The UK’s purveyors of extreme Gothic metal, Cradle of Filth, came to Nosturi, Helsinki to promote their new album, Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay. Even though they began the tour with Moonspell in tow, they unfortunately had to stand alone in Helsinki as Moonspell dropped out of a select number of shows. Rumor has it that it may have had something to do with the fact that both bands are big enough to fill a Nosturi-sized venue by themselves. Regardless, the Ipswich-based dark romantics of CoF have always had a following here and should be a spectacle all on their own. For the squeamish, I must warn that some of the song titles mentioned in this report have expletives in them.
Though CoF were at the height of their career (at least so far) in my formative years, I never quite got into them. They usually get lumped in with black metal but it’s probably not where they’re most comfortable. Black metallers are generally very particular about the company they keep, even though they are highly influenced by black metal and its Gothic themes. For brevity’s sake I’ll be referring to their style as Gothic metal. Nevertheless, at least the stuff I remember hearing from them had lots of blast-beats and evil screams. I decided to don my corpse paint in a vain effort to get into the mood for some blasphemous fun.
You can check out the setlist on Spotify here:
Since there were no supporting acts, the band was slated to begin at 21:00, with the new album cover as the backdrop. The drums were elevated to the left side of the stage behind some Plexiglas, no doubt to keep the drums from interfering with the other mics on stage and vice versa. After two scans of the crowd at this point, I could not find a single other person who bothered to put on corpse paint. Though they aren’t exactly KISS, I was still a bit taken aback. A visually-oriented Goth metal group and not a single other person with a painted face? Perhaps if it had been a weekend instead of a Wednesday and if there had been at least one other act performing, there might have been a bit more enthusiasm.
A grandiose intro tape with “ave Satani, corpus Satani” in the lyrics sung by a choir started the show. It then bled into the first riff; it was “Gilded Cunt” from Nymphetamine. Honestly, the first riff reminded me of Venom and the vocals more or less matched at first. As the pace picked up a bit, vocalist Dani Filth broke out his signature glass-shattering screeches. The second song began with an organ inspired haunting synth solo; it was a lot faster, blast-beats and all. At times it could have even been mistaken for black metal. There was a brief section or two for female vocals too – the first one was an aria with no lyrics. She did a little bit of spoken word and some more melodic parts as well. Love it or hate it, we were quite definitely at a CoF show.
Between the second and third song, Dani Filth told us it was their 40th show in a row. He claimed that roughly one-in-two people in the crowd were in a band and that despite this they couldn’t find anyone to support their act. This was obviously in jest but made me wonder if I should’ve tried to contact them. The third song was dedicated to the people in the first row: “Blackest Magick in Practice” from the album The Hammer of Witches. It was met with thunderous applause and was epic in nature, even though some of the vocal melodies chosen came across as strangely folk music -inspired.
“Heartbreak and Seance” from the new album followed. Dani Filth quite colorfully explained, “It was inevitable that we play something from our latest musical excretion.” It was obviously built to be a single with its catchy chorus and more or less simple structure. In their defense, every band does this to a degree and at least the structure wasn’t completely obvious.
Dani Filth said at this point that it was the 20th anniversary of the album Cruelty and the Beast. They promised it would be re-released and remixed soon with some of the little annoyances – namely the drum sound – fixed. They then played “Bathory Aria” from said album, a rather long song of 11 minutes.
Their attire and make-up more closely resembled their classic look than the most recent charcoal black promo pictures. As for the sound, upon closer inspection, their instruments were most likely directly hooked up to the PA instead of having amps on stage. This enabled a clearer sound… for the first floor. The second floor could barely hear any guitar or bass, and even after that, the sound was mostly artificial and didn’t seem like it was coming from the same room. There had been a nagging feeling that I couldn’t place, but this had been the primary factor in making the entire evening seem disingenuous. It felt as if it may as well have been entirely playback.
After a few more songs, Dani Filth ended “You Will Know the Lion by His Claw” with a mic drop and the band left the stage. Of course, they came back out for a few more songs including fan favorite “Nymphetamine Fix.” Eventually they finished with “From the Cradle to Enslave”, which they predictably dedicated to the audience whilst proclaiming their love for this country.
I have to say that this whole night didn’t exactly work for me. Even though I’m not a fan, I was at least expecting some decent headbanging action. Instead, it seemed a cold and calculated endeavor, devoid of any real essence. Some of the people I talked to at the gig shared my feelings on the sterile sound, while a few touted it as the best they’d seen of CoF live. Both sides of the spectrum agreed, however, that they would have benefited from a supporting band. Perhaps next time they’ll bring a more complete roster, but it would have to be something truly spectacular to motivate me to come see them again.
Intro: Ave Satani
1. Gilded Cunt
2. Beneath the Howling Stars
3. Blackest Magick in Practice
4. Heartbreak and Seance
5. Bathory Aria
6. Dusk and Her Embrace
7. The Death of Love
8. You Will know the Lion by His Claws
9. The Promise of Fever
10. Nymphetamine Fix
11. Her Ghost in the Fog
12. Born in a Burial Gown
13. From the Cradle to Enslave
Outro: Blooding the Hounds of Hell