CRADLE OF FILTH – A Seismic Paradigm Shift To Chaos

October 21, 2021, a month ago

By Aaron Small

feature black death cradle of filth

CRADLE OF FILTH – A Seismic Paradigm Shift To Chaos

UK extreme metal band Cradle Of Filth, led by vocalist and sole remaining original member Dani Filth, are enjoying a wickedly delightful, double-headed celebration. First and foremost, October 22nd sees the release of the band’s 13th studio album, Existence Is Futile, via Nuclear Blast. Secondly, 2021 marks the 30th anniversary of the formation of Cradle Of Filth.

“Well, I try and make it the 30th anniversary from our first release (The Principle Of Evil Made Flesh, issued in 1994), to say that we’re a professional band; it also makes us feel three years younger,” quips Dani Filth. But truthfully, Cradle Of Filth was belched from Hell’s depths in 1991 into Suffolk, England. And what an incredible three decades it’s been! A journey that could never have been imagined. “No, not in my wildest nightmares. It’s been great, it’s been awesome, and we’re still going strong.”

Expectedly dark in nature, Existence Is Futile is a tremendous collection of catchy choruses and monstrous guitar parts, along with those unmistakable vocals, easily making it the best Cradle Of Filth album since The Manticore And Other Horrors, which came out in 2012. There’s just something about this one… it might be the extra time afforded to the band because of the pandemic, or the way it had to be recorded during the government-imposed lockdown of 2020. Was this the most difficult Cradle album to complete? “Ah, no, because of that reason. We wrote the majority of it whilst on our world tour – which extended three years, because of the addition of the Cruelty Remistress. That’s what we’re finishing up in the States here; we would have come to Canada as well, but it was hard enough getting into the States, let alone Canada from the States. We’ve had a lot of complaints about that, but literally, my answer is Covid, as the answer is to a lot of things nowadays.”

“So that extended our world tour run,” continues Dani. “And thus, we started writing whilst we were on that world tour. And we were in the studio about six weeks prior to the Covid outbreak. We were lucky because our drummer (Martin Skaroupka) is situated in the Czech Republic, and had they closed the borders there, we wouldn’t have been able to get him in. We couldn’t get our second guitarist, Ashok, into the country either until, well, literally five months after Martin put his drums down. Had we not done it when we had, the album would have been delayed by months. That afforded those who live in England, the opportunity to really… I spent a lot of time with the producer (Scott Atkins). The studio is close to my place, a 20-minute drive through the countryside; and it’s isolated at the best of times. When Covid struck, it was just me, the producer – and no one around for miles. It was great. We were doing half days because there were curfews, that sort of thing going on. It just afforded us a lot of time for self-analysis, looking after the songs. So yeah in a way, it did benefit us a lot.”

Existence Is Futile is the first Cradle Of Filth album to feature new keyboardist / female vocalist Anabelle, who Dani played with previously in Devilment. “Only for one show,” clarifies Filth. “She literally had only joined Devilment earlier in the year, and that year only afforded us one show, cause Cradle was so busy. 2019 was the craziest year for Cradle Of Filth! We did well over 130 shows, everywhere. That all culminated on November 1st, we had just done the big London Playdium show as well. Then Lindsay (Schoolcraft, keyboardist) departed, mainly due to stress, and being away from home a lot. Being Canadian, we couldn’t just fly her backward and forward, so she was staying for huge periods of time in Europe, away from her family, pets, and friends. Anyway, when that occurred, the first thing anybody thought of was Anabelle. And she’s proved to be perfect for the role, absolutely perfect - and great fun to be around. Despite the majority of the album having been written by the point that she joined, we wrote stuff with her, and she contributed what I call ‘The Bookends’, the instrumentals as well. We had plenty of time to experiment with the ideas we had for her inclusion vocally, whilst we were in the studio.”

Existence Is Futile is a wonderful album title, yet it’s not the name of a song. How did that become the title of the 13th Cradle Of Filth studio album? “Well, mainly because having played so many sprawling metropolises during the course of that three-year world tour, it felt like the world was being over-run, over-populated, over-poisoned, etc. There was something about the hedonism of being on tour, versus that feeling. It felt like we were feeding off it, as the majority of people are. With playing Australia, Japan, then all the way down to the bottom of South America – our carbon footprint seemed enormous. So, I was thinking about that, and existentialism in general, having a bit of a long, dark night of the soul. At some point, self-realization, questioning… then the whole fear of the way the planet’s going. Lo and behold, a few months after finishing the record, a pandemic blows up. In the scheme of things, it’s pretty big, but it’s not Armageddon. I’m sure there’s plenty of things worse around the corner. So, all that conspired to make me write something that was a little bit more modern. Obviously, the lyricism is still very classic, and written in a certain style. There’s no mention of skyscrapers or Corvettes. But it’s certainly a more modern looking outtake, considering if you go two albums back to Hammer Of The Witches – middle ages, 15th, 16th century. Then, Cryptoriana, which is obviously about the dark underbelly of the Victorian age. It just felt right that we stepped into this point and didn’t go overboard and do an album about space,” laughs Dani. “I’d love to do an album about space invasion, but I really don’t think that’s relevant to Cradle.”

Speaking of lyricism, the song “Existential Terror” contains one of the most bold and pronounced lines on the whole album: “Time to embrace the inevitable, we’re all going to fucking die!” That would look great on the back of a Cradle t-shirt. “Well, it’s funny you should say that,” chuckles Dani. “I would say the album is more direct and to the point. We definitely, musically, wanted to recreate the sound we were getting live. We’ve assimilated a really ace crew – or Crewdle Of Filth. We wanted to bring that across, having done three years touring, we wanted to bring that feeling to the album. I think that’s why it sounds so natural. We did a bit of experimenting, we tried to cut the wheat from the chaff as well. Not too many guitar tracks, not overdoing it on the keyboard tracks. Because what’s the point of having 56 tracks when you can only hear 24 of them? All it is, is clutter for the ears. That was one thing that being very self-analytical about the record afforded us as well.”

Another song from Existence Is Futile that touches on mortality, and the end of the human life span is “Discourse Between A Man And His Soul”. There’s some interesting lyrics in that song: “Father I fell” is a key line; presumably the Father is God. That’s followed by, “I don’t want to die without thee by my side… I will struggle with keys at the gate,” with the gate being Heaven’s gate. It shows the fragility of our time on Earth, and raises the question, does Heaven really exist? “Well, that’s the thing, existence is futile. It’s a kind of nihilistic, very negative association. But, on the plus side, it’s true that we should embrace what time we have here, and just see it as a happy accident; obviously treat it with respect, because others are to follow. It’s also against suicidal thoughts, because if that’s the case, you just think about all the great things that keep you on Earth – even if it’s just the taste of cherry pie, or enjoying eclectic pop art – whatever. I think that’s about the fragility of existence, and also, if there isn’t a greater master plan, there’s no golden ticket at the end of the yellow brick road, then it kind of renders all religions impotent. It means they don’t exist. Literally, if that was realized, and that was the case, I dare say half the world’s problems would be solved, quickly.”

Switching gears, the Existence Is Futile album cover was created by a Latvian artist named Arthur Berzinsh (who also supplied the artwork for Cryptoriana and Hammer Of The Witches), and is undeniably reminiscent of The Garden Of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch. “Yeah, that’s the premise, just reinterpreted in his definition and his style. You also have the towering Babel, which… we built this tower to reach God, but before we’ve even got there, we’ve self-destructed it. So yeah, it’s very symbolic. And it kind of relates back to the fact that the lyricism is always based in sort of neo-classicism. There’s some archaic prose at times, although I would say the sound’s been honed down – it just doesn’t go off into strange mathematical tangets. It’s more to the point, it’s catchier. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s less brutal; it has a bit of everything, I think. It’s melodic, it’s got tantamount to a ballad, it’s got fist-pumping tracks, big choruses. It’s morose, it’s all things, it’s cinematic.”

Furthermore, Existence Is Futile features the very welcome return of actor Doug Bradley, who played Pinhead in the Hellraiser movies, as narrator. This is the fifth Cradle Of Filth album Bradley has been a part of, previously appearing on Midian, Nymphetamine, Thornography, and Godspeed On The Devil’s Thunder. “Actually, we brought him back for one of the bonus tracks,” explains Dani. “We thought that song required a very powerful, respected, almost feared, or clerical address. Originally, when I’d written it, I had the voice of David Attenborough in mind. Because if you’re going to address something as powerful as the message he’s conveying, then it needs someone who has that omnipotency – revered and admired; his words carry weight. One of the bonus tracks is called ‘Sisters Of The Mist’, and it’s the third part to ‘Her Ghost In The Fog’; it’s actually the completion of the trilogy. There’s ‘Her Ghost In The Fog’, then ‘Swan Song For A Raven’, and ‘Sisters Of The Mist’ is the third part. Of course, Doug is the proverbial glue that sticks it all together. So, we got him back primarily for that song. Then, we added him to ‘Suffer Our Dominion’, and he also has a little bit in ‘Us, Dark, Invincible’ as well.”

“Suffer Our Dominion” has been labelled as Cradle’s “most politically astute song to date.” “I don’t know,” ponders Dani. “We’ve tackled the same thing with Doug Bradley on ‘Death Magick For Adepts’ and ‘Deflowering The Maidenhead’, a few times before.” Bradley’s lines are very environmental in nature: “The ability to sustain life on earth is shrinking, in perfect unison with rising population. Soon, half of all species will be lost to climate change… Thus, we will reduce our race, or nature will do it for us… and she will be fucking brutal!” Those are some very contemporary issues. And the final warning: “To restore the balance, nature will retaliate… it will be a cruel and merciless catastrophe on a global scale. And without doubt, it will be the end of life as we know it!” “That’s what I mean,” exclaims Dani. “His voice conveys terror. You believe what he says, it’s a great conduit.”

It’s surprising that the aforementioned “Sisters Of The Mist”, being the conclusion to the “Her Ghost In The Fog” trilogy, was relegated to a bonus track. “Well, I’ve never, ever said that bonus tracks are relegations; they’re on the same record. If anybody actually purchases a proper album, if you’re on Amazon, and you present it with one that’s $1.50 more and you get two more tracks, people will buy that over the regular one. So, it’s not about division, or relegation. It’s more like a curtain. It didn’t fit in; it was too dark fairytale for the rest of the record. It doesn’t make it any less powerful. Regardless, it’s the end of the trilogy – wherever it is.”

Cradle Of Filth has released two videos from Existence Is Futile thus far, for the songs “Crawling King Chaos” and “Necromantic Fantasies”, which were filmed back-to-back. both are incredible cinematic pieces, which is tremendously appreciated, as opposed to going the unfortunately all too common route of lyric videos. “This is the point. This is exactly why we filmed two back-to-back, because I think lyric videos are a f*cking cop out. I realize that everybody’s in a position where they can’t afford to do proper videos, but we just pulled out all the stops, literally. The director (Vicente Cordero) did some amazing, amazing work there for some amazing favors. For example, having to come to England and quarantine for ten days to do the filming. Then some of it was actually filmed in L.A. when we weren’t there either; it was a real labor of love. But the reason being, I’m sick of the lyric videos. I wanted to do it properly; I don’t want it to be shot in a hanger.”

Although they were filmed at the same time, the two videos are quite different from each other. “Crawling King Chaos” looks as though it takes place in Hell, whereas “Necromantic Fantasies” is more Victorian in scope, with almost a Jack The Ripper vibe to it. “Yeah, absolutely. We’ve made them very much like chalk and cheese. We wanted to come back with a real adrenaline shot in the face of people who buy the album. After a four-year gap between this and the last record (Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness Of Decay), we thought it was good to come out sprinting from the starting blocks. Then, we wanted to do something that was very much different. I think that goes for the album itself; it stands on its own. I can’t really link the two together.”

“Crawling King Chaos” has been described as a “Lovecraftian anthem.” What is it about H.P. Lovecraft that resonates so strongly within heavy metal? Obviously, Lovecraft’s writing has influenced not only Cradle Of Filth, but Black Sabbath, and Metallica as well. “Well, Apophis is the name of a meteorite that’s projected to come very close, or possibly strike the Earth in the future, and it’s linked Biblically as well. But yeah, obviously there’s references to Lovecraft. I think people resonate with him in particular because he does a personal horror, but also this cosmic horror that is so vast, that it’s undefinable. It transcends gods and planets, it’s just like a massive force of nature. There’s something about Lovecraft and the scenarios, just the horror that echoes throughout. It’s something you keep coming back to. I actually bought a movie the other day, from Walmart of all places, called The Deep Ones, which I hadn’t seen, and I’m quite enjoying that. It’s not the best of movies, but it’s just so drenched in Lovecraftian atmosphere, I can’t help but like it.”

Tied in with the new Cradle Of Filth album is King Chaos Impaler Ale – the Cradle Of Filth beer. “On the label, the sort of ant-looking satanic god from the album cover is actually drinking a can of the Pale Countess, which was our previous beer, which tied in with the re-release of Cruelty And The Beast. We have a blood red gin coming soon as well.” Being completely honest, Dani admits that he was not heavily involved in the tasting process of this new COF beer. “No, that was more left to the other guys. I do like beer, but I’m not a connoisseur. It was left to other people really. I just came in with the ideas for the look of it, and what have you.”

Iron Maiden has had incredible success with their Trooper beer, Canadian legends Rush just launched their own Golden Ale, Megadeth has done rather well with their signature beers, A Tout Le Monde and Saison 13. Dani shares his thoughts on the whole band beer entity. “I know people are getting into craft beer, craft alcohol, so it’s inevitable, isn’t it? We look for things that will appeal to our fans, within the Cradle Of Filth universe. We’ve got other things up our sleeves, which I don’t want to go overboard and admit to.”

After the current US tour ends, Cradle Of Filth will perform a very special album release show in London, England on Halloween at The Roundhouse. What’s going to set that gig apart from a regular Cradle Of Filth concert? “Well, we did a similar thing two years ago. Naturally, we didn’t do it last year for obvious reasons. It was another prestigious venue, which was the London Playdium. It’s a very Royal venue; the Queen has her own room there. We want to do this every year, but like I said, last year couldn’t happen. So, The Roundhouse is another great venue in the heart of London, in the Camden district. What sets it apart is that it’s going to be a unique setlist, we’re going to highlight – we’re playing four tracks from the new record, amongst others, and big production.” In closing, Dani reveals, “We’ve got plans for the next two years. We’re coming back next year, I can’t give you dates or anything, but we’re definitely coming back.”

(Photos by James Sharrock)

Featured Audio

HYPOCRISY – “Children Of The Gray” (Nuclear Blast)

HYPOCRISY – “Children Of The Gray” (Nuclear Blast)

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