Cradle Of Filth - Dusk And Her Embrace
After gaining an impressive amount of early influence and buzz with only an LP and EP of material, many must have seen the bigger and better things in Cradle of Filth's near future. Another serious of lineup changes, and a much-needed label change, eventually brought Dusk And Her Embrace to light. Consisting mostly of material written before and during the V Empire sessions, Dusk And Her Embrace was very well-received at the time of it's debut, but in retrospect is more of a very large step towards the defining CoF sound than it is a definition in itself.
An easy-to-trace evolution from one disc to the next left much of this album predictable and, to a lesser extent, a continuation of the impact of V Empire. Much of Dusk feels like filler to my ears. Or, to be more exact (and more kind), experimental musings on what was quickly becoming a mastered craft of gothic-fueled, blackened metal extremes. A listless keyboard introduction (a notable thing, as one of the band's most endearing aspects is their memorable interludes) and a decidedly so-so opening song (Heaven Torn Asunder) lead into one of my all-time favorite CoF tracks, "Funeral In Carpathia". Elegant melodies, undaunted aggression, sweeping guitar runs and some of Dani Filth's earliest moments of vocal supremacy. "A Gothic Romance" pales in comparison, never really going anywhere, but "Malice Through The Looking Glass" more than makes up for it. This track, in particular, features some of the best lead guitar work on the album. The title track is undoubtedly the most popular song from the record, a mainstay of the band's live shows and probably the most accessable song on the list. After this, nothing really stands out, although certain editions of the record include a very well done cover of Slayer's "Hell Awaits".
What really lowers my opinion of this record, more than anything, is the record that follows it. The one that cemented my love for these British bastards and the one that has, over the years, been the comparing tool for all other records they've released. But, that's not the whole issue. Dusk And Her Embrace, while containing a few outstanding tracks, lacks the cohesiveness of The Principle Of Evil Made Flesh or the more polished aspects of future releases. A necessary step, for sure, but nowhere near as memorable as many critics seem to believe. A stop-gap between early success and future domination.
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