Their first studio album since 2010's Darkly, Darkly, Venus Aversa, The Manticore and Other Horrors follows a summer reissue of Cradle Of Filth's early back catalogue, covering the releases from between 1994 and 2002. Where Darkly Darkly and its predecessor Godspeed on the Devil's Thunder were concept albums, each telling rich stories of Demons and myths, Manticore offers an altogether looser approach; a trip through dark imaginings of personal demons and mythical beasts.
The first thing that comes to mind when listening to The Manticore... is that Cradle of Filth are a band who are at the top of their game. Lead single For Your Vulgar Delectation roars out of the blocks, its first refrain allowing guitarist Paul Allender to display his technical ability; surprisingly melodic before exploding back into the breakneck pace that characterises the album. Title track Manticore emphasises the darkness of the album's lyrical content, heavy in imagery and effortlessly personifying the mythical beast, all to a soundtrack of abrasive guitar and drums.
Lyrically dark, poetic and complex, Dani Filth's vocals are excellent throughout and his occasional falsetto is not overused, allowing it to retain the impact it deserves. The musicianship throughout the record adds even more depth to Filth's songwriting. Guitarist Paul Allender is at the top of his game; the riffs throughout are much more raw and punk-influenced than those on both Darkly Darkly... and Godspeed..., most obvious in latter track The Abhorrent.
The band's rhythm section comprising bassist Daniel Firth and drummer Marthus Skaroupka provide an excellent platform for the songs throughout and with the inclusion of the customary symphonic elements, the tracks are raised to a level far above their peers. This isn't to say that this is just extreme metal done exceptionally well, Cradle are a band willing to experiment with elements of their sound. The fantastically titled Huge Onyx Wings Behind Despair has a brief disco keyboard element before launching into a full on aural assault and the orchestral outro track Sinfonia provides as haunting an experience as any on the record.
With The Manticore... Cradle have, as ever, provided a surprisingly accessible extreme metal album, offering new listeners another excellent entry point into all things evil whilst at the same time retaining all of the essential elements that have brought them this far.
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