Before they became the black metal equivalent of marmite, Cradle of Filth, arguably the UK’s most commercially successful and controversial export since Adam Ant, were just like any other bunch of skinny teenagers who made an ungodly racket in their mum’s garage and dreamed of hitting the big time. Unlike most kids their age however, they did actually make it, and the demo in question, 1993’s semi-legendary Total Fucking Darkness not onlyinspired a host of imitators, but proved it wasn’t just the Norwegians who had the monopoly on corpse-paint and blasting for Satan.
Now re-issued with several bonus tracks and re-recordings, Total Fucking Darkness sounds as different to Cradle’s current polished output as it’s possible to get, and that isn’t just due to the abysmal recording quality. While black metal elitists love to sneer at the sextet and claim that they aren’t grim/trve/kvlt enough, the truth is that in the early 90s, Cradle were embedded deep in the underground, had the approval of Euronymous, and were bashing out brutally heavy compositions with sickening lyrical content, with the feral ‘Spattered in Faeces’ a prime example.
Two early versions of future Principle of Evil Made Flesh classic ‘The Black Goddess Rises’ show just how much the songwriting improved before the recording of that seminal debut while others which didn’t make the cut such as ‘Unbridled at Dusk’ and ‘The Raping of Faith’ show a band hungry to prove their worth as the aggressive riffs and suffocating keyboards pile on the intensity creating a Gothic, slightly depraved and quintessentially English atmosphere. Oh, and for such a small guy, Dani roars and screams with more power and passion than most vocalists you could care to mention.
Not essential by any means, but a worthy reminder of where Cradle came from and how important they are. You could almost say they’re a national treasure…