Archive for orchestral

Cradle of Filth – Midnight in the Labyrinth

Posted in CD, Instrumental, Metal with tags , , , , , on 24th April 2012 by tobiasgray

Band: Cradle of Filth
Album: Midnight in the Labyrinth
Release date: April 21st 2012
Genre: Orchestral/Soundtrack
Label: Peaceville/Nuclear Blast

One of Britain’s most successful and controversial bands of the last twenty years return with their first full length album since 2010’s Darkly, Darkly, Venus Aversa.

Never a group to rest on their laurels, Cradle of Filth have meandered through various facets of metal in their long career.  From the early gothic and epic ‘black’ metal, to later thrash and conceptual themes, Cradle have never been afraid to experiment.  This time they have delivered yet another surprise with orchestral reinterpretations of tracks from their first four albums, stripped of guitars, drums, keyboards and the trademark higher register shrieks of the incomparable macabre poet – Dani Filth.

Midnight in the Labyrinth‘ is a two CD collection, with disc one containing 10 tracks, narrated by Dani (in his low, gutteral, spoken voice), and with the welcome return of Cradle of Filth operatic vocal goddess, Sarah Jezebel Deva.  Disc 2 contains the same tracks, sans vocal narration.

Cradle of Filth don’t make it easy on their fans.  Oldtimers reminisce about the earlier raw, yet highly structured works up to and including ‘Cruelty and the Beast‘.  While passionate newer followers, introduced to the band from ‘Midian‘ through to ‘Darkly, Darkly, Venus Aversa‘ maintain their major label, commercial success.  This bold release unfortunately fails in its ambitions however…

Epic orchestral scores have freedom throughout their creative process.  Themes can be introduced, teased, then unleashed as the music ebbs and flows. Harmonies and counter melodies are woven through the supporting instruments, and important moments can be ‘suspended’ to increase their dramatic impact.  It feels as though Mark Newby-Robson (Mark de Sade) has been constrained with just how much freedom he was allowed to change these classic tracks.  The structures are identical to the originals and so supporting sections, where the vocals should be the focal part, drag into repetitious themes.

The arbitrary ‘narrations’ serve to guide lost listeners as to where in the track they are up to, but drop in sporadically at random intervals.  The recording is excellent and familiar riffs played on strings is interesting to hear, but I was disappointed that more harmonies and counter melodies could not have been introduced, or the song structures edited to provide a more stimulating overall production (ie: ‘Funeral in Carpathia‘ at close to nine minutes!).

That being said, when the experiment works – it works well.  Opener  “A Gothic Romance (Red Roses for the Devil’s Whore)” has the variety to really engage the listener.  Memorable riff after riff is thrown at you and the note perfect accompaniments of Sarah Jezebel Deva raise the music to euphoric heights.  Other classics such as “Summer Dying Fast” and (album highlight), a blistering, energetic rendition of “Cruelty Brought Thee Orchids”  truly demonstrate what this genre is capable of.  The sublime vocal talents of SJD lead me to wonder how these tracks would sound with operatic lead vocals, though a Cradle of Filth album with Mr Filth is arguably not a Cradle of Filth album at all!

‘Midnight in the Labyrinth’ is an album Cradle fans, especially those already familiar with the first four albums, owe it to themselves to listen to.  A vastly different proposal, and more effective as background or ambient music than something that demands your full attention…but if that’s what you wanted – listen to ‘Dusk…And Her Embrace’ instead!

Ambient – 4/5

Metal – 2.5/5

Tobias Gray

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