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Darkly, Darkly, Venus Aversa

- Saturday, December 4, 2010

A ninth, redeeming release brings the Cradle back into my rotation…

Darkly, Darkly, Venus Aversa (2010, Peaceville)   On the 1st of November, Cradle of Filth [] released their ninth full length album, Darkly, Darkly, Venus Aversa [wikipedia | official site]. While I mostly enjoyed Godspeed On The Devil’s Thunder [my review], I was skeptical about this release, as Cradle of Filth have not been on par with their Music For Nations era since they left for Sony Music. The optimist in me has hoped that the less Filthy nature of the last three records was due to undue influence from their label Roadrunner Records. Hell knows the last couple Deicide albums on Roadrunner were utter shit. Now on Peaceville Records, any label restraints have been lifted from their creative process, allowing a true trial to begin. If Darkly, Darkly… is any indication, they certainly are back to form.


   Darkly, Darkly, Venus Aversa is an unrelenting weaving of tales surrounding the mythological Lilith, a figure they’ve danced around for years. Rather than the usual historical treatment (see Cruelty And The Beast for Erzebet Bathory and Godspeed On The Devil’s Thunder for Gilles de Rais), they instead create a new story having Lilith reemerge as a prominent deity in modern society. A rather seductive gothic horror story is birthed from this.


   The line up for this opus has one quite major change: the absence of Sarah Jezebel Deva. Taking her place for backing ooo’s and ahhh’s is the new keyboardist Ashley Ellyllon (formerly of Abigail Williams). Sarah’s voice has been a staple in the band’s sound since 1996’s V Empire. I’ve never felt she got her full due as a complete member of the band, but it is such as it is. Ellyllon is a suitable replacement on this record and I could not come up with any complaints after listening. We’ll see how she performs live when I catch them in the spring, eh?


   The Cult of Venus Aversa and One Foul Step From The Abyss open the album fast and hard with large movements and seductive melodies. This is a big change for Cradle of Filth, in that the album does not open to formula. A typical CoF album has a beautiful instrumental followed by a large opening anthem. Here, aside from a brief introduction, they just get right to it. The opening keyboard piece to One Foul Step From The Abyss sounds quite strikingly like a piece of music from the Super NES game Super Metroid. (Something on Brinstar, perhaps?) The build up is nice and the pay off keeps the pace wonderfully.


   The Nun With The Astral Habit loses some of the pace but maintains the flow quite well. The Nun’s interlude tends to get a nice head bang from me. Retreat of the Sacred Heart begins with a Damnation And A Day feel then staggers around the flow of the album, only to regain it with its melodic interlude. The Persecution Song and Deceiving Eyes follow up with ballad and brash (respectively) in surprisingly typical metal forms.


   Lilith Immaculate is a crowning jewel on this release. The pace, flow and feeling are all dead on there. The ascending female vocals (Is that Ashley or the other credited female voice?) gripped my heart. The melodic movements interspersed in an unrelenting assault with moments of melodic flight are true to form and what I expect from Cradle of Filth at their best. The rest of the album is quality material but never reaches that peak set by Lilith Immaculate.


   With every new Cradle of Filth release, the album to compare it to is Dusk… And Her Embrace. No, this is not Dusk. It never will be again. Paul Allender and James McEllroy are not Gian Pyres and Stuart Anstis. This is, however, an album that holds its own and should stand in its own light (dark and writhing as that light may be). I do very much recommend this album to fans of gothic metal and Cradle of Filth. This is the Peaceville Records official mini-site for the album, containing some extra goodies and information.

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