Cradle of Filth – Hammer of the Witches (Nuclear Blast)Sunday, 12th July 2015
Amid some rather frequent changes in band members, Cradle of Filth has persevered through the years. But not without a series of ups and downs in quality. The band has floated between great and mediocre over the more recent of times, but with the newest iteration of the band (and more recent focus on playing older tracks on the live front), it seems Cradle of Filth is at the strongest they’ve been in quite some time with Hammer of the Witches.
The most notable change within the CoF camp is that they have gone back to two guitarists. This allows the band to harken a bit back towards their earlier works with a stronger emphasis on guitar harmonies within their blackened structures, alongside the usual amount of bombastic synths and strings. “Deflowering the Maidenhead, Displeasuring the Goddess” really nails this (as does “Onward Christian Soldiers”), and sees the band really pushing full-tilt with thrashy, blackened melodies laid on top of swirling blastbeats and epic orchestration. Some of the more melodic (and symphonic) tracks wisely make use of new female vocalist/keyboardist Lindsey Schoolcraft, such as “Right Wing of the Triptych and “Blackest Magick in Practice,” and makes one wish she had more of a presence on some of the other tracks. Lyrically-themed about the Malleus Maleficarum (a document that provided guidelines for the torture and persecution of witches), Dani Filth’s vocals love-them-or-loathe-them shrieks are just as strong and crazed as ever. Time has not taken a toll on his vocals, and much like the music behind him, feels a bit more energized.
While it’s not too far removed from the usual CoF wheelhouse, it’s nice to see them shift back towards a more black and metallic edge once more. The band’s usual grandiose orchestrations have been begging for some twin-melodies for some time now and are bound to win over even some hardened opposers this time around. Hammer of the Witches is solid, start to finish.