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How black metal sounded in 1612

These black metal heathens have gone high culture so you better ditch that pre-mix then change out of those black jeans and band t-shirt. It’s time for those dusty old Jacobean duds and periwig to finally see the light of day because Cradle Of Filth are about to shake up all that’s possible in metal circles.

Midnight In The Labyrinth by Cradle Of Filth

This outing isn’t standard fodder for the band but is instead a two disc stripped back ‘re-imagining’ of selected tracks from the band’s first four albums. And by stripped back I mean it’s all orchestra-y with bits of vocals and sound effects dropped in here and there and shit. Well, that’s the first disc, anyway (and the one I’ll be reviewing here). The second disc is features the same selected tracks but stripped back even more to the bare orchestra essentials and nothing else, kinda like a ‘re-re-imagining’. For the uninitiated, the band’s first four albums are: the band’s debut The Principal Of Evil Made Flesh from 1994, Vempire and Dusk And Her Embrace from 1996 and Cruelty And The Beast from 1998.

Interestingly enough, the track ‘The Forest Whispers My Name’ is re-imagined here on Midnight In The Labyrinth, but it first appeared on their 1994 debut and then, one could say re-imagined way back after its release and rerecorded and rereleased on 1996’s Vempire, which means the song is now in it’s fourth incarnation on the second disc of MITL which also means it is re-re-re-imagined. If you count live recording releases that feature this track as well then technically ‘The Forest Whispers My Name’ is now officially the most re-imagined song in the history of music of all time. But for the sake of this review the track sounds pretty rad on this outing.

Actually, every track is pretty rad on this outing, to be honest. There’s also ‘The Rape And Ruin Of Angels (Hosannas In Extremis)’, ‘Summer Dying Fast’, ‘Funeral In Carpathia’ and ‘Thirteen Autumns And A Widow’ in there amongst others. The tracks here are familiar and new at the same time. By knowing what you’re listening to helps understand, ultimately, the band’s goal here which is to highlight the fact that classical music and heavy metal aren’t that far removed from each other. The emotion and emphasis of pounding drums or tearing guitars can easily be replaced by quiet violins and the like and offer the same result. There’s more on offer too, it offers a sense of anticipation on the first few listens as you go through and think “ok, so this bridge is next, I wonder how they’ll redo that riff with these strange instruments”. It’s a lot to absorb the first few times and the handy thing is by dropping vocals and sound effects in there, you immediately know where you are in the song. If that sounds too condescending then that’s why the guys added the second disc.

‘The Twisted Nails Of Faith’ appears on the album and is the closest to the original which is cool because you can sing along to classical music. My personal gripe is with ‘Cruelty Brought Thee Orchids’ since it’s a favourite, I was expecting the main riff to explode out in lush sparkly stringy goodness but instead it’s relegated to an almost background sound. COF’s awareness of their songs and their fan’s expectations pay off and in the case of ‘Cruelty Brought Thee Orchids’, the lads turn everything upside down. Midnight In The Labyrinth is a pretty wild project for the COF lads and you really need to know what you’re listening to to get a lot out of this record because if you don’t you’ll be left scratching your head in puzzlement.

Midnight In The Labyrinth is out now through Peaceville

Reviewed by thepackedvacuum

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