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Metal Life Album Review: CRADLE OF FILTH – Hammer of the Witches

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Cradle of Filth are one of those bands that are either on peoples’ love list or hate list. I have yet to meet someone who kinda likes them or sort of hates them. This phenomenon is interesting to me since it takes a special band to create that kind of reaction out of people. I have loved Cradle of Filth since their first demos were floating around and I have loved every album, EP, DVD, since. Perhaps I am biased in my review of “Hammer of the Witches”, but I think that this album deserves to be reviewed by a member of the “love them” camp.

Another point that needs to be made before we begin is that both guitarists, Ashok and Rich Shaw, are new to the band and this is their first studio material recorded with Cradle of Filth. That being said, I was curious to see what changes, if any, they would bring to my beloved Cradle of Filth sound.

For my first listen of “Hammer of the Witches”, I sat in a dark room and focused solely on listening to the album. I ensured that I had no distractions and that I would not be disturbed. The very first thing that jumped out at me (since I was looking for guitar differences), was the guitar work. There riffs are a little more catchy and structured differently than previous Cradle of Filth albums. This did not strike me as odd since the guitarists were new to the band, but it did stand out to me. I then listened to the entire album again, this time as just another album I was listening to and not one where I was looking for differences.

The familiar (some will say too familiar) Cradle of Filth sound is there and it sounds amazing. Dani’s vocals are more controlled and show that he is further mastering his style. The guitar work we have already discussed. The bass and drum components are solid and provide the foundation that supports all the layers of vocals, guitar and keyboards that make up the band’s signature sound.

After hearing the entire album twice, I sat down to write this review while “Hammer of the Witches” played a third time. I can tell you this, Cradle of Filth sound more focused and tighter than they have for a while. This album sounds amazing from start to finish. On some previous albums, I loved the music, but the band didn’t sound like they were all heading in the same direction. On “Hammer of the Witches”, the songwriting is better and the music is more refined,  yet still multi-layered and still so very “Cradle of Filth.”

If you hated the band before, you may still hate them, but if you give this album a full listen, you just may discover that you hate it less than you thought you would. If you are member of the “love them” camp, you will fully enjoy hearing the latest incarnation of Cradle of Filth. The band needs more time to become a fully cohesive force, but for the time that Ashok and Rich Shaw have been with the band, their work on “Hammer of the Witches” is incredible.

Rating: 8.5/10

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