CRADLE OF FILTH — The Principle of Evil Made Flesh (review)

CRADLE OF FILTH — The Principle of Evil Made Flesh album cover Album · 1994 · Melodic Black Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
Mjöllnir
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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