2014 saw the departure of Paul Allender from the Cradle of Filth ranks for the second time in his life; Allender having left to form The Blood Divine after the bands’ debut album The Principle of Evil Made Flesh (Cacophonous). The White Empress six-stringer then rejoined for what is often seen, perhaps unfairly, as the bands last “great” album Midian (Music For Nations/Koch) [I for one have a lot of time for Nymphetamine (Roadrunner) and Manticore (Peaceville) – ST]. With Allender’s departure, so the exploration of a shorter, punkier, more traditional verse-chorus structured album of 2012’s Manticore departed with it.
Cradle frontman Dani Filth then followed up Manticore with the debut album of his other band, Devilment, ten tracks of straight forward Gothic groove metal, resplendent with tongue-in-bum lyrics and simple, catchy slabs of rock club anthems. With his two most recent albums being simpler affairs, the obvious conclusion is that Hammer Of The Witches (Nuclear Blast) is a reaction, with its return to lengthier compositions and a more grandiose presentation, all tied up with some of the bands thrashiest riffs for a while. “I guess so” muses Dani. “We never do two albums the same. It’s definitely a bit more meandering, and I think people like to have that, they like Cradle of Filth to be about storytelling, to be very cinematic, about it being a journey and immersive. I personally like it. Some of my favourite Cradle songs are the ten minute ones – ‘Queen of Winter, Throned’, ‘Bathory Aria’, etcetera”
“The necessity of having to get 2 new guitarists on board, both joining the band at the same time for our tour with Behemoth last year, it’s given them a place almost like Murray and Smith, Hanneman and King” continues Filth, discussing “new” (they’ve been in the band a year, mind) guitarists Richard Shaw (Emperor Chung) and Ashok (Fear). “They’re very competent musicians. Their musicianship is out of this world and I can say that, because I’m a vocalist, so I’m only hanging around them!
“Everybody’s really contributed to this album and on that tour in particular we were plundering a lot of our old material, playing ‘Beneath The Howling Stars’ and ‘Funeral In Carpathia’ ‘Haunted Shores’ and I think that was a good springboard for us to then jump off onto writing this album”
Cradle recorded once again with Scott Atkins at Atkins’ own Grindhouse Studios, in deepest rural Suffolk. Speaking to Atkins, a guitarist himself and formerly of Stampin’ Ground, the producer confirmed the technical qualities of the new pair had hugely benefited the recording process. “Yes, they’re awesome, they’re fans of the band and they contributed well to the record” opines Dani of the guitarists’ contribution to a record that could easily have been a double album. “We were very prolific in the fact that we actually had to drop 3 really good songs which with a little bit more nudging day will hopefully see the light of day.
“Maybe if the album does well, we can extend the touring cycle and get an EP out with those three songs; that’d be on top of the two bonus tracks. We see all of our music as children and we didn’t really want to see those bonus track songs segregated from the bulk of the album, but record companies do as they do.
“We couldn’t decide on a track listing until the 11th hour, so, some people may even prefer those 2 tracks.”
Despite the impact, technical ability and understanding of the legacy of Cradle of Filth brought by the latest through the revolving door of official band members, what would Dani see as the definitive Cradle line up? If there was money on the table… “People have offered us a lot of money to do various things, but it’s just a bit shit really, in my opinion. It’s like going to Martin (Skaroupa – drums) and saying ‘Martin, we’re going about to do a tour, but sorry, you’re not invited because somebody’s given me a fat wad of cash to get Nicholas Barker back in.’
“And as much as I love Nicholas, and what a great drummer he is, it just doesn’t feel right, you know? And that’s one thing Cradle have always maintained throughout the years, thick and thin, whether people love us or hate us, we’ve always done our own thing, and we personally think we’ve done it for the right reasons. The possibilities are endless, People have come and gone and I can’t see it (a vanity tour) happening.
“Unless it was a VAST amount of money, and it got me my second luxury yacht…” chuckles Filth.
“Look, the line-up of Cradle of Filth is the current line-up. Hopefully should the longevity of the album continue, we’ll get in there and do the EP, because we’ve got 3 songs which are great and are only going to the better once they’ve been worked on further. And then we can add a couple of covers to the mix as well, because we’ve been favouring a few songs that we’d just like to add the Cradle touch to.
“But that’s the imminent future aside from the massive touring ahead of us. I’ve got some ideas for that (the tour), but we’ve got to keep them within budget, so the giant robot ripping off the roof of each venue, sadly, doesn’t seem viable…
“I’m a dreamer like that, see… We can only hope, hey?”