Review & Photography by Manny Manson for MPM
Belched from Hell’s depths into the rustic charms of the Witch County, Suffolk thirty long and disturbing years ago, CRADLE OF FILTH are undisputed giants of the heavy metal realm”.
“Imperious purveyors of a perennially unique strain of dark, dastardly and wilfully extreme metal, with deep roots in the worlds of gothic horror and occult curiosity, the band led by Dani Filth has weathered three decades of tumult and trial, earning a formidable reputation as both a singular creative force and one of the most riotously entertaining live bands the metal world has ever produced”.
Cradle of Filth started out back in the last century, 1991 to be right. Over the years the band has undergone many line up changes. Tonight’s line up see’s Dani Filth (Daniel Lloyd Davey) as the only original member. Its lyrics are influenced by literature, mythology and horror, its style has evolved from Black Metal to something which has been called Gothic symphonic metal, I think it’s easier to simply call it “Cradle of Filth” due to its uniqueness. Filth has jokingly referred to the band as a heavy funk line up. Donny Burbage joined the band for the 2022 U.S. tour with Crobot and Danzig as Richard Shaw left, soon followed by Annabelle Iratni who was replaced by Symphonic Metal band, Catalyst Crimes vocalist and keyboard player, Zoe Marie Federoff.
But before we hear Cradle of Filth, we have French Band, NARAKA opening the night with a brutal display of thundering footwork and vocal growls. Bathed in blue light, front man, Théodore Rondeau is up front and intimidating, head thrusting as he delivers the opening track ‘Cursed’.
This didn’t relent any with the next song ‘The Black’, screaming guitar peppers the intro while ‘Théo’ wind himself up before crushing all in the venue with his destructive delivery. The guitars danced around, they are very much second fiddle to a pugilistic kick drum and a thunderous vocal onslaught! Just when you thought it was safe ‘Darkbringer’ threatens to remove your spleen! Another titanic round of fast feet as the melodic guitar and bass swirl around in the smoke-filled stage.
The song builds and repeatedly changes tempo, driven by the footwork of Franky Costanza. ‘Mother of Shadows’ has the crowd nodding their heads in respect to this brutal display. The guys have hit the stage at 18:30 and are taking no prisoners in the frenetic delivery of Five howling tracks form their debut album ‘In Tenebris’, released in 2021.
The short set is finished off with ‘The Great Darkness’, the gentle build up lasts seconds before the feet are kicking the living soul from your body, blast beats a plenty try to mask the vocal as it caresses with the gentleness of a sledge hammer.
By Ek if you wanted a gentle intro into the night’s proceedings, this is definitely the band NOT to do it, subtlety doesn’t feature in their set, anywhere. They leave the set to a taped version of Compendium Maleficarum, the fists have been flying for this great opening set, not surprisingly they have put the venue in the right mood with a great show of Modern Symphonic, Melodic Death Metal with elements of Black and Thrash Metal thrown in, as if the sub genres aren’t difficult enough to navigate through.
The usual change over now happens, it’s a quick 20 minutes and then we get the ok that the next band are good to go. ALCEST have the dubious duty of following that slaughterous first set. Thankfully they have a slightly different sound, hailed as the pioneers of BLACKGAZE a fusion of Black Metal with its blast beats and wailing vocals and Shoegaze with its dreamy sound scapes, distortion, obscure lyrics and overwhelming volume.
We, in the pit likened it to Black Metal meets Prog. The band are new to me and as such I was desperate for a copy of the set list which was sadly missing from the stage. I spoke with Stéphanie ‘Neige’ Paut later and he said he would reply to my pleadings on the socials. This French band were formed in 2000 as a solo project but soon became a trio, Jean ‘Winterhalter’ Deflandre joined Stéphanie Paut after the two previous members left.
The band has changed its style over the years and has touched on Black Metal, pioneered the sound ‘Black Gaze’, the 2014 album ‘Shelter’ is a pure Shoe Gaze piece whereas the following album Kodama ventured back to their pioneering sound.
It’s said that Neige draws on his childhood fantasises of ‘Fairy land’ for the inspiration, to invite the listener to journey through his memories. As primarily a duo for the writing and recording side of things they have Pierre ‘Zero’ Corson on guitar and Indria Saray as live musicians making them a four piece tonight. These two musicians have been part of the live set up since 2010.
A steady beat builds as guitars soar gentle over the top. A gentle vocal sings over the top. The stage is bathed in red light as the set gets underway with ‘Midnight Gardens’. A pummelling round of fast feet and cymbal smashes herald this tune from the 2019 album Spiritual Instinct.
A gentle vocal is laid over the top by Neige as he stands central. The lights flash and strobe around him as the beats fly out hard. The next song, ‘Protection’ starts with a thudding snare and a bouncing bassline. The vocal is very low in the mix so it’s hard to pick out any of the words, other than it’s soothing to the ear with its almost monastic sounding mantra. The orange lighting helps the moody atmosphere. I think ‘Sapphire’ carries this hypnotic ‘trance’ vibe forward.
The crowd are really enjoying the set judging by the heads flowing back and forth. ’Moon Scales’ follows on with its more pronounced shouted vocal over continuous ride bell and cymbal crashes. The tumultuous drum beat is forever pummelling your senses. ‘Another Time’ from the 2012 album ‘The Voyages of the Soul’ carries on the syncopated hypnotic theme.
Steady beats and a haunting vocal make this tune stand out as being different from the new tunes. The crowd love it as they clap and cheer when it finishes. ‘Birds of Prey’ from 2016’s Kodama is the penultimate song. As previously mentioned, this one is pure Shoegaze. The mix of distorted guitars and thundering drums push this one along with a raincoat of haunting vocals sounds which eventually give way to the screamed delivery carried out so effortlessly by Neige.
The blast beats cut through as the tempo changes yet again. This piece is nearly 8 minutes long, a glorious piece of instrumental self-indulgence. ‘Deliverance’ from 2014’s Shelter finishes the set off. With its slow guitar intro and single drum strike the song slowly builds on a hanging vocal. This is a slightly longer track than the previous one so there is going to be a slight over run looking at the set times, there is no worry for the crowd as they are entranced by the sheer haunting, musicality of the set.
The crew set about striping the stage. A lot of the lights mimicking dreamcatchers seem to be for the opening bands. Several bit of the Stage front are put into place. The set is dressed to look like the underworld, skeletal sentinels stand guard on either side, a lectern, mic stand has an arm with hand reaching from it, alongside varies tubes splayed out from its centre.
The house lights dim and the stage glows blood red. “The Fate of Our World On Our Shoulders” plays over the PA, CRADLE OF FILTH come onto the stage, drummer ‘Marthus’ and Keyboardist Zoe Marie Federoff take up their positions first, followed by Donny Burbage on Guitar, Daniel Firth on Bass and Cenobite Ashok also on the guitar, they quickly get into position ‘Nocturnal Supremacy’ kicks things off from the Existence is Futile album.
Dani Filth hits the riser and grabs his mic. He is full of theatricals as he is growls from the get go, meanwhile Cenobite, Ashok is wandering the stage, his white guitar held high as he does so. The thundering blasts continue from the stage as we go into 1996’s ‘Summer Dying Fast’. The red light is intense again as Filth is up on the riser, his hands holding the microphone high as he lets out a blood gurgling scream, followed up with a demonic shrieked vocal.
A proper Jekyll and Hyde voice, you’d be forgiven in thinking there are more than one of him on the stage. The guitars are melodic and nasty if that’s possible. The drums are concussive in their delivery. 2006’s ‘I Am the Thorn’ continues the onslaught. It has a slower more deliberate start which you know is going to get crazy.
The guitars start then we get a fusillade of gigantic blast beats from the drums, which then drop into a frenzied gallop. The guitars unite and rock out, Federoff is head banging in the background, her blonde locks swooping over her keyboards. Sparks shoot from the stage front, the sentinels at either side of the stage lit in all their glory.
Demonic growls emanate from deep within Filth as he wanders the stage, standing back at times whilst the band rip into the instrumental breaks. Apophis and the ‘Crawling King of Chaos’ follows. This is anything but chaos, it’s another theatrical triumph, with Federoff’s vocal in the background, both soothing and enchanting, Filth growls over the top as he tells the narrative of this Egyptian deity who embodied chaos and endured daily battles with the Sun God Ra.
Scorching guitar races this song along amidst more sparks during its Apophis chant chorus sections. Huge blast beats slam out as Filth brings the song to a dead stop. The enchanting voice of Federoff chines up once again, drums thunder out along with a steady dirty guitar riff. Her voice is pure as we go into ‘Nymphetamine (Fix)’ from 2004’s Nymphetamine.
This duet with a drug habit has Filth delivering a more forgiven lyric to start with. The kick drum drops into double time and the growls are back. The distorted guitars swirl around Federoff’s vocal as she continues. Filth is continually pacing; the lighting is changing as Filth lets off a Confetti Cannon.
‘A Gothic Romance’ follows on, this is from the earlier 1996 album Dusk and Her Embrace. The familiar start has the crowd clapping in time and chanting along. The band have turned away as the intro builds to the screams from a tormented Filth who is atop his riser. His demonic growls pulse around the main hall as the band continue, bathed in magenta lighting.
The crowd surfers are continuing to go over the top, the security are earning their crust tonight. ‘Scorched Earth Erotica’ continues this night of disturbing darkness. Cenobite, Ashok is hammering on his white Schecter guitar as he walks the stage. Filth picks up the vocal as the kick drum thuds out from behind its blast shields.
The crowd are loving it, there is a violent Mosh Pit in the middle, there’s a lot of shoving and pushing going on in there. The melodic breakdown is a brief reprise from the constant unearthly deliberations spewed forth by Filth. The crowd are horned and cheering as the song is brought to a close. Keyboards bounce along, Filth shouts out “Us Dark Invincible” before letting loose a scream just as the band roar into overtime.
The stage is full of smoke and bathed in green light as the vocals are forced out in varying pitches, nothing is out of key it’s just nasty and fast. Which brings us to the end of the set and red lights and an empty stage, but not for long as the PA starts up with ‘Venus in fear’ and with that the band are back on to a magenta bathed stage, the screams and blinder flashes attacking your senses as Filth watching the crow, Screams the vocal to ‘Desire in Violent Nature’ another song at 100miles and hour.
Perforated with tasty little runs from Cenobite Ashok, and a tasty harmonised riff from Ashok and Burbage. Daniel Firth is wind-milling his long hair before while he thumps out a ground shaking bass line stood next to the sentinel on stage right. Blinders continue to flash hard and fast, as the kick drum engulfs. Again, Filth has retreated to the back of the stage and as he screams the whole stage fills with smoke. The crowd roar in approval as this one finishes.
‘Necromantic Fantasies’ from the latest album has Federoff singing beautifully again, only to be slaughtered by the filthy vocal of Dani Filth. The Melody is picked up as Filth growls over the top. The guitars are riffing hard as the snare cracks out rhymically. Ashok, the Cenobite has his fingers of both hands up and down the neck of his guitar as Filth continues his dread and fear of the unknown in this, a track from his 13th Album.
Gilded Cunt’ follows after huge cheers from the crowd. Filth gets the crowd to repeatedly shout the song title out, I read somewhere that it amuses him greatly that he gets to stand on stage and repeatedly scream out the C-word. The crowd love it and join in at every opportunity. Sparks spew forth as the blinders try and induce fits amongst the hardiest among us. The final song for the night is the 2000 epic from the Midian album, ‘Her Ghost in the Fog’.
Again, the keys start and are quickly joined by the crushing feet of Škaroupka, hooked in tight to Firth’s rumbling bass this song batters along. The crowd are again joining in as Filth points at them. Blast Beats, wind-milling hair and fast repetitive guitars slam into your senses as Federoff’s voice cry’s out as the song continues to its death, where Filth, up front and centre screams out “WE ARE CRADLE OF FILTH”!
With confetti going off the band bring the night to and end with a growl from Filth who bows with his arms held wide. The crowd cheer wildly and that as we say is a wrap.
Tonight’s been a trip down memory lane for many, as we got given something from 9albums over the years. This was my first full CoF show, and its one that I’ve enjoyed. It’s not a genre of music that I have much experience of, but coming tonight to review it has meant watching and listening to something I’d have walked past on another day.
Dani Filths vocal delivery is unusual to say the least but it works perfectly, the words when you have them written down in front of you are very clever and not just mindless ramblings. It’s been a great night , and listening to the fans as they leave in front of me, I’m not on my own thinking that.