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Cradle of Filth: Cruelty and the Beast
1998 saw the coming of Cradle of Filth’s third full album, Cruelty and the Beast. This album saw the ending of a black metal-related style for Cradle of Filth and set them on their way towards the vampyric metal scene. Comprising of 11 tracks, this album is based on the Hungarian blood countess, Elizabeth Bathory. Throughout the album the story of Elizabeth is subtly revealed to the listener. As for each track individually, here is what I thought:
1. Once Upon Atrocity – The standard Cradle opening song, instrumental based strongly around keyboard by Les ‘Lector’ Smith and some choir vocals. The usual stuff.
2. Thirteen Autumns and a Widow – Well led into by the first track, this song starts up the album with a bang. A powerful guitar riff and continuous blast beat, followed by Dani’s usually piercing vocals. Although more controlled in this album than in any other so far. Already he begins to tell the story of Elizabeth Bathory, and as he does we hear some lovely picking from Stuart Anstis and Gian Pyres. The song continues pretty much the same from there. Towards the end the song has a short instrumental bridge and is concluded at a slower tempo. A good starter but a bit repetitive.
3. Cruelty Brought Thee Orchids – Great starting lines for this song by Sarah Jezebel Deva. The same general feel as the start of the last song. Although the guitar riff is followed by some tremolo picking rather than more power chords. Continued throughout the first verse. Two main vocals used in this song; high screeches and low growls, rather than mid-tone screams. Interesting bridge at the middle of the song, with no guitar at first, but followed in with some picking. Then another riff followed by the main riff again. A few words here and there from Sarah again. Although it has an interesting composure this song is too repetitive at the end. Again. The final few seconds are very powerful.
4. Beneath the Howling Stars - This song opens with keyboard playing, followed by guitar in harmony, and a quick drum beat. A completely different sound to what we’ve heard so far. The verse continues with the same stuff. Then a bass solo and some deep vocals, led back into the verse. A little picking bit repeated 4 times in different harmonies. A small pause, then continued into the second verse. The verse precedes a break with keyboards and whispers, followed by more harmony picking. Sarah gets her part soon after, where she speaks rather than sings, telling us some more of the story of Lady Bathory. A high-pitched guitar part comes in with deep vocals and some singing from Sarah. Dani and Sarah then burst into duet, and the guitar part is ended with some dual kick-drums and keyboards. The next verse kicks in afterwards with tremolo picking once more, and back to the starting riff of the song. Bit of a boring song end. Great starting riff though.
5. Venus in Fear – The classic Cradle ‘half-way instrumental’. This song contains nothing more and nothing less than 2:20 of discord keyboard notes, a cymbal and some female screams and orgasmic groans. Bit of a waste of a track.
6. Desire in Violent Overture – Powerful opening, starting with some speedy kick-drumming and tremolo picking, then soon after a quick riff with little solo ‘tit-bits’. The chorus to this song is great. Two-line vocals, blast beat drums and a quick riff. The next verse comes with more harmonic picking and a new riff, deeper in pitch than the others. Then back to the chorus again. A quick bass solo, and on to a third verse. With more harmonic picking. Sarah gets her part in this song again, alongside some picky guitar work. Then comes the fourth and final verse with more fast chords, and the final chorus. The song finishes with some picking, and a final riff which ends unexpectedly. Very well done song.
7. The Twisted Nails of Faith – As the song starts you may expect another instrumental, but expect to be surprised. Sarah says her lines, with the famous ‘Mirror Mirror on the wall’ speech. Then the guitar and screaming kicks in, and the first verse comes. After the first verse, there’s a bridge with no guitar for a few seconds. When the guitar returns, it brings with it the same beginning riff. We get one small part that’s different after, but then back to the same thing. The song soon changes however. We find a slower picking guitar part with a slower beat. We hear the final riff which is different (finally), followed by hear some speech from a voice of which gender and identity is unknown, and the song finishes with the last riff.
8. Bathory Aria – A 112 marathon of a song, we hear a lot about Elizabeth in this song, and it is definitely one of Cradle’s most powerful, including a lot of Countess Bathory’s story. This track begins with a keyboard part and some very opera-like singing from Sarah. Dani’s vocals lead into a slow guitar harmony with a standard rock beat, with the odd double kick-drum part. Mostly deep vocals, and the rest of the verse is the same. Then we get some chords from the guitars and a little tremolo picking. A bridge with guitar picking, and back to what we had just been hearing. We now get two new picking parts, followed by the first chord riff again. Some very interesting lyrics so far, and the first part of the song ends. The next part of the song is led into by a bridge. A long riff comes after with some quiet picking, then another slow verse as in the first part of the song. Back comes the long riff, taking up quite some time. A bridge comes after with keyboards and vocals, then a small keyboard only part. Dani does some deep vocals, and the end of this part of the song comes. There’s some picking and a spoken part from Sarah, and ending with some guitar ‘screeching’, some chords and a fret-slide. All with a repeating drum beat underneath. The final few words from Sarah, and repeated 3 times by Dani afterwards are ‘Peace shall come to take my soul to hell for company’. A great song.
9. Portrait of the Dead Countess – Another instrumental song, all done by Les Smith on his keyboard. This instrumental thing is getting rather droll.
10. Lustmord and Wargasm (The Lick of Carnivorous Winds) – Starting with a little keyboard work from Les again, this song has a very powerful opening guitar riff and some well controlled, speedy drum work. Some deep vocals from Dani and a little bit from Sarah, the starting keyboard part continues throughout the first verse. Then comes a new guitar riff, which I very much like. More quick drumming and a second verse follow. A tiny bridge part with great picking and a lovely riff afterwards. Very unsubtle and black metal-like. Elizabeth gets to say some more with the same riff continuing, then comes some new picking as Dani’s vocals come back in. Then we hear another new riff, very heavy still. About half-way through comes a small instrumental break and some deep vocal work from Dani, then the drums lead back into a guitar picking part. The tempo decreases here and some deep chords aid the slow drumming in keeping the heaviness. Some more picking comes in and some dual bass-pedal, along with little break helps to bring out the drums a lot. The drum pattern changes to more of a blast beat. We then hear the same riff from near the half-way break. We hear a small solo and another chilling riff with some heavy guitar chords, and the song ends. The lyrics bring the story of the Blood Countess to an end. Nice song, great finish for an album.
11. Black Metal – A bonus track on this album and a cover of Venom’s brilliant original track, this song is pure black metal in its greatest form. Bringing together vicious speed guitars and blast beats, this song has it all. The coveted screams of the black metal vocalist fit in perfectly. I’m not a great fan of Cradle’s cover songs, but this is their best. There’s some tremolo picking as we get further into the song, then back to the original riff for the final verse and chorus. A must hear song for any fan of Cradle’s older music.
Overall I’d say this album deserves 3 out of 5. Although Cradle lost their touch with the black metal scene after this album, it served its purpose. Although the beginning of the album was not brilliant and the instrumentals were too many in number, but the quality of some songs on this album brought it up to the mediocre line. Worth a buy if you're a fan of Cradle. If not then don't bother.
Last edited by Exterminatus-Squeebie; October 10th, 2005 at 20:46.
So the point is more smurf wannabe evil black metal from the cancer of nowdays black metal(Cradle of Filth & Co.). No thanks Phil.
MEAT IS MURDER
well that all depends on your tastes i personally liked it and also i know people who say Damnation and a Day sucked and they go on to say Nyphetamine sucks but personally i thought Damnation was one of there best albums and thats a newer one.
personally Cruelty ranks as one of my yop 3 favorite cof albums
Keyborads and black metal ? Thats a risky task that only Emperor in (1994) In the Nightside Eclipse and (1997) Anthems To the Welkin At Dusk fullfil.
MEAT IS MURDER