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3.04 | 25 ratings | 4 reviews
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Album · 1994


1. Darkness Our Bride (Jugular Wedding) (2:00)
2. The Principle of Evil Made Flesh (4:34)
3. The Forest Whispers My Name (5:06)
4. Iscariot (2:33)
5. The Black Goddess Rises (6:48)
6. One Final Graven Kiss (2:15)
7. A Crescendo of Passion Bleeding (5:30)
8. To Eve the Art of Witchcraft (5:28)
9. Of Mist and Midnight Skies (8:09)
10. In Secret Love We Drown (1:29)
11. A Dream of Wolves in the Snow (2:10)
12. Summer Dying Fast (5:39)
13. Imperium Tenebrarum (0:49)

Total Time: 52:33


- Dani Filth / vocals
- Paul Allender / guitar
- Nicholas Barker / drums
- Robin Eaglestone / bass guitar
- Paul Ryan / guitar
- Benjamin Ryan / keyboards

- Andrea Meyer / backing vocals
- Darren White / additional vocals on "A Dream of Wolves in the Snow"
- Frater Nihil / Vocals (track 13)
- Soror Proselenos / Cello

About this release

Label: Cacophonous Records
Release Date: February 24, 1994

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British extreme goth metallers Cradle of Filth released their first album The Principle of Evil Made Flesh in 1994, following a handful of demos and a botched attempt at releasing their debut full-length (Goetia, whose tapes were erased by the recording studio when the label withdrew the funds to pay for it). Although much of the line-up that recorded Principle had been together for quite a few years, their future will be short-lived. After the album came out, keyboard player Benjamin Ryan and guitarists Paul Ryan and Paul Allender all left the band (though Allender will return later on in 2000) to form the short-lived goth/doom project The Blood Divine, leaving drummer Nicholas Barker, bassist Robin Graves and singer Dani Filth to carry on on their own.

Principle is a somewhat different beast compared to much of the rest of Cradle of Filth’s discography. Some of the classic trademarks of their sound are already here, such as the romantic and gothic undertones, the use of female recitations and symphonic keyboards, and a guitar approach that sits halfway between extreme metal and classic heavy metal, with ample concessions to melodic leads. But all these traits are just at an embryonic stage on Principle, which is instead characterized by a more extreme and savage stylistic approach, putting the album more firmly into black metal territory than most of their other records. The level of aggression remains high from the opening (post instrumental prelude) title-track through most of the rest of the album, with some songs showcasing an almost punkish bellicosity. Dani Filth’s vocals also sound quite different on this album relative to the vocal style he will develop later on. His voice is raspier and more guttural, the high-pitched shrieks that will soon become his controversial trademark are almost completely absent here. While some may prefer the more standard approach Dani uses on this album, I find it a tad too unidimensional as well as somewhat tentative and strained, as if Dani weren’t fully comfortable with his own performance (which I guess is not unusual for a debut).

Although I vastly prefer their later 1990s and early 2000s output, Principle is a pleasant album to listen to. Its main shortcoming is that it does not contain many stand-out moments and even the best tracks are characterized by a certain compositional clumsiness that bogs them down somewhat. Cradle of Filth’s music is characterized by a very progressive approach to songwriting, with multiple parts segueing into one another often without being repeated more than once, layered guitar and vocal melodies, hyperactive drumming, continuous tempo changes, and sudden alternations of fast and furious episodes with more relaxed and melodic parts. To write such complex compositions while retaining a smooth flow is a difficult art and Cradle of Filth here succeed only in a couple of occasions, like on the moody and majestic “The Black Goddess Rises” and what is probably the best song of the record “Summer Dying Fast” (which is preceded by another great track “A Dream of Wolves in the Snow”, a little atmospheric spoken piece featuring Anathema’s Darren White on vocals). Elsewhere, the songs feel rather messy and overindulgent and they fail to hold my attention through their entire duration. The title-track and “The Forest Whispers My Name” are also decent tracks, although they are played a bit loosely and chaotically, which detracts from the listening experience. The sound production does not particularly help either. The album has a low-fi sound that, if on the one hand it gives the music a nice underground feel that matches well its brutal, punkish energy, on the other hand it makes the sound muddy, which is a problem when one writes complex and articulated music.

Overall, The Principle of Evil Made Flesh is a worthy debut album, foreshadowing the band’s impending success, but not fully reaching the level of quality of their later output. The album does contain some good tracks, though, which indeed will be re-recorded and re-released in different guises in later albums and EPs. If you can get past some of its defects (slightly clumsy compositions, tentative vocals, low-fi production), it can be a pleasant record to play once in a while.
Cradle of Filth's debut album sees them playing, for the most part, in a black metal style heavily influenced by the Norwegian scene but not really matching the standards attained by the bands they were imitating. There's little here of the Filth's distinctive gothic-decadent personality; though the lyrics regularly allude to the focus on Goddess-worship and eroticism which would make the band a stalwart of the lace, latex and corsets scene, it's delivered in a textbook black metal style which fails to impress me.

Dani Filth's vocal delivery on the later Cradle albums may bug some people, but I much prefer his poetic recitation style to the imitation black metal shriek he provides here, which falls far short of the work of the likes of, say, Dead or Varg Vikernes or Attila or any other influential and individual black metal vocalist from the early years of the scene. Likewise, the band themselves play in rote repetition of ideas already explored by the Norwegian scene, and often apply these ideas without much understanding of the underpinnings behind them. Whilst, for instance, lo-fi production values lent a curious aesthetic atmosphere to albums such as Darkthrone's Transilvanian Hunger or Burzum's pre-jail works, here it just makes the album sound like a mess.

In short, I wouldn't even recommend this album for Cradle of Filth fans, since I suspect many of them will find little commonality between this album and their much more accomplished later works. As for everyone else, there's so much better early 1990s black metal out there that there's no compelling reason to bother with this one. Completists only.
Any aritist knows that a debut album has to achieve certain aspects, one of them being, it has to grab your attention and let you marvel for the full duration of the album. And boy does this exceed.

This being their first full length album, it's a dramatic difference from their early demos and releases. With a new more black metal sound, widely influenced by the Scandanavian musical movement. Now I see major differences musically, but stylisticaly yea it's all their.

It's funny to think that a band from Suffolk are the same as iron clad Norwegians, and looking at the photos in this, it does make me laugh, with all the stupid corpsepaint and metal poses, trying to look as "evil" as possible, but throughout their career, they discovered that them themselves are evil enough, so they got a bit more experimental with their image, which in my opinion always was for the best (you really need to be Norwegian to pull off full blow corpsepaint).

Now as a debut, this is incredibly impressive. To be honest, hearing samples from the album, I was worried that I wouldn't like it, but to be honest, I did, espeically when you just sit down, and enjoy what your listening to, instead of being overly critical.

Now sound wise, it's very raw. The production isnt the best, which gives it that "black metal" edge to it, but I think it sounds really good production wise compared to most black metal recordings, but maybe a bit more tweaking would have made it a bit better.

Now vocally Dani sounds a bit different, and yes you could pick holes at it, but I see it as a vocalist coming to terms with his own powers. He knows what he can do on this album, and at times can make you go "F**kin el". Now he does get better in later years, but as early stages, this isn't too bad. His lyrics are also really good in this album as usual, but he does get better. This album also has some interesting themes, e.g. mythology, thelmatic stuff, Satanic stuff, and other stuff that's interesting.

1. Darkness Our Bride (Jugular Wedding) - Nice intro. Great keyboard arrangement. 6/10

2. The Princple Of Evil Made Flesh - Wow, what an intro. Some really killer punky riffs. Gothic moments throughout are the real highlights.At times the vocals aren't the best, and then at times they're fantasitc. 9/10

3. The Forest Whispers My Name - Nothing compared to the Vempire version. It's still good though, but when I want to listen to this song, the Vempire version will always be the one I look for. This is still a classic song, and one of my all time Cradle favourites. 8/10

4. Iscariot - A nice atmospheric interlude. I like heartbeat sounds. 5/10

5. The Blak Goddess Rises - This is quite a beautiful song at times. I love how it transforms into such a gothic doomy classic and how it changes throughout. I do like the vocals in this song alot. 10/10

6. One Final Graven Kiss - A nice eerie repetitive interlude. 6/10

7. A Crescendo Of Passion Bleeding - Some killer riffs. I love the use of vocals throughout. A bit underlooked in my opinion. 9/10

8. To Eve The Art Of Witchcraft - This has a certain grindcore vibe to it (a slight reminiscence of their earlier stuff). Great punky feel to the song. Amazing twists and turns, and the use of organ is really cool. I like how the song has so many changes in tone and sound. 10/10

9. Of Mist & Midnight Skies - I like Bach's Tocatta at the start, although it's a bit cheesy itself. This is very inspired by My Dying Bride, so expect alot of doom. Great use of vocals throughout. The lyrics obviously deal with thelmatic topics (Crowley and what have you not) 9/10

10. In Secret Love We Drown - Nice trickly interlude with nice water sounds. 5/10

11. A Dream Of Wolves In The Snow - I love the silly Pinhead impression at the start. Pretty interesting arrangement, and Dani's vocals are pretty cool. Short and sweet. 8/10

12. Summer Dying Fast - Great punky feeling. Great arrangement with some killer keyboards. 8/10

CONCLUSION: I really didn't expect to like this album as much as I did. But it's really an achievment, especially for a debut. Not one of my all time favourites, but still a great album.


Members reviews

After cutting several demos, predominantly in the death metal vein, Cradle recorded their rawest studio album and perhaps the one closest to the black metal they are often associated with. But even at this juncture, there were many other styles vying for prominence. Subdued death metal riffs rip out of icy black metal charges, belting along in the manner of 80s German thrash. For good measure, gothic melodrama is supplied courtesy of influence from the death doom scene (Paradise Lost, Anathema, My Dying Bride), with Anathema’s then vocalist, Darren White lending his vocals to a couple of tracks. The band also mention Diamanda Galas as an influence in those days, the creepy atmosphere of the pervading keyboards providing testament to this.

The keyboard intro and several scattered interludes add little to the album for me, and come off as cheap and a bit tacky. The real meat on the album, begins as the tearing thrashing roar of the title track takes hold. The band’s penchant for unconventional writing and a “symphonic” style are unashamedly displayed with great success off the bat. As we will come to expect, Dani Filth’s verbose reams of dark poetry ride the wave of constant changes, inspired in equal measure by Lovecraft, Sabbat’s Martin Walkyier and the Norwegian black metal scene. Vocals on this album are going to be almost unrecognisable to later fans (as they were to me, coming to this after hearing Midian), but the low rasp buried in the mix gets easier to listen to in time, and adds to the atmosphere for me. The more gothic tinged “The Forest Whispers My Name”, erupts from tinkling keys and bass to form a slower, doom inspired journey that still finds itself shifting as madly as the last track.

As with its predecessor on their demos, “The Black Goddess Rises” is the most death metal inspired offering here, a crushing epic coloured by a frosty black metal palate. “To Eve the Art of Witchcraft” and “Of Mist and Midnight Skies” continue the drawn out attack effectively despite being lesser known than the earlier tracks. “A Dream of Wolves in the Snow” is the only keyboard lead track that feels right at home, Darren White’s weak vocals here providing the right feel for the trickling water effect and background keys. “Summer Dying Fast” is a speedy, thrash inspired affair that closes the album but for a spoken word track that fades off into some bleak distance, readying us for the next round.

I’ve always enjoyed this album, raw only by their standards though, and by no means close to the sound of the second wave black metal bands. It has the hallmarks of 90s British metal’s desire for individuality, and won’t be tied down to fewer musical ideas. Luckily they were more than capable of pulling it off, as they were well versed and trained in all the metal styles of the day.

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