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Dani Filth Recounts Recording The "Total Fucking Darkness" Demos

Photo of Cradle Of Filth

Band Photo: Cradle Of Filth (?)

Before Cradle of Filth released its classic debut full-length "The Principle Of Evil Made Flesh," the band issued a 3-song demo appropriately titled "Total Fucking Darkness." When the group released this recording in 1992, it incorporated palm-muted guitar licks and hideously low growls. Keyboards added a cinematic touch to the romantic slant Dani Filth gained from reading classic poets such as Wordsworth and Lord Byron. All these variants helped COF stand above a wilting crop of shitty death metal demo bands.

Now 22-years later, Cradle of Filth are set to reissue these raw recordings in the grand merchandising fashion we've come to know the band for. On May 5th, Mordgrimm will Records will release the recordings as a double LP and a double CD. It will also arrive in a very limited edition box set, which is already sold out. Remastered by Tim Turan (Emperor, Thin Lizzy) at Turn Studios, these versions not only sound better but fans will get a chance to hear previously unreleased tracks.

Mordgrimm owner, Frater Nihil not only appeared on these recordings, he was responsible for releasing COF's first two studio recordings. Dani and his band mates left Nihil's former label, Cacophonous Records nearly twenty years ago, and let's just say it was not an amicable departure. As filth tells us, though, time heals wounds, as Nihil and Filth, plus Paul Ryan have once again connected to bring their fans this multi-media experience. Conducted fittingly on the day of the witches Sabbath, Walpurgisnacht, Dani Filth talks about the original recording session and how this new, remastered version has moved out of the darkness (total fucking) and into the light.

Rex_84: The reissue of "Total Fucking Darkness" demo drops on May 5th. This remastered version is was completed as a way to bring back these recordings. The double LP and digipack CD also contains unreleased tracks. How did this come about?

Dani Filth: Strange enough the original, founding member alongside me, Paul Ryan, who is now a successful booking agent with The Agency Group here in Europe, by a chance of fate through mutual friends, we hooked up together after fourteen or fifteen years and got on famously. We had a few drinks and what have you and we started talking about stuff that led to this whole idea of doing something via Mordgrimm Records, which is a label run by [Frater] Nihil from Cacophonous Records. They put out "The Principle of Evil Made Flesh," which reaches its 20th anniversary this year and "Vempire," so basically, our first two records. Not wanting to bear any grudges and let bygones be bygones and time heals everything, so I got together with him as well. We came up with the idea that it would be really cool to put it out. We took it to a guy in Oxford named Tim [Turan] who is awesome at mastering. We mastered it there. We got the record cut in London by a famous group--there aren't many people who cut records anymore. This guy is one of the best. He remembered cutting the vinyl for "From The Cradle To Enslave," as well. That's how it really came about. Also, we discovered, between the three of us, we had access to pretty rare material, both audio and photo-wise, as well, from that era. So we thought it would be a cool thing to do. Package it, put out limited versions with marbled gatefold, etc., etc. We weren't counting on the fact that so many people would be interested in it because we were going to do a limited run, 666 copies. This was the initial idea, but since then we've done 90 of these very rare box sets with a poster, a shirt, elongated art, a patch in there and stuff like that. We would run a 1,000 CDs and a few thousand vinyl on top of that. Plus we had Metal Hammer and Team Rock Radio and several radio stations here in Britain and Europe all getting behind it, so it's been something of an adventure. And also, not only have we done all of this cool media together, but Paul Ryan has come aboard as management for my other band, Devilment. It's all grown quite incestuous as of late.

Rex_84: You reconciled with Nihil. Did you have a falling out after leaving Cacophonous?

Dani Filth: We actually took Cacophonous to court. It's quite complicated because in '95 we recorded "Dusk And Her Embrace" with the same lineup minus Robin Eaglestone from the "Principle" lineup. He went on to do his December Moon project on Spinefarm. He eventually came back, but in the interim, we had John [Kennedy] left playing bass for Cradle and started a band called Hecate Enthroned, which many people regarded as a sub-rate Cradle of Filth. They are still going, but a bit more death-metal oriented. So anyway, there was a "Dusk And Her Embrace" recording that never saw the light of day because we used parts of that to secure the deal when the band splits up. Three members Paul Allender and Paul Ryan and his brother [Benjamin Ryan] went off to form The Blood Divine. Robin Eaglestone had returned along with myself and Nicholas Barker remained with the band, sat through the court proceedings, won the right to re-record "Dusk And Her Embrace" at the expense of giving Cacophonous the "Vempire" EP, which had two songs taken from the "Dusk album," "Queen of Winter Throned" and "Nocturnal Supremacy." Then we went to Music For Nations with the rights, so we just re-recorded the whole thing. There still is an unreleased version of "Dusk And Her Embrace" out there.

Rex_84: Mordgrimm's web site notes that the box set of "Total Fucking Darkness" is sold out.

Dani Filth: I didn't even know we were doing a box set because I was on tour with Behemoth. I heard about it and was a bit cross really because it's like "Nihil, you could have done a lot more than that, to be fair." If I would have had it my way, I would have done 250 or 300 copies. He did 72 or 80 and it went in two days or something like that.

Rex_84: That's a very small number to issue.

Dani Filth: It's very limited, but it's in a box set with a patch, a t-shirt that is unavailable anywhere else, which being a Cradle shirt will come highly sought after and there are other little books, etc., etc. It's a small amount of box sets to put out.

Rex_84: Daniel Carter painted the pictures for the booklet. Can you talk a little about that?

Dani Filth: He's a Radio One djay, but he also specializes in undertaking these occult pieces. I think his last venture was for the HIM "Tears on Tape" album cover. We're familiar with him and his work. It made sense for him to come on board because he was really interested in the project. Not only is it an occult-related piece, it's underground, it's a re-celebration, something I've been long into. He undertook a trip tick of three paints all concerned with the dark goddess Hecate.

Rex_84: Did John Kennedy get the name for his band from your instrumental "Hecate Enthroned?"

Dani Filth: It seems so. It would make sense.

Rex_84: "Devil Mayfair (Advocatus Diaboli)" appears on side C of vinyl for "Total Fucking Darkness during the "Goetia" sessions. It was recorded during Samhain.

Dani Filth: Which is quite strange because we're conducting this interview on Walpurgisnacht--Beltane, a big witches Sabbath. It's the complete opposite to All Hallow's Eve, which celebrates the onset of winter. Walpurgisnacht marks the onset of summer. This wasn't deliberate. That wasn't deliberate. It just so happened that we liked to rehearse on Halloween. It gave us a good sense of well-being at the time, so it helped us write stuff. The material was recorded on a Tascam 4-track and, in my opinion, sounds better than the demos now that it's been remastered.

Rex_84: The press release says these sessions were mythical. What about the sessions was mythical?

Dani Filth: Firstly, the places we used to rehearse at are like pubs, really, with function rooms and halls. All of those, and there were at least four of them--one burned down and the other three are on lockdown--were converted into housing. These are old Georgian/Victorian type pubs. They were really huge. Mythical in that respect. Also, mythical because of that type of renown now that we can look at it with rose-tinted specs. There used to be quite a healthy little scene around here, so we had a few people milling around. The scene grew out of the people who were involved or came along to watch or help carry stuff or were in the band at the time.

Rex_84: Two versions of "Black Goddess Rises" appear on the "Total Fucking Darkness" vinyl set. What versions are each of these songs?

Dani Filth: Some are taken from the demo and others from the rehearsal on Samhain. They sound fantastic because we were able to remaster songs that had been done on 4-track and what have you at the time. The subtleties in the songs, but yeah, two different versions all together. They are, really, the only thing that remains from that period, which was a special and eclectic period in the whole underground movement. You're talking in '92, which was pretty much on the cusp of the second wave of black metal. At that point, we had a very fledgling scene in the UK, which had grown out of grindcore, so we had bands like Napalm Death, Carcass and Bolt Thrower all learning to play their instruments and becoming a bit more metal. Then you had the fledgling likes of Anathema, My Dying Bride and Paradise lost, which had this big, gothic doom vibe to them. Cradle took a little bit from Swedish death metal, which was very melodic and had lots of cool ideas. These were bands like early Therion, Eucharist, Dismember, Dissection and married it to this vibe that came over from Floridian death metal, which was very big on Earache at the time. Sandwiched in the middle, we were very Charlotte Bronte-esque ramblings and became this unique creation once we mixed that with a little bit of sound tracks.

Rex_84: You growl a lot on these recordings, so I wonder how much of an inspiration bands like Carcass and Repulsion were for you?

Dani Filth: We were just looking for an essence of evil or nastiness. We obviously added a bit of that lovelorn, romantic darkness, vampirism sort of purported. But yeah, bands like Repulsion, Master and a lot of the early Nuclear Blast stuff like Pungent Stench, Disharmonic Orchestra, General Surgery, Necrophagia and Autopsy, a massive influence as well, glad to see they are back with a new album. Like I said, it was very important. We cherry picked as a band to create the Cradle sound. We are a bit of a Frankenstein or chimera to begin with.

Rex_84: One song title that shouts death/grind is "Splattered In Faeces." Can you talk a little about this title? What is this song about? Is it about poop?

Dani Filth: No, it's actually a nod towards the Catholic church. It is about the Protestant and Catholic witch trails. The whole thing engulfed Europe. At that moment, I was actually living in a house with my then-girlfriend-now-wife in a place where the Witchfinder General, Matthew Hopkins often passed threw and stayed. It was a big influence at that time. That track was the only track that survived the aborted "Goetia" album. We were between our second and third demo. Between those two demos, we theoretically signed, nothing was actually written or carved into stone, to Tombstone Records, which was this low-budget, London-based company. We were a bit naive at the time and they put us in a local studio to record an album called "Goetia." Of which, we were only allowed to take one song out, and that was "Splattered In Faeces." Unfortunately, they didn't pay for the masters so they were wiped after a certain period of time unbeknownst to us because tape was quite costly back then. Had Cradle signed to this pathetically rubbish label then nothing would have happened. Our career wouldn't have started. We were lucky in one respect and unlucky in another. So that's all that survives from a defunct album.

Rex_84: On the subject of The Church, I've read that you're inspired by the English Romatic poet, Lord Byron. Also, I wonder if you're influenced by the French writer, Voltaire. He was an avid critic of the church and he was also bawdy. Have you read much Voltaire?

Dani Filth: Yes, of course! All the masters, really. I grew up reading a huge amount of stuff like that. There is more influence than 19th century literature such as Stevenson, Stoker and people of that ilk coupled with my love of the Romantics--Wordsworth and Byron, particularly Byron. We did a song called "The Byronic Man" on our "Thornography" album mainly attributed to him and his aesthetics. Just the way that he embraced nature, and stood a little against, as many of the Romantics did--drawing a bigger picture than just Christianity--the church and how it rudimentary it was, how it held people back. He saw the bigger picture, which is why they called them classics, I guess, because they hark back to more of a classical era. Bacchus, Dionysus, Hecate and this sort of thing. They borrowed from mythology.

Rex_84: When you recorded the "Total Fucking Darkness" demo were you strictly a studio band or did you play live?

Dani Filth: We were fortunate for our popularity because we did a lot of gigs and got the attention of these people at The Syndicate, which was Liverpoolian-based promotion company who put Cradle out. They loved Cradle, for some reason, and put us on support for the likes of Cannibal Corpse, Cadaver, Bolt Thrower, Carcass, Cancer and all that kind of stuff. It was from these gigs that we got noticed. In fact, that's how we met Nicholas Barker when he roadied for Cancer. We got on tour with them. He was also in a band, at the time, called Monolith. Around this time there was a lot of bands in the British underground. I guess a lot of it was more death/doom. And then Cradle came around with something that was blackened and dark, steeped in mythology, and I think it captured people's imagination.

Rex_84: Going forth from this recording into "The Principle of Evil Made Flesh," when did you bring in Andrea Meyer Haugen?

Dani Filth: I can't remember, to be fair, she was a friend of Nihil's. She was also a member of a few occult groups, so she came on board as a sort of occult technician-teacher. She did a load of narratives and appeared in photos, so she became like a close contact to the band. I guess that would have been sometime in '93. Things turned around quite quickly because of the success of "Total Fucking Darkness." When we were approached by Nihil for his fledgling Cacophonous label, which was funded by Vinyl Solution at the time, we were originally scheduled for a single. That grew to an EP we went to record. That kind of just fell apart because our drummer wasn't really into it at that point or he felt a bit overwhelmed. That became redundant. That whole thing grew into an LP, which became "Cacophonous 1" and then things kind of catapulted from there.

Rex_84's avatar

An avid metal head for over twenty years, Darren Cowan has written for several metal publications and attended concerts throughout various regions of the U.S.

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