Cradle Of Filth - Total Fucking Darkness
Mordgrimm
Raw Black/Death Metal
10 songs (57:32)
Release year: 2014
Cradle Of Filth
Reviewed by Goat

I'll admit to not having listened to Cradle of Filth in a number of years, but was curious enough to pick this re-release of a demo to review based on half-remembered memories of it actually being rather good. And lo and behold, it is, not just as a curio for fans but also as a relic of the era. Cradle of Filth circa 1992 were hardly recognisable as the campy theatrical metallers of today, playing a raw death metal style with added peculiarities that marked it out as a band with their own style in mind. Keyboards existed as primitive backdrops, Dani Filth's vocals were grunted growls and the riffs were pure death metal. There's little to distinguish this on the surface from the earliest offerings of the likes of Darkthrone; Cradle still crawling from that early nineties 'necro' spawning pool that birthed so many diverse extreme metal bands.

Yet the more you listen to Total Fucking Darkness, the more a distinct identity emerges. This is helped by the addition of other tracks to those of the original 1992 demo, giving a more rounded feel of the band's mindset. The collection opens with the charmingly-titled Spattered in Faeces, the sole surviving track from the Goetia sessions that were originally intended to form the band's d├ębut full-length, before being lost when the band's then-label collapsed. In an alternate universe, that album holds a high status as an early nineties classic; so good is the glimpse given here. Moving from spooky keyboard intro through death metal crunch into a galloping blackened death assault, it develops into something similar to what The Meads of Asphodel did in the earlier part of their career; ferociously chugging blackened metal backed by keyboards, charging ahead but allows interesting riffs to take hold before moving on.

The tracks from Total Fucking Darkness itself seem a step backwards in comparison, definitely more primitive (although polished for this re-release) and struggling to make an impact at times. Yet The Black Goddess Rises in its form here is terrific, raw and hateful; the doomy guitars and keyboards having an excellent atmospheric effect, closer to early My Dying Bride than modern Cradle. The song would, of course, get a makeover and appear on The Principle of Evil Made Flesh, and it's interesting to compare the two versions and hear the changes in the band's sound over those two years. It's certainly better than the following As Deep As Any Burial, which although a fairly solid raw death metal blaster is forgettable and didn't make it onto any albums for a good reason. However, I can't for the life of me see why Unbridled at Dusk remained a demo track, as it's excellent, atmospheric death metal that uses the keyboards very well and even has space for some moody lead guitar towards the end.

The Raping of Faith can't help but feel lesser in comparison, reminding me more of early Akercocke than anything with those deep growls and galloping black/death riffs, although it drags a little by the end. Once keyboard outro piece Fraternally Yours, 666 is over (as forgettable as most such pieces usually are) we're rewarded with four more tracks taken from another session in 1992. Three are repeats from the demo with a much worse vocal performance, but the curio here is another unreleased track, Devil Mayfair (Advocatus Diaboli), and although not quite up to Spattered in Faeces is still very good, a well-written death metal song that's fast and nasty. It's hard to recommend this re-release to those who aren't fans of the band, but it does give an interesting look at their roots, and has four excellent and rare songs on that are definitely worth hearing for fans of the early days of extreme metal. The limited double-vinyl includes some bonus keyboard interludes which are very skippable.

Killing Songs :
Spattered in Faeces, The Black Goddess Rises, Unbridled at Dusk, Devil Mayfair (Advocatus Diaboli)
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Other albums by Cradle Of Filth that we have reviewed:
Cradle Of Filth - Hammer of the Witches reviewed by Goat and quoted 85 / 100
Cradle Of Filth - Darkly, Darkly, Venus Aversa reviewed by Kyle and quoted 64 / 100
Cradle Of Filth - Godspeed On The Devil's Thunder reviewed by Goat and quoted 81 / 100
Cradle Of Filth - Thornography reviewed by Goat and quoted 63 / 100
Cradle Of Filth - Nymphetamine reviewed by Jay and quoted 55 / 100
To see all 13 reviews click here
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