It seems that Cradle Of Filth have engrossed themselves in crafting elaborate theatrics and towering keyboard melodies that have at this point become a crucial staple of their sound. The problem is though, that the band has come to rely almost unequivocally on them, creating a make or break situation for listeners who are considering a listen to their latest outing, ‘Darkly, Darkly, Venus Aversa’.
The alteration of basics like drums and guitars should have brought fresh life into the album, but sadly this is not the case. Instead, the epic symphonies are launched like mortars from the second the album begins, levelling in to ruin any deviant instrumental moments that terrorize their almighty reverence. Take for example the riffs and solos of guitarist Paul Allender, who tries so commendably to break the chains of his cyclical tremolo-picked riffs and dormant chords with melodic leads that accomplish moderate success in their own regard, but are often pummelled into submission by significantly mixed keyboards and atmospherics that aren’t nowhere near as interesting. Even his solos, which at times rip pretty respectably when looked at in the context of the rest of the instruments (the solo at the end of ‘Forgive Me Father (I Have Sinned)’ is awesome, albeit swallowed up by Dani Filth‘s wails), are often plastered over brashly. On times it’s Dani Filth‘s own voice that simply doesn’t seem to be able to take a moment of silence for the riffs to advance and progress, and instead they are left to do their work in the backdrop, leaving voids and transitions that don’t seem completely valid or smooth.
It is very easy to notice the radical lack of bite or emotion in Filth‘s voice, with his screams unable to approach any level even close to his former range, and his whispers and singing grow laborious and become overused. Thankfully, his deep growl isn’t entirely awash, but its sporadic use is disappointing. It seems as if the ambition in Dani Filth‘s mind is way beyond his songwriting talent, a syndrome suffered by acts such as Dimmu Borgir, producing drifting and ridiculous keyboards that add absolutely nothing to the album aside from their misguided grabs at atmosphere.
While the hub instrumentation of ‘Darkly, Darkly, Venus Aversa’ (bass, drums and guitars) are all acceptable, it leaves little space for criticism outside of their signature theatrics, which have also found a way to leak their infectious mediocrity into the vocal department. The female clean vocals are cheesy and conceited, so swallowed in their own grand aspirations that they don’t realize their own shortcomings. The orchestration is flamboyant and prominent, but has no place being so rampant or oppressive in a metal album, regardless if its point is to be symphonic. It all sucks the life and enjoyment out of the few qualities Cradle Of Filth still have that are worth listening for, and instead it is a tiresome endeavour that, at just over an hour in length, is far too long for its own good.
The ambitions of Dani Filth and his band have become all-consuming it seems, because with ‘Darkly, Darkly, Venus Aversa’, the band have what could arguably be considered the worst album of their career; one that is so misguided and lost in ego that they don’t even realise it themselves. Filth‘s vocals are pathetic and impassive, the keyboards and symphonics are used as a crutch, the songwriting monotonous and tiresome, the concept shallow, the execution slack; all sad facts because, at its core, the drumming, bass and some of the guitar work is good. It may be a sign that Cradle Of Filth are running short on real, quality, original ideas, but at this point it is still too early to tell.
Fans of Cradle Of Filth may still find something to revel in on this album, but even they will notice the drop in quality compared to the older albums they may adore. Overall, it cannot be denied that the horizon looks quite dark for Cradle Of Filth, unless they scrounge together an album that doesn’t rely on features that have been recycled dozens of times over.
Written by Rhys Milsom