Cradle of Filth

Nymphetamine

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AllMusic Review by

When was the last time you saw anyone in corpse paint smile? It's further proof of their flair for showmanship that two of the "slick perverted wraiths" in Cradle of Filth's 2004 publicity shot are flashing the pearly whites. The longstanding English group was never devoted purely to the black metal aesthetic; Dani Filth and his minions flaunted decadence amid their gravestones, and supported the usual atonal growls with the melodic gallop of metal traditionalism. This approach has always assured the listener a little entertainment with his fear, and Nymphetamine (what a name!) is no different. The laughably overwrought novellas of Damnation and a Day are gone -- Cradle's focusing on songs, not suites. Does this have anything to do with the band's new home at Roadrunner? The label is very good at encouraging the music to say hard while working to make it marketable, too; witness its co-branded Headbanger's Ball compilations. Whatever the reasons, Nymphetamine is an extremely entertaining album. Filth's vocals shift between roof-of-mouth-tearing screams and primordial yowls; coupled with the oft-melodic guitar lines, Cradle can at times resemble any of the slogan T-shirted American post-hardcore units (Used, for example). Thank the dark lord then that they don't forget their place. We don't listen to these albums to empathize with Dani's pain; we listen because they sound like a play list on Pinhead's iPod. After a typically spooky intro -- picture black-robed choirs and gargoyles coming to life -- Cradle drops the hammer on "Gilded C***" (you figure it out), a muscular rocker with wind-whipping time shifts and lyrics you can actually understand ("My preference leans to killing you quickly/Scissored in the gizzard...."). Most of the album plays dueling power metal guitars masterfully off a slower or more gothic choruses. "Absinthe With Faust," for example, departs from its Metallica-type speed for a firelight reflecting in the catacombs interlude. Hello, my pretty. Other highlights include the rapid-fire "Medusa and Hemlock," a guest appearance from Leaves' Eyes chanteuse Liv Kristine Espenaes Krull, and "Filthy Little Secret," which is utterly cinematic in its orchestral, choral, and ultimately explosive scope.

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