Despite Cradle of Filth's ever-revolving door of members — seriously, there's an entire Wikipedia page dedicated to the band's 20-plus players — they've returned, remarkably as ever, with yet another release. Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay marks the band's 12th full-length effort and 26th year of service to metal. Typically, such prolific acts tend to find comfort in monotony and learn to do one thing very well, often predictably so, but Cradle of Filth are no typical act, and any long-time fan could attest to that.
Since 1991, the Suffolk band have made a name for themselves by indulging in the shockingly grotesque and macabre, most notably by selling what's often regarded as the most offensive piece of merchandise in rock history: a T-shirt depicting a masturbating nun proclaiming "Jesus is a cunt." As the band's last remaining original member, titular frontman Dani Filth has not deviated from the sickening subject matter whatsoever, lacing Cryptoriana with chilling evocations consistent with each of the band's past releases.
The music has remained familiar, as Dani has one of the most idiosyncratic and immediately recognizable voices in metal, but the perpetual whirlwind of members has made every Cradle of Filth album feel unique, and Cryptoriana is no different. While classics like Dusk… and Her Embrace and Midian bordered on symphonic black metal, other favourites, like Nymphetamine, settled more into extreme metal. Cryptoriana sounds like a tribute to the past 50 years of metal, pulling all of the stops — including a bonus track cover of Canadian legends Annihilator.
Thrash, speed, black, extreme, death and even progressive metal make appearances throughout the album as the tracks seamlessly transition from one tip of the cap to the next. "Heartbreak and Seance" has moments reminiscent of Dream Theater, "Achingly Beautiful" conjures Behemoth and the title track pays homage to metal greats Iron Maiden with its galloping rhythm and harmonized solos. Package the past half-century of metal, wrap it up in Cradle of Filth, and the result is Cryptoriana.
If you can't get past Dani Filth's unique shriek and jarring delivery, worry not: this can all be found elsewhere. While Cradle of Filth haven't revitalised the genre or created a piece of rock history here, Cryptoriana is fucking sick, as heavy as it is enjoyable. (Nuclear Blast)