Chomping at the bat as they crawl from the crypt once more, Suffolk’s filthiest continue their renaissance in vulgaris with album number 12. Embellishing extreme metal checkpoints from Cradle’s career with Victorian mysticism, Cryptoriana… embodies the trope, ‘It’s like the early stuff, but new, too’.
Building further on Hammer Of The Witches’ old-school, orchestrally lavish approach from 2015, this record is a perfectly paced example of what people love(d) about the band. Dani Filth’s vocal tract bungee jumps as usual, his bollock-squeezing high screams riposting bestial belches and raspy narration.
A yearning lyrical tide rides atop Wester Vespertine’s chord progression, reaffirming Dani’s status as a modern-day Byron with a sore throat. But in contrast to what detractors would have you believe, this isn’t Dani & The Filths. Cradle’s latest line-up, stable for three years now, have forged their firmest musical spine since Midian. The return to twin lead guitar is still improving, the title track’s galloping riff bastardising vintage Iron Maiden.
Achingly Beautiful’s key-laden thrash seems a charming throwback to 1994’s A Crescendo Of Passion Bleeding, but it’s done with such expertise, it’s never laboured nor derivative. Cradle know people think their best days are behind them, so Death And The Maiden’s live choirs, its spindly solos and Lindsay Schoolcraft’s magisterial vocals are the most triumphant middle fingers this side of the grave.
Cryptoriana… isn’t some black metal reinvention – it’s just another incredible offering from one of extreme music’s most unique entities, starring the line-up Cradle will arguably be remembered for when they’re long gone, souls uploaded to the cloud.