Cradle Of Filth - Existence is Futile
Nuclear Blast
Symphonic Metal
12 songs (56:40)
Release year: 2021
Cradle Of Filth, Nuclear Blast
Reviewed by Goat

A thirteenth album would be unlucky for some yet English survivors Cradle of Filth have made a career out of reinvention, constantly tinkering with their sound to often great effects, and latest album Existence is Futile is no different. Stepping back a little from the blackened battery of recent releases with an eye toward the Damnation and a Day-era symphonic style may seem retrograde to some yet the band's songwriting is as razor-edged as ever, and skilful instrumentation and song structures that lean towards the progressive without becoming obnoxious make for a well-crafted album that pleases ear and neck. Those familiar with even the band's lesser moments will know that they possess a keen insight as to solid heavy metal riffing, and there's more than a touch of Iron Maiden-esque gallop to plenty of moments here. The whole affair simply reeks of orchestral classiness, with copious instrumental interludes such as The Fate of the World on Our Shoulders and Here Comes a Candle... that are both worthy of your ears and solid breaks in the action, and certain tracks here are amongst the catchiest songs the band have written in years.

The first of these comes very soon in the tracklisting, Existential Terror announcing itself with a burst of choral grandiosity before launching into a practically old-Opeth-ian riff, the song easily driving itself onwards thanks to Martin Skaroupka's skilled percussion and many catchy riffs from Richard Shaw and Marek Smerda. Sadly/thankfully the band soon moves away from said Opeth territory but it does hint at an intriguing alternate identity for Cradle... of Prog? Regardless, the intense galloper keeps your attention throughout and leads into the just as good Necromantic Fantasies, feeling like a cross between Midian and more recent territory with its orchestral-infused balladry. The galloping blackened metal of Crawling King Chaos, which makes time to throw in plenty of orchestral interludes between the infectious riff-driven passages (even before the oddly catchy vocal hooks) is possibly the best track present thanks to its ability to extend itself in a way that keeps your ear peeled without losing hold of that catchiness, appealing to as wide an audience as possible without compromising on the integral metallic structure.

If there's a major fault here it's that the band are a little too willing to slip into Damnation territory a la Black Smoke Curling from the Lips of War, which again features impressive symphonic grandeur and an Opeth-esque riff but which sticks too closely to the base female-backing-vocal formula to be revelatory for those who have stuck with the band of late. The guitarwork is good enough to overcome this here and elsewhere but the slower pace is still very audible on the gothic-leaning likes of Discourse Between A Man and His Soul, which remain compelling if a little drawn out at over five minutes length. Elsewhere, the orchestral gallop of How Many Tears to Nurture a Rose? takes a thrashier, more aggressive approach, contrasting well with the heavier, groovier metal of Us, Dark, Invincible, a gothic stomper that runs off into the darkness and takes you with it.

Cradle have kept a stable line-up since 2014, the only new member present being female vocalist and keyboardist Anabelle Iratni, who fits in more than smoothly here and elsewhere. She provides a solid bit of narration to open The Dying of the Embers, as does returning Pinhead Doug Bradley after over ten years' absence. Sure, it is easy to nitpick his contribution to the Malthusian Suffer Our Dominion, which suggests that humanity is at the point of needing mass suicides to save the planet from Gaian retribution (after you, chaps!) and tiresomely preaches environmentalism solely as Thanos-esque drastic purge. Yet that sort of ridiculousness is more than within black metal's misanthropic outhouse, and regardless of whether we're all going to drown in rain or not, Cradle's latest is genuinely excellent rather than a Thornography-esque embarrassment. In any case, a more than fun album, and a great reminder of Cradle's powers.

Killing Songs :
Existential Terror, Necromantic Fantasies, Crawling King Chaos, Suffer Our Dominion
Goat quoted 80 / 100
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 - Total Fucking Darkness reviewed by Goat and quoted no quote
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
To see all 14 reviews click here
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