Masters of baroque melodic extremity, it is befitting that Suffolk symphonaires Cradle of Filth has grabbed the goat by the horns with a suitably slick foray into the live stream arena. Atop a multi-layered theater stage set, ring leader Dani Filth sets the tone, holding aloft a flaming torch and emerging from a cowl straight out of one of the Undertaker’s Wrestlemania entrances, before announcing the commencement of the invocation of the unclean…
“Cthulu Daaaawn!” is barked, and Cradle launch into an exemplary version of just one of their many classics, this one culled from Midian (Music For Nations) harvested from the fertile lands of their opening quintet of essential releases. The mix is clear – live energy aids and adds to the ferocity – and not one element of intricacy or layer is undermined or lost in the performance, evidenced in the fierce opening half of ‘Lilith Immaculate’, where debuting new keyboard player / additional vocalist Anabelle Iratni (also Devilment) makes her first step into the spotlight.
Indeed, Iratni’s inclusion is the first amendment to the Cradle line up for a while, with the virile and stable line up of Filth / Shaw / Ashok / Firth / Škaroupka producing material and live performances to rival their golden first ten-year run; new material represented by ‘Blackest Magick In Practice’ and an initially serene and evocative ‘Heartbreak & Seance’ that unfurls, unwinds and, ultimately, rips.
And the telepathy and natural chemistry of the underpinning five is evident as they bounce from album to album in a way that could have been mishandled by lesser immortals to perform a set list that covers every element of their style and most albums from their verdant history. Aware of pacing, from ‘Lilith..’’s hooky aggression, an abridged, reflective version of ‘Nymphetamine’ emerges, followed by the blackened thrashings of the seminal title track of their fetid debut ‘The Principle of Evil Made Flesh’, where Dani howls in a way that belies the thirty years of throat abuse his chords must have been subjected to. Once a divisive vocalist, Filth casually moves from ear-piercing shriek to his trademark rasp, always the focal point of the live performance.
Yet, somehow, the set manages to find another step up, with the second half joyfully and reverentially focusing on their first ten years, commencing with ‘Mannequin’ from the underrated Damnation And A Day (Sony) before launching into the Heavy Metal Thunder of the sore-neck spawning ‘Malice Through The Looking Glass’. The classics tumble down along with the snow that covers the set as ‘Her Ghost In The Fog’ is foreplay for the penetrative perfection of the pummelling pair ‘Saffron’s Curse’ and ‘The Twisted Nails of Faith’, before proceedings culminate with Bitter Suites’… (Abracadaver) ‘Born In A Burial Gown’ (Škaroupka showing his power and quality once again) bringing us by the hand to the ritualistic climax of the anthemic surge that is ‘From The Cradle To Enslave’.
Always an intentionally visual act, tonight’s Dracula spectacular sees understated Victoriana cum-Gothic sartorial choice amongst the stage regalia for the sextet, with the make up equally down-played, being of the more traditional Black Metal early 90’s essence playing into an optic atmosphere, with footage moving from the band’s live performance to the continuous back-drop video display that flicks between performance footage, Hammer Horror, gothic majesty, creepy concepts, and darkened iconography accompanying a versatile performance that marries the symphonic, the s(l)aytanic and the sublime seamlessly, and that deserves the director being able to cut to a writhing, mass of audience violence.
A well-crafted setlist that visits most stops of the Cradle career journey without any deterioration in quality serves only to showcase that the Filth have a deep, deep canon of excellent, distinctive material, with the modern output more than matching up and proving this iteration can be held in the same esteem with the first two seminal line-ups. In terms of a live video, all that is missing is the rapturous cheer that the closing of each track should evoke as the performance and visuals are as gripping and impressive as you’d expect from one of extreme metal’s most enduring and rightfully successful institutions. Stay safe, stay fucking filthy indeed!
Tickets are available from https://cradleoffilth.veeps.com/ until May 26 and you would be an unbloodied fool to miss out
WORDS BY STEVE TOVEY
PHOTOS BY TOM RUSSELL