Originally written by Ryan Plunkett
Let me start off by saying I’ve been listening to Cradle probably longer than just about any other extreme metal band I listen to, but the idea of a new album had me just about ready to shudder. Cruelty and the Beast was the first black metal album I had ever bought, or even the first one I had heard the full way through for that matter. Also, I’m not afraid to say that I own every studio release that they’ve thrown out to the hungry masses, other than Bitter Suites to Succubi, which was a rushed attempt to get their name back out into the public eye. I thought the Vempire EP was amazing, and Dusk and Her Embrace, along with Cruelty and the Beast, are two of the best black metal albums I have in my collection.
When it came to Midian, however, the let downs began. The album was decent, but quickly faded from regular rotation. Bitter Suites felt like a half-assed attempt to get something out there to make more money. It started out as an EP, and turned into an atrocious LP with some redone tracks from Principles of Evil Made Flesh that weren’t nearly as good as the original, and a cover and some half-assed new material. After that atrocity, I thought I had lost one of the bands that threw me headfirst into the underground metal world.
Going into this latest offering, I had no expectations, and I think that was a good idea, because I figured they couldn’t get any worse. Musician-wise, this has now officially become a totally different band than what it started out. Having long time axe-slinger Gian disappear from the ranks before this recording meant that Dani Filth was the only original member. I can’t say that’s all bad, because at least they did gain a solid keyboardist in Martin (ex-My Dying Bride). And although Adrian (ex-The Haunted) isn’t quite as solid as having Nick Barker (now in Dimmu Borgir, and a shit load of other bands) behind the kit, he does get the job done.
As I expected, Damnation and A Day continues along that path further towards a death metal sound that started with Midian. Paul’s riffs are heavy and contain elements of a melodic death metal sound and a black metal sound. Martin has become a major factor in the band since joining. Before, the keyboards were saved more for ambience and the instrumentals, but since his arrival they have become a bit more prominent, which isn’t too much of a surprise because he did an excellent job while in My Dying Bride.
Dani Filth has a vokill style that never goes unrecognized. At times he sounds like a dying cat, and at others he has a sinister death growl. This outing continues that trend, but as has been seen with the progression of the band, the “dying cat” vokills are becoming less and less common, being swapped out by a more mid-range rasp. My complaint with this stuff, though, is that it seems he uses a lot of vokill effects in the studio. Anyone who has seen them live can attest to this, because he can get the lower pitches live like he can in the studio.
With 75+ minutes of music, Damnation and A Day gives the listener quite a bit of bang for his/her buck. I went into this expecting nothing and was at first blown-away, which I think was due to the fact that I had zero expectations of this album, but after the initial “wow-factor” wore off, I was left with an album that was nothing to blow my load over. It contains that over-produced sound once again that has become more apparent as the band’s future has progressed, which, in the end, ruins the sound a bit.
All in all, this album trounces the last two outings, and if you’re a Cradle fan you will not be disappointed. If you haven’t heard much Cradle before, I suggest you check out Cruelty and the Beast or Dusk and Her Embrace. Those two albums better showcase what this band used to be able to accomplish when it came to writing solid black metal.