Cradle Of Filth – Trouble and Their Double Lives
Release Date: 28/04/23
Running Time: 1:55:30
Review by Dark Juan
Greetings, mortals. It is I, your psychopomp to toffs and gentry, your guide through the Deadworlds and the dank nether lands, through the swamps of your tawdry, vanilla sexual fantasies and the fulfilment of them and your rapporteur in the world of Extreme music, Dark Juan. I trust you are all well and that you have all managed to sate your baser pleasures for the worship of our Lord Satan and his hordes. I have returned from wrangling troubled young souls and the adults who keep watch over them (social care basically teaches grownups to have the sickest senses of humour known to mankind) to write this epistle to you, my legions.
I know. Quell your excitement, peeps.
However, this time I have decided to crawl out of my dark underground lair into the realms of more well-known bands, which I like to do occasionally because even Dark Juan likes to sometimes achieve the heady heights of competence, generally not sustain them and fall crashing back to Earth in a welter of self-recrimination and loathing but nevertheless continue to strive and today’s victims of choice are Cradle Of Filth. They were selected because Dark Juan is a Sad Old Goff™ and Dark Juan has been a fan for many years and still regards “The Principle of Evil Made Flesh” as one of the greatest albums ever made and a seminal moment in British Extreme music history.
I’m going to get all the piss-taking and insults out of the way now, because I want to concentrate on the music, so yeah, here we go, in no particular order…
Gothic sellouts. Dani is a small, priapic howler monkey with an overweening sense of his own importance and a worrying taste in BDSM lingerie as stage wear. Deniers of the fact that they were an avant-garde Black Metal band once (and marketed themselves as such in their early career, I still have a flyer for them playing Bradford Rio’s in the late 1990s with Hecate Enthroned and Bonewire where the phrase “The UK’s Only Avant-Garde Black Metal Band” was prominently bandied about). Cradle Of Filth is the Dani show and the rest of the band are there basically to back the Filthmeister and there is a revolving door policy on band members. Dani is interchangeable with Richmond from The IT Crowd and no one would notice. They are a parody of their former selves. They are basically Goth cabaret. They aren’t trve Metal. They aren’t Metal at all. They are Metal but sold out. They don’t play the same music as twenty years ago and that makes them shit. Dani is collaborating with the ginger whinger, the three-chord wonder that is Ed Sheeran (I can actually get behind this one – mainly because the ginger bastard said that he has always been a Death Metal fan and Cradle Of Filth are emphatically NOT Death Metal and there are some lines that should not be crossed. Plus have you forgotten the horror of ‘Temptation’?). They come from Suffolk. I can’t be arsed with this anymore because I don’t subscribe to any of it apart from Ed Sheeran.
I don’t understand the hate for Cradle Of Filth, apart from there are times where Dani has been a bit controversial, but the boy is just playing the fame game to the hilt, so what the fuck? It’s not like he’s fucking killed anyone, unlike say, Vince Meal… I mean Neil. Not to mention the musicianship of the band and the complexity of the songwriting and composition of the music is rarely anything less than exemplary. And even the most obnoxious Dani hater has to admit that he is a lyricist beyond compare, even though he occasionally tortures a metaphor or two to make it fit the music. Yes, there have been missteps (that fucking cover of Heaven 17’s ‘Temptation’ for example, and most of “Nymphetamine” and “Thornography”. We shall not mention the travesty that is “The Manticore and Other Horrors”) but in general the band deliver Vaudevillian Gothic Metal classics that astound as they meld Black Metal velocities with Trad Metal guitar lines, Ubergothic keyboards, operatic vocals and atmosphere, and a man with a voice so distinctive he can reach whistle tone with it and lyrics that are tales in themselves.
So, I am quite prepared to die on this hill and I WILL be fucking fighting each and every single one of you, by yourselves and all at once if necessary, if you DARE try to tell me that Cradle Of Filth are not amazing. Fight me. Come on. I fucking dare you. I’ll tear your arms off and beat you to death with the wet ends. I’ll rip your tits off. I’ll feed your gizzards to buzzards and lizards. I’ll stamp on your face in combat boots like I’m a member of INGSOC. I’ll marry your daughters. All of them. You have been warned.
Ah, seven hundred-plus words into this review and not a fucking word about what I am listening to. Must be a new record for me, that.
“Trouble and Their Double Lives” is the first live record from the Filth in 20 years and covers pretty much their whole and enviable canon (nothing from “Principles…” or “V Empire”, though, which is a shame because ‘Summer Dying Fast’ and ‘The Black Goddess Rises’ would fit perfectly into a set of later Filth songs) but it opens with a new song, ‘She Is a Fire’ which is… OK. It seems to suffer from a bit of a misfire as the arrangement of the music jars a bit and the whole song feels a bit disjointed. It’s almost as if the band were trying too hard this time to excel at extremity and have come up with a song that is Cradle Of Filth by numbers. It’s still pretty fucking good though, especially when Cradle Of Filth have no obvious peers, such is the originality of their style and substance.
The live performances on this record were recorded between 2014 and 2019 in North America, Australia, Europe and elsewhere, and it has to be said that the production work on the album is spectacularly good, as it levels out the acoustics from different venues and sound setups (and band members) to make the listening experience a cohesive and complete one. Especially when you consider that this is a live album and Dark Juan normally fucking hates live albums. Guitars and bass are easily heard and clearly distinct in the recording and I can even hear the bass drum properly and the drumming doesn’t descend into mushy thunder even at V/max. The Meister responsible for turning live recordings into listenable music is Scott Atkins at Grindstone Studios in Suffolk, and Dark Juan salaams piously at his feet because he is a fucking god.
Particular highlights from the back catalogue on this album are the spectacular ‘Bathory Aria’ (all 11 minutes of it), a particularly dementedly howling version of ‘Desire In Violent Overture’ and a performance of ‘Nymphetamine (Fix)’ that couldn’t be any more lascivious unless it was arranging and involved in a explicitly depraved orgy involving arabesques with ill-suited limbs, people of restricted growth and most of London Zoo’s exhibits. ‘Saffron’s Curse’ is a favourite song of Dark Juan’s anyway and the live performance of this piece is jaw-dropping because the band are going that hard there’s Dani’s voice going a bit wild and wobbly and the speed is breakneck to say the least although you can’t help that thinking that the song might have been a tad ambitious for the live arena. The band never offers less than a frighteningly committed performance on songs that are uniformly performed even more speedily and with much more muscularity than on the albums they came from and there is a breathless, febrile quality to the performances of every song – Dani Filth’s trademark howl soaring maniacally above music that warps space and time with its speed, until the hyperdrive is disconnected and there is a gorgeous, Gothic keyboard break or a female operatic vocal that every Sad Old Goff ™ and a bunch of young ones should quite rightly fall instantly in love with, shortly before the owner of that voice sinks her cruel fangs in to “Bleed restriction from my neck…”
The second new song on this album is ‘Demon Prince Regent’ and this one fits in rather better to the Cradle Of Filth canon, dispensing with multiple movements, disjointedness and being too clever by half in favour of a head down, full throttle charge that tramples the listener gleefully underfoot and then seats itself on the corpse for a restorative glass of absinthe and a bit of communion with the devil before returning to action and defiling the corpse of the listener with a Christian cross while muttering something about “getting nailed by and like Jesus” before skipping joyfully off to go and destroy a church with its pet demon, Sprinkles.
The oldest song on this recording is the rendition of ‘Haunted Shores’, all the way back from “Dusk and Her Embrace”, released in 1996. Shit, that album is older than the daughter of Dark Juan, and it fits perfectly into the rest of the songs chosen for this double CD live record. The selection of songs is masterful, artfully crafted to showcase the finer moments of Filth and pleasingly annoying to parents with the inclusion of ‘Gilded Cunt’. Teenagers everywhere will love it. Wait till the olds read the lyrics to ‘The Death Of Love’ and the tales of Gilles De Rais and his pederasty… He was a very naughty man.
Mention must be made of the vocal performances of Dani Filth. Able to emit everything from an earth-trembling rumble to a pitch that will cause bats to crash into things and fall into the laps of young Goth girls who will make pets of them, his staring, wild-eyed and homicidally committed vocals are the glue that holds the whole Vaudevillian shebang together. He frequently causes dogs to disobey their owners at 50 yards when he hits whistle tone. Yes, like everything to do with Cradle Of Filth, the vocals are very much an acquired taste, but once you get there you can’t help but marvel at the power and skill employed by this hyperactive frontman in marshalling his unique pipes to such distinctive and destructive effect. This is more than amply employed on the record’s standout performance, ‘Lustmord and Wargasm (The Lick of Carnivorous Winds)’, which sees every member of the band in scintillating form and moving faster than a fat American family to a buffet table. His lyrical mastery is beyond compare when writing as well.
I can’t help it. I love Cradle Of Filth and have since 1992. It’s the longest relationship I have ever had apart from the Sisters Of Mercy. And that includes Mrs Dark Juan.
I don’t care whether Dani makes more unusual noises than an entire troupe of howler monkeys wired on acid. I don’t care that Cradle Of Filth have had more members than a prostitute on Sunbridge Road in Bradford. Cradle Of Filth are simply irreplaceable. There’s no-one else like them and I love their amalgam of avant-garde Black Metal, Trad Metal, Goth and Operatic splendour.
It has taken me listening to “Trouble and Their Double Lives” to remind me that they are one of my favourite bands because I had started to forget about them because I listen to so much music from so many diverse acts and I am blessed in having had the privilege to review this live meisterwork, which (apart from the rich production) is warts and all, there’s a few missteps from drummer and guitarists along the way, but no live performance is 100% perfect and for a band that plays at such egregious velocities, it’s a wonder they don’t fuck up on a more regular basis. I would have downed tools after about thirty-two seconds.
Cradle Of Filth, then. Polarising, can be annoying if you aren’t expecting them, insist on butchering Sisters of Mercy songs, but by god they are everything fucking wonderful about Metal and Extreme music dialled up to way past 11 and this record is eighteen tracks (just shy of TWO hours!) of wonderful and they are UTTERLY FUCKING UNIQUE and THAT is why I love them.
The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System is now on call at work so it must bid you farewell, but not before it awards Cradle Of Filth 47,000,000,000,000/10 for a perfect live album chock full of classic songs.
01. She is a Fire (new studio track)
02. Heaven Torn Asunder
03. Blackest Magick in Practice
04. Honey and Sulphur
05. Nymphetamine (Fix)
06. Born in a Burial Gown
07. Desire in Violent Overture
08. Bathory Aria
09. The Death of Love (bonus track)
10. Demon Prince Regent (new studio track)
11. Heartbreak and Seance
12. Right Wing of the Garden Triptych
13. The Promise of Fever
14. Haunted Shores
15. Gilded Cunt
16. Saffron’s Curse
17. Lustmord and Wargasm (The Lick of Carnivorous Winds)
18. You will Know the Lion by his Claw (bonus track)
Dani Filth – Vocals
Martin ‘Marthus’ Škaroupka – Drums
Daniel Firth – Bass
Marek ‘Ashok’ Šmerda – Guitar
Donny Burbage – Guitar
Zoe Marie Federoff – Keyboards
Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Dark Juan and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.