By Chloe Booysen
Dusk… And Her Embrace, released in 1997, is Cradle of Filth’s second full-length album. This album differs from their pervious work, as it couples the bands underlying symphonic roots with implied vampirism and paganism instead of the satanic elements of their previous work. The album is loosely inspired by the writings of Joseph Thomas Sheridan Le Fanu (An Irish writer of Gothic tales), with a synthesised orchestral sound that makes this dark, tragic and beautiful album a must hear for any metal fan.The album begins with a song named Humana Inspired to Nightmare, it is an instrumental track played solely by Damien Gregori on the keyboards. There is nothing particularly special about this song; however, its creepy air prepares the listener for what is to come. The first real song is Heaven Torn Asunder. This song opens with the crackling sound of fire, followed by Robin Eaglestone’s bass, and Dani Filth’s high pitched scream, Gian Pyres’ melodic guitar riffs, and Nicholas Barker’s drumming. About halfway through the song there is an abrupt stop followed by Sarah Jezebel Deva’s elegant, yet gothic, vocals. Heaven Torn Asunder ends with fast paced guitar playing and low guttural growls. The next song, Funeral in Carpathia, begins on a fast note, and remains that way all throughout the song, broken only once, also about halfway through, by banshee shrieks, gruff singing, and melodic instrumentals. Up next is A Gothic Romance (Red Roses for the Devil’s Whore) which is arguably the best song on the album. It opens with symphonic violin playing, and continues at this slow and steady pace throughout. While the previous two songs are typically black metal, this song clearly highlights Cradle’s gothic metal side. The vocals are a mix of low pitched growls, Dani Filth’s usual screams and Sarah Jezebel Deva’s elegant vocals. Malice Through the Looking Glass follows this. Its opening is much the same as that of A Gothic Romance (Red Roses For The Devil’s Whore), but the song only really begins after Dani Filth’s screaming. This song is neither fast nor slow, and utilises many of the same techniques heard in the previous songs. The title track is next. Dusk and Her Embrace is probably the fastest on the album, and does well to highlight Nicholas Barker’s ferocious drumming. A Graveyard by Moonlight is another one of Damien Gregori’s haunting keyboard solos. Beauty Slept in Sodom comes next. This song is an eerie mix of fast and slow that creates an intensity only Cradle Of Filth can pull off. About five minutes in Stuart Anstis graces us with a rare guitar solo that adds something indescribably special to this song. The last song on the album is Haunted Shores. Just like A Gothic Romance (Red Roses For The Devil’s Whore) and Malice Through the Looking Glass, Haunted Shores kicks off on a symphonic note. Dominated by Nicholas Barker’s drumming, this song is fast paced till the end. The speech by Cronos from Venom ends the album on a morbid note. Overall, one would struggle to find fault in this album. There is not a single song that fails to awaken the darkest of human emotions thanks to the exquisitely violent, morose and beautiful intertwining of each instrument around the others while still shining through individually. The Shakespearean lyrics, piercing screams, seductive feminine vocals and use of alternative elements (such as howling wolves, wind and crackling fire) enhances the experience. Dusk… And Her Embrace is a painfully melancholic album that draws the listener into its twisted and tormented world. This is without a doubt one of the best symphonic black metal albums around as it has the ability to both create and alter emotions with each passing song.
<Photo by: James Gray-King>