Cradle of Filth
Hammer of The Witches
Released 10th July 2015
Extreme Gothic Metal
Released via Nuclear Blast Records
Cradle Filth doesn’t need much of an introduction. Whether you love them or hate them, you cannot deny that they have left their mark on the metal scene. With a long career spanning over two decades, they have given us numerous Gothic horror videos, poetic lyrics, both shocking and beautiful imagery and a variety of music styles. Their music has evolved a lot over the years: from the death metal demos to black and symphonic black metal to the latest incarnation – extreme Gothic metal (according to The Metal Archives). I’ve been into their music since the late 90s and I have observed the various transformations, not just in music style but also in the line-up. Currently Dani Filth is the only original member left. All this means that Cradle of Filth in 2015 is a very different beast compared to band I grew to love after hearing ‘Dusk And Her Embrace’ and ‘Cruelty And The Beast’. Their latest opus ‘Hammer of The Witches’ is the follow up to ‘The Manticore’ and Other Horrors’ and it’s a concept album about witchcraft and the treatment of witches over the ages. The title is a reference to the medieval document about the persecution of witches called ‘Malleus Maleficarum’.
We’re entering familiar territory with the first track; a violin-infused, symphonic intro ‘Walpurgis Eve’, which sounds like a fairly typical opener for a Cradle of Filth album. The next song that caught my attention is the enchanting Gothic horror delight that is Enshrined In Crematoria which reminds me of the band’s ‘Nymphetamine’ -era due to the similarities in the guitar patterns and the keyboard style. Dani’s vocals haven’t really changed much, he’s still combining the black metal shrieks with growling and the clearer, semi-growl vocal style.
Deflowering The Maidenhead, Displeasuring The Goddess is an abomination when it comes to genre and style. As a song it’s a cacophony of the following: symphonic “black metal”, Gothic metal keyboards and backing vocals, Marthus’s relentless pummeling drums along with the thrash metal style guitar riffage halfway through the track. Luckily it’s not long before the vocals and keyboards re-enter the fold as if to remind you of which band you’re listening to. The guitars, both the lead, rhythm and the bass, really come into the spotlight on ‘Blackest Magick In Practice; while the title track is a ferocious monster filled with rage and brutality. Yet there’s no doubt as to which track on here is my favourite – Right Wing Of The Garden Triptych is an absolute beauty of a song, featuring a delicate balance of classic Cradle Of Filth symphonic keyboard melodies, Dani’s shrieks, Marthus’s furiously fast drumming and some skillfully executed guitar work with Lindsay Schoolcraft’s Gothic backing vocals acting as the icing on the cake.
Overall this album reflects a modern Cradle of Filth style. As far as the music goes it’s like a mixture of ‘Nymphetamine’ and ‘Manticore’. So, if you stopped listening to them after ‘Midian’, then you will probably dislike this album. Personally I have mixed feelings about it. There’s a handful of great songs on here and several weaker ones that aren’t memorable in any way. While it’s not another masterpiece like ‘Dusk and Her Embrace’ but it’s not their worst album either.