Cradle of Filth: The Manticore and Other Horrors

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Cradle of Filth: The Manticore and Other Horrors
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Cradle of Filth: The Manticore and Other Horrors
Gothic Metal, Symphonic Black Metal
Nuclear Blast Records
October 30th, 2012
Release length: 51:35
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Since 2010, Cradle of Filth has been a very active group. First, they issued a new widely acclaimed full-length titled Dark, Darkly, Venus Adversa, which was followed up with a companion EP titled Evermore Darkly in 2011, and then a brand new compilation of re-recorded material for a conceptual effort titled Midnight in the Labyrinth for 2012. Now, later that very year, they bring their tenth full-length album to life for a Halloween timed, and even themed release. The Manticore and Other Horrors has quickly become one of the group’s most widely anticipated, as well as feared albums to date. But, does this release hold the impact that fans have come to expect, or has their flurry of new material perhaps drained the group, leaving this catering to the latter of those two aforementioned emotional responses with a shell of what potential the group once possessed?

In typical Cradle of Filth fashion, things are definitely on the crisp side, but it doesn’t take away much of the bite. The guitars have a mid-range sharpness to them that can work with the Black Metal-esque riffs, though when things calm down, they end up sounding a bit too weak for their own good. The bass guitar sounds strong most of the time as well, adding a nice edge to the mix, but is unable to save the guitars in the aforementioned rougher patches. The vocals stand out the most, still carrying the signature wide range of high pitched shrieks to rougher harmonizations, all the way to clean singing in many areas. Like usual, the drums sound great. The click of the bass kick is solid and thick, while the snares a bit deeper and tighter, sometimes carryingy a slightly hollow output. The cymbals, however, are crisp and closer to the forefront, mixing well with the music and help to fill the gaps that the rest, as well as the sleek, yet atmospherically suiting and properly leveled keyboards can’t entirely cover themselves.

This album really sticks with the recent, somewhat lighter sound the band has dabbled with in recent years, though not always as artistic, or even that strong in atmosphere. Much of the time, it actually sounds more like a watered down representation of what the band has been releasing lately. Thankfully, this isn’t always a bad thing. After the typical instrumental introduction track “The Unveiling of O,” which sounds more like a rejected Tim Burton film score entry, listeners are greeted with “The Abhorrent.” The keyboards offer a bit of a chaotic atmosphere to some of the passages, and the faster Black Metal hooks here and there are on the simpler side, but still help weave as much of a gothic theme to the music as possible, which is pretty hard given how many times the music, speed, tone, and even the quality of the material changes from start to finish, making this a hard one to sit through. However, “For Your Vulgar Delectation” makes for a far better offering. There’s some decent aggression added to the mix, and heavier riffs that are catchy enough to bang your head along to, instantly grabbing you by the throat. The heavier main riffs stick out well, and the subtle symphonic elements added throughout do their part to enrich the music nicely, even giving it a grim tone.

From here, it’s a mixture of well done material, and songs that really stand out. Unfortunately, not many really fall under the second of those descriptions. “Illicitus” is an enjoyable track full of catchy riffs and a good deal of energy, not counting the grinding drums that erupt every so often. The additional violins that appear are greatly restricted, and while it does add an eccentric touch, it also throws in a conflicting Folk Metal tone that doesn’t quite work with what the band is going for. There’s additional emotion found at times, but largely in the slower passage that hits around the four minute mark. This works well with the somewhat artistic touch the band manages to really push into this composition. One could argue that this was the point of the clean singing towards the end of “Frost on Her Pillow,” though it feels a little more forced into the already somewhat mainstream performance. The slower pace and simpler riffs do leave a bit to be desired, but it’s the gothic atmosphere that really saves this song overall, working with the well executed gradual building of tension from verse to chorus and back again.

“Siding with the Titans” is well worth hearing too. This is yet another typical modern Cradle of Filth offering, but the keyboards really do add some additional atmosphere that helps to make the final product a little more epic, especially towards the end when it takes on a stronger symphonic score that greatly enriches the music for all too short an amount of time before going back into focusing on catchy riffs once more. But, it isn’t until the song “Succumb to This” that you finally get another song that really enthralls you. Similar to “For Your Vulgar Delectation,” the song has a faster pace, as well as some more complex riffs than others, and a tighter performance that just makes the whole thing a lot heavier. There are some simpler passages that don’t quite have the same bite, such as around a minute and a half when the female vocals kick in for a few lines, but it does gradually build back up into some additional intensity that is pretty hard to walk away from without wanting to bang your head along obediently to the stern, energetic environment. Clean singing does appear once again, but this time it’s a mix of male and female leads, and it matches the somewhat epic build the passage is going for before slowing down to a dismal tone once more.

Overall, The Manticore and Other Horrors is far from one of the most impressive Cradle of Filth albums to be released. In fact, it’s pretty standard when compared to even their most recent works. But, that’s one thing that actually works in it’s favor. There isn’t really a single bad song to be found on the album, nor is there really any filler either. In the end, this winds up being a safe album for fans of the group, but definitely won’t win over any new fans, or even those on the edge waiting for that one album to win them over to the modern sound of the group. If you’ve enjoyed Cradle of Filth‘s recent works at one point or another, there’s no real reason to pass up on giving The Manticore and Other Horrors a spin when you get a chance.

01. The Unveiling of O – 2:07
02. The Abhorrent – 5:53
03. For Your Vulgar Delectation – 4:46
04. Illicitus – 5:24
05. Manticore – 5:53
06. Frost on Her Pillow – 4:12
07. Huge Onyx Wings Behind Despair – 4:23
08. Pallid Reflection – 5:34
09. Siding with the Titans – 5:17
10. Succumb to This – 4:43
11. Sinfonia – 3:23
Initial Pressing Score: 7/10
Cradle of Filth (band)

Digital review copy of this release provided by Nuclear Blast Records.