CRADLE OF FILTH — Godspeed on the Devil's Thunder: The Life and Crimes of Gilles de Rais (review)

CRADLE OF FILTH — Godspeed on the Devil's Thunder: The Life and Crimes of Gilles de Rais album cover Album · 2008 · Gothic Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4.5/5 ·
When it comes to Cradle of Filth, the general consensus within the metal community is that their earlier output is far superior to anything they've done in more recent years. That's not to say that most folks will claim that their newer albums are horrible - in some cases, it's quite the opposite - but most of the attention is often given to the band's first handful of records. As a result of this common mindset, many newcomers to the band may be inclined to initially skip over 2008's Godspeed on the Devil's Thunder - a real shame, as I'd actually consider this to be one of the Cradle's finest moments. Complete with a chilling, bombastic, and downright evil story focused around the life and wrongdoings of infamous French serial killer Gilles de Rais, this masterpiece showcases Dani Filth and company at the absolute top of their game. If gothic atmospheres, symphonic overtones, and overblown arrangements are what you crave in extreme metal, it's tough to go wrong with Godspeed on the Devil's Thunder.

Cradle of Filth's sound has become more polished over the years, but their core mix of symphonic black metal and gothic metal has more or less remained in tact since day one. Godspeed on the Devil's Thunder is undoubtedly an acquired taste, as the overblown and pompous nature of the album is likely to turn away quite a few of the more conservative 'purists'. If you're open to the idea of having a choir, loads of keyboards, and classical flourishes in your metal, however, you'll find that symphonic gothic/black metal doesn't get a whole lot better than this. Godspeed on the Devil's Thunder is an exceptionally well-made album, and it's clear that the band put a lot of thought into the compositions and arrangements of this observation. The crystal-clear production allows the listener to easily experience every small detail in the music, and upon repeated spins, many subtle intricacies do begin to come to life. Everything from the eerie choir arrangements to the brilliantly intertwined recurring themes just reek of sheer perfection, and coming up with complaints for an album this good is quite a challenge. A cinematic overture in the form of “In Grandeur and Frankincense Devilment Stirs” instantly sets the mood for the entire album, and the subsequent dive into sinister symphonic black metal on “Shat Out of Hell” is simply enthralling.

Thankfully, the band maintains this level of intensity throughout all of Godspeed on the Devil's Thunder; although the album will be playing for over 71 minutes before it ends, it never feels stale or drawn out. The epic interludes, crushing metal riffs, and chilling narration always mix things up, and this is truly one of Cradle of Filth's finest moments from a compositional standpoint. There's really not a weak song in sight, and the musicianship is also among the finest in extreme metal. The drumming from Martin Škaroupka (or Marthus) just blows me away every time, and his chaotic mix of blast beats, frantic fills, and technically demanding rhythmic patterns never cease to amaze me. The man is simply a monster, and a complete treat to listen to for any drum nut.

Though I am in a rather small minority, I consider Godspeed on the Devil's Thunder to be one of the best albums from Cradle of Filth. The chilling concept about an absolutely vile human being is brilliantly realized to its fullest potential on this observation, and the riffs and arrangements are among the best in the band's discography. Music this pompous is bound to sound a bit cheesy at times, and although this does happen in a few instances on Godspeed on the Devil's Thunder, I wouldn't say that it necessarily detracts from my overall experience. If I'm in the right mood for it, Godspeed on the Devil's Thunder always scratches my itch for bombastic and overblown extreme metal; and, in reality, that's all it really needs to do. A very effective, well-produced, and brilliantly composed album, Godspeed on the Devil's Thunder is an essential listen for anybody curious about Cradle of Filth's music.
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UMUR wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Yeah I just noticed that too.
J-Man wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Awesome! Thanks for bringing that to my attention Liam! :-)
Wilytank wrote:
more than 2 years ago
This review got front-paged on RYM.

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