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Cradle of Filth – Hammer of the Witches Review

Band: Cradle of Filth
Album: Hammer of the Witches
Label: Nuclear Blast
Genre: Extreme Metal
Country: UK
Release Date: July 10, 2015

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Cradle of Filth, oh boy , I have been listening to them since 1995. They released one of my all time favourite albums, their debut : “The Principle of Evil Made Flesh”. I got it on cd and on vinyl. But believe you me, in the small town where I grew up in, it was a near miracle that I actually got my hands on the CD (also bought the t-shirt, although it was second hand and had a huge tear in it. As the previous hellion of an owner got it ripped in a mosh….bastard!).

I listened to the album religiously, non-stop. Friends when just give a sigh and roll their eyes at me when I turned on the Stereo and Cradle started playing. But it was my first introduction in the “modern sense” of paganistic/atmospheric metal. I never saw COF as a black metal band, more pagan in their approach. But the did carry nuances of black metal in their music. But notice, I said “did”. COF has gone through a lot of changes, musically and collaborative in nature. And not always in a good way.

The band formed in 1991 in Suffolk, England. And over the years have had so many line-up changes, my pc does not have enough memory for me to list them all. But the only constant, and probably the only reason Cradle of Filth has reached the success it has, is because of lead vocalist Dani Filth. Dani has a voice that ill make wolves howl and curdle milk (all good of course), he’s easy jump between demon like growls and satan like howl is legendary. And do not forget his lyrical prowess. Just read some of the lyrics. Its like a play from Shakespeare (well Shakespeare in corpse paint, flogging chained naked women). The band has released a massive 11 studio albums since 1994. With Hammer of the Witches being number 11.

The concept of the album revolves around the  Malleus Maleficarum. OR as it is called in English : “Hammer of the Witches”. It deals with hot nubile witches and religious prosecution by christians, ergo religious intolorance. As with all Cradle of Filth album covers, this one does not dissapoint. If there is one thing except Filth’s vocals to remember Cradle of Filth by, its their awesome album covers. And which true metal head does not covet cool album covers?

So does the album deliver? Well, yes and no, and unfortunately more in the negative that the positive. COF (the acronym they use) is very good at what they do. Almost fine tuning it to and art form, moving away from they raw extreme blackish metal sound (which I loved), to a more conceptual gothic metal. And that is the problem for me, they have become very very formulaic. For me to the point of not being able to tell which song comes from which album. The only way to tell is to listen to the lyrics, to get the concept. Why? Because COF has become a concept factory. This was awesome, the first 2 or 3 times, now its just repetitive.

The riffs races like a warmongering army, beating everything in its path, with Filth’s vocals hopping over it with pixie like agility and then landing like the hammer or Thor to bash your face in with his growls. But again, it all sounds the same. Every song sounds the same. I miss the days when they did not deliver a concept album. Sure there was a dark thread through all their material, but it was more diverse, and with diverse material, you get diverse influences and sounds.

There are some cool songs on the album. The title track is worth a listen, as well as “Deflowering the maiden head”. Purely for the guitar solo that popped up in there which gives it some break in the formula (they were all probably pissed from a night at the pub, and the guitarist decided to slip that in so his mother could hear him on the album).

So, if you are a COF fan, chances are, you already have this album and won’t care about this review. If you have not heard COF before (where have you been living???). Then I can highly recommend the band, but perhaps try some of the early stuff. IF you love gothic concept albums. Then give this one a listen….and then get all the early stuff!

Rating: 6/10

Tracklist:

1. Walpurgis Eve
2. Yours Immortally
3. Enshrined In Crematoria
4. Deflowering The Maidenhead, Displeasuring The Goddess
5. Blackest Magick In Practice
6. The Monstrous Sabbat (Summoning The Coven)
7. Hammer Of The Witches
8. Right Wing Of The Garden Triptych
9. The Vampyre At My Side
10. Onward Christian Soldiers
11. Blooding The Hounds Of Hell

Total Playing Time: 56:11

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