English masters of black metal Cradle of Filth are dusting off a beast – the peerless Cruelty and the Beast; for a very intimate evening with the semi Suffolk natives come September. Cruelty… was the exemplar for Cradle and the album that had fans and critics alike taking notice. It was a very tumultuous time for metal – and extreme metal in the late nineties in particular was only just clawing its way back in to our hearts after most genres took a beating during the grunge era. I remember the album fondly, it was 1998 and the first time my own mother asked if I was joining a cult. Perhaps I was. Perhaps we all were. Twenty years later I think it is safe to state that Cruelty… has reached cult status; like an artwork rediscovered, it continues to mesmerise. It was with Cruelty… that Cradle of Filth made their mark. So, thanks to the hard working skills of magic mushrooms, Port and some insanely talented musicians – the story of Countess Bathory was breathing new life. Sentinel Daily caught up with Dani Filth recently to chat fungi, hangovers and the key to a great concept album…
Cradle of Filth twice in two years, is it our birthday? “What happened was, we got a management team and we went back on the road to complete the Cryptoriana world tour this year and we just felt that people were missing out in a lot of different places. Seeing as though we have been playing the Cruelty and the Beast album throughout Europe we thought, what better encore for Australians”. Yes, Cruelty and the Beast, the jewel in the crown of Cradle of Filth. I’m particularly excited about this one. What is special about this album in particular to you? “Well, it was the first album that really broke out Cradle of Filth. Just launched us. It was this album that got us taken seriously. Being that it is the twentieth anniversary of the album we planned and have remixed and remastered the album from the original takes to release it again to the world. The press had been done, lyric videos, the repackaging of the art work – it was all put together, but then we got stuck into some legal issues with past members – we decided we would keep on doing the shows if it didn’t all pan out but the original reason behind these tours was to celebrate the album’s twentieth anniversary. The tour so far is being received really well, the shows so far have been positive with fans and we’re all really enjoying it, so now we’re bringing it to Australia”.
Being a concept album – and having that consistency with the storytelling are you finding the live show to have more fluidity also? “I always try to pick a set list that will flow and follow on from song to song, but yes, it feels more complete playing the album from start to finish. Playing the album in its entirety feels almost cinematic actually. The fans are really into it. We’re playing tracks we haven’t played since the album’s inception. It’s a powerful album”.
Are there any songs on the album in which you guys have never played live? “I think, overall, over the years, we’ve played them all live, but definitely not with the current members of the band – several members were new to it. And also, it was difficult to sing the tracks back in the day. It’s quite a complex record and at the time we thought ‘ohh, perhaps we’ve overstepped the mark with this’ – but once you’re out on the stage – it’s a lot easier to slip into these tracks after having such a long experience with playing live”.
You’re now a very seasoned musician – how are you enjoying the shows, playing the songs at your full potential now? “Well, it is now twenty one years ago since it’s release – we’re so consistent as a band and playing tracks written twenty years ago with such confidence it really does open up other possibilities of other albums in the CoF catalogue”.
Writing and recording the album – what were the most memorable moments for you? “Our guest vocalist Ingrid Pitt, the famous horror actress who narrated certain passages as Countess Bathory – having Ingrid visit the studio was surreal- she just nailed and it was such a compliment to the album. That time, it just felt like a strong combination of creativity for what black metal was representing at the time. One of the most endearing memories of being in the studio at that time was the magic mushrooms…. The studio was in Birmingham, it was quite posh. It was Fort Knox – it had a night watchmen. We snuck in one night, bribed the fellow on watch and stayed up in the lounge and watched as Birmingham turned into Gotham city at night – I remember that quite fondly. Starting the vocals for the album, I was quite nervous, so I decided to drink a whole bottle of Port. I remember my vocal coach mentioning Port, and how all the Opera singers would drink a thimble full before a performance…. I heard bottle. It worked! [Laughs] the next day though, I had a fucker of a hangover”. Being such a successful result – should this have not become tradition? “Ohh no, I gave up on that. It was perfect for that night but the next day was a write off – I can’t do that, with this” [Laughs]
What makes a great concept album – one that fits into the Cradle of Filth mould? What inspires you and takes you to where you need to be? “Big, bold and tragic. Strong characters, strong female leads. These stories make it almost cinematic – I feel people can read much further into these stories and be absorbed by it all. A lot of it is archetypal; knowing you can get myths and legend and fact – mixed in with a great story, using true and original characters and events and at times transcripts from the trials even – it’s that little bit of everything that makes it so powerful. There are a lot of bands who release their idea of a concept album and you’re sitting there like ‘OK, what’s the concept’ I think it’s important to have a concurrent story throughout that you can actually follow”.
Now, let’s chat about a new concept…. The next album? I understand there is something in the pipeline for 2020? “We’ve started to write, though we’ve been touring for over four months with very little time at home. I think we’ve got about five or six songs down – that are nowhere near being worked on by everyone. The gigs are trickling out now, we’ve done the bulk of the touring and it’s starting to wind up. November, yes, November – by that point, we should be well on our way to get into the studio around February next year”.
Cradle of Filth bring their Cruelty and the Beast-celebrating tour down under next month at the following fine metal-friendly venues:
03/09/19 – Perth, WA – Capitol
04/09/19 – Adelaide, SA – The Gov
06/09/19 – Melbourne, VIC – 170 Russell
07/09/19 – Brisbane, QLD – The Valley Drive In
08/09/19 – Sydney, NSW – Metro Theatre
10/09/19 – Canberra, ACT – The Basement
12/09/19 – Auckland, NZL – The Studio