Cradle of Filth - _Nymphetamine_
(Roadrunner Records, 2004)
by: Adam Lineker (
Almost exactly four years ago, Cradle of Filth changed my life. The dramatically dark _Midian_ was the first metal record I bought that could be considered "extreme". It marked the beginning of a huge upheaval in my appreciation of music. Having previously confined myself to Maiden, 'Tallica and classic rock in protest against the dominant rap metal of the era, Cradle of Filth showed me that there was a lot more to heavy music than I knew; all I had to do was look underground for it...Cut to 2003 and I'm eagerly awaiting _Damnation and a Day_, the long awaited follow-up. It turns out to be an overwrought and ill-conceived disappointment. As a result, I've been seeing _Nymphetamine_ as a probable let down for a long time now. The good news is that _Nymphetamine_ is a solid and enjoyable metal record. However, before I elaborate on this, I feel I ought to address some lingering issues regarding the band's commercial direction. Many self-acclaimed "purists" have been screaming "sell out!" at the Filth for quite a while; such an activity has long been pointless, because Cradle of Filth have never really cared. _Nymphetamine_ is a testament to this, as it is an immediate and easy listen, quite removed from the relatively harsh and brooding _Dusk... and Her Embrace_. This should really be expected, as the present incarnation of Cradle is an almost completely different band from the one that created that classic opus. _Nymphetamine_ sees the modern Cradle of Filth honing their melodic side into a cutting edge. The songs on this album, thankfully free of extra conceptual weight, are primarily composed around melodic figures, often driven by conventional riff progressions and guitar licks. The album has an abundance of piano lead sections, and these prove to be some of the more enjoyable moments: "Absinthe With Faust" and "English Fire" both stand out from the crowd on the first spin. The title track itself is an epic metalwork, packed with memorable motifs and peaking with an emotive clean vocal passage; arguably the most defining moment of the album.Production wise, the drums hold everything together while maintaining punch and clarity. The guitars cut through nicely, while the bass has begun to resemble the nocturnal pulse of old. As usual, Dani sits high and proud on top of it all, although this is one of his least intrusive vocal mixes. Most remarkably, this is the first Cradle of Filth album to not be swamped with keyboard fog or orchestral sweeps; it is telling that there are only two brief orchestral interludes on this record. The result is that Cradle of Filth sound effectively stripped down, and this allows the work of guitarists Paul Allender and James McKilbroy to shine through.My greatest criticisms of this album are leveled at the song writing. The band deserve some praise for tightening up their arrangements as well as they have done, but they occasionally stumble through excessive recapitulation. A fair few of the songs, though they are progressively crafted, return too often to motifs that have already been used. The main offender here is "Nemesis", basically one good song played twice over in the same arrangement. Aside from this, the only other quibble would be Dani's propensity for diving headlong into lyrical lunacy; album opener "Gilded Cunt" is all the justification I need in making such an criticism.Overall _Nymphetamine_ sees a healthy return to form for Dani and the boys. There is nothing mind blowing or shocking on this record, but there is plenty to enjoy. This opus will probably serve a greater role in the live environment, hopefully reinvigorating the band's tired sets with some versatile new material. Ultimately _Nymphetamine_ isn't perfect, but the dynamic and engaging metal songs that Cradle of Filth have offered are a breath of fresh air.[Jackie Smit: "Despite the death metal-like heaviness of songs like "Gilded Cunt", _Nymphetamine_ is little more than Cradle of Filth playing it safe and doing what they've always done. It may be to less coma-inducing effect than on _Damnation and a Day_, and it may appeal to an audience for whom wearing too much black eyeliner and dressing in fucked-up looking clothing constitutes an embrace of the underground spirit, but this effort leaves me thoroughly unconvinced."]
(article published 10/31/2004)
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