Album Review: Cradle of Filth – Trouble And Their Double Lives


Cradle of Filth, the incomparable and unhallowed deviants of extreme metal have been shocking the world with their distinctive sound and macabre cinematic theatre for the past 30 years. Truly, Dani and his fiendish cohorts need no introduction, but thoroughly deserve the fanfare.

Released on April 28th, the curiously titled Trouble and Their Double Lives marks Cradle of Filth’s long-overdue and first proper live album since 2002’s Live Bait for the Dead and acts as bridge of nightmares or quencher of thirst between releases as well as labels. The new live album is a wicked concoction of Cradle’s unmatchable live performances, gathering sixteen recordings from various shows throughout 2014 to 2019 and featuring two brand new tracks to hold us over as we eagerly await their fourteenth studio album, which will be their debut for Napalm Records.

The main thing you need to know is that these two new tracks are worth the price alone as they represent all we adore about Cradle of Filth and their three decades of existence, also offering an exciting glimpse into the audial darkness of the future. It seems that the already prolific Cradle are riding high on energy hot off the heels of their excellent thirteenth album Existence Is Futile and have begun to frankenstein together their next cacophonous excretion, as Dani’s self-deprecating humour would likely say. “She Is A Fire” and “Demon Prince Regent” were the electro-shocked beginnings of their next abomination but due to yet more line-up changes their place is now on this live release and the next album will be a from-scratch rebooting of fresh ideas. It’s great to know that a fiery new opus may not be too far away.

First new track “She Is A Fire” is the archetypal Cradle ballad ignited with the malefic flames of Hell and licked with the burning desires of lust. Gorgeous arpeggios and pure melodic riff-bliss lead you with a gentle, porcelain hand into the track before a flurry of blastbeats tear through the tinkling of keys, dragging a vigorous stirring of passion from your soul. The track shimmers with emotive energy and delicate, amatory nuances, whether it’s in the fragility of the keyboards or the libidinous blazing of the magnificent blast sections, this track certainly is on fire. You’d think there couldn’t possibly be any more gothic ‘romantasies’ left in Dani’s bloody, viscous-black ink from 30 years of penning them, yet “She Is A Fire” proves that the fire is still very much alive and freshly engulfing you in abyssal emotion. Surely one of their best songs of recent years.

“Demon Prince Regent” takes a more sinister approach and thrashes about in the throes of creeping dissonance and frenetic melodeath. Boasting a dramatic chorus and powerful riffs, with a finale of particularly theatrical stringwork being a highlight, this one slithers through your head in the blackest of ways and leaves its malevolence ringing in your ears.

The live meat of this release is everything you’d expect from a band as talented and devoted to their (witch)craft as Cradle are, performed with devilish precision and ghastly gusto. Mixing master Scott Adkins presence on production really boosts the sound, allowing Cradle’s gothic splendor to fully illuminate in dreaded atmospherics and Cradle’s unyielding and unique style, capturing all instruments and voices as beautifully black as can be. The orchestration is stunning and Dani’s vocals are crisp and suitably ear-piercing, and after all these years still sends that commanding chill down your spine. His playful raillery with the crowd is also a delight to hear.

You could view this live release as a rough best of with an eclectic mix of songs and covers material from a decent chunk of their discography all the way up to Cryptoriana, minus only a few albums, taking the most high-octane performances from all over Europe, USA and Australia. It includes fan favourites such as “Nymphetamine” and “Born In A Burial Gown” as well as the epic “Bathory Aria”. There’s no track here that doesn’t have its place, they all fit in and are chosen wisely, with this particular set-list being a twisted time-capsule of their career, showcasing Cradle’s various styles and energies through softer numbers like “The Death of Love” as well as more blistering tracks like “Desire In Violent Overture”.

I’ve reviewed Cradle of Filth’s past three albums and the words just naturally pour out as I have so much history with them the nostalgia always flows. They’ve been a significant part of my metal life since I was a kid and probably even started it. Whether it’s an album or live album it’s always a thrill to listen to Cradle, and this is no different. New or old, it’s always a delight and judging by those two incredible new tracks, they still have such sights to show us.

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