Well, we didn’t see this one coming, did we? Or maybe we did, as classical music and orchestration has always played a part in heavy music, with bands such as Iron Maiden, Dimmu Borgir, Paradise Lost, Therion and Nightwish all using orchestras to some degree at some point, usually to heighten the atmosphere of their studio output. Bands such as Deep Purple and Metallica have even performed onstage with orchestras, adding a new dimension to established classics, and in the case of My Dying Bride re-writing older material to suit classical instruments.
So metal, especially the more extreme end of things, already has an established connection with classical music. Which makes this new release from Cradle of Filth maybe not as much of a surprise as one would first think? Cradle‘s music has always had ambitions to be more than just extreme metal ‘blat-blat-blat’ drums and shrieked vocals, and has always lent itself to the more epic scale of a film score or even an opera, so re-interpreting such grandiose music in such a way seems to make perfect sense.
It’s just that whilst this probably seemed like a good idea on paper, when applied to making an actual album it doesn’t seem to quite fulfill the promise that it originally made. Taking a total of nine tracks from the first four Cradle of Filth releases – “The Principle of Evil Made Flesh”, ”Vempire, Dusk & Her Embrace” and “Cruelty & the Beast” – plus a new track entitled “Goetia (Invoking the Unclean)”, the album is basically Dani Filth and Sarah Jezebel Diva blandly narrating passages over fully-orchestrated versions of some of the band’s best material, with the second disc recreating the music with no vocals at all, which begs the question – who exactly is this aimed at?
It’s very unlikely that fans of classical music are going to part with their cash for the latest Cradle of Filth album, and as for your average black metal nutjob settling down to listen to “A Gothic Romance (Red Roses for the Devil’s Whore)” recreated on the violin and cello – really? That isn’t to say that this is terrible in the sense of bad music as some of the band’s schizoid rhythms do sound okay when played on classical instruments, but it’s hard to get past the fact that this is an unecessary album that probably won’t appeal to either of the audiences that it should. Perhaps it would have worked better with some sort of visual accompaniment, fulfilling the horror movie soundtrack idea that Dani Filth has banged on about for years but as it is, maybe the idea should have stayed in Dani‘s head. Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should.