Now permanently bedded into their home county of Suffolk, in a remote studio that they’d have us believe is haunted by the ghost of the Witchfinder and his tortured victims, these themes have finally found their way to the forefront of Cradle’s imagination, with an allegedly feminist twist (compliant nudie wenches on the sleeve notwithstanding, as per).
Despite continual lineup changes, the sardonic sextet’s distinctive vision and signature sound remain powerfully recognisable and, when the band nail it, deeply satisfying. One benefit of Cradle’s revolving door is that there are always new elements to listen out for; in particular, Hammer Of The Witches is distinguished by a new brace of axemen, and although guitar solos were traditionally a weak link in Cradle’s armoury, the orgiastic leads in Deflowering The Maidenhead, Displeasuring The Goddess go a long way to rectifying that.
Apart from Right Wing Of The Garden Triptych’s brief Euro-trance intro, HOTW has a concertedly metallic density, imperial blastbeats and ripping guitars overshadowing the flamboyant gothicism. Although not as direct and infectious as 2012’s The Manticore, this is a more full-bodied and fruitful platter – plus, hats off to Cradle for managing to look sillier with every photoshoot.