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CRADLE OF FILTH “TOTAL FUCKING DARKNESS”

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CRADLE OF FILTH “TOTAL FUCKING DARKNESS”

Given that the low-fi quality of black metal’s early masterpieces has become a hallmark of the genre, Cradle of Filth’s Total Fucking Darkness could very well be the sound of one of the blackest of black.

Trve metal fans will surely squirm, and maybe even spit, at this notion. It’s no secret that low-fi is a result of no-cash, and the black metal greats have made their mark through the music itself more so than the production quality. So how do the guys in Cradle of Filth fare?

This third demo from Cradle of Filth is a scuzzy,  putrid portrait of a band finding its footing, and one that gives little indication of the blistering juggernaut that these dark children of the United Kingdom have become. While the band and engineer Tim Turan did a fine job polishing up the demos at Turan Studio in Oxford, England, the production is uneven (likely due to the masters, which were conceivably rotten), and it plays out like a poor imitation of the groundbreaking early releases of black metal.

“Spattered in Faeces” teases their current symphonic flourishes with its eerie intro, before diving into a blasting beat-down. “The Black Goddess Rises” is a defining example, with Dani Filth employing both an Attila Csihar-like gurgle and a white-noise vomit. Cradle reach a gallop on “Unbridled at Dusk,” but “Fraternally Yours, 666” (despite its menacing name) suffers from intense monotony, like a dull-but-still-grinding chainsaw against a rosewood log. Over the course of the album, the instrumentation is often lacking, but it is the vocal effects that cast an amateurish haze throughout. Mostly missing is Filth’s signature shriek, while the dueling vocal approach remains, boasting more of a bark than a razor-tongued bite.

So is a re-release warranted? In this case, yes. Even those who roll their eyes at the mere mention of Dani Filth and his horde will find it impressive that they have grown as significantly as they have in the past two decades. Total Fucking Darkness is an artifact of what many would assume to be a different band than the Cradle of Filth of today.

So will the corpse-painted, nay-saying denizens who still sleep in their parents’ basements prick up their ears and bang their heads to the album’s 12 tracks? Maybe, and we won’t tell.

Total Fucking Darkness is out now on Mordgrimm Records.

Rating: 2/5 Stars

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