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July 22, 2024

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Cradle of Filth
Damnation & A Day (Red Ink/Epic)

By: Athena Schaffer

In an "Order of the Dragon" newsletter (the "official" Cradle of Filth fan newsletter) earlier this year when this album was being recorded, Dani Filth mentioned he wanted this venture to have a concept with an ongoing story line linking the songs together, like "Cruelty and the Beast" or "Midian". "Damnation & A Day" accomplishes that goal by tapping into the Dante's Inferno theme.

This is COF's first album for Epic, and it appears they tried to go "over the top" with. Instead of the classic COF fans have come to know and love, "Damnation and a Day" sounds like it should be the soundtrack of an old Hammer or Roger Corman film. Very polished; in parts, very orchestral and grandiose.

The true majesty of Cradle of Filth's music has always been heavily on the guitars and keyboards, making a perfect backdrop for Dani's voice. Take the guitar riff from "Her Ghost in the Fog" from the "Midian" album, for instance - it sounds like a royal procession for Hellish or maybe Dark Elf hosts; the elegance of the instrumentation without losing heaviness is what makes this song stand out. On "Damnation and a Day", the keyboards take on a "church-like" flavor, and the guitars are all but drowned out in most places by the chorus, orchestra, and overproduction.

But that's not to say this is a bad album. It's not.

The lyrical content -- entirely penned by frontman Dani, as are all COF songs -- is interesting, indeed. Following the "Dante's Inferno" theme, a tale of the Battle of Heaven and the Fall of Angels, told from Lucifer's perspective.

Doug Bradley ("Pinhead" from the "Hellraiser" movies) returns for a guest appearance like he did on the "Midian" album, providing spoken-word parts. In this case, he's quoting from "Dante's Inferno". New bassist Dave Pybus (formerly of Anathema) joins COF veterans: guitarist Paul Allender, keyboardist Martin Powell, and drummer Adrian Erlandsson. The aforementioned 40-piece orchestra and 32-piece choir that back the band were found in Budapest, Hungary. However, not even the choir could drown out the distinctive backing vocals of Sarah Jezebel Deva.

Other highlights:

The song "Doberman (Pharoah)" has a decidedly middle-eastern flavor but with harder, darker edge. This is one of the rare songs on the album where the guitar is featured over the rest of the music.

"Mannequin" is most excellent! Very straight-ahead onslaught, probably the heaviest song on the album. This is the one where fans can really find the Cradle of Filth they were attracted to in the first place. And Sarah Jezebel Deva's voice really, Really shone on this one.

"Thank God For The Suffering" has a very Romanian aura; conjuring the vampire image the band portrays onstage.

It will be interesting to see how these songs translate live. In fact, it will be interesting to see how their entire show translates to their spot on Ozzfest. Known for elaborate shows containing stilt walkers, fire breathers, etc.

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