant knock a band for trying to make a living, ya I like black metal and appreciate the ones who remain underground, who don't have record deals, have to work jobs and live on snowy mountain tops who isolate themselves from society, I luv that s#it, but I also like bands who are willing to sacrifice a bit to make a decent living and become successful and a staple to the genre they are representing, COF isnt cutting their hair, or showing up at award shows or watering the music down to appeal to a main stream audience, they've evolved as a band and keep the creation process legitimate and have for over 20 years, not too many bands in any metal genre have done that.
and I hope that person who was involved in the gobbstopper incident dies a grizzly death, vermin like that should not be allowed to partake in any metal show ever.
f#ck that guy.

# Feb 23, 2014 @ 4:31 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Blindgreed1's avatar


6. Blindgreed1 writes:

Good read oz.

# Feb 24, 2014 @ 12:48 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Diamond Oz's avatar

Senior News Correspondent

7. Diamond Oz writes:

Thanks BG.

# Feb 24, 2014 @ 1:36 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
cbella's avatar


8. cbella writes:

After another listen to them, it confirms my dislike for them. They were the first 'black' metal band i came across as a littun and they put me off the genre. My cousin was crazy about them! Thankfully the beauty of black metal pulled me back in again and opened my eyes to the diversity of the genre.

Nice one again Oz! Is that the final installment for SOS: BMHM???

# Feb 24, 2014 @ 2:45 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Diamond Oz's avatar

Senior News Correspondent

9. Diamond Oz writes:

Thanks Cbella. Yes, I'm afraid this is it for BMHM for another year. I've already got 3 of next year's 4 decided though. Definitely more underground stuff.

I'm interested to see what people make of next sunday's column, but they should be happy with a few in the coming weeks.

# Feb 24, 2014 @ 7:46 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Jackrum's avatar


10. Jackrum writes:

They re musically very good. shame about the god awefu;l tosslord midget frontman.

and from personal experience I can actually say that he is a proper little twunt

# Feb 25, 2014 @ 5:09 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Diamond Oz's avatar

Senior News Correspondent

11. Diamond Oz writes:

I've never met him but as I said in my Graspop review, I felt his performance let the rest of the band down, who were solid.

# Feb 25, 2014 @ 6:22 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
hellrat's avatar


12. hellrat writes:

heh, LMAO at "twunt", that's good :) I always thought of lil' filthy as the stumpy croaking goblin...I find sardonic humor in his, eh, 'efforts'...ribbet, ribbet

Anyway, finally had a bit of time and got around to all of this month lessons...not much of fan of any of the bands (definitely not THIS one ;), but it was some interesting reading none the less...

So, cheers Professor \m/

# Feb 25, 2014 @ 12:53 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
BrianMN's avatar


13. BrianMN writes:

I liked Cradle right up through Damnation.
That album to me was their pinnacle.
Everything after that just sort of went downhill.
Every disc has a few good songs but nothing has matched the intensity of their earlier work and a lot of that had to do with the “Cruelty” and “Dusk” lineup.
When a lineup is magic, it’s magic.
Case in point Dimmu Borgir with ICS and Mustis.
Key members leave and it hoses everything up.
And poor Dani…man has he lost his pipes over the years.
Go listen to Haunted Shores then listen to the newer stuff.

# Feb 25, 2014 @ 5:05 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address

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