Cradle of Filth
So here we are, mid-February in southern California, having just come off a run of consecutive days reaching 80 degree temperatures. Spring solstice won’t be greeting us for another month, yet the winter season appears just about ready to pack it in until Thanksgiving, and I was left wondering if it’s time to start digging through the closet for my beachwear.
Then Daniel Lloyd Davey rolled into town, bringing not only the most recent variation of his band Cradle of Filth, with whom he has become synonymous, but also fully equipped with the drudge and dreariness of his motherland, England. It was as if suddenly, LA was unable to go an hour without being pelted by a parade of rain, seemingly two months too soon and drought be damned.
However, even this dark cloud would have a silver lining, as concert goers, goth and ghoul alike, braved the weeknight traffic and continuous downpour to see Davey’s (better known as Dani Filth) brainchild in the flesh. While the black eyeliner ran and pale faces faded away from the precipitation, separating the barely living from the almost dead, the crowds filed into the Mayan Theater and took their places in anticipation of the latest installment of the Inquisitional Tourture 2016 Tour.
It has now been 25 years since the band’s formation, and in that time Cradle of Filth has cemented itself as one of the most important bands of the black metal genre. While starting out as a true proponent of the genre, the band has since moved towards a heavier and more symphonic approach, accompanied by major label support. Although this transition has alienated some of their old school fans, the overall popularity of the group has grown to become a commercial success, as evidenced by the large turnout at a venue more than 5,000 miles from home.
The stage remained exposed; no curtains needed. A large screen on the back wall revealed the album cover of the band’s latest offering, Hammer of the Witches. Beast and beauties, wrapped up in seculars and sacrilege; all common themes of the genre. The drums were set up in the far back right corner of the upper stage. Double black Pearl kick drums and an army of Sabians encased within a drum shield, something I rarely see at a metal show. Off to left stood the keyboard, in the shape of a fallen crescent, like a rainbow void of its colors.
As “Humana Inspired to Nightmare,” the enchanting opening track to the band’s second studio album Dusk…And Her Embrace played over the PA, the band walked in from stage left, one by one, and took their places to the roar of the crowd. If the audience expected to see torn leather jackets infused with studs and spikes, massive Dr. Martens boots, and corpse painted grins, then they were not disappointed. Also, short hair is not an option in this band…it needs to be long or gone.
After each member made their entrance, Dani strode out to a deafening crescendo, donning a tattered red cape with his own black leather ensemble. The band went right into “Heaven Torn Asunder,” beginning with Dani’s unmistakably piercing scream.
Cradle of Filth played several selections from last year’s release but rationed the rest of their time on songs throughout their extensive catalog, even choosing to focus more heavily on their earlier albums. They exited the stage momentarily after about 10 songs for Dani to have a wardrobe change, but upon returning played more of a second set than an encore. As the night pressed forward, Dani spent more time addressing his fans between songs. They may not have always been able to understand him through his thick British accent, but they knew to yell loudly after every phrase.
The band played for almost two hours, finding time to fit in classic tracks “Her Ghost in the Fog” and “From Cradle to Enslave” just before closing with one for the older fans, “The Principle of Evil Made Flesh.” Despite the constant member turnover, Cradle of Filth remains productive as Dani refuses to yet be affected by time and age.
Cradle of Filth is supported by opening acts Butcher Babies and Ne Obliviscaris. Butcher Babies is a dual female-fronted metal group, alternating between harsh and clean vocals over a heavy thrash sound. Think In This Moment, but more technical musically and twice as much to look at. Could also be for fans of early Kittie and Otep. Ne Obliviscaris is an interesting brand of prog death that largely incorporates the use of violin. Fans of bands like Opeth, Apocalyptica and Gojira might find them worth checking out.
1 Humana Inspired to Nightmare (tape)
2 Heaven Torn Asunder
3 Cruelty Brought Thee Orchids
4 Blackest Magick in Practice
5 Lord Abortion
6 Right Wing of the Garden Triptych
7 Malice Through the Looking Glass
8 Deflowering the Maidenhead, Displeasuring the Goddess
9 Honey and Sulphur
10 Gilded Cunt
11 Walpurgis Eve (tape)
12 Yours Immortally…
13 Nymphetamine (Fix)
14 For Your Vulgar Delectation
15 Her Ghost in the Fog
16 From the Cradle to Enslave
17 The Principle of Evil Made Flesh
18 Blooding the Hounds of Hell (tape)