Sound — 6
Cradle of Filth's extreme, symphonic brand of metal requires both extraordinary precision and masterful production. Cradle of Filth is expected to deliver on both fronts. Marthus Skaroupka's blast beats give direction to the entire project, while Dani Filth's vocal delivery remains consistent, without ever being particularly spectacular. The real disappointment of this album is the guitar work which, although melodic, is somewhat monotonous, (over)relying on galloping riffs and the occasional pinched harmonic. It is too late in Cradle of Filth's career to continue basking in their comparisons to Iron Maiden; it's surely about time Cradle of Filth wrote an album to remind why the band has achieved so many accolades in the past. Does the band achieve this with Darkly, Darkly, Venus Aversa?
The opening song sets the right impression, while the blast beat intensity of One Foul Step from the Abyss is the epitome of the precision about which we spoke earlier. Although these songs are impressive in terms of their precision, Paul Allender's lead guitar lines and solos seem to be lacking something. This is evidenced on Harlot on a Pedestal, which features a guitar solo whose technical wizardry is undoubted, but leaves the listener pondering whether it was just recorded to fill in some space on the song. In spite of this, the otherwise unrelenting galloping riffs on this album are interrupted by moments of inspiration, such as the smooth riff of Deceiving Eyes, which is reinforced by what is the strongest writing on the album.
Lyrics — 6
Dani Filth's vocal capabilities are well-documented, and Darkly, Darkly, Venus Aversa seems to be the perfect platform from which to showcase his seeming plethora of grunts, growls, and higher pitched shrieks. But he doesn't seem to really get going.
Fortunately for Dani Filth, his voice is well complemented by Ashley Ellyllon's synthesizer harmonies and high pitched screams. Are his advancing years to be blamed for the more focused vocal range on Darkly, Darkly? His voice remains a paradigm of metal vocal mastery, while he is sharp enough to utilize Ellysson's vocals in providing some variation to his own.
The lyrical content is loosely based upon a Biblically-inspired concept, also drawing from Middle Ages history, and mythology.
Overall Impression — 7
With Darkly, Darkly, Venus Aversa, Cradle of Filth don't match the releases of Dusk...And Her Embrace, Cruelty and the Beast, or Thornography. What the band does accomplish is the release of an album which enhances their CV. Darkly, Darkly, is most likely a grower, and much like the youths who discover Cradle of Filth each year and are initially put off by the brutality of it all, one should persevere with this album, because it proves Cradle of Filth are not quite finished yet.