Cradle of Filth, ‘The Manticore and Other Horrors’ – Album Review
Tracking a band's progress throughout 10 studio albums is a long and complex process. The growth and change of a band, especially that of a cult phenomenon like Cradle of Filth, is forever branded within their many works, and without fail, shines the brightest of lights on an act's strengths and weaknesses.
Cradle of Filth, as a band, are growing to become more and more accessible as they continue to put out material. The British extreme metal band were shrouded in an eerie and dark fog during the '90s, creating a mystique which brought legitimate fear to those who happened to hear the band or stumble across a Cradle of Filth album cover or t-shirt. The sound of the band added to that uneasy feeling, as Cradle of Filth continued to unleash a disturbing and sonically disgusting brand of gothic and extreme metal. Cradle of Filth was essentially a cult horror film in audio form, but once an increasing majority was coaxed to take a peek behind the scenes, some of the band's most significant strengths began to fade.
'The Manticore and Other Horrors' is distinctly a Cradle of Filth album, with vocalist Dani Filth once again presenting his incredible vocal range in prime form. Throughout the record, Dani continues to paint elaborate pictures with his words and vocal inflections with a depth of character that few singers can profess. His tea kettle-like highs remain in tact and his low gutturals, although used sparingly, remain powerful, but a masterful performance by Dani Filth isn't enough to carry an album by itself. The guitar work and female vocal presence in 'The Manticore and Other Horrors' leaves much to be desired, with too few memorable parts to create an addictive quality in that respect.
The orchestration, which has always been essential to the band's resonance, presents a beautiful and bewitching quality in stronger tracks such as 'Illictus' and 'Manticore,' but not a horrifying one. Composed solely by Cradle drummer Martin 'Marthus' Skaroupka, the orchestration is well-written and enchanting, although it seems a bit delicate at times and doesn't contain the demonic presence of Cradle of Filth's past works.
As Dani Filth described during our recent interview with the singer, 'The Manticore and Other Horrors' contains an evident dose of punk rock influence. Prevalent in tracks such as 'For Your Vulgar Delectation' and 'Succumb to This,' the newer influence creates a different type of progression for the band that excites on some level, but may prove to be polarizing amongst fans due to its approachable nature.
In closing, although Cradle of Filth's 'The Manticore and Other Horrors' makes for a fine listen, it doesn't quite deliver the trademark 'edge' accomplished so diligently in past efforts.