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Cradle of Filth are an English extreme metal band from Suffolk, formed in 1991. Their particular subgenre has provoked a great deal of discussion.

The band's musical style evolved from black metal to a cleaner and more "produced" amalgam of gothic metal, symphonic black metal and other extreme metal styles, while their lyrical themes and imagery are heavily influenced by gothic literature, poetry, mythology and horror films. The band has successfully broken free from its original niche by courting mainstream publicity (often to the chagrin of its early fanbase), and this increased accessibility has brought coverage by the likes of Kerrang! and MTV, frequent main stage appearances at major festivals such as Ozzfest, Download and even the mainstream Sziget Festivalmarker, and in turn a more "commercial" image. They have sometimes been perceived as Satanic by casual observers, although their outright lyrical references to Satanism are few and far between, and use of Satanic imagery has arguably always had more to do with the shock value than any seriously-held beliefs. According to a 2006 issue of Metal Hammer magazine, they are the most successful British heavy metal band since Iron Maiden.


Early years (1991-1996)

Cradle of Filth's first three years saw three demos and a rehearsal tape recorded amidst the sort of rapid line-up fluctuations that have continued ever since (Cradle has generally had around half a dozen members at any one time, but can boast more than twenty musicians in its history). The band also recorded an unreleased album entitled Goetia prior to the third demo and their style shift. Goetia was set for release on Tombstone records, but all tracks were wiped when Tombstone went out of business and could not afford to buy the recordings from the studio. The band eventually signed to Cacophonous Records and their debut album, The Principle of Evil Made Flesh, was also Cacophonous's first release in 1994. A step up in terms of production from the rehearsal quality of most of their demos, the album was still nevertheless a sparse and embryonic version of what was to come, with lead singer Dani Filth's vocals in particular bearing little similarity to the style he was later to develop. The album was well-received however, and as recently as June 2006 found its way into Metal Hammer's list of the top ten black metal albums of the last twenty years.

Cradle's relationship with Cacophonous soon soured; the band accusing the label of contractual and financial mismanagement. Acrimonious legal proceedings took up most of 1995, and the band finally signed to Music for Nations in 1996 after only one more contractually obligated Cacophonous recording: the EP Vempire or Dark Faerytales in Phallustein which, it has since been conceded, was hastily written as a Cacophonous escape-plan. Despite the circumstances of its release however, its handful of tracks are staples of the band's live sets to this day, and "Queen of Winter, Throned" was listed among twenty-five "essential extreme metal anthems" in a 2006 issue of Kerrang! magazine. The EP also marked Sarah Jezebel Deva's debut with the band, replacing Andrea Meyer, Cradle's first female vocalist and self-styled "satanic advisor". Deva has appeared on every subsequent Cradle release and tour, but has never been considered a full band member, having also performed with The Kovenant, Therion and Mortiis, and fronted her own Angtoria project along with Cradle's current bass player, Dave Pybus.

Music for Nations era (1996-2001)

Dusk... and Her Embrace followed the same year: a critically acclaimed breakthrough album that greatly expanded the band's fan-base throughout Europe and the rest of the world. A concept album of sorts based generally on vampirism and specifically (though loosely) on the writing of Sheridan Le Fanu, Cradle's inaugural album for Music for Nations set the tone for what was to follow. The album's production values matched the band's ambition for the first time, whilst Dani's vocal gymnastics were at their most extreme.

The increasingly theatrical stage shows of the 1997 European tour helped keep Cradle in the public eye, as did a burgeoning line of controversial merchandise; not least the notorious t-shirt depicting a masturbating nun on the front and the slogan "Jesus is a cunt" in large letters on the back. The t-shirt is banned in New Zealand, a handful of fans have faced court appearances and fines for wearing the shirt in public, and some band members themselves attracted a certain amount of hostile attention when they wore similar "I Love Satan" shirts to the Vaticanmarker. Alex Mosson, the Lord Provost of Glasgow from 1999-2003, called the shirts (and by implication the band) "sick and offensive". The band obviously approved, using the quote on the back cover of the 2005 DVD Peace Through Superior Firepower.

In 1998, Dani began his long-running "Dani's Inferno" column for Metal Hammer, and the band appeared in the BBC documentary series Living With the Enemy (on tour with a fan and his disapproving mother and sister) and released its third full-length album Cruelty and the Beast. A fully-realised concept album based on the legend of the "Blood Countess" Elizabeth Bathory, the album boasted the casting coup of Ingrid Pitt providing guest narration as the Countess: a role she first played in Hammer's 1971 film Countess Dracula. The album led to Cradle's U.S debut, and Dani claimed it in 2003 as the Cradle album of which he was most proud, although he conceded dissatisfaction with its sound quality.

The following year the band continued primarily to tour, but did release its first music video, PanDaemonAeon, and an accompanying EP, From the Cradle to Enslave, featuring the music from the production. Replete with graphic nudity and gore, the video was directed by Alex Chandon, who would go on to produce further Cradle promo clips and DVD documentaries, as well as the full-length feature film Cradle of Fear.The band released their fourth full-length studio album on Hallowe'en, 2000. Midian was based around the Clive Barker novel Cabal and its subsequent film adaptation Nightbreed. Like Cruelty and the Beast, Midian featured a guest narrator, this time Doug Bradley, who starred in Nightbreed but remains best known for playing Pinhead in the Hellraiser films. Bradley's line "Oh, no tears please" from the song "Her Ghost in the Fog" is a quote of Pinhead's from the first Hellraiser ("No tears, please. It's a waste of good suffering...") and Bradley would reappear on later albums Nymphetamine, Thornography, and Godspeed on the Devil's Thunder. The video for "Her Ghost in the Fog" received heavy rotation on MTV2 and other metal channels, and the track also found its way onto the soundtrack of the werewolf movie Ginger Snaps.

Sony interlude (2001-2004)

The longest-ever interim period between full-length Cradle albums was nevertheless a busy time for the band. Bitter Suites to Succubi was released on the band’s own "Abracadaver" label, and was a mixture of four new songs, re-recordings of three songs from The Principle of Evil Made Flesh, two instrumental tracks, and a cover of The Sisters of Mercy's "No Time To Cry." Stylistically similar to Midian, the album is unique among Cradle albums in featuring exactly the same band members as its predecessor, but is generally regarded as an EP and often overlooked in the band's canon. Further stop-gap releases followed in the form of the "best of" package Lovecraft and Witch Hearts and a live album; Live Bait for the Dead. Finally, the band (principally Dani) also found time to appear in Cradle of Fear while they negotiated their first major-label signing with Sony Music.Damnation and a Day arrived in 2003; Sony's heavyweight funding underwriting Cradle's undiminished ambition by finally bringing a real orchestra into the studio (the 80-strong Budapest Film Orchestra and Choir replacing the increasingly sophisticated synthesizers of previous albums) and thus marking the band's belated gestation - for one album only - into full-blown symphonic metal. Damnation featured the band’s most complex compositions to date, outran its predecessors by a good twenty minutes, and produced two more popular videos: the Švankmajer-influenced Mannequin, and Babalon AD , based on Pasolini's infamous Salò. Roughly half the album trod the conceptual territory of John Milton's Paradise Lost - showing the events of the Fall of Man through the eyes of Lucifer - while the remainder comprised stand-alone tracks such as the Nile tribute "Doberman Pharaoh" and the aforementioned "Babalon AD"; a reference to Aleister Crowley. "Babalon AD" was the first DVD-only single to reach the U.K. top 40, according to the Guinness Book of Records of British Hit Singles and Albums. Feeling that Sony's enthusiasm quickly palled however, Cradle jumped ship to Roadrunner Records after barely a year.

Roadrunner Records (since 2004)

2004's Nymphetamine was the band's first full album since The Principle of Evil Made Flesh to not be based around any sort of overarching concept (although references to the works of H. P. Lovecraft are made more than once). Cradle's bassist Dave Pybus described it as an "eclectic mix between the group's Damnation and Cruelty albums with a renewed vigour for melody, songmanship [sic] and plain fucking weirdness spat into the smelting bowl." Cradle's growing acceptance by the mainstream was confirmed when the album's title track was nominated for a Grammy award, but the band's cover version of Cliff Richard's "Devil Woman" for the Nymphetamine special edition did little to convince its detractors of the band's integrity.

Thornography, was released in October 2006. According to Dani Filth, the title "represents mankind's obsession with sin and self... An addiction to self-punishment or something equally poisonous... A mania." On the subject of the album's musical direction, Filth told Revolver magazine, "I'm not saying it's 'experimental', but we're definitely testing the limits of what we can do... A lot of the songs are really rhythmical - thrashy, almost - but they're all also really catchy." A flurry of pre-release controversy saw Samuel Araya's original cover artwork scrapped and replaced in May 2006, although numerous CD booklets had already been printed with the original image. Thornography received a similar reception to Nymphetamine, garnering generally positive reviews, but raising a few eyebrows with the inclusion of a cover of Heaven 17's "Temptation" (featuring guest vocals from Dirty Harry), which was released as a digital single and accompanying video shortly before the album.

Long-term drummer Adrian Erlandsson departed the band in November 2006. According to an official Roadrunner press release, Erlandsson left with the intention of devoting his energies to his two side projects Needleye and the now-defunct Nemhain: "I have enjoyed my time with Cradle but it is now time to move on. I feel I am going out on a high as Thornography is definitely our best album to date". He was replaced on the 2007 world tour by Martin Škaroupka.

Cradle of Filth announced in early 2008 that their eighth studio album was underway: "The world tour for the Thornography album, which last saw COF in Russia, Ukraine, UK, Romania, Slovakia and North America with GWAR is now complete [and] the band has returned home to start writing for a new record over the dark months in the rehearsal room.

The band's official message boards revealed parts of an interview with Paul Allender, the lead guitarist, conducted by MédiaMatinQuébec: "We already have four new songs ready and I have to say that they are... much faster than the songs on Thornography. [They] sound like old Cradle of Filth... A mixture of Midian and Dusk. . ." and the album was released on October 27, 2008. Godspeed on the Devil's Thunder is a concept album about the legendary 15th Century murderer Gilles De Rais, a French nobleman who fought alongside Joan of Arc and accumulated great wealth before becoming a satanist, sexual deviant and serial killer. In an interview published in February 2009, Dani talked about Gilles De Rais, and how his story manifests on Godspeed on the Devil's Thunder':

In an interview with Metal Hammer, Dani Filth confirmed that a new album was in the early stages of development. A couple of songs are ready to go and the band will begin recording in November 2009, with a release planned in May or June 2010. Its sound is described as "creepily melodic, like Mercyful Fate or a dark Iron Maiden"


Cradle of Filth's first three demos have been claimed by reviewers to emerge a death metal sound, with occasional symphonic elements. However, when they released their fourth demo, Total Fucking Darkness, their genre became more akin to black metal. Their "true" black metal status however, has been in debate since near the time they became popular. Dani, in a 1998 interview for BBC Radio 5 for example, said "I use the term heavy metal, rather than black metal, because I think that's a bit of a fad now. Call it what you like: death metal, black metal, any kind of metal...", while Gavin Baddeley's 2006 Terrorizer interview states that "few folk, the band included, call Cradle black metal these days."

The band's style has been described as symphonic black metal, gothic black metal, and dark metal. However, the band's evolving sound has allowed them to continue resisting definitive categorisation. They are audibly influenced by Iron Maiden, have collaborated on projects like Christian Death's Born Again Anti-Christian album (on the track "Peek-A-Boo"), and have even dabbled outside of metal music with dance remixes ("Twisting Further Nails", "Pervert's Church" etc), although these have fallen by the wayside in recent years. In a 2006 interview with Terrorizer magazine, current guitarist Paul Allender said "We were never a black metal band. The only thing that catered to that was the make-up. Even when The Principle of Evil Made Flesh came out — you look at Emperor and Burzum and all that stuff — we didn't sound anything like that. The way that I see it is that we were, and still are now, an extreme metal band."

Appearing on the BBC music quiz Never Mind the Buzzcocks on April 9, 2001, Dani jokingly claimed Cradle's sound as "heavy funk", and in an October 2006 interview stated "We'd rather be known as solely 'Cradle of Filth', I think, than be hampered by stupid genre barriers."


Band members


  1. "Hating Cradle has always been chapter one of 'Bluff Your Way in Black Metal Elitism'." Chris Chantler, Terrorizer, Issue 177, December 2008, page 70.
  2. Metal Hammer, Issue 160, December 2006 - "British Steel", page 40.
  3. Cradle of Filth, Lovecraft & Witch Hearts liner notes, written by Damien Gregori 2002
  4. Kerrang magazine, October 7th, 2006
  5. Gavin Baddeley - Lucifer Rising (Nemesis Publishing, 1994, p.211)
  6. Metal Hammer magazine, March 2003
  7. Metal Hammer magazine, March 2003
  8. eg. Kerrang! issue 1130, October 21, 2006; Terrorizer issue 150, November 2006; Metal Hammer issue 159, November 2006
  9. Terrorizer magazine, November 2006

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