Roundtable Review: Cradle of Filth – Hammer of the Witches
Posted by Reggie
Release Date: 10 Jul 2015
Length: 69 Minutes (is that a coincidence?)
Genre: Symphonic Black Metal
Studio Albums: The Principal of Evil Made Flesh (1994); Dusk…and Her Embrace (1996); Cruelty and the Beast (1998); Midian (2000); Damnation and a Day (2003); Nymphetamine (2004); Thornography (2006); Godspeed on the Devil’s Thunder (2008); Darkly, Darkly, Venus Aversa (2010); The Manticore and Other Horrors (2012).
WarpRider – Is it a bad thing to say I didn’t have high expectations for the latest installment of Cradle of Filth? I mean, don’t get me wrong I like me some Filth, but in the last decade they have been hit or miss for me. It seems like they have been trying to reinvent themselves despite having a pretty solid formula. “Midian” really opened the door into a world of black metal I never knew much of back then and for that I am thankful. I owe some my musical horizon broadening (to the black metal side) to Cradle of Filth.
Their latest album, “Hammer of the Witches,” brings with it more Camp Filth lineup changes which can tilt the like-o-meter to either the like or dislike side. In this case, Cradle of Filth managed to keep the ship sailing and leaning to the like. Dani continues to be able to hit the high notes, but stays mostly in the mids while the band plays on fervently, aggressively. The symphonic elements to Filth’s dark, blackened side is and seemingly always will be a huge part of the musical formula. “Deflowering the Maidenhead, Displeasuring the Goddess” is brutal, features solos, less scratchy vocals (at some points), and opera-styled female vocals. It’s a well-rounded Cradle of Filth song that captures the breadth of what they can do.
There is really nothing new which is not necessarily a bad thing. Some of the new stuff might remind you of the old stuff. While heavy on guitars this time around, “Hammer of the Witches” is ultimately a much stronger output than I imagined. More importantly, nothing goes off the deep end. It’s a consistent album that brings Cradle of Filth back on track. Long-time fans should really enjoy this while new fans can indulge and probably find something they can take away from “Hammer of the Witches.” 3.5
RiffRaff – I’ll be honest, I never really cared much for Cradle of Filth. I can’t say they are without merit for their popularity; they do write some good songs. They just never really clicked or appealed to me. So this is the first time I sat down and gave a deep listen to one of their records. I ended up enjoying it more than I thought I would for the most part.
Dani Filth’s vocals are pretty spot on and thankfully he doesn’t overdo the high pitched screams like I’ve heard in many other CoF songs in the past. The riffing is pretty sick and tied in with the bombastic leads and solos really brought bands like Children of Bodom to mind. In fact all the stuff that I liked about CoB that they lost along the way seem to be picked up and put to good use by CoF. The added camp of Gothic, orchestral styled keyboards and female chanting adds a lot of personality to the record, though not as much as say, Carach Angren.
All in all “Hammer of the Witches” is a solid and entertaining listen. It’s not mindblowing or convincing me to hunt down their backlog, but I will pop it in from time to time. Worth checking out and I can assume established fans will be quite pleased with the album. 3.5
Irmelinis – This release incorporates the speed and brutality from older albums, combined with a fresh lineup and a new keyboardist/vocalist to compliment Dani Filth’s shrieky voice. It works very well and might be Cradle of Filth’s best album since “Midian” (wow, that one is already 15 years old…) even though “Damnation and A Day” was a real gem too, in my opinion. These songs are memorable, forceful and diverse, and as always Cradle of Filth are best when they go back to their black metal roots; fast and furious, firing on all cylinders! 3.5
ChristopherMammal – With this album I now have six CoF albums in my library. The other five wouldn’t be there if I didn’t love the band and their music. “Hammer of the Witches” deepens that love. I’m probably an oddity in the Metal State squad because I’ve enjoyed symphonic metal pretty much since it began, while my colleagues all lean more towards harder, deeper or more cerebral metal. My favourite SM is the heavier sub-genres, including symphonic death and black. On the black side, CoF is one of the most melodious and interesting bands. Their newest line-up works perfectly and the album is as good as any they’ve done. For me that means it’s friggin’ good. 4.5
A Metal State of Mind Score – 3.8 out of 5