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Cradle of Filth - Thornography

Label: Roadrunner Records
Format: CD
Released: 2006
Reviewed By: The Goat

My first initiatory experience with Cradle of Filth was there "Dusk and her Embrace" album. I was initially told that Cradle of Filth was the Kiss of Black metal by a college metal music rep. This was enticing and it has left me a fan ever since.


Every Cradle of Filth album (disregarding those stop gap greatest hits compilations) opens with some sweeping introduction. "Thornography" is no exception. ‘Under Pregnant Skies She Comes Alive Like Miss Leviathan’ is a grand, bold orchestral movement. Apparently, the benefits of being signed to Roadrunner means discarding simple, flat sounding keyboard introductions for a symphonic blowout. After the introduction, ‘Dirge Inferno’ kicks in. It is a groovy number, but it is not Cradle's best work. Next is ‘Tonight In Flames’. The chorus is a bit rough, with some actual attempts at singing and this detracts from the over all song. What truly makes this song become impressive is the ripping groove the guitars create. Once again, Doug Bradley rears his Pincushioned head to do some evil spoken word. ‘Libertina Grimm’ goose steps in blackened vinyl and she stomps all over the place. When this Dominatrix anthem is done, we have, quite possibly the most controversial piece of music The Filth-y Boys have ever put to task.

Prepare yourselves, if you are not already aware but ‘The Byronic Man’ is a duet with Dani and Ville Valo of HIM. On paper this sounds as good as Leonard Nimoy's contribution to that Golden Throats album. At first, I really didn't like the song (and I am a HUGE HIM fan). I decided to give it a second chance and to my surprise, Ville's velvety voice paired with Dani's creepy croak sent shivers up my spine - in a good way. The song is an understated masterstroke. A wacky pairing to be sure but given the chance, you'll most likely wish there was more. I am certain that there was (and probably still is) some moaning from the metalhead peanut gallery. After ‘Byronic man’, ‘I am the Thorn’ is a bit of a let down.

It treads the usual Cradle territory, diverting little from their standard formula. This is frustrating, due to the experimental nature of some of the better songs, to be put back into what is commonplace and familiar. While I appreciate the care this implies, kind of like coloring within the lines so as to not make too much of a mess of the art, I hope they expand their horizons more.

Yet, as if to hear this argument, ‘Cemetary and Sundown’ has one of the catchiest lyrics that Cradle has ever put to page. The guitars stomp in a thrash attack that would have Anthrax drooling. The real excitement happens at exactly 3 minutes, when the guitars hit you with such a razor sharp stomp that it sounds like open heart surgery with a chainsaw. Personally, this is a new one for my ears in respect to Cradle's back catalogue. It is a straight thrash rip and tear. ‘Lovesick for Mina’ kicks in and shreds in the usual Cradle fashion. It would be best to think about old school Cradle, not "Evil Made Flesh", but "Vempire" or "Dusk" territory. It would not be out of place on one of those albums.

The safety of ‘Mina’ left me unprepared for ‘The Foetus of a New Day Kicking’. It is one of the most twisted thrashing songs I have ever had the pleasure to listen to. I swear, King Diamond is doing some backing vokills somewhere on this song. This is the BEST song I have ever heard Cradle decompose. The lyrics are even catchier than the ‘Cemetary’, I was singing them after one listen. There is even a crazy Maiden riff hidden in there as well. There is an anarchistic edge to ‘New Day Kicking’ that has not been present in much of Cradle's catacombs.

As if this was not enough, I must compliment the pacing and planning of this album, the best is at the end. The first full ensemble, sans Dani, instrumental, ‘Rise of the Pentagram’ is an intelligently crafted decomposition. It is an amazing song which catches all of Cradle's best elements. "Thornography" finishes with ‘Under Huntress Moon’ and the cover tune ‘Temptation’. ‘Huntress Moon’ is yet another Cradle standard fair, with Sarah Jezebel Deva making an appearance. ‘Temptation’ is a bit of a dodgy cover but it is very light hearted and amusing. Overall, "Thornography" has moments of daring genius interwoven with the comfortable and reliable.

Rob Caggiano, of Anthrax fame, has done wonders for Cradle of Filth. Never before has this band sounded more full and complete. I am pleased that this is the direction they are going. Now, if they could only keep a stable line-up…but perhaps, this is the secret of their longevity and not a pact with Satan?

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