This is the Cradle of Filth that people are way too unfamiliar with. If you’re a fan boy like myself, you know that back in the year 1994, these guys released their debut album The Principle of Evil Made Flesh and you also know that it’s an album that makes newer fans of the band scratch their heads. This album is really the only album that showed the “true” or “kvlt” side of Cradle of Filth. The album’s booklet presents pictures of the guys covered in corpse paint, wearing t-shirts in support of other black metal bands (such as Marduk), etc.
The music on The Principle of Evil Made Flesh matches the image. This is a side of Cradle that only the real fans have seen. Production on this album is much more raw and unpolished (in true black metal fashion) than any of the albums that followed. Don’t get me wrong though, there’s still a shitload of melody to be found here and that’s shown best on the 5 instrumental tracks on the album. The gothic element is present from the very beginning as well, which really separated them from other black metal bands at the time, such as Mayhem, Darkthrone, Burzum, or any of the other big names. It created a very horror movie-esque type atmosphere, something other bands at the time weren’t really doing. The credit for this can go to keyboardist Benjamin Ryan.
The guitar work on the album is a lot like something you’d hear from a second wave black metal band. Mostly tremolo picking and very fast-paced riffs displayed on tracks such as the title track and To Eve the Art of Witchcraft. The Paul’s (Allender and Ryan) also know how to slow it down. Take for example the riffs during the first half of The Black Goddess Rises or the chorus of The Forest Whispers My Name. The drumming, which is done by the now famous Nick Barker, isn’t really a focal point here, but he gets the job done. Faster stuff, slower stuff, he can do it all. You can tell he wasn’t a veteran in the scene at this point though, as the drumming can get a little sloppy at times, but never bad at all. Even the bass is noticeable, which isn’t common in black metal at all. Robin’s basslines, take the title track for example, were a big part of what Cradle was doing in their early days.
The biggest surprise of the album is Dani Filth’s vocals. Most people are used to hearing his grandiose high-pitched screaming. You’re in for a big change here though. While his voice is still high, it’s a lot more raspy and throaty. The only thing that is remotely similar to the albums following this are his deep death-metal growls, which he doesn’t get enough credit for even today in my opinion. There’s also a brief appearance by a female vocalist, but it isn’t Sarah Jezebel Deva, who didn’t join until 1996. They are done by Andrea Meyer, who also worked with Satyricon on their Nemesis Divina album. She only appears once on To Eve the Art of Witchcraft, but it’s a nice little change of pace.
If you guys didn’t already know, this album, and the first 5 albums by this band in general, are absolute classics to me. I think this album is one of the best debuts by a black metal band just for the simple fact that it introduced something new to the genre. No other band at this time was creating an atmosphere like Cradle was in their early days and they were the first band to integrate gothic themes into black metal. And this is where it all started…
1. Darkness Our Bride (Jugular Wedding)
2. The Principle of Evil Made Flesh
3. The Forest Whispers My Name
5. The Black Goddess Rises
6. One Final Graven Kiss
7. A Crescendo of Passion Bleeding
8. To Eve the Art of Witchcraft
9. Of Mist and Midnight Skies
10. In Secret Love We Drown
11. A Dream of Wolves in the Snow
12. Summer Dying Fast
13. Imperium Tenebrarum (Hidden Track)