Formed in the Suffolk town of Ipswich by lead vocalist Dani Filth back in 1991, Cradle Of Filth have steadily become one of the leading black / gothic metal bands in the UK.
The initial line-up was completed by guitarists Paul Ryan and Paul Allender, bassist Jonathan Pritchard, keyboardist Benjamin Ryan and drummer Darren Garden. Since then the band have undergone numerous personnel changes including around a dozen guitarists, half a dozen drummers, keyboard and bass players, and a number of backing vocalists.
Following in the wake of such classic albums as the band’s 1994 debut “The Principle Of Evil Made Flesh”, “Nymphetamine” (2004), “Cruelty And The Beast” (1998) and “Thornography” (2006) comes “Hammer Of The Witches”, studio album number eleven – if you ignore 2012’s orchestral outing on “Midnight In The Labyrinth” which only featured Filth, backing vocalist Sarah Jezebel Deva and keyboardist Mark Newby-Robson.
The first record to feature the latest incarnation of the band – Filth, guitarists Richard Shaw and Marek “Ashok” Šmerda, bassist Daniel Firth, drummer Martin “Marthus” Škaroupka and female vocalist / keyboardist Lindsay Schoolcraft, the album was preceded by the single “Right Wing Of The Garden Triptych”.
Introductory instrumental track “Walpurgis Eve”, all atmospherics and violin, leads into the fast and furious “Yours Immortally…” and it seems clear to me that this album is something of a return to the band’s earlier approach.
I personally didn’t find the previous record, “The Manticore And Other Horrors” as satisfying as others the band have released. With “Hammer Of The Witches”, however, I think that Filth and his troops really hit the mark.
Vocally Filth is brilliant – using his full range of shrieks, screams, growls, grunts etc., and backed up nicely by the clean singing of Schoolcraft. With the exception of the interlude “The Monstruous Sabbat (Summoning The Coven)” the majority of the album is intense and complex. New guitarists Shaw and Šmerda weave spellbinding riffs and solos. Škaroupka’s drum work is very impressive and the orchestration is also sport on.
Also worthy of mention is the excellent album cover artwork, by Latvian artist Arthur Berzinsh.
My favourite tracks include “Blackest Magick In Practice”, title track “Hammer Of The Witches”, “Deflowering The Maidenhead, Displeasuring The Goddess”, and “Right Wing Of The Garden Triptych” but ultimately this is Cradle Of Filth at the top of their game and this is an excellent album – highly recommended for fans of the genre…
“Hammer Of The Witches” tracklist:
1. Walpurgis Eve / 2. Yours Immortally… / 3. Enshrined In Crematoria / 4. Deflowering The Maidenhead, Displeasuring The Goddess / 5. Blackest Magick In Practice / 6. The Monstruous Sabbat (Summoning The Coven) / 7. Hammer Of The Witches / 8. Right Wing Of The Garden Triptych / 9. The Vampyre At My Side / 10. Onward Christian Soldiers / 11. Blooding The Hounds Of Hell / 12. King Of The Woods / 13. Misericord