Cradle of Filth formed in Suffolk in 1991 and after a string of demo recordings released their debut album, ‘The Principle of Evil Made Flesh’ in 1994. The band have gone on to become one of the UK’s most successful metal acts, known for their dynamic symphonic style of gothic black metal, along with the dark poetic lyrics from the hand of enigmatic front-man Dani Filth.
Cradle of Filth’s first three years saw three demos and a rehearsal tape recorded. The band also recorded an unreleased album entitled ‘Goetia’,prior to the third demo and their style shift. ‘Goetia’ was set for release on Tombstone records, but all tracks were erased when Tombstone went out of business and could not afford to buy the recordings from the studio. The band then signed to new label Cacophonous Records and COF’s debut album, ‘The Principle of Evil Made Flesh’, was Cacophonous’ first release in 1994. A vast step up in terms of production from the rehearsal quality of most of their demos, the album was still nevertheless a sparse and embryonic version of what was to come.Read More
Cradle’s relationship with Cacophonous soon soured to say the least; the band accusing the label of contractual and financial mismanagement. Acrimonious legal proceedings took up most of 1995, and the band eventually escaped to sign to Music for Nations in 1996 after one more contractually obligatedCacophonous recording: the EP, ‘Vempire or Dark Faerytales in Phallustein’.
‘Dusk… and Her Embrace’ followed the same year: a critically acclaimed breakthrough album that greatly expanded the band’s fan-base throughout Europe and the rest of the world. A concept album of sorts based generally on vampirism and specifically (though loosely) on the writings of Sheridan Le Fanu, Arthur Machen and Bram Stoker, Cradle’s inaugural album for Music for Nations set the tone for what was to follow. The album’s production values matched the band’s ambition for the first time, whilst Dani’s vocal gymnastics were at their most extreme.
The increasingly theatrical stage shows of the 1997 European tour helped keep Cradle in the public eye, as did a burgeoning line of controversial merchandise; not least the notorious t-shirt depicting a masturbating nun on the front and the slogan “Jesus Is A Cunt” emblazoned in large letters on the back. The t-shirt is banned in New Zealand, a handful of fans have faced court appearances and received substantial fines for wearing the shirt in public in the UK and the US, and some band members themselves have attracted a certain amount of hostile attention. The Lord Provost of Glasgow called the shirts (and by implication the band) “sick and offensive”. The band obviously approved, using the quote on the back cover of the 2005 DVD ‘Peace Through Superior Firepower’.
In 1998, Dani began his long-running “Dani’s Inferno” column for Metal Hammer, and the band appeared in the BBC documentary series ‘Living With the Enemy’ (on tour with a fan and his disapproving mother and sister) and released its third full-length album ‘Cruelty and the Beast’. A fully-realised concept album based on the legend of the “Blood Countess” Elizabeth Bathory, the album boasted the casting coup of Ingrid Pitt providing guest narration as the Countess: a role she first perfected in Hammer’s 1971 film ‘Countess Dracula’.
Paul Allender had left the band in 1996 but rejoined in 2000 for ‘Midian’. The following year the band continued primarily to tour, but did release its first full-length music video, ‘PanDaemonAeon’, and an accompanying EP, ‘From the Cradle to Enslave’, featuring the music from the production. Replete with graphic nudity and gore, the video was directed by underground legend Alex Chandon, who would go on to produce further Cradle promo clips , as well as the full-length horror feature film ‘Cradle of Fear’, which also starred Dani and the band.
The band released their fourth full-length studio album on Hallowe’en, 2000. ‘Midian’ was based around the Clive Barker novel ‘Cabal’ and its subsequent film adaptation ‘Nightbreed’. Like ‘Cruelty and the Beast’, ‘Midian’ featured a guest narrator, this time Doug Bradley, who starred in ‘Nightbreed,’ but remains best known for playing the lead Cenobite (affectionately referred to as Pinhead) in the ‘Hellraiser’ films and Bradley would reappear on later albums ‘Nymphetamine’, ‘Thornography’, and ‘Godspeed on the Devil’s Thunder’. The video for ‘Her Ghost in the Fog’ received heavy rotation on MTV2 and other metal channels, and the track also found its way onto the soundtrack of the werewolf movie ’Ginger Snaps’, and the video game ‘Brutal Legend’.
The longest-ever interim period between full-length Cradle albums was nevertheless a busy time for the band. ‘Bitter Suites to Succubi’ was released on the band’s own ‘AbraCadaver’ label, and was a mixture of four new songs, re-recordings of three songs from ‘The Principle of Evil Made Flesh’, two instrumental tracks, and a cover of The Sisters of Mercy’s ‘No Time To Cry’. Further releases followed in the form of the “best of Music For Nations” package ‘Lovecraft and Witch Hearts’ and a live album; ‘Live Bait for the Dead’, again on their AbraCadaver imprint.
2003 then saw the band negotiate their first major-label signing with Sony Music. ‘Damnation and a Day’ Sony’s heavyweight funding underwriting Cradle’s undiminished ambition by finally bringing a real orchestra into the studio (the 80-strong Budapest Film Orchestra and Choir replacing the increasingly sophisticated synthesisers of previous albums) and thus marking the band’s belated gestation – into full-blown symphonic metal. Roughly half the album trod the conceptual territory of John Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’ – showing the events of the Fall of Man through the eyes of Lucifer – while the remainder followed Lucifer’s path throughout the centuries, culminating in the End Of Days. ‘Babalon AD’, one of the many video tracks from this epic, was the first DVD-only single to reach the U.K. top 40, according to the Guinness Book of Records of British Hit Singles and Albums.
This album also saw them headline the prestigious B-Stage on the US Ozzfest for 10 weeks during the Summer and finish the year with ‘Moonspell’ and ‘Type O Negative’-supporting an immediate return to the States .
‘Nymphetamine’ surfaced in 2004, described as an “eclectic mix between the group’s Damnation and Cruelty albums, with a renewed vigour for melody, songmanship [sic] and plain fucking weirdness. ‘Nymphetamine’ debuted at #89 on the Billboard Top 200 chart, and the band’s growing acceptance by the mainstream was confirmed when the album’s title track was nominated for a Grammy award, leading the band appear on several TV shows, including the US hit comedy series, Viva La Bam.
Follow-up album ‘Thornography’ was released in October 2006. A flurry of pre-release controversy saw Samuel Araya’s original cover artwork scrapped and replaced in May 2006, although numerous CD booklets had already been printed with the original image. ‘Thornography’ received a similar reception to ‘Nymphetamine’, in respect to its more straight forward thrash metal sensibilities and commercial arrangements, though more than a few diehard Cradle fans were slightly perturbed.
Work on the eighth studio album, released in October 2008 as ‘Godspeed on the Devil’s Thunder’, began early that year following a successful world tour. ‘Godspeed…’ was a concept album based around the legend of Gilles De Rais, a 15th Century French nobleman who fought alongside Joan of Arc and accumulated great wealth before becoming a Satanist, sexual deviant and prolific child-murderer.
Cradle’s relationship with Roadrunner came to an end in April 2010, with the announcement that the band’s next album would be released via Peaceville Records, again using AbraCadaver to spread the filth. Dani Filth cited “the artistic restrictions and mindless inhibitions imposed by a major label” as part of the band’s reason for going independent, and announced that the record would be out on All Hallows Eve.
By August 2010 the title was confirmed as ‘Darkly, Darkly, Venus Aversa’, a concept album spun about the lascivious demoness Lilith, first wife of the Biblical Adam. Reference to Greek mythology, Knights Templar and Carmelite Nuns are also destined to be part of this semi-fictitious occult story, in what’s being referred to by the label as a “dark tapestry of horror, madness and twisted, Vampyric sex”. The album was released late 2010, with a video for stand-out track ‘Forgive Me Father’ being produced, & it was clearly evident that Cradle had lost none of their ferocity, receiving praise in the press & from fans for their latest masterwork.
The band began 2011 with a long US tour, before returning to Europe for festival appearances. During a subsequent short trek around Europe & Russia the band were filmed for a documentary showing the tricks & toils of a band on the road. This, along with live footage (plus the band’s second video, for the track ‘Lilith Immaculate’), was to accompany a CD full of new, reworked & unreleased audio tracks to make the perfect companion piece to ‘Darkly, Darkly…’; to be suitably titled ‘Evermore Darkly’ & released late 2011.
While the band continued to work on writing material for their follow-up album, it was announced that a special orchestral release based around classical reinterpretations of early Cradle tracks was to see light of day in April 2012, to be titled ‘Midnight in the Labyrinth’; a 2-disc release of cinematic dark soundscapes.