Cradle of Filth are an English extreme metal band that formed in Suffolk in 1991. The band’s musical style evolved from black metalto a cleaner and more “produced” amalgam of gothic metal, symphonic black metal and other extreme metal styles. Their lyrical themes and imagery are heavily influenced by gothic literature, poetry, mythology and horror films.
The band has broken free from its original niche by courting mainstream publicity (often to the chagrin of its early fanbase), giving the band a “commercial” image. This increased accessibility has brought coverage from the likes of Kerrang! and MTV, along with frequent main stage appearances at major festivals such as Ozzfest, Download and even the mainstream Sziget Festival. They have sometimes been perceived as satanic by casual observers, even though their outright lyrical references to Satanism are few and far between; their use of satanic imagery has arguably always been more for shock value rather than any seriously held beliefs.
Hammer of the Witches is the eleventh studio album by the English extreme metal band, Cradle of Filth. The album was released on July 10, 2015 under Nuclear Blast records. Hammer of the Witches is the first release with the band’s new line-up, which includes new guitarists Marek ‘Ashok’ Šmerda and Richard Shaw and new keyboardist & female vocalist Lindsay Schoolcraft. The first single and video for the track “Right Wing of the Garden Triptych” was released on Thursday the 14th of May.
Walpergis Eve—-The typical interlude instrumental that serves to set the tone before the mayhem ensues, this is almost predictable but also pleasant as hell…this leads us into….
Yours Immortally—-As predicted, it is not long before the shit hits the fan. Dani is in perfect voice…alternating between guttural growls and hell inspired screams. The guitars….sound way at the front of the mix….the playing is fast and powerful as hell. The band seems to have a new energy that is /was needed. This is classic stuff…the sound effects and the huge chorus is incredible….
Enshrined In Crematoria—-Deeper guitars introduce this track, but soon familiar sounds abound. Giving off a musical Maiden vibe, the voice enters and reminds us where we are. The remarkable vocal is just incredible. How does this man sing like this…and how long can he continue to do it. This is brutally fast…Dani fits so many words in a single sentence I wonder how the hell he remembers it all. This is laden with a swirling keyboard sound in the backdrop….makes me feel comfortable and at home.
Deflowering The Maidenhead…..—-Sounding a bit familiar with the guitar line, this is none the less huge and stellar. The downshift of the guitar allows for the blood curdling scream that introduces this 7 minute opus. Dani sounds more possessed and driven than I have heard him sound in a very long time. it seems his musical output just gets larger and larger….where does he get the energy and imagination. The screams on this track are so pitched and incredible…the moods of the music moves quick from one realm to the other….this is a stellar composition. this gives us the first small snippet of the new backdrop female singer that this band always seems to have. There are guitar solos….frenzied drumming and an energy that is overwhelming.
Blackest Magick In Practice—-Beginning still and with a female vocal, the music enters with a bit of a deeper sound that seems to downshift continuously. This is remarkable…there is a darkness that last just a bit before the madness continues and takes us on another journey of darkness. Every song seems to be a separate but cohesive journey into darkness. The drums are just masterful on this recording…..hoping to catch this entire thing live again this go around.
The Monstrous Sabbat—-Again with the gentle introduction that we all know will never ever last. There is a beauty at times to this bands music and the recipe they have written works remarkably well for them. This interlude leads us to the title track…..
Hammer Of The Witches—-Muscular and full of traditional full on metal sounds. the underlying keyboards gives the song an orchestration that works with the bullet fast drumming and brutal guitars really well. This is remarkable…Dani never falters. The galloping guitars are classic Cradle…this is a brilliant song…one of my favorites from this release.The female vocalist enters…sounding exactly like that bitch that was on the last Dimmu record…ugh!
Right Wing Of The Garden Triptych—-Ah…the female keyboard vocalist…not nearly as strong as anyone they have had singing with them in the past. The music swirls around you in a wonderful manner though….then the maniacal guitars join in the fray. this is brutal…fast…lethal and delivered with a madness that makes you want to smash your forehead on the wall. This has many moods and shifts…just what the Dr. ordered. I love the marching sound of the music underneath at times. The growls are incredible…the screams classic. This is CRADLE!!!
The Vampyre At My Side—-Dark and beginning like a classic funeral march, my only complaint is that we have heard this all before…but that is why we keep coming back…right? The music picks up speed at a maniacal pace and you are transported down and almost musical tunnel that takes your eyesight. When Filth grunts…it is pretty incredible…this is brutal yet very accessible. I love the hell out of this band.
Onward Christian Soldiers—-Not to be confused with THAT song….lol. beginning with another gentle introduction, there is little rest for the wicked. The organ sounds that are emitted are soon overwhelmed by manic drumming and huge blistering guitars. The voice is perfect as always and the keyboards that run underneath give the whole thing an undeniable melody….I swear!!! At 7 minutes long, you get about every single thing that Cradle has to offer…all in one song. There is mayhem…orchestration…keyboards…a drummer on too much energy drink and a guitar delivery that is insane….not to mention Dani…out of control…but controlled at the same time. Just incredible!
Blooding The Hounds Of Hell—- ending the proper release as it began…with a gentleness that belies the power of the band…this has been an exquisite journey!
King Of The Woods [Bonus Track]—-Huge and noisy, this has a Dimmu styled orchestration that lies underneath all of the guitars and drums. This is a fantastic song…making me glad I spent a dollar more. The downshift of the guitar carries over into the vocal and the female backdrop voice is stellar. Bout time we heard it properly. The screams put me in a different place…this is just incredible…should have been on the CD!
Misericord [Bonus Track]—-Although there is little new here, the chance to have extra tracks will always be a wonderful thing. This is muscular and potent..the bass downshift gives the song an eerie evil sound….and Dani just adds to the affair. This has been an epic journey…..so happy to have this 11th release!
****3/4 out of 5