Dusk And Her Embrace
By Cradle of Filth
1996 Fierce Records

Dusk.. And Her Embrace is considered by many to be Cradle of Filth's opus, their greatest release, is they consider Cradle of Filth anything to think about at all that is. I personally am of the opinion that CoF are one of the best Gothic Black Metal bands, and perhaps the defining Gothic BM band, every band who plays this style tend to follow directly in CoF's footsteps, and in particular, this release. The thing that set CoF apart was their symphonic, and at times Operatic musical sweep. They made up their music less with riffs, than with movement. I've thought about it, and Cradle's music tends to be along the lines of what I would imagine an opera set entirely to Black Metal, and with Black Metal vocals would sound like. You could hear this particularly in Dani Filth's voice, which, no matter how much he is shitten upon, a very distinctive, and highly original voice. He uses his voice in many different ways, changing it to fit whatever the words in the songs need. However, he doesn't sing, he mostly intones in different tones. Mostly a deeper intoning, or his "trademark" high pitched howl. In many ways he sounds like a pure black metal King Diamond.

The music is often quite emotional on here, particularly on songs three and four, "Funeral in Carpathia" and "A Gothic Romance," respectavly. These songs are quite dark, emotional, and gothic. CoF is a band where the lyrics match the vocals perfectly, hightening the mood set by the lyrics (if you're reading along, or if Dani is singing with his low intonation). Most songs take on subjects from old Gothic horror films, like the British Hammer films of the late 50's, 60's and early 70's (think The Vampire Lovers or Twins of Evil, or even Horror of Dracula). Others seem directly inspired by Romantic/Gothic poets like John Keats, Charles Baudelaire, Edgar Allan Poe, Lord Byron and etc. If you are not a fan of gothic, poetic lyrics in your metal, than this release is not going to be your style. One thing that should be noted is that many songs are written like sonnets or older Victorian poets like Tennyson. And I don't mean, in the style of, or an imitation of, but directly like those poets, as if Dani Filth was attepting to continue the fine (and sadly discontinued) style of pre-World War British poetry. Of course, he often fills these, poetically pleasing lines, with what could be called over-the-top crap, but that is beyond the point, at least he is trying, and most often succeds. He often manages to fill the songs with an amazing amount of lyrics, which very often can be read as pure poetry. I am in the camp that feels like a collection of their lyrics in book form would be a good idea some day. Hell, if Rozz Williams (from gothic rock band Christian Death) can get a book like that (though to be fair it was released post-mortem), and he's even more over the top, then there's nothing stopping Dani Filth.

The music is always excellent. The band has, by this record, created an original sound, a kind of melodic black metal like Dissection, yet without any of the death metal, or pure rock influences. At no point could you ever compare these riffs to Iron Maiden, if you want to know what I mean. Mostly the riffs have a Classical sound, Gian was an excellent guitar player by far, and the interplay of his guitars and Stuart's played out an excellent sound, which is totally their own. The keyboards play both an integral part of the bands sound, and also are not over-bearing. They tend to fill up a melodic space left by the already melodic guitars. What is come up with is a sound that will stick with you for a while after you listen. Nick Baker's drums are pretty good on here, as always. With CoF he never used that kind of over-the-top sound like in Dimmu Borgir. Instead he used an organic sound, which fit the music much better. A note should be made for the stunning use of female vocals. Unlike many BM fans who hate any keyboards, female vocals and etc. in their BM, I'm not that picky, and if it strikes me right I like it. On here the female vocals are done right, often used to expand on melodic holes, and other times used to narrate a portion of the lyrics devoted for a female point of view. One of the things that set CoF apart was their willingness to use feminine aspects (best personified by their very "gothicness", which is feminine in its very nature), to increase the power of the music. And if you must be a bit macho, remember that Cronos (from Venom) guest vocals on here on "Haunted Shores." The band also never loses their intensity, no matter what is going on, the basic heaviness and melody of guitars, bass and drums are never sacrificed.

CoF were really great at creating beauty in Black Metal. Taking off from where Emperor stopped on In The Nightside Eclipse, they created a sound based in darkness and melody and gothic beauty. They certainly did manage to be heavy at the same time, and also wrote some of the best Black Metal songs I have heard. CoF are certainly BM, no matter how much many people would rather feel that only something is BM, and everything else is crap. Black metal should be allowed to change and grow, and with CoF (at least at the beginning) BM certainly did that. The only problem is that too many poseurs with nothing interesting to say would come in and try to be exactly like CoF, creating far too many "gothic, symphonic" BM bands. I say ignore the copy bands, and buy this cd and hear the originals at their best.

Track Listing
1: Humana Inspired to Nightmare
2: Heaven Torn Asunder
3: Funeral in Carpathia
4: A Gothic Romance (Red Roses for the Devil's Whore
5: Malice Through The Looking Glass
6: Dusk and Her Embrace
7: The Graveyard by Moonlight
8: Beauty Slept in Sodom
9: Haunted Shores

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