Ever since Cradle Of Filth’s early demos and their 1994 debut LP The Principle Of Evil Made Flesh, our favourite extreme metal manglers have propagated blasts of symphonic, tremolo-picked metal of the highest standard. As the band finish scribbling for their as-yet-untitled twelfth album and frontman Dani Filth poises to release II: The Mephisto Waltzes with his other band, Devilment, we sift through the swamp and select 10 of Cradle’s beastliest B-sides.
10. Mistress From The Sucking Pit (2010)
Culled from Darkly, Darkly, Venus Aversa’s bonus disc, Mistress From The Sucking Pit displays some of Ashley Ellyllon’s finest keywork before Paul Allender’s trademark chug muscles its way in. This was Ellyllon’s sole Cradle record, but her tinkling on this track remains one of Darkly, Darkly, Venus Aversa’s more memorable ditties, blending the cut-throat romanticism of early Cradle with the band’s thuggish output from the fresh decade.
9. The Snake-Eyed & Venomous (2007)
Thornography is wrongly accused of being the poorly-made crown of thorns atop Cradle’s skull, but there are gems aplenty. On the Harder, Darker, Faster edition, The Snake-Eyed & Venomous’ unyielding thrash overtones are cemented through ex-Skyclad/Sabbat mouthpiece Martin Walkyier’s backing vocals – all in all, it’ll make your head bang.
8. Misericord (2015)
Hammer Of The Witches slapped us all in the face and wagged a fungal finger at us for ever doubting Cradle, despite an almost complete line-up reshuffle – the record turned out so strong, even its bonus tracks are brilliant. Misericord succeeds most in its mid-tempo downtime, exuding an archaic racket akin to Doberman Pharaoh’s Egyptian nods, before we’re dragged back into more of that much-missed, twin-lead bliss.
7. Prey (2005)
Taken from Nymphetamine’s bonus disc, Prey builds on that record’s sensual-yet-unsettling nature. Dani’s lyrics seep with conviction and the keyboards are the spaciest since From The Cradle To Enslave; Allender’s gnarled riffs keep everything firmly rooted in the nastiest of territory, mind you.
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6. Sodomy And Lust (1998)
German thrashbastards Sodom get their classic track defiled by Filth, Sodomy & Lust being reinvented with plenty of Dani’s take on the black metal “Urgh!” trope and Nick Barker’s pant-shittingly powerful drumming. Raw, raucous, and just a little bit ridiculous. In the best possible way.
5. Bestial Lust (Bitch) (2005)
Another lustfully-titled effort now, this time in homage to Bathory’s Bestial Lust (Bitch). With Cradle’s major label production job, it obviously doesn’t sound like they’re recording live from inside a goat’s anus, but the thrashing, urgent nature of the source material remains intact.
4. Balsamic And Anathema (2008)
Mercilessly gutted from Godspeed On The Devil’s Thunder due to the thing being too bloody long, Balsamic And Anathema slots into Cradle’s tale of satanic, child-murdering knight Gilles de Rais betwixt Ten Leagues Beneath Contempt and the title track. Dani fancies himself an MC and namechecks his own band before a tasty dual-guitar melody hits you; if this sounds like your bag, pick up the album on vinyl, where the track is included in sequence.
3. King Of The Woods (2015)
This song could have easily murdered Onward Christian Soldiers and taken its place on Hammer Of The Witches. Alas, it wasn’t to be. No idea why. Lindsay Schoolcraft’s vocals harmonise perfectly with Dani’s screeches, Daniel Firth’s isolated bass-work is grimy as fuck and the spooky keys take us into full-on Treehouse Of Horror zones. Absolute spookiness, and a testament to the sheer power and dexterity of Cradle’s new line-up.
2. Truth & Agony (2010)
It’s the best song they recorded between Godspeed On The Devil’s Thunder and Hammer Of The Witches and it’s not even on a sodding album! Popping up on Darkly, Darkly, Venus Aversa’s bonus disc, Truth & Agony trades with that Allender beefiness and its pre-chorus has Martin Škaroupka destroying our ears with something other than blastbeats, but it’s Dani’s criminally underrated melodies and scant screams through the chorus that get us going.
1. Black Metal (1998)
With the stars maligned and the universe splayed open, Cradle took a cult classic and, as Louis Walsh would say, “they made the song their own.” The Venom classic set the precedent for an entire genre, Cradle’s skewed view giving Black Metal a spin in their nefarious washing machine. Lecter’s cheeky organ pumps into the chorus, camper than a one-man production of Hairspray starring Alan Carr; Barker manages some maddening fills as his double-pedal fractures your spine; a bile-flecked showing from Dani proves he can grunt with the best of them. This has everything. Black fuckin’ metal.
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