Ahhhhh if it isn’t Cradle of Filth. The first metal band that I really came to know and love, and still my favorite band to this day. My friends from Sputnik know this all too well. Anyways, these guys will always be special to me. I was always the one to defend them when people criticized them for going “mainstream” and how they betrayed “true black metal” and all that other crap. Then again, people who say stuff like that likely haven’t heard anything before 2003’s Damnation and a Day.
Let’s take a step back to the 90’s for a second. Cradle was still a relatively new band, forming in 1991 and releasing their debut album The Principle of Evil Made Flesh in 1994. If you haven’t heard early Cradle albums (as in the first 5), then you’d be surprised to know that these guys were releasing some top-notch symphonic/gothic black metal and this album Dusk and Her Embrace, their second full length released in 1996, could be regarded as a top 5 album in the symphonic black metal genre.
This album’s tone is set right from the very beginning with the instrumental “Humana Inspired to Nightmare,” a keyboard driven and very eerie minute and a half ride. Then “Heaven Torn Asunder” kicks in, with a sound of a burning fire and a mid-paced riff and next thing you know Dani unleashes one of his banshee yelps with the guitar still going in the background along with the keyboards and you know you’re in for it. Nick Barker kicks in with the firing blast beats and double bass and you’re off for an almost hour long journey into hell. Just so we’re clear, Dani sounds nothing like he does now on this album. His voice is much, much more powerful and he’s able to hit those high notes perfectly, unlike nowadays.
The guitars and the keyboards compliment each other very well throughout the whole duration of the album. One doesn’t really shine over the other, it’s just a perfect balance. There are songs that are more guitar driven such as “Funeral in Carpathia” which could arguably be a top 10 or even top 5 Cradle of Filth song of all-time. And then there’s the more gothic melody filled songs such as “A Gothic Romance (Red Roses for the Devil’s Whore)” which features Dani doing more deep talking and creepy whispering, as well as Sarah Jeezebel Deva’s haunting female vocal lines. Robin Eaglestone’s basslines are also very noticeable during the entire album. Not just like a regular black metal album that is so muddy you can’t hear one thing from another. Cronos from the notorious British band Venom ends the album with a war speech, which basically unfolds “black metal’s master plan.” Perfect way to end a pretty much perfect album.
If you think Cradle of Filth is just another shitty mainstream metal band, I’d advise you to stop being so close-minded and listen to this album. Or any of the first 5 albums for that matter. You might not enjoy them now, but back in these days they were a whole different monster and this is their magnum opus. Tied with In the Nightside Eclipse for my favorite symphonic black metal album and one of my favorite albums in general.
Release Date: 1994
1. Humana Inspired to Nightmare
2. Heaven Torn Asunder
3. Funeral in Carpathia
4. A Gothic Romance (Red Roses for the Devil’s Whore)
5. Malice Through the Looking Glass
6. Dusk and Her Embrace
7. The Graveyard by Moonlight
8. Beauty Slept In Sodom
9. Haunted Shores