A review of the re-released “Total Fucking Darkness” from CRADLE OF FILTH!

84CRADLE OF FILTH

“Total Fucking Darkness”

2014 by Mordgrimm

Black/death Metal

Anyone who knows me, will know that I am a massive Cradle of Filth fan, particularly the early material and more specifically their debut album ‘The Principle of Evil Made Flesh’.

2014 sees the band return to their roots somewhat with the reissue of their classic demo ‘Total Fucking Darkness’ from 1993 plus a variety of other unreleased tracks from their demo days. Working once again with Frater Nihil of Mordgrimm, who back in the 90’s released their first two releases on his Cacophonous Records label before the band moved onto bigger things. All of this adds to the nostalgic vibe of this release.

Onto the music, firstly we get the track ‘Splattered in Faeces’ which sadly remains the only surviving track from the sessions for the ‘Goetia’ album which was supposed to be the band’s debut before ‘Principle…’. Aside from the demo production this track absolutely reeks of the Principle era and clearly some of the parts were later used on ‘The Black Goddess Rises’ and ‘A Dream of Wolves in the Snow’.

It’s a real shame that the other recordings were lost as based on this track alone, it’s clear the whole thing would have been something amazing, though one could argue that perhaps ‘The Principle of Evil Made Flesh’ wouldn’t have been as important an album had ‘Goetia’ ever been released.

Following this is the main feature of the release, the newly remastered tracks from the ‘Total Fucking Darkness’ demo. Now, I’ve heard these tracks many times before on bootlegs and tape copies of the originals, but never have they sounded so good. The remaster is absolutely incredible and I’m practically salivating whilst listening. The only track to make it onto an official release is the superb ‘The Black Goddess Rises’. Sounding much more death metal than the album version, but you can see from this demo where the band were heading. Hammer Horror Synths, grinding guitars and a mixture of Dani’s now trademark high pitched squeals (though I never understood why there are none on this track but there are on the rest of the demo?) and guttural lows. The remaining metal tracks ‘As Deep as Any Burial’, ‘Unbridled at Dusk’ and ‘The Raping of Faith’ all show hints of riffs and melodies which would later appear on tracks as far forward as the ‘Dusk and Her Embrace’ album. This is all tied up with the outro track ‘Fraternally Yours, 666’.

There’s something about the rawness and purity of the tracks. The essence of a young band brimming with ideas and delivering their music venom and conviction. I think sometimes people forget just how bloody good this band were and how important they were to the black metal scene and to the many myriads of bands who emerged in the mid to late 90’s adopting elements of their sound.

Also included on this release are recordings from the Samhain 1992 sessions. Firstly, another unheard track ‘Devil Mayfair (Advocatus Diaboli)’ which is along similar lines being keyboard driven death/doom metal more than black metal essentially and not actually a bad recording considering.

Then there are three alternative recordings of tracks from the TFD demo and two keyboard pieces, ‘Seance and Mandrake’ and ‘Hekate Enthroned’. I wonder what Hecate Enthroned think of all this, seeing as their once frontman Jon used to play bass for Cradle around the time of these recordings?

The other recordings of ‘Black Goddess…’ etc are great to hear and are in parts quite different in sound, though nothing quite compares to the darkness found on the TFD recordings. There’s just something different, another level of evil, which is found on that. Considering these are marginally earlier tracks there’s actually more focus on the high black metal vocals though which is a surprise. ‘Seance and Mandrake’ and ‘Hekate Enthroned’ take on the Hammer Horror meets 70’s horror film soundtrack vibe and are nice little bonuses.

Maybe it’s pure nostalgia on my part, but I can literally find no fault in this release. If you were not a fan of Cradle of Filth’s early work then chances are you won’t care for this at all. However, for me it is great to finally hear some of these tracks, especially remastered.

Perfect.

 

[10/10 – John Doe]

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