Unquestionably one of the greatest and most influential British metal bands of all time, CRADLE OF FILTH have cast a commanding and macabre shadow across the metal scene for nearly a quarter of a century. Armed with their trademark, cross-pollinated assault, that taps into myriad strands of sonic extremity and morbid opulence, they have steadily conquered the entire world, unleashing a malevolent slew of classic albums along the way. From the raw and rambunctious savagery of their 1994 debut »The Principle Of Evil Made Flesh« to the wickedly monstrous, technicolour bombast of 2012’s »The Manticore & Other Horrors«, the CRADLE ethos and aesthetic has had a huge impact on the evolution of metal, the band’s insatiable appetite for performing live and frontman Dani Filth’s unerring charisma and sense of occasion ensuring that they have established a powerful and enduring connection with Hell-bound acolytes everywhere.
But despite their indubitable authority and prowess, CRADLE OF FILTH have never been immune to the shifting sands of time, resulting in an almost comical reputation for line-up changes that, unusually, has had the parallel effect of imbuing the band with an omnipresent air of ongoing evolution and mutation. With that in mind, the exhilarating reaffirmation of malicious values showcased on new album »Hammer Of The Witches« stands out as a clear milestone in CRADLE’s lengthy history, as the ferocious chemistry that has swiftly developed between these virtuoso miscreants – Dani Filth, newly recruited guitarists Richard Shaw and Ashok, bassist Daniel Firth, keyboard priestess Lindsay Schoolcraft and stalwart percussive powerhouse Martin Skaroupka – is laid bare across 56 minutes of extravagant, adventurous and thrillingly extreme heavy metal. Striking a sublime balance between the classic, twin-lead grandiloquence of 90s triumphs like »Dusk & Her Embrace« and »Cruelty & The Beast« and the tougher, gnarlier textures of recent masterworks like »Godspeed On The Devil’s Thunder« and »Darkly Darkly Venus Aversa«, »Hammer Of The Witches« is arguably the most focused, absorbing and fearless album the band have ever produced, as fresh blood and a renewed sense of purpose collide in a shower of bloody sparks.
“Not only are the musicians who’ve recently joined the band fans of the band as well, but we really sat down and listened to what the fans wanted and expected from a new album,” Dani says of the creative process behind „Hammer Of The Witches«. “That was half the fun. We were trying to fulfill different aspects in the best possible light. And we opened the floodgates to more ideas by undertaking things that way, but then we do have an extensive back-catalogue to draw inspiration from!”
Continuing their grand tradition of infusing each album with a unique atmosphere and conceptual elements that embolden the songs’ dramatic execution, »Hammer Of The Witches« is classic CRADLE from start to finish. And with typically mischievous aplomb, the album’s title gleefully flips the historical script, turning the tables on the gruesome witch hunts of 16th and 17th century Europe and exacting some hard-earned vengeance on behalf of all of those who suffered persecution at the hands of religious zealots during that turbulent period in history.
“This is perfect subject matter for us,” says Dani. “That dreadful book, the ‘Malleus Maleficarum’… it’s about the torture and persecution of witches and how to legally punish them. That was the church’s militant hammer against the witches. Our interpretation is a hammer for the witches, so the album title is about payback for decades of torment. The album is lavishly and beautifully illustrated by Latvian artist, Artūrs Berzinsh, and it’s probably the best artwork undertaken for COF and that’s saying something. I worked really closely to alleviate him of some really beautiful but horrifying images, done in a neo-classical, pre-Renaissance style, but with the subject matter set and what’s actually emerged from Artūrs.. well, it’s all a bit rum! So the artwork encompasses the whole record and lacquers that crepuscular theme, that medieval vibe.”
From the eerie orchestral overture of album intro ‘Walpurgis Eve’ and the explosive, high velocity eruption of ‘Yours Immortally’… through to the grim, dynamic shadowplay of first single ‘Right Wing Of The Garden Triptych’ and the epic bombardment of the Crusades-inspired ‘Onward Christian Soldiers’, the eleventh CRADLE OF FILTH album is both a strident reaffirmation of this band’s eternal class and a reinvigorated statement of intent from a revitalised metallic force at the peak of their collective powers. The hammer is coming down, hard, and revenge will be sweet indeed.
“I think this album will definitely surprise a lot of people,” Dani declares. “It’s really very intense. There’s always that argument, ‘CRADLE haven’t been black metal since the Dusk days!’ and all that utter crap. These are just tags that people impose on you, rather than the other way round. We’ve always been a heavy metal band that’s been excited, involved with and espoused the occult and the dark side. Heavy metal music and the occult have been indeterminably entwined since BLACK WIDOW and BLACK SABBATH, no two ways about it. And this album is a total celebration of that. It’s a black mass made in Hell.” – Dom Lawson