Cradle Of Filth - Damnation and a Day
Sony Music
Cradle of Filth Metal
17 songs (76'45")
Release year: 2003
Cradle Of Filth, Sony Music
Reviewed by Jay
Album of the year

When I first heard Cradle of Filth in 1996, I thought they were a joke. Did people actually listen to this music? Dani Filth’s voice was about as scary as a kitten and as evil as a glass of milk. The drumming overshadowed anything the guitarists were doing. I never liked Black Metal to begin with and this music was more ammunition for me to argue my case with. At that time in my mind, there was nothing that could convince me that “Dusk…And Her Embrace” could be considered good music. A few years later, I heard “From the Cradle to Enslave.” Whatever I had thought about Cradle earlier was erased once I heard this song. The keyboards and guitars ensnared me and caused me to re-evaluate their earlier work. The vocals had also matured a lot and the drumming was mixed down enough so that the entire song could be appreciated. Nevertheless, compared to Mayhem, Cradle of Filth was and is still not Black Metal. “From the Cradle to Enslave” had overdubs, meticulous production and sweetened sounds all thrown in the mix. Cradle of Filth had succeeded in something I never thought possible. They had crafted poppy, commercial Black Metal.

It is hard to keep track of the lineup of the band since members keep leaving and entering but Dani Filth has remained constant. His vocal styles have improved a lot but many people dislike Cradle solely because of him. I would argue to people that if you put his shrieks, growls and snarls behind, there was really a good musical core to the songs. Yet the vocals alone prevented a lot of people from appreciating the music. The “true” Black metalheads hated Cradle for perverting the name of Black metal with good reason. It was produced, slick and over the top. It wasn’t like Cradle went into the studio playing the same instruments album after album and only kept the first takes. Cradle should not be classified as Black Metal. They have created their own unique sound that can only be called Cradle of Filth Metal.

Damnation and a Day” is the ninth studio release from Cradle of Filth. It is by far the best album they have ever released. Yes, it is better than “Cruelty and the Beast,” better than “From the Cradle to Enslave,” and certainly better than their last two studio releases. “Damnation and a Day” will be one of those albums that changes the face of metal. To get signed to a label like Sony, you have to have a significant fanbase. Despite being hated by “true” Black metalheads, there are many Cradle fans out there. Sony Records made no mistake signing the band and their money was well spent. On what you say? First of all, we have another flawlessly mixed and polished record thanks to Doug Cook of Anathema and Over Kill fame. Second, Cradle enlisted the help of a 40-piece orchestra and 32-person choir from Budapest and this really adds a new dimension to their music. Instead of having some cheesy Casio keyboard interludes between the songs, there are complete orchestrations that add a new facet of forebodingness to the music. Instead of sounding like a B-Movie sound track, it sounds like a professionally scored horror movie.

The album’s concept is taken from the bible with verses from the story of creation being recounted during the album introduction and being re-visited in a different light in the outro. Verses of the fall of Lucifer are also narrated in an album interlude. On to the music. Flawless. Each track sticks in your memory and is a perfect blend of old elements, new elements and orchestral elements. The rising crescendo near the end of “The Promise of Fever” adds a new dimension to Dani’s creams of agony. The drumming on the album is completely solid as Adrian Erlandsson (ex-At the Gates, ex-The Haunted) gives one of the best performances of his life, one that may rival his work on the seminal “Slaughter of the Soul.” Paul Allender’s guitar work shines once again and Martin Powell’s keyboards are much more refined and calculated than they have been on the past two albums. Dave Pybus’ bass lines can be heard which is another real first for Cradle since many of their albums have neglected bass.

Of the multitude of terrific songs on this album, “Babalon A.D.,” the first single, stands out. It has a grinding intro that yields to an ominous verse part augmented by great bass and keyboard lines. The chorus kicks in and classic Cradle can be heard. Interspersed in this song are completely new elements that are very welcome such as entwined guitar and keyboard harmonies. All of a sudden, the song stops and a heartbeat is heard for several seconds. This is what Cradle of Filth is supposed to be about. Scaring the hell out of their audience. They wholly succeed. “Better to Reign in Hell” is a song in the style of “Cruelty and the Beast” era Cradle but the verse parts are much tighter and the use of guitar effects and a slower tempo draw you in. The song has the vintage sound, don’t get me wrong, but there has been much more thought on the melodies and harmonies. Rob Caggiano (Ill Nino) and Steve Regina (Dream Theater) who mixed this masterpiece must have been poured over the tracks for days in search of the perfect sound. This new level of work on the sound has resulted on an incredible listening experience. The next track “Serpent Tongue” starts off slowly and gradually builds into a monster of a track. Combining outstanding double bass work, haunting guitar effects and poignant vocal delivery, the song sucks you in before going into high gear and leaving you with a catchy chorus. “Presents from the Poison Hearted” was available as a downloadable preview and the full song doesn’t disappoint either. The main riff is easily the catchiest riff Cradle has written since “From the Cradle to Enslave.” The breakdown in this song is eerie and spooky and has one of the best funerary keyboard melodies ever played in metal. “Doberman Pharaoh” has a sitar playing the intro and kicks into another memorable Cradle anthem. The tracks are arranged on the album in a precise order, each theme building upon earlier ones and helping to narrate the story. The interludes support the music and vice versa. This review could be double the length and not even come close to impressing how incredible this masterwork really is.

Cradle of Filth have produced and album that will influence many people and turn a lot of heads. It could not have come at a better time especially since they are on a major label. Hopefully this album will wake up the major labels to start promoting real metal again. So what if Cradle is not “true” Black Metal. The music is good. If people would put their prejudices aside for a minute (like I did) and re-evaluate their work, I think there would be many more people singing their praises. Each time I revisit this album (it has been in my stereo for nearly two weeks straight and I’m guessing it’ll be there a lot longer), I hear new sounds and nuances that I missed. Is “Damnation and a Day” perfect? I believe it is. This is a must buy for any fan of Cradle and any metal fan should give this album at least one listen to witness history in the making.

Killing Songs :
The entire album.
Jay quoted 100 / 100
Alex quoted 68 / 100
Daniel quoted 56 / 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 13 reviews click here
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