When I first saw Brit black metal institution Cradle of Filth, their then-keyboard player, Benjamin Ryan, was tinkling the ivories wearing a Papier-mâché Goats’ head in a pub in North London. This would have been around the time of the band’s debut full-length The Principle of Evil Made Flesh, and I don’t think the band, let alone me, thought that their journey would still be ploughing forward at full steam ahead over a quarter of a century later. As they hammered through the feral, florid genius of Black Goddess Rises that steamy night, it would have been a fertile imagination indeed that would see the band come up with something like Necromantic Fantasies from this new album, Existence is Futile.
For here, with the band on cruise-control and purveying what sounds like a sample-heavy mashup of the themes from the original Star Trek series and The Love Boat overlain by the guitars from Iron Maiden‘s Hallowed Be Thy Name and the raving barking of a lunatic, it is finally apparent that the final victory has been Dani Filth‘s, and his only. The detractors have been many, the co-conspirators at times seemingly even greater in number. But, through it all, the diminutive throat has stood by his vision, and in 2021 it is quite clear that Cradle of Filth will do as they please.
Of course, this fact will still cause stomach-quaking mirth among those who have never got the joke, but for those of us who did, Necromantic Fantasies is something of a late-career classic in the making. The album is littered with prime Filth, those moments when Dani and his minions weave all those disparate elements in their sound together perfectly into six-minute long operettas of damnation; Crawling King Chaos, Black Smoke Curling From The Lips of War and (especially) Discourse Between A Man And His Soul are all top-drawer examples of CoF at their mordant, glorious best, whilst I’d venture to suggest that closing brace Suffer Our Dominion and Us, Dark, Invincible, come close to forming the best end of a Cradle of Filth album in along, long time.
The unflinching ‘do what thou wilt’ stance of the band means that they will never attain the levels of adulation attained by some of their contemporaries in the black metal or indeed wider extreme music scenes; but the fact remains that Cradle of Filth are a jewel in the British heavy metal crown, and this new album only serves to enhance that reputation further. When the punkish chainsaw riffs of The Dying Of The Embers hack and slash their way through your consciousness in tandem with Filth’s syncopated jabber, you know you’re in the presence of genius – again – and that, perhaps surprisingly, this band have delivered one of their finest albums ever in the shape of Existence is Futile. Magnificent stuff.
Existence is Futile releases on October 22nd.
Dani Filth tells his Manowar Golf Cart Story HERE