Even though metal music is slowly fading from popular mainstream culture, there are always artists who defy to be pushed back into the darkness from which they came and continue to release new music to their hungry fans. With very mixed results and the last few years it seems like the veterans of the genre are having difficulties keeping up with the rowdy new kids on the block. Some bands try to redefine their sound (Death Magnetic by Metallica), while some embraced the newer stuff and incorporate it into their established sound (Korn). Even black metal is adapting to the ever changing landscape that is contemporary extreme music.
And that could to a degree, be said of Cradle of Filth as well. The English extreme metal band fronted by metal's most beloved midget Dani Filth have come a long way since the critically acclaimed and loved Damnation and a Day, which put them at the top of the heap all the way through to Nymphetamine. The fans were less impressed by the experimental Thornography (by far my favourite effort by the lads) and by the time Godspeed on the Devil's Thunder and Darkly, Darkly, VenusAversa were released I didn't get the feeling there was a lot of hype about these albums. Will The Manticore and Other Horrors do anything to change all this?
In one word: No. This review warrants me to explain my statements. I am obliged to tell you why I make such a hard claim from the get go. The major problem with this album is the way they set out to make it. I quote guitarist Paul Allender, "The last thing we want to do is come out with another album that sounds like the last two.” A noble cause if not for the fact that they did exactly the same things they did on the last two albums, or last eight years for that matter. Nowhere does this album stray from their tried and tested formula. The classic CoF elements are all there; the orchestral intro to set the mood, the dramatic lyrics, the high pitches harmonics, screamed vocals and fast drum patterns. They pulled out the big ones on each track but it fails to enamour me. It’s drawing me in like they used to, because I've heard this stuff before.
But it's not like this album is devoid of something good. “Frost On HerPillow“ is a well-crafted track full of dynamic drums and chord progressions and “Pallid Reflection” is nothing short of socially astounding and shows that Cradle still have what it takes. But why does it stop there? When your best track on the album is the outro and the silence that follows, you have to stop and wonder where it all went wrong. And this is where it gets hard for me. You don't want to see your heroes fall short at the thing they do best but I cannot help but feel disappointed (once again) by the lack of a fresh wind. It’s something that they so sorely needed. “The Abhorrent” just underwhelms after the (admittedly) beautiful intro. The only vulgar thing about “For Your Vulgar Delectation” is the cliché sound. “Siding with the Titans” is mediocre at best and while it does show that the band are, and remain, capable musicians in their own right, they do nothing to rise above expectations. The list goes on and on.
So in short, it's not a bad album, it just fails to deliver what it was set out to do and sounds insincere, tiring and at times it even sounds boring. One of its few redeeming qualities is its outro which makes you forget what you've just listened to and brings you nothing but bliss and serenity.