Cradle Of Filth - Godspeed On The Devil's Thunder
Roadrunner Records
Blackened Gothic Metal
13 songs (1:11:22)
Release year: 2008
Cradle Of Filth, Roadrunner Records
Reviewed by Goat
Major event

Listening to the ninth full-length album (a concept album about Gilles De Rais) from England’s Cradle Of Filth, the most controversial thing in Black Metal today, it’s impossible not to be just a little impressed. The band’s last couple of albums have been a considerable step away from their Black roots, and whilst I’ll admit to enjoying them as a guilty pleasure, nothing on either Nymphetamine or Thornography came close to my personal favourite album from the band, Midian. Well, clearly listening to fan complaints, the band has gone back in time, yet retained enough of their more modern sound to make everyone happy. Not only is now mandatory opening-orchestral-piece-with-a-silly-name In Grandeur And Frankincense Devilment Stirs a good two minutes long, but first song proper Shat Out Of Hell mixes the orchestral-infused Black Metal of the band’s older albums with the Heavy Metal riffing of recent days. It takes a good few listens to enjoy, but the change between the atmospheric parts and the gang-shouts of the chorus is smooth from the start – say what you like about the band, they’re good at what they do.

Speaking of the band, there are a few changes. Thornography’s Charles Hedger has departed; this album features only Paul Allender on guitar, and whilst this album lacks many of its precedessor’s headbanging riffs, there is a wide variety of styles in the guitar playing, from melodic, almost Power Metal to more typical Death and (gasp!) Black riffage. Adrian Erlandsson is also gone from the drumstool, his replacement, Martin Skaroupka, has only drummed for Mantas and a couple of small Czech bands but he does an excellent job here. Dave Pybus is solid on bass, and Dani is Dani, as ever the definition of ‘acquired taste’, although he does seem to be indulging in more of his ear-splitting screams here than before. Alas, Sarah Jezebel Deva is no longer the lead female vocalist (she still harmonises and has some spoken parts) which disappointed me; she’s always done a great job before, and her replacement, one Carolyn Gretton, isn’t as good, having more of a girlish voice which doesn’t fit so well with the music.

As for the songs, Shat Out Of Hell is followed by the weakest, an overly-catchy pile of nonsense called The Death Of Love that could have fit well on Thornography and is about twice as long as it needs to be. It’s listenable, certainly, and fans will probably enjoy it, but Cradle could release just about anything and get praise from their fanbase. The question on most Metalheads’ lips is: is this album actually worth listening to? And the answer is, of course, yes. The likes of The 13th Caesar are memorable, whilst Tragic Kingdom is the closest yet to the pre-Damnation And A Day era, being practically Black Metal, with only Dani’s varied vocals and the guitar-driven breakdowns to distinguish it. Following track Sweetest Maleficia opens with Doug Bradley’s narration (there’s lots of it on the album) before turning into a driving blaster, Dani using the lower ends of his voice as much as the higher ones. Two eight-minute songs are placed next to each other, and both are intense, blasting Blackened monuments that can hold their own against older classics and are in some ways better... heck, even first single Honey And Sulphur is great, taking the Orchestral Metal elements to the maximum and avoiding pure catchiness in favour of, well, Metal. The orchestral interludes themselves (made by some guy on a keyboard rather than an actual orchestra, sadly) are decent, and I even found myself listening to them more than once, the true hallmark of a good interlude.

I originally intended to make constant unfavourable comparisons with the other bands in this ‘sort-of Black Metal’ genre who have released great albums recently, you know, Moonspell, Septicflesh, and so on. Yet so good is this album, so professional and considered, that even the appearance of Dani’s daughter Luna Scarlet (expecting Mr and Mrs Filth to give the poor child a sensible name was too much, clearly) on Darkness Incarnate could only annoy me a little. I mean, imagine the response from Iron Maiden fans if Steve Harris got his daughter Lauren (her stunningly average album thankfully having sunk without a trace) duetting with Bruce. Yes, exactly. Still, Luna only takes a few seconds for her part, and the album soon makes up for it, the title track being speedy and full of wrath, even a touch of later Emperor making itself known.

Ultimately, if you ever want to enjoy Cradle Of Filth you have to either ignore their over-the-top imagery or take it with a pinch of salt as part of that great institution, the British sense of humour, probably the one thing stopping us from ever having a traditional Black Metal scene. Even those that have problems with either of these, however, will find Godspeed On The Devil’s Thunder easier to like than its two predecessors; improved songs with more depth, less silliness and overall a step forwards for the band. Yes, the cover art is crap, and yes, seventy-odd minutes of this is more than enough; but this is Nymphetamine as it should have been, and will go a long way towards rehabilitating Cradle Of Filth with fans that have lost faith in recent years.

Killing Songs :
Shat Out Of Hell, The 13th Caesar, Tragic Kingdom, Sweetest Maleficia, Honey And Sulphur, Darkness Incarnate
Goat quoted 81 / 100
Other albums by Cradle Of Filth that we have reviewed:
Cradle Of Filth - Hammer of the Witches reviewed by Goat and quoted 85 / 100
Cradle Of Filth - Total Fucking Darkness reviewed by Goat and quoted no quote
Cradle Of Filth - Darkly, Darkly, Venus Aversa reviewed by Kyle and quoted 64 / 100
Cradle Of Filth - Thornography reviewed by Goat and quoted 63 / 100
Cradle Of Filth - Nymphetamine reviewed by Jay and quoted 55 / 100
To see all 13 reviews click here
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