Cradle Of Filth - Damnation And A Day
With a major record label (which would last all of one album), a budget that allowed for the inclusion of an actual orchestra (which may be the best part of the record overall) and a concept that screams "perfect fit" (the story of God and Satan, told from Satan's perspective), Damnation and a Day had the potential to be the defining moment in Cradle of Filth's long history. But, as it would turn out, the product paled in comparison to the potential.
As previously stated, the orchestra and their arrangements tend to highlight the entire album. These interludes spice the lengthy, mostly ponderous songs proper with an atmosphere that SHOULD have existed either way. Sadly, the glorious Satanic concept is mostly derailed by a variety of unconnecting tracks that focus on a variety of subjects, from Egyptian myth to Aleister Crowley and so on. I do believe it was Dani Filth's objective to show the Devil in these different places and peoples, but these tracks could have been reserved for a bonus disc or simply removed altogether, favoring a concept that really did have amazing potential. After a wonderful intro piece and a decent opening track, the well conceived "Hurt and Virtue" marks the only real accomplishment throughout the first half of the record. The other tracks, a mix of solid orchestral interludes and meandering songs that attempt to go in dozens of different directions, either are too short (the former) or far too long. The next track that stands out, "Babalon A.D.", is very unusual for Cradle of Filth, one of the band's most streamlined moments but undeniably infectious all the same. The back of the record is, oddly enough, the saving grace of Damnation and a Day. "Mannequin" is nothing too spectacular, but at least holds your attention with it's haunting melodies and aggressive turns. No, the absolute highlight of the entire record, and one of my favorite combination of metal tracks ever, are the depressed meloncholy of "Thank God For The Suffering" and the vengeful apocalyptic "The Smoke of her Burning". These two tracks take the original concept of the record and almost justify the entire misuse of it up until this point, they are that potent.
Ultimately, nothing can truly justify the major misstep Cradle of Filth took with Damnation and a Day. Rumors have existed, since this record's release, that the band would revisit the concept and do another record with Satan's wordly perspective in focus. Such a thing almost seems necessary after spending 75 minutes with this misguided, jumbled and uncertain collection of good ideas poorly executed. Still, the few tracks that actually manage to stand out, REALLY stand out, and not just in light of their lowly peers. Honestly, the combination of Satan regretting God's decision to remove him from paradie (Thank God For The Suffering) combined with his attempt at revenge (The Smoke of Her Burning) is worth the price of admission for any CoF fan.
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