Cradle Of Filth
Existence Is Futile

For two albums now, Dani Filth has delivered a reinvigorated Cradle of Filth since gutting the lineup after 2012s forgetful The Manticore and Other Horrors. Both 2015s Hammer of the Witches and 2017s Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay, with the same re-vamped line-up, delivered classic Cradle of Filth writing and energy that signaled Dani and his seminal, but divisive troupe wasn’t going anywhere.

However, as news and songs trickled out for the band’s 13th album, I began to have doubts about one of my favorite bands ever; the album title just didn’t jump out ( a riff on Star Trek/The Borg? really?), keyboardist Linsday Schoolcraft left to pursue a solo career (which is a shame, as she seemed to be really settling in and increasing her presence on Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay) , replaced by Dani’s cohort from his other band Devilment, Anabelle Iratni, who despite her best efforts just isn’t as dynamic or impactful on vocals (she seems mostly relegated to backing ‘aaaaaaaaahaaaahhhhh’ territory, which she does deliver with impressive gusto in a live environment) or keys. And frankly, the two songs released prior to the album’s release,  “Crawling King Chaos” and “Necromantic Fantasies”, especially the plodding snoozefest of the latter, just didn’t do anything for me. Even the videos for both seemed a bit lo-fi. And I am a die-hard Cradle of Filth fan.

So when I got the full album for review, I hoped my concerns would be abated somewhat, and I gave the album several listens to give it a fair chance. However, I kept coming to the same conclusion; even with a handful of decent songs, my concerns were correct, Existence if Futile is a step back from the last 2 releases, and lies somewhere in the muddle of the band’s lesser/fair/OK albums in their discography. It’s not as bad as The Manticore and Other Horrors or  Thornography, but in that Damnation and a Day, and Godspeed on the Devils Thunder. ‘average’ ball park. Which is a shame considering the 2 album run of the last couple of years.

There’s just ‘something’ missing. Even with a thunderous production with Scott Atkins back at the helm, especially an absolutely slicing bass guitar, and even the return of Doug Bradley’ (Hellraiser), for a few appearances on “Suffer Our Dominion”, and bonus track “Sisters of the Mist”, the songs, while certainly doing everything that you either love or hate about Cradle of Filth, lack something. The last two efforts, on some level, had at least some moments that imbued the classic first four effort’s energy and slick sexual, gothic horror, with solid songs like “Yours Immortally”, “Blackest Magic in Practice”, “Vengeful Spirit”, “Achingly Beautiful” or ” Wester Vespertine”. Here, there’s almost nothing that does that at all. It’s just…. ‘there’.

Maybe it’s the lack of a cohesive single concept or story as last albums had, as Existence is Futile deals with overarching concepts of  ‘existentialism, existential dread, and fear of the unknown’, rather than tell a sweeping tale of something more lavish, gothic, erotic, or sensually historic. Cradle of Filth is clearly better when telling a story or something rooted in (often sexually charged) literature;  i.e Cruelty and the Beast (Elizabeth Bathory), Midian ( Clive Barker’s novel Cabal), Damnation and Day (John Milton’s  Paradise Lost), Godspeed on the Devil’s Thunder ( Gille De Rais), Darkly Darkly, Venus Aversa (the demon Lilith,) Hammer of the Witches (the Malleus Maleficarum). And while Dani singing about asteroids or Doug Bradley talking about climate change is relevant, I think Dani and is just better at lyrics about 16th-century, blood-thirsty, ravishing beauties or Victorian black magic orgies.

There are the requisite orchestral intros and interludes, and the de facto title track “Existential Terror” opens things up with a decent song before the two aforementioned numbers sort of put the album’s front end in a bit of a lull early on. It’s not until the 6th track ” Black Smoke Curling from the Lips of War”, where my ears perk up a little for the opening riff. But then that slight uptick is stopped hard in its tracks with another plodding, slower ballad in “Discourse Between a Man and His Soul”. “The Dying of the Embers” starts promisingly with Iratni delivering her best Sara Jezebel Diva impression, but other than a cool lead solo, then the song just kinda wanders without really peaking or going anywhere, and that’s the central theme with the entire album really.

Towards the end of the album, there are some better tracks such as “How Many Tears to Nurture a Rose?” which delivers the album’s best cut, with a nice melodic gallop, ” Suffer Our Dominion” and closer “Us, Dark, Invincible” which are decent to middling CoF Numbers, befitting the album’s overall quality.   The bonus edition has 2 extra tracks, 7 minute “Sisters of the Mist” and “Unleash the Hellion”, both are OK, but neither of which is much to write home about in the grand scheme of the album or CoF discography.  Though “Unleash the Hellion” is another track that has a little classic CoF feel ( I hate it when bands have better songs as ‘bonus’ tracks).

As I mentioned earlier, overall this is a bit of a step back for Dani and Co. considering the solid last two reenergized efforts. I don’t know if the departure Schoolcraft was more important in that development, but like The Manticore and Other Horrors,  Existence Is Futile and any of its songs won’t be  Cradle of Filth material I revisit very often as I do with almost all of their other albums.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
October 18th, 2021

Comments

  1. Commented by: J. Mays

    Bummer. I’m sure I’ll still give it a buy since I haven’t passed up one of theirs yet. An “average” Cradle album could probably be salvaged by not being an hour long, but it’s not like that’s even ever a consideration.


  2. Commented by: Gabaghoul

    Welp, not rushing to listen to this but sounds like I need to catch up on the last few, been snoozing on Cradle since Godspeed.


Leave a Reply

Privacy notice: When you submit a comment, your creditentials, message and IP address will be logged. A cookie will also be created on your browser with your chosen name and email, so that you do not need to type them again to post a new comment. All post and details will also go through an automatic spam check via Akismet's servers and need to be manually approved (so don't wonder about the delay). We purge our logs from your meta-data at frequent intervals.

  • Hypocrisy - Worship
  • Thalarion - Dying on the Scorched Plains
  • Black Soul Horde - Horrors from the Void
  • Cuttered Flesh - Sharing is Caring
  • Killing Addiction - Mind of a New God
  • Stormkeep - Tales Of Othertime
  • Eternity's End - Embers of War
  • Rothadás - Kopár hant​.​.​. az alvilág felé
  • Archspire - Bleed The Future
  • Mentor - Wolves, Wraiths and Witches
  • Huronian - As Cold as a Stranger Sunset
  • Obscura - A Valediction
  • Tower - Shock to the System
  • Sunless - Ylem
  • Churchburn           - Genocidal Rite