Album Review: CRADLE OF FILTH - The Manticore and Other Horrors
When I reviewed Cradle of Filth's last album, I tried in fairness to emphasize the band's strengths, while addressing the typical reservations many extreme metal fans have about the band. And while many people still resented me for saying good things about Darkly Darkly Venus Aversa (as you can see by the comments) I still think it showed the band had good music left in it's system. However, when compared to earlier classics like Midian and Dusk and Her Embrace, the band's last three albums have been a bit of a yawn. Perhaps in realization of this, guitarist Paul Allender remarked that "The last thing we want to do is come out with another album that sounds like the last two. We decided to change direction and go back to what we used to do…I've put a lot of punk orientated riffs back into it again."
About damn time, huh?
At the very outset of The Manticore, Cradle of Filth has stripped it's sound back to guitar-heavy blackened death metal, with symphonic touches added where necesary. Though their last few efforts had some strong riffs, they tended to be buried under symphonic arrangements- not so on this album, where they are cranked up to the front of the mix. Paul Allender's riffs played a huge role in shaping many of the band's best works, especially those on Midian, and it's great to hear him return so prominently here.
Another thing is also abundantly clear, Dani Filth is trying to preserve his voice. Somewhere between Thornography and Godspeed on the Devil's Thunder, Dani's voice began to slowly lose some of its grit and thickness. With approach of his 40th birthday and the abuse his voice-box has endured, its incredible he can still sustain his signature screech at all. On Manticore, he reserves most of his high-pitch screeching for only the most fitting moments, opting to use either a mid range snarl or even break out a cleaner, melodic (!) rasp. In fact, The Abhorrent is almost entirely comprised of this vocal approach. On songs like Pallid Reflection and Siding With the Titans however, Dani makes it clear that he can still deliver a strong performance.
While not quite in line with the album's that made their name, The Manticore is a very consistent listen and in its middle and tail-ending sections contains some excellent highlights. In its overall style, I would have to agree with Vince Neilstein of MetalSucks that Cradle of Filth must have listened to a lot of Goatwhore over the past few years, as it reflects in how the chords progress and how the music is put together in general. For a longtime fan like myself, I'd say this is a much needed step in the right direction, one that should be taken further on the next record, which to avoid redundancy, should probably be the band's last.
Favorite Songs: The Abhorrent, Illicitus, Manticore, Huge Onyx Wings, Pallid Reflection, Siding With the Titans