|Dani Filth of Cradle of Filth|
When this writer entered the Paradise Rock Club in Boston on an early October night, two things quickly met my eyes: A seemingly endless line to a merch table selling black apparel and an aesthetically pristine Goth girl being led around by a leash held by her male companion. These were welcome sights for three reasons: 1. Goth ladies are lovely, especially on a Saturday night this time of year, 2. Brisk swag sales indicate a rebounding tour industry and 3. The incomparable Cradle of Filth has returned to America.
As COVID-19 continues its grip on Beantown and beyond, a live Cradle of Filth show in 2021 provides both escapism and an inspiring statement on the power of resilience. In regard to the latter, this ever-evolving crew of English extreme Metallers has been at it in one form or another for 30 years now. When I interviewed then-guitarist Paul Allender way back in 2000 shortly after the release of the band’s fourth album, Midian, the group had already reached legendary status for taking the typically abrasive sounds of Black Metal to more musically precise – and often heavily symphonic – levels. More than two decades later, leader Dani Filth and his revolving door of bandmates (including newest recruit Anabelle Iratni on keyboards and vocals) are underground scene survivors who still deliver the absolute best of the genre they revolutionized with 1994’s The Principle of Evil Made Flesh, 1996’s Dusk…and Her Embrace and other seminal releases.
|Marek "Ashok" Smerda of Cradle of Filth|
As for escapism…well, with a current tour setlist including song titles like “Desire in Violent Overture” and “The Twisted Nails of Faith,” it’s safe to say that attending a Cradle of Filth gig means taking a journey into a fantastical world that is utterly perfect for the Halloween season. Drawing from various high points in its lengthy career (and boasting the added attraction of playing its 1998 album Cruelty and the Beast from start to finish), the group delivered a pummeling performance that spotlighted undisputed classics (“Cruelty Brought Thee Orchids,” “From the Cradle to Enslave”) while introducing enthralling new tracks (“Crawling King Chaos,” the incredible “Necromantic Fantasies”) off its latest (and best-in-years) album, Existence Is Futile. The expert onstage musicianship reached near-Prog levels at various points (especially during an impressive interpretation of Iron Maiden’s “Hallowed Be Thy Name”), while each of the band’s six members provided a lesson on what it means to actually perform on stage. (Full marks to guitarist Marek “Ashok” Smerda for frequently acknowledging and engaging with audience members from his side of the stage throughout the show.) Whether growling from the pits of Hell or spewing spine-shivering shrieks, Dani’s voice – always an integral part of the Cradle of Filth experience – has not diminished one iota over the years. Unlike most decades-old acts, this band has only become more powerful with age.
|Daniel Firth of Cradle of Filth|
Although the ghoulish makeup and macabre imagery may entice audiences through the door, it’s the extraordinary musicianship anchoring the madness that truly matters. Cradle of Filth’s greatest attribute has always been its exceptionally crafted compositions. The rest is just the black icing on the cake.
|Alexis Mincolla of 3Teeth|