If you thought that CRADLE OF FILTH was Black Metal (at any point in their career) than “Thornography” will surely put that thought to rest. “Thornography” is not Black Metal, Melodic Black Metal, or even Melodic Death Metal. What is it then? I’m not sure. Extreme Gothic Metal doesn’t seem to be right anymore. “Thornography” is sort of a mixture of a lot of genres all mixed into one album.
First off, I would like to state that “Thornography” is not as bad as everyone seems to claim it to be. Compared to CRADLE OF FILTH classics like “Midian” than it may seem a little off – but on its own, without predisposition, the album is pretty solid. Whether or not you like the newer sound CRADLE OF FILTH is leaning towards is up to you. With that out of the way let’s begin analysis.
Musically, the first aspect one is going to notice on “Thornography” is that CRADLE OF FILTH has really moved away from creating an album atmosphere. There isn’t much atmosphere created here and don’t expect much to be conjured up either. Each song is very much a separate track with no particular running theme or sound. That leads me to say this: each song incorporates a lot of different styles of music. There are tracks with a major rhythm without much melody, there are tracks with a lot of MAIDEN-esque guitar parts, there are keyboard driven tracks that sound damn close to Goblin (Italian horror movie soundtrack gods), and there are even tracks that are mostly spoken word. There is a lot of variety.
Dani Filth really spreads his wings on “Thornography”. Some success can be found here and some failures too. He does a lot of variation with his voice and not variation as found with his range. He tries some different styles too. Distortion overlays, oddly sung notes, screams, grunts, and spoken parts. You name it and he tries it. The oddly sung parts are hard to describe but it kind of sounds like he purposely sings out of key.
This review sounds slightly ambiguous, I know. That is because the album is so different song to song – that to do a general concept of the album is almost impossible. Some listeners say the music is poorly written, but I think this experimental album has its moments of victory too. Some songs are as catchy as hell with sing-along choruses (“The Foetus Of A New Day Kicking”) and some are long drawn out snooze fests (“The Byronic Man”). This is definitely not for everyone.
Songs to check out: “I Am The Thorn”, “The Foetus Of A New Day Kicking”, “Dirge Inferno”.
*Note: The inclusion of the cover track “Temptation” is still a mystery to me. The bigger mystery is that they picked it for a single. A funny and silly B-side is one thing. A single A-side is another.
(Online March 9, 2009)