Soundtrack to a failing world…
Cradle of Filth never fail to divide opinions, but new album Existence Is Futile may narrow the divide some. Eschewing the all out Gothic horror that has been their mainstay over their long history, real life horror is now brought in. To quote from Dani Filth himself “The album is about existentialism, existential dread and fear of the unknown“.
Though the album was written before the Covid pandemic reared its ugly head, it makes this album all the more effective in what it is about.
Is it classic CoF though?
There is no doubting that this is a Cradle of Filth album – nobody sounds quite like Dani, and you either love him or hate him. Spooky opening instrumental “The Fate of The World On Our Shoulders” is absolutely that classic CoF sound. Then the album starts in earnest, with a track entitled “Existential Terror”. The first thing that hits is a brutal, slow riff underpinned by atmospheric keyboards, followed by choral chanting. The overall vibe though is old school heavy metal though. Not the lightspeed blastathon of most black metal (Though there are blasts in it). This is a measured, well planned attack that draws you in from word go.
The next couple of songs are very much what I would expect from Cradle, but then comes another atmospheric instrumental interlude before “Black Smoke Curling From The Lips Of War” kicks in, at first sounding as if it could have appeared on “Cruelty And The Beast” or “Dusk and Her Embrace”. But then we get some fantastic double harmony guitars that give this song a very accessible sound.
Slowing it down & ballad territory
Yes, you did just read that! “Discourse Between A Man And His Soul” slows things right down, and is easily the nearest thing to a “ballad” that CoF have ever produced. One of my favourite tracks on the album.
But don’t worry! The pace picks up over the next few songs. After a slow start “The Dying Of The Embers” gallops along at a fair old pace, as does “How Many tears To Nurture A Rose” – probably the most aggressive track on the whole album.
Real world horror and political stance
As mentioned at the start of this review, “Existence Is Futile” has a more real life horror element to it. This is perfectly captured in the song “Suffer Our Dominion” which deals with the current environmental crises we are all too familiar with these days. To add to the impact of this song, its has narration from none other than the legend that is Doug Bradley (Pinhead from the Hellraiser films).
This is a brutal, scathing track, and rightly so considering its subject matter. When Cradle Of Filth get political on an album, you know that this is a serious issue that affects us all. Some may cry that this is not what Cradle of Filth are all about, so more kudos to them for putting this song out.
Final track “Us, Dark, Invincible” goes out in a blaze of blurring riffs and tortured shrieks from Dani’s larynx, before fading off into a semi operatic/symphonic segue.
If you are one of the people who get whichever edition has bonus tracks on it, you will not be disappointed. Doug Bradley again appears on “Sisters Of The Mist” reprising one of his most memorable phrases…
“Unleash The Hellion” is just pure classic Cradle, with some fantastic guitar work to enjoy.
The one big thing that holds all these tracks together, is the outstanding production job by Scott Atkins. Every instrument has its voice, there are no overpowering choral or female vocals. Everything is just perfect and made this listening, a great experience.
By far their most mature, varied, aggressive, and yet accessible album to date. Cradle of Filth does not disappoint.
Check out the different versions of the album, along with other merch at this link: https://cradleoffilth.probitymerch.com/existence-is-futile
1: The Fate Of The World On Our Shoulders
2: Existential Terror
3: Necromantic Fantasies (video available here: https://youtu.be/PiV5XupV-TI
4: Crawling King Chaos (video available here: https://youtu.be/Wks1aBh49sQ
5: Here Comes A Candle (Infernal Lullaby)
6: Black Smoke Curling From The Lips Of War
7: Discourse Between A Man And His Soul
8: The Dying Of The Embers
9: Ashen Mortality
10: How Many Tears To Nurture A Rose
11: Suffer Our Dominion
12: Us, Dark, Invincible
13: Sisters Of The Mist (Bonus track)
14: Unleash The Hellion (Bonus track)
Existence Is Futile is out NOW on Nuclear Blast Records
- LP £21.99/CD £15.99