Sound — 8
Despite its vampire-like facades, the members of Cradle Of Filth might just attract a bigger audience with the melody-driven songs on their new CD Thornography. While there is still a heavy dose of dark, poetic-like lyrics and eerie vocal delivery, there are also plenty of catchy choruses and verses heard in each one as well. While the band seems to be taking another step away from the blackest of the black metal, it has created an enjoyable guitar-driven CD. If you've seen photos of the band, you'll probably have some idea what to expect from hearing Cradle of Filth (vocalist Dani Filth, guitarists Paul Allender and Charles Hedger, bassist David Pybus, drummer Adrian Erlandsson). With their gothic appearances, the band members live up well to it's sound, which at times feels straight out of a horror film. The overdramatic approach might be a bit much for some listeners, but it's kind of fun to see what the band will try to do seem creepy. But in the end, it is the melodic guitar work that stands out from even the most ghoul-like screech from vocalist Filth. The CD begins with material that would work beautifully in a soundtrack for any of the multiple fantasy films released in the past few years. The song Under Pregnant Skies She Comes is a slower-tempo intro backed by a haunting choir and a keyboard line (performed by guest player Mark Newby Robson) that could easily pass for an actual orchestra. The band does like to stick with having an interlude usher listeners into each album, and it's wise to stick with it because they rarely disappoint. The highlights of the album are usually the well-executed guitar riffs that are heard throughout every song. A song like Dirge Inferno is definitely influenced by Iron Maiden to it with its harmonized guitars, which are particularly memorable during the chorus. Even the vocals, which are primarily done with more of a low-key scream and can become a bit monotonous in this style, become melodic and a bit more listenable in the chorus of Dirge Inferno. Fans of Cradle of Filth's earlier work may be a little turned off by the band's slight direction change in terms of the songwriting. There is still a symphonic undertone to most of the songs, but the guitars have taken a more general metal approach. Apparently even guitarist Allender told Terrorizer magazine that he himself definitely hears more Maiden-esque qualities in his music. Even so, you could do a lot worse than recreating the sound of Maiden.
Lyrics — 9
Just like the horror movie-inspired music, the lyrics on Thornography have an extremely dramatic flair to them. If you're a fan of gothic metal, you'll be in heaven because there is no shortage of songs about death, graves, or Biblical figures. Of course, if you think dark lyrics are contrived, steer clear of Cradle of Filth. One interesting track, lovesick For Mina, draws up the band's recurring vampire theme with its reference to the lady love of Count Dracula. If the song is indeed about the Mina of Bram Stoker's books, then it is also written from the perspective of the Count himself. Filth sings, I was close to coming when she bid adieu; Fuelled by the heartache rent upon her face there; Oh Mina, obscener. It's a fascinating song, and works well with the music. There is a lot of dark imagery and talk about death on Thornography, and this fact may be a bit much for some. The best example comes in Libertina Grimm when Filth sings, In the hand of morgue redeemers; Thought the dead always pleased her more; Squatting in their coffins; Flirting curtsies to the thirteenth floor. Filth writes pretty much all of the lyrics, and his flair for elaborate pose is actually impressive. It sometimes is overkills, but he at least puts forth an effort to create a certain mood.
Overall Impression — 8
Thornography is full of fantastic dual guitar work, beautiful piano compositions, and impressive lyrics, even though at times they are a bit over-the-top. There are plenty of fans who might feel the guitar work may be approaching a somewhat different genre, but guitarists Allender and Hedger do some flawless harmonies that deserve attention on the CD. There are some songs that don't quite live up to expectation on Thornography, but those are few. The Heaven 17 cover song Temptation gets a bit repetitive despite incorporating vocals from female singer Dirty Harry, who does have an awesome Bonnie Tyler singing style. While the vocals are strong, the song is driven by the same chords over and over again, losing the creepy quality that is present in other songs. The band apparently had recorded a cover of Shakespeare Sister's track Stay, which undoubtedly would have been a great addition to the record. The band does keep the theatrics coming throughout the CD, and it's a nice escape from the rest of what's out there. If you find songs about vampires, Gordian knots, and the Shakespearean character Caliban ridiculous, Cradle Of Filth will have you rolling your eyes. But that aside, the band does what a lot of others fail to do: keep things interesting. There is no shortage of creative keyboard lines, sound effects, and elaborate orchestration, and Thornography will find a lot of new fans because of it.