Cradle of Filth
Cruelty and the Beast (Re-Mistressed)

If you were to poll die hard Cradle of Filth fans  and even casual black metal fans and ask what the long running UK black metal band’s best album was, it would likely be a mix of 1996s Dusk and her Embrace and 1998s Cruelty and the Beast, maybe with a few votes for 2000s Midian thrown in. (Sorry, the V Empire release is an EP…). Certainly my vote would be for Dusk, with Cruelty as a close second. But as with many records from the 90s, Cruelty suffered from a thin production that sapped the magnificent material of its glory, though still a classic release.

Well, Dani Filth  has done a bit of a 180 degree turn from the band’s last reissue of Dusk and Her Embrace, where the original, more raw material was re-issued and enlisted Scott Atkins (who has produced the last few Cradle albums) to polish and clean up the album’s flat original sound, and boy does it make an already classic album even better.

With already classic material, the remix/remaster gives the album a vibrant, vicious edge. The guitars are fuller and crisper, the drums and bass (the main knock on the original) are thicker and more bombastic and the keyboards seem to be bigger and have a a few more layers added with a few more bridges added. Also, Sara Jezebel Diva’s female vocals seem to have been either added or brought to the forefront more. Dani’s vocal also appear to have been tweaked, as they are more clear and vitriolic, especially the layered growls, making his brilliant prose concerning the album’s name sake, Elizabeth Bathory, even more lucid; “Scar-riddled saffron eves bleed like the conjugal. Vestal daughters giving throat to the priest. A psychophant, the despoiler of faith,now his skinless crucifixion feeds a winged diocese.For her interred, I tore a battle banner from his hide.Splashed in red goetia, hues of Hell and deicide.“. So Good.

As a result, already brilliant tracks are even more dynamic. The un-fuckwithable opening trio of “Thirteen Autumns and a Widow” (that opening stanza is just bombastic as fuck now) , the erotic defacto title track, “Cruelty Brought Thee Orchids”, and one of Cradle’s most scathingly seductive songs ever, “Beneath the Howling Stars” (that throbbing bass run is even better now), all sound amazing, especially on headphones, where Atkins’ work really can be appreciated.

Other tracks that benefits are the blistering thrash of “Desire in Violent Overture”, where the remixed synths really stand out and  “Lustmord and Wargasm (The Lick of Carnivorous Winds)”, which is probably one of my top 5 cradle songs ever (and responsible for my long running online name/gamertag), where those killer, slicing riffs leap from the CD with vehement intentions. The sprawling, 3 part, 11 minute “Bathory Aria” certainly has more depth with what appear to be more grandiose keyboards and vocals and “Twisted Nails of Faith” still stands as the album’s weakest moment, despite the new sheen.

Non-musically, this reissue does little. Some linear notes from Dani and British music journalist Dayal Patterson, a slightly different cover, and the band’s energetic cover of Iron Maiden‘s “Hallowed Be Thy Name”, previously released on other reissues of the album. But when the music itself is so seminally influential and classic, it does not need to be dressed up or glossed up with needless fluff.

Certainly more of a release for Cradle of Filth fanboys or completionists such as my self, but for new fans or metal fans just now delving into the band’s catalog, they can now hear a reinvigorating version of a classic black metal release until a new album drops.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by E. Thomas
December 2nd, 2019

Comments

  1. Commented by: Conquerbeard

    Man, those drums sound insanely good. I love the original, but Nick’s work always sounded very thin and now… good lord. It’s amazing what a remix and remastering can do.


  2. Commented by: Dimaension X

    Kind of like the remaster of Mayhem’s “Grand Delcaration of War”, the drums just sound so much more organic (though I’m sure they’re still samples, but MUCH BETTER samples.


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