Dani Filth of Cradle of Filth: A New Era of Darkness

"A testament to this is that over the course of writing the album, about four months – our pub visits were at zero! We couldn’t find the pub… Maybe that had something to do with it”

Dani Filth has lead his legion of deathly dreamers through many years and many exploits – in a move we all didn’t see coming, the band have returned heavier than ever, experimenting with a sound they have branded 'Cradle' over the past three decades. For the last quarter of a century, Cradle of Filth have assumed the role of dark metal diarists, exploring the amorphous horrors that lurk in humanity’s shadows and reveling in the opulence of mortal sin across centuries powered by bleak romance and a lust for the sensually grotesque. Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay is a testament to this denizen persona, nodding grace if you will to their formative catalogue. The album is released today via Nuclear Blast however Metal As Fuck caught up with the man himself on the cusp of the release to chat darkness, romance, ghost stories and the current standing of for Cradle of Filth as they enter a new era….  

The new album – what did you set out to achieve, what was your primary focus? “Put some new songs on it, that always helps [Laughs] we wanted to move obviously one step further from Hammer of The Witches [2015] we just started writing with the premise of releasing an album this year – primarily because we are under new management. Our previous manager, who we had for twenty years, has retired. So with the new management they wanted to start fresh and get the band out there. A new record would spawn a new world tour and so initially everybody in the band – and you have to understand we were literally spread out over the galaxy; Czech Republic (now Czechia, October 2016), Scotland, England and Canada respectively – no, not very respectively [Laughs]. We all came up with our own little parts, song structures – little bits and pieces to build the puzzle from and then we went to Brno in the Czech Republic where the drummer and guitarist live, for a week and a half last summer to collate those ideas and long story short came away with most of the album written and it was then I was thinking I need a theme to hang the album around – and I’ve been reading a lot of eclectic ghost stories of late; Victorian ghost stories all over the summer for some strange reason. By the likes of EF Benson, Arthur Conan Doyle, Robert Louis Stevenson, Rider Haggard to name but a few and the album sounded very ornate; very ghostly sort of like real high gothic horror so it just seemed apt that I base the album in the Victorian era hence the title Cryptoriana which is obviously an amalgam of words being Crypt and Victoriana which insinuates and highlights the Victorian era’s preoccupation with death or other morbidities…. I did that all off the top of my head”. [Laughs]      

And it is this just the aspect that fans have become quite accustomed to with Cradle of Filth over the years is the majestic story telling that entails. Is it easy to feel inspired for a Cradle of Filth album or do you feel you really need to go digging at times? “To try to be as original as possible you do need to dig a little. It does become natural once you sink your teeth into a theme. But I do feel like we have backed ourselves into a corner somewhat because it is expected with each release that the album is going to be conceptual – be it a full story like Cruelty and the Beast or Damnation and a Day or whether it’s just a bunch of satellites orbiting a main theme, like Mi[dian]… Ohh well like every bloody Cradle of Filth album really, to be fair. It’s a lot of hard work but it’s great getting involved; obviously once the lyrics and music is written – with the artists and video directors and who on this album was the same person – ohh yeah Arthur Berzinsh who did the artwork for Hammer of the Witches subsequently did the artwork for Cryptoriana – Arthur also directed the video for Heartbreak and Séance because shortly after we found out he was video director we collectively pooled together our various budgets and headed over to Riga in Latvia which is Arthur’s home city and then we were totally blown away by the enormity of everything – just the cast and crew the lavish set design, yeah a real sort of cinematic experience was created”. When watching a Cradle of Filth video you can see all the amazing little details and intricacies involved that really make each video a top quality production “Well, we try out best” [Laughs]    

You previously mentioned backing yourselves into a corner with the conceptual themes that have now become, as you say expected – so where on this album in particular did you want to experiment or take any risks? “Musically. First off, most of our albums feature either orchestral intros or outros – we decided to do away with those – have them in the bulk of the songs this time around. So that’s new for us. There is some acoustic work. There is a lot of emphasis on the guitars in this album – there are a lot of solos, a lot of solos and they’re not there just to fill gaps – they were very well thought out. The last track on the album is probably the heaviest song we’ve written in years, and it’s very slow and epic and builds up to a climax. We worked with a choir on this record, not huge – a Romanesque choir with an emphasis on soprano so it gives that very eerie vibe and compliments the ghost story aesthetic. Liv Kristine [Leaves Eyes] who sang on the Nymphetamine album; sings on the new track Vengeful Spirit and so she plays a woman betrayed who commits suicide but returns from purgatory as this ghoul who torments the person no longer in her life who is played by me – so we feature in a sort of cruel duet, on top of all that we have a heavy emphasis on guitar harmonies, journalist (the only people who have heard the album at the moment) have heralded the album back to certain periods in Cradle’s history. It’s a very modern record. It has one eye on actually delivering something that is true to Cradle and our fans and that is a product of people in the band being big fans of previous works, so there are some passing nods to our back catalogue for sure.

We also have a cover version of Annihilator’s Alison Hell [Alice In Hell, 1989] which is featured on the special edition. This is a song we have wanted to cover forever and we felt right to do it now because it is very musical, we also bumped into the writer, Jeff Waters from Annihilator several times over the course of last year and then at 70,000 Tons of Metal we mentioned to him that we wanted to cover the song on the new album, and he was keen – this was a good reason. But it sits very well with the rest of the record and we stuck very much to the original, most covers we have done in the past have rarely been metal songs and we have completely ‘cradlized’. This song is just so great on its own so we didn’t want to stray too far. So we’re about to embark on a world tour and we’re looking at our back catalogue because obviously we have to play the new album, songs from the last album, fan favourites and just bits and bobs from all the previous releases, so you can imagine we have a set list that is about three months long and subsequently we have revisited a lot of old material”. I’ve personally been listening to Cradle since Midian… Wow, yes Midian… And over this time the one aspect that has remained consistent in my eyes is the bands trademark sound, which never waivers and truly appreciated by the fans. The band hasn’t strayed from their identify through the many trendy styles that have come and gone – the many members of Cradle that have come and gone. Has this been difficult to uphold or maintain over the years? “When people have come into the fold of the band they come with their love for the music and their love for Cradle of Filth. They feel they have to uphold these traditions and honour the memory of past records. We don’t just pick people willy-nilly there is lengthy transitions between people joining the band and being involved with an album – this being extensive touring. So people are becoming integrated and they bring their own feel to the band but we know that Cradle of Filth has a strong presence and this rubs off on people. We experiment within the confides of the music, I mean we’re not going to release some Jazz, funk, reggae fusion just yet”.

The album itself is extremely diverse, very ornate; a very full-blooded album with some serious attention to detail, now you mentioned that the album was smashed out within a week – but how was the writing process overall? “It’s never easy, as people say – if it was, everyone would be doing it. Once we came back from the Czech Republic we had a good idea of where the songs were going. We spent the autumn collating that further and it went through several mutations – even up until the eleventh hour we were fine tuning things. It’s a lengthy process but it was a lot of fun. We’re really into what we’re doing.  A testament to this is that over the course of writing the album, about four months – our pub visits were at zero! This was just the human spirit that triumphed. We couldn’t find the pub… Maybe that had something to do with it” [Laughs]     

How does this album represent where Cradle of Filth are today? “Hopefully it’s a gateway of where we are heading. The band is now seeing its renaissance with the signing to Nuclear Blast and the new members. The excitement is somewhat diminished over the course of doing 300 interviews [Laughs] but now it is a resurgence. Once the world tour is completed we will look further into the future bur right now we will relish the new release and touring the new material”.  

Order the new album here!