As promised, my next post in my ‘Albums that changed my life’ series continues on the Cradle of Filth theme, so important was this band in my mid-teens.
It wasn’t too long after getting to grips with ‘Vempire’, also known as ‘Dark Faerytales In Phallustein’ that news came to me of a new Cradle of Filth album, ‘Dusk…And her Embrace’. Indeed, it was released in the very same year as ‘Vempire’. I was rather excited to get my teeth stuck into the music, so I remember buying it pretty much as soon as it was released. I don’t know where I bought it from, but I do know that I went for the limited edition digipack version with the plain black cover with silver writing. I still have it now and, although it has seen better days, it remains one of my most treasured possessions within my collection.
As with ‘Vempire’ before it, it took me a good while to like the entire album. Given its close proximity to ‘Vempire’, it is unsurprising to report that ‘Dusk…’ follows a similar path stylistically, with powerful double-pedal drumming, staccato riffing, swift tempos and those high-pitched screams dominating the black metal output.
However, on ‘Dusk…’ the black metal feels more polished, slightly tighter and there’s a greater Gothic atmosphere thanks to the abundant keyboards that provides the entire proceedings with a rich, dark and sinister veneer. And then, there are the melodies.
Tracks like ‘Funeral In Carpathia’ and ‘A Gothic Romance’ are fast, heavy and uncompromising for the most part but, at the midpoint of each, something wondrous happens: the pace slows and out of the bombast comes an epic melodic segment to die for. It was these moments that spoke to me from the very beginning and, if I’m honest, persuaded me to stick with the album when I was initially struggling to get to grips with the heaviness and extremity elsewhere.
However, the more I listened to the songs in anticipation of these mid-track breakdowns, the more I began to appreciate the rest of the music. What once felt impenetrable and harsh started to make sense and become less daunting. As time went on, I began to really feel how special this record was. I love several of Cradle of Filth’s early albums but this is without question my favourite. In fact, it is probably in my top 10 albums of all-time.
The impact that ‘Dusk…’ had on me at the time of its release was profound. I was now in the Sixth Form at school (otherwise known as college), studying A Levels, which meant that the school uniform was a thing of the past. I already had a leather biker jacket on which I had painted the Megadeth logo and a picture of Vic Rattlehead. I also had several t-shirts of various bands, the likes of Guns ‘N’ Roses, Metallica and Iron Maiden to name a few. However, I had to have a Cradle of Filth t-shirt.
Living at home, I was forced by my parents to choose a design that was not controversial and so I plumped for a ‘Funeral In Carpathia’ design. Despite its tame imagery, I loved that shirt and wore it as often as I possibly could. With a couple of others in the school who were equally enamoured with Cradle of Filth, I also obtained near cult-like status amongst them for maybe a week or so.
As time went on, I bought several more – not difficult when you consider just how many of the things Cradle of Filth had for sale. They were one of the first bands to really take merchandise to a whole new level and I was one of the people who lapped it up. Whilst I never wore the infamous ‘Jesus…’ design in public, I do remember attending law lectures at University adorned in the ‘Desire Me Like Satan’ long-sleeve. Good times.
But it wasn’t just my clothing that Cradle of Filth affected. I actually joined the fan club and I never joined fan clubs. I became a member of the ‘Order Of The Dragon’ and I was proud of it. I wasn’t a member for long but it demonstrates the impact that the band had on me as a teenager. Hell, I still wear my fan-club only bomber-style jacket when out with the dog in the winter months.
Cradle of Filth are also the only band that ever led me to go to a gig in full corpse paint. It was for the ‘Vampiria II’ event in London in 1998 that Cradle headlined and it was a damn good show, dominated by a feeling of pure excitement and intrigue. And when I finally heard ‘Funeral In Carpathia’ and ‘A Gothic Romance’ live on stage, I felt that my life was complete.
I still listen regularly to ‘Dusk…And Her Embrace’ – yes, I’m listening to it right now as I write this article – and it never fails to grab my attention and I guarantee that I will get goosebumps at some point. It might not always be at the same point each time, but that in itself is a mark of how strong this album remains for me. It really is a classic record.
If you’ve enjoyed this article, check out the others in this series: