CRADLE OF FILTH – Dani Filth on Victorian Ghosts, Nudity, & Heavy Metal in CRYPTORIANA

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Dani Filth

Formed in England in 1991, have solidified their place as one of the most popular extreme metal bands in history. The band generated an immediate underground buzz with their early demos and their debut album The Principle Of Evil Made Flesh in 1994, and subsequently released other seminal albums like Dusk…And Her Embrace in 1996, and Cruelty And The Beast in 1998. More recently, albums like Godspeed On The Devil’s Thunder in 2008 and Hammer Of The Witches in 2015 show that have no intention of going gently into that goodnight anytime soon. The band is currently releasing its 12th studio album Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness Of Decay in September 2017, it’s second on Nuclear Blast Records. The band’s combination of detailed, literary lyrics, intensely dark/gothic imagery, and intricate heavy riffage has certainly not ceased on this effort.

The band’s line up currently consists of Dani Filth on vocals, the only original member, Martin Skaroupka on drums, since 2006, Daniel Firth on bass, since 2012, Lindsay Schoolcraft on keyboards and female vocals, since 2013, Richard Shaw on guitar since 2014, and Marek “Ashok” Šmerda also on guitar since 2014. Cryptoriana was conceived during the summer of 2016 when met in Smerda and Škaroupka’s native Czech Republic. Then, the band went on to meticulously piece together the album with long-time producer Scott Atkin back in the UK during the first half of 2017. Filth, in his typical articulate, British, style gives us some insight on the making of the record: “It was a bit of a team building exercise. We obviously still went sightseeing in the Czech Republic, and, you know, it felt like being on holiday in Europe, which was great for the band itself. But obviously the most important thing was that we collated all our ideas together, because everybody had been working so proficiently on tracks or parts individually, we thought we could fill the puzzle. And we actually came away from that with 80 to 85 percent of the album written, so after that it was quite easy to finish the record. Even in Canada or in England, Scotland, or the Czech Republic, and then in the studio, there was further mutation. Once you get a producer involved sort the demos you can be Close to done and to the actual mix.”

Filth has said that this album is building on the success of 2015’s Hammer Of The Witches. Filth explains the progression between that album and this one: “A couple of the tracks were actually written for Hammer of the Witches. They just didn’t work out, as they weren’t developed enough at the time, and so we decided to hold them back. We didn’t even know if they’re going on this album or not, but we developed them further. They sit better with this sound than the previous record. There’s things about this record that are very different. I think for the first time we don’t have an orchestral intro or an orchestral outro or orchestral middle section and instead those orchestral parts are incorporated into the bulk of the song. The songs are longer and there’s acoustic guitars on the record and there’s more guitar solos, but they’re not just there for the sake of it, they’re really well-thought-out. I’d say it was more interaction with the guitars their are in a sort of twin guitar new wave of British Heavy metal vein. Yeah we’ve got choir on here with the emphasis on high soprano so it’s very ghostly. It fits perfectly with this sort of Victorian Gothic horror story vibe. There are some really heavy tracks on the album like Death and the Maiden, which finishes the main bulk of the album on the special edition. On the special edition, there’s also a cover version of Annihilator’s Alison Hell, which we’ve been wanting to do for ages and reason we’ve done it now is A. because it fits very well with the theme of the music and the album. And also because we bumped into Jeff Waters recently, I say recently as in the last couple of years, and mentioned that we were going to be undertaking a cover of that track and he gave his full endorsement. He’s indeed heard it since it’s been finished and he loves it so that’s the biggest accolade you can get when undertaking a cover.”

Another comparison that might be made about Cryptoriana is its resemblance to some of Cradle of Filth’s previous work like 2000’s Midian or 2004’s Nymphetamine. Filth elaborates on this: “By nature the music, the twin guitar work and the fact that the stuff is very ornate and fast with a bit of Gothic melodrama thrown into parts of the album, especially on Achingly Beautiful and The Night At Catafalque Manor, which is one of the bonus tracks, I think that just immediately links it back to the past albums like Cruelty and the Beast or Midian or indeed Nymphetamine. I think just by default alone.  Oh and Vengeful Spirit features the voice of Liv Christine, who was featured on one of our older tracks Nymphetamine [as a guest vocalist]. But it’s a very different track. Christine characterizes the protagonist of the song, a woman betrayed who commits suicide and then returns from purgatory to torment the person who has wronged her in life, which is me basically. So we sort of feature as a duet. So anybody expecting Nympetamine part two will be slightly disappointed because you know there is a slightly faster song, but it’s unmistakably her and it’s very catchy. Also, it is the same line-up as the previous album, but, you could say, the newest members are fans of the band. When they joined the band they were fans and since then we’ve been rehearsing and playing a lot and you know doing a diverse amount of material from our entire back catalog, so they’re fully integrated into the Cradle sound. The way the songs integrate with each other, the speed of them , the intricacy of them, the atmosphere of the songs, and me.  Because it is fast, there’s a very high vocal as well, although there’s a lot of deep vocals on the album, which is quite new as well, it immediately brings to mind early records.”

Speaking of older material, next year is the 20th anniversary of 1998’s Cruelty and the Beast. Dani reveals that the band is “subsequently releasing that album again, but we’ve remixing it because people always had a little bit of a problem with that. They Don’t really love the sound. We were going to bring it up to date, but not at the expense of the atmosphere, so that’s going be a very fine line that we have to tread. We already done a test mix and the record company is very happy with it.” As many fans would hope, Filth promises that the drums will be more prominent in the mix: “It’s going to sound very up to date, but that’s why he didn’t want to farm it out to an outsider, as it were, someone who doesn’t really know the album. We really want to make it as atmospheric as we can without losing the power or vice versa. And that should come out about April 2018 I believe.”

Cradle of Filth have stuck with long-time producer Scott Atkin for many albums now. Filth gives a little insight into how this effects the music on Cryptoriana and previous albums: “Yeah I think it’s great. People say, ‘oh it’s all going to sound the same’ and it’s not. Absolutely not. And that’s because, as the technology moves along, we can play the songs right through. What I mean by that is guitar tones, guitar heads. You know you can fine tune the drums. These new techniques coming out to change things. We went out of our way in some places to make the album very different like I say we used acoustic guitars for example. Just way some the riffs are written some of the bass parts etc. etc. Cryptoriana is definitely a more ornate record than its predecessor.”

Cradle of Filth has released a video for Heart Break and Séance from Cryptoriana that is really striking thanks to the artistic genius of Arthur Berzinsh, who also does the cover art for them album. Filth explicates: “He was the artist for Hammer of the Witches and I wanted to use him on this album. Then I found out from some of his peers that he was as good a video director if not better than he was an artist. And so immediately I went okay and started discussing my ideas with him. We decided, for the video budget, we went to Latvia, which of course was going to be cheaper than doing in somewhere like England. And yet when we got there we just absolutely blown away by just the enormity of the crew and the cast and the attention to detail and the props and the extras and things, and snakes. Absolutely no CGI. It’s very cinematic and indeed mimics the record. The record is very cinematic and dramatic and theatrical. He’s a really really really nice nice person. Very classy very artistic. You know he’s an author and a musician as well as a video director. There’s not much he can’t do. It’s actually sickens me to be honest.” The song Heart Break and Séance lyrically is “a Victorian tragic story of two lovers who been separated by a great war, it doesn’t specify which one, but the British Empire obviously had skirmishes all round the world in order to keep their empire. So in death he’s watching her from beyond the pale. He’s going to return to her arms while she makes contact, or tries to make contact with him, through spiritualism, through the Ouija board. And not actually getting to break through that porous border. He just watches her she spirals towards suicide and then, only then, she’s with him again. So you know it’s like a tragic love story. Any context in the video, the art work is very classically themed. It has Victorian costumes. But it’s it’s almost timeless. You’ve got that classic mythology wrapped around Victorian sensibilities.” Filth describes the experience of being painted all in black during the video shoot: “it was more uncomfortable trying to get it off for about five hours. We had to go to the airport and then realizing, ‘shit it’s still on me it’s in my ears and on my fingernails.’ We were trying to represent the personification of Death who’s always to be depicted to be pure black. Very demonic looking.” The video features Filth as Death standing above a tableau of naked extras “which is always a good thing.”

Filth then addresses the inevitable question of whether the album overall is a concept album: “Each song has a story. It’s rooted in the Victorian era. And the songs are there placed in a Victorian era like the Seductiveness of Decay, which concerned itself with Victorian England’s crowning glory, which is London and it’s the juxtaposition between its respectability and high morality and its rotten underbelly. So it’s about Romance and the macabre. it’s in the vain of Victorian Gothic horror writers like E.F Benson, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, H.Rider Haggard, Oscar Wilde, Arthur Machen and Algernon Blackwood.” As far as the major role that aesthetics have always play in the band, Filth describes his feelings on the subject: “well obviously, the music’s of paramount importance. We’ve always been very theatrical and I just think it’s good to represent your art that that little bit further. So whether it is the lyricism, the artwork, or the videos, or the costumes. We’ve always been very finicky about how we project ourselves and I think after 12 albums and subsequent EP’s, live records and stuff you’ve kind of backed yourself into a corner and the people expect that. Every time I do an interview immediately people say Is this a concept record because they come to expect it of Cradle of Filth.”

The band has a tour coming and Filth promises it will come to the United States among other countries: “We’re just announcing the tour piece by piece at the moment. Let the dust settle around the European leg a bit. I believe with the North American/Canadian tour, the final details are just been ironed out. And then I think in the next two to three weeks that leg of the world tour will be announced. And then after that will be the third leg. Hopefully, Latin America is going to precede North America/Canada but after that will be Japan, Australia, Philippines Malaysia I think. It’s going to be, I think possibly, the most extensive will tour that Cradle of Filth have done for a long while.”

In closing, Filth had this to say about the band’s upcoming releases: “ Well obviously the album’s coming via Nuclear Blast Entertainment on September 22nd. I urge people to buy the special edition because you get not only The Night at Catafalque Manner, which is a great track. We don’t always know what we’re going to be put on the record so we buy everything and give things as much love and attention as they possibly can have, so that’s a great track. And then obviously you get the Annihilator cover as well. You know what’s a few more dollars between friends when you get like a special edition? So I advise everybody to buy that one. I advise people do go to the Cradle of Filth Facebook page because we’re always announcing stuff. And now that we are in a really busy period of releasing the record there’s stuff being announced all over the place. We’re going to Japan to play Loud Park and we hope to film a DVD there.” They have just released the official lyric video for the venomous new song Achingly Beautiful as well which is available on YouTube.

 

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