One of the most consistent metal bands and live performers in the scene, Friday night in Camden sees Cradle of Filth bring their brand of black metal to an eager crowd at The Electric Ballroom. I have been lucky enough to see these guys a lot. Maybe 10 or 11 times (I think) and they never fail to impress. You are almost guaranteed a good show so the only question you have before they start is what tracks you may or may not hear from their extensive discography.
It has already been a great week of live metal for the GBHBL team. Starting with Bangover and Pulvis Et Umbra on Sunday night before Orden Ogan on Tuesday. Cradle of Filth are the perfect band to end the week on. You can read our reviews of the previous gigs by clicking on the links.
For me, this is a gig I have been waiting for impatiently. I am a massive fan of this band and have been blown away by their last two album releases. Both Hammer of the Witches and Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay are near perfection in my opinion. You can read my thoughts on those albums by clicking on the appropriate link. With this tour being in support of their latest album, Cryptoriana, I already have a little list of songs I am hoping for. Also a few classics that I would like thrown into the mix too.
The Electric Ballroom is a good venue. It holds around 1100 people when full and has lots of bars which is also welcome as it cuts down on queue time. The sound quality is pretty good and there is a decent amount of floor space so if you want out of the pit, you can usually find somewhere to chill and catch your breath while getting a decent view of the stage.
It is an unorthodox venue though on a Friday night because it has a club night on. What this means is that the show starts early and finishes early. Where a headliner would normally take the stage at 21:00 to 21:30, here they will be on at around 20:00 and the show is normally over by 21:30. Because of this, the doors are due to open at 18:00 but when we arrive there is still a massive queue and it looks like they have opened late. Getting in isn’t too much of an issue though and it all moves along quite quickly.
Once inside, the only support band are almost ready to come on stage. That band is the British thrash metallers, Savage Messiah. Perhaps a bit of a strange choice to have opening for Cradle of Filth due to the obvious differences in musical style but they were decent. There were a couple stand out tracks though also a couple generic, unspectacular ones. Still, they livened the crowd up and had a lot of energy and enthusiasm which is always welcomed.
At around 20:15, the lights dimmed again and Ave Satani, the theme song to The Omen, starts playing. As it nears it’s end, the band take to the stage to rapturous applause. All except for Dani of course, who tends to make more of a solo entrance. When he does come out, the band dive straight into one of their more extreme tracks, Gilded Cunt. It is a fiery and fierce way to start a gig and the crowd respond in kind by exploding into life in a sea of arms flailing limbs. Add in the girls on stage with angle grinders creating showers of sparks everywhere and it is definitely quite the opener. Gilded Cunt leads straight into the classic Beneath the Howling Stars which sounds perfect.
The band really do sound spot on with Dani shrieking and growling brilliantly. You really feel the benefit of the two guitarists being on stage. Having both Richard Shaw and Marek Šmerda playing gives the band a fuller and deeper sound. Having Lindsay Schoolcraft in the band permanently also helps a lot and she sounds very good vocally. Different to a lot of the original female vocals of course but still very good.
Never are the new members more noticeable than on the 3rd song, Blackest Magick in Practice. For many of the band members, this is the first song of the night that they actually recorded and they sound like they own it too. The guitars are excellent and the drums are timed perfectly. The only thing I was finding a little odd by now was that 3 songs in and nothing from Cryptoriana had been played yet. I didn’t have to wait much longer as Heartbreak and Séance was the next song to come on. The guitars sound fantastic in this one and Dani prances around on stage shrieking and yelling like a man possessed.
Then comes the first real surprise of the night as Dani announces the next song is Bathory Aria. I have never heard this song played live. I also believed I never would, mainly because it is over 11 minutes long and is littered with female vocals and passages from Ingrid Pitt. What a moment it was. Made possible in part by having Lindsay in the band, the track sounded phenomenal live and the 11 minutes passed in seconds.
Bathory Aria was followed up by the ever popular Dusk and Her Embrace. This song is a fan favourite and gets a lot of play time by the band on their tours. Rightfully so. They sound on fire and the angel grinder girls return to create some actual fire too. Another rare one gets an outing next as the often maligned Thornography album gets a chance with Under Huntress Moon. It goes down well and fits nicely into their set though I would personally be happy with switching this track out for something else. It is a good song its just that there are better ones.
Dani announces the last song of the night as being You Will Know the Lion By His Claw. Weirdly this is only the second track from Cryptoriana, the album being toured. It is also early though so you know there is an encore coming. It is a top track and has fans pitting and head banging like crazy. The band leave to rapturous applause (though we all know they are coming back).
As they are off stage, Damnation and a Day’s intro A Bruise Upon the Silent Moon plays. The band return as it nears it’s end and jump straight into the same album’s The Promise of Fever. Finally another Cryptoriana track gets an outing with Achingly Beautiful next. What a tune this is. Dani and Lindsay together sound devilish and the bass from Daniel Firth is shaking the floor. Another chance to hear Dani and Lindsay make vocal magic comes next with the ever popular Nymphetamine (Fix). It brings one of the loudest roars of approval of the night and sounds intense and impassioned.
As the band rattle through classic songs, Her Ghost in the Fog comes on. This is one of my favourites as per my top ten Cradle songs. It is dark and malicious and sounds note perfect on stage. The riff sounds huge as do Dani’s powerful screams. As the song ends, there appears to be a little confusion as you can see someone on stage telling the band they have two songs more. I get the confusion. Anyone who has been at this venue knows they kick us out, in time for the club night, at half nine and it is time. It appears that Cradle have been given extra time though and are on until 21:45. Lucky us!
That gives us time for two more songs. The first of which is Born in a Burial Gown. A dark and seedy track that gets everybody moving before the band announce their final song, From the Cradle to Enslave. That announcement is very well received and the whole crowd turns into a frenzied mass of bodies. It is a really infectious song and the band play it perfectly. It is also a great song to the end the night on as the band say their thank yous and the crowd roar and applaud in appreciation.
An0ther Cradle gig down and another great night was had by all in attendance. The set list was varied, taking in songs from 10 different albums and there were some very rarely played tracks in the mix. None more so than the excellent Bathory Aria which was mind blowing. The band were all tight and played as a unit, sounding large and strong. There were minimal, but enough, theatrics on stage with the angle grinders and the occasional costume change too. There were some oddities on the night though with the time confusion meaning we had an encore that was almost as long as the main set and I would have liked a couple more tracks from Cryptoriana, mainly Wester Vespertine.
You can pick up Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay on all the usual streaming services now. You can also get it from Nuclear Blast here . Or you can also pick it up from the links below. Check out Cradle on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more information on them and their music.
Cradle of Filth at The Electric Ballroom, London (10/11/2017)