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Cradle Of Filth - "Total Fucking Darkness (Reissue)" (CD)

Cradle Of Filth - "Total Fucking Darkness (Reissue)" CD cover image

"Total Fucking Darkness (Reissue)" track listing:

1. Spattered in Faeces
2. The Black Goddess Rises
3. As Deep as any Burial
4. Unbridled at Dusk
5. The Raping of Faith
6. Fraternally Yours, 666
7. Devil Mayfair (Advocatus Diaboli)
8. The Black Goddess Rises
9. Seance And Mandrake
10. The Raping of Faith
11. Unbridled at Dusk
12. Hekate Enthroned

Reviewed by on May 28, 2014

"It was a simpler time back in '93, with shittier riffs, cheesier synths, godawful recording quality, and muffled proto-metal vocals that would make today's one-man basement black metal bands cringe in embarrassment."

Looking back into the band's far past before moving forward with new material, the infamous Cradle of Filth decided to dig deep into the archives and unearth its final self-released demo prior to the first proper full-length, “The Principle of Evil Made Flesh.” It was a simpler time back in '93, with shittier riffs, cheesier synths, godawful recording quality, and muffled proto-metal vocals that would make today's one-man basement black metal bands cringe in embarrassment. Simply put, “Total Fucking Darkness” is about as bad as it gets, but it's also an important chronicle of the inauspicious beginnings from a huge name in the extreme metal world.

“Total Fucking Darkness” features material from the very early '90s that's incredibly raw and unpolished, and frequently more along the lines of death metal than black metal. Anyone willing to brave the primitive sound quality and song writing will hear a much broader range of sounds than might be expected from the Gothic black metal stalwarts, as the band's style was less well formed and influenced by a broader range of sounds from the then-contemporary metal landscape. “Splattered in Faeces” in particular goes all over the place musically, and the bizarre Enya or “Pure Moods” style symphonic elements on “Unbridled At Dusk” will make even detractors of the band long for its current stylistic choices.

While they fail spectacularly in many places, the primitive synths weirdly work in others. The keyboards on “Splattered in Faeces” are classic, with an '80s vibe that's somehow both hilariously over the top and perfectly fitting. The “scary” sound effects on “The Raping of Faith” on the other hand are just cheesy and silly: even moreso than what the band is known for in modern times, but when it picks up speed it's actually a pretty solid track if you can get past the awful vocal distortion and bottom-barrel sound quality.

Dani Filth's trademark high pitched shrieks are conspicuously absent from nearly the whole album, with a muffled growl apparently recorded through a tin can while underwater providing the bulk of the vocal work. Rounding out the re-packaged presentation of awfulness are tracks like the mess of noise “As Deep As Any Burial” and the repetitive “Devil Mayfair.” On the other hand, “The Black Goddess Rises” creates a nostalgic feel for the days when this was the height of extreme metal – even if it's embarrassingly bad today – and if nothing else it gives a greater appreciation for the band's later sound.

“Total Fucking Darkness” offers an interesting chance for fans of the Filth to hear how far both metal in general and Cradle of Filth in particular have come over the years. For nostalgia's sake, or as a finishing piece for the completionist collector, there's perhaps some minor appeal here, but the fact of the matter is that most of this is just truly horrid – both in songwriting and execution – and there's a reason this was an early demo that didn't see a wide release.

Highs: It will give you a greater appreciation for the band's current sound.

Lows: Almost all of it - this is the raw and unpolished Cradle Of Filth you never wanted to hear before the band figured out its sound.

Bottom line: The Filth gives you a look back into its early days, and about the best thing that can be said is that it will make you appreciate the band's modern sound much more.

Rated 1.5 out of 5 skulls
1.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)