Genre: Extreme Gothic metal
Country: United Kingdom
Label: Nuclear Blast records
After their “Midian” era, Cradle of Filth never released anything that excited me but the truth is that I waited “Hammer of the Witches” with great curiosity. The basic reason was the exodus of the main and very influential for these Englishmen’s sound guitarist, Paul Allender but also James McIlroy. Their replacement eventually seemed to work beneficially for the band, since these changes resulted in a positive way. Young guitarists Ashok (ex- Root) and Rich Shaw (of NG-26) were recruited last year as live session musicians, but eventually stayed and with “Hammer of the Witches” we are now optimistic about the future of Dani’s group.
If we take into account the small period of cooperation of this line-up, the chemistry among them is great, which resulted in a very good album, that contains some of the most catchy melodies and riffs ever presented in the history of Cradle of Filth.
In contrast to «The Manticore and Other Horrors» that had many punk elements, the new album returns to the classic heavy sound of the British, with plenty of melodies, fast riffing and a strong smell of NWOBHM. Of course in no way i compare all these elements with those we had heard back in the “Midian” era, but only in relation to their two previous albums.
In songs like “Right Wing of the Garden Triptych” and “Onward Christian Soldiers”, they sound very fast and dynamic, while “Blackest Magick In Practice” reveals a more melodic death metal image. The classic style and structure of a COF song is not missing of course and is presented in an excellent way in “Yours Immorally”, “Blooding The Hounds of Hell” and “Enshrined In Crematoria”. But what stood out as my favorite from these first hearings is undoubtedly “Deflowering the Maidenhead, Displeasuring the Goddess” which is a song with influences from the Swedish scene with several beautiful melodies and amazing job on the vocal part.
In conclusion “Hammer of the Witches”, is a very good release, better than the last albums of the British, with more good ideas and freshness. It’s not their best album and does not even reach the greatness of the past, but compared to their recent past, there seems to be an attempt for a more inspiring work, always within prescribed, the fear of not losing the fan base they created in recent years. If you are not looking for something new and you are almost sure of what you’ll hear then invest without fear, but if you expect a return to the past or some innovation then turn elsewhere.