Album Review: Cradle of Filth – Trouble And Their Double Lives

Album Review: Cradle of Filth - Trouble And Their Double Lives
Reviewed by Dan Barnes

It’s odd to think that a band as prolific as Cradle of Filth has barely a couple of live albums to its name. 2002’s Live Bait for the Dead is essentially the soundtrack to the in-concert film, Heavy, Left-Handed and Candid, recorded at Nottingham Rock City in 2001 and the other is the 2019 Live at Dynamo Open Air 1997. For a musical institution such Cradle of Filth, this output borders on the paltry so, as we patiently await the follow up to Existence is Futile, Napalm Records have kindly assembled this eighteen-song thirst-quencher.

Recorded between the 2014 and 2019 while promoting theHammer of the Witches and Crytoriana albums, Trouble and Their Double Lives showcases the band as they pitch up and play shows in the US, across Europe and Australia. And if that wasn’t enough, how about a couple of never-before-released songs that hint as to the direction of the upcoming material?

Due to their elder-statesman status, Cradle have more must-includes than the average band, so there has to be some sacrifices made, which means there’s no room for Her Ghost in the Fog, Cruelty Brought Thee Orchids or Dusk… and Her Embrace.

What we do get is glorious live renditions of classic Cradle tracks: Nymphetamine (Fix), Gilded Cunt, Born in a Burial Gown and A Promise of Fever, all delivered in the usual, over-blown manner. Pitch perfect and as engrossing on record as they are in the flesh and with Dani Filth acting as diabolical ring-master, this collection really does put you into the front row of the shows.

Album Review: Cradle of Filth - Trouble And Their Double Lives

Although recorded over a number of years, across a couple of tours, the songs fit together seamlessly; older material like Bathory Aria and the lesser-played Lustmord and Wargasm sitting comfortably alongside Hammer’s Blackest Magick In Practice and Right Wing of the Garden Triptych and Cryptoriana’s Heartbreak and Séance and You Will Know the Lion by His Claw.

All are played with the same verve and vigour, possibly due to Dani’s constant reshuffling of his pack, rotating musicians so they never tire of playing older, popular songs. Perhaps.Trouble and Their Double Lives is of course packed to bursting point with huge bombast and ostentatious passages, set alongside grim and frost-bitten riffs and Dani’s modulating vocals that range from the demonic whispers of a possessing spirit to the caustic screams of a wild banshee.

Mr Filth will always be a polarising character but his is a unique vocal style that has treated him well over the past thirty-years or so. He is also a phenomenal wordsmith and story-teller and there is no one else capable of playing the role of ring-master, master of ceremonies or cult leader than he. Adopting the persona of an emissary of Hell, a Mephistopheles, if you will, he is want to berate unresponsive crowds into action or to enrapture through self-deprecation.

Of the less-regularly aired songs on offer here, there is a rareoutings for Heaven Torn Asunder and Haunted Shores from the Dusk… and Her Embrace album, Cruelty and The Beast’s Desire in Violent Overtures and The Death of Love becomes the third track to feature from the Gilles de Rais inspired concept album, Godspeed on the Devil’s Thunder.

In the tradition of Sabbath’s Reunion album and Kiss’ Alive II, Cradle have included a couple of new studio songs in the form of She is a Fire and Demon Prince Regent, both left over from the Existence is Futile sessions and included as suggestions as to the direction of upcoming material. In combination, these two songs represent everything you need to know about the band: symphonic in construction and playing with the juxtaposition between the overt and the introspective, She is a Fire sees guitars dancing alongside keyboard lines, whereas Demon Prince Regent contents itself with a charging riff.

This deep into their career Cradle of Filth aren’t looking to reinvent their own wheel, though, if rumours be true, they are collaborating with Ed Sheeran who professes to love the band, along with Slipknot and extreme metal in general. One can only wonder what unholy conjuration that pairing will spew-forth.

As a rare Cradle of Filth live album, Trouble and Their Double Lives gives an excellent account of this British Institution at the peak of their powers. Curated, of course, by the inimitable Mr Filth. It’s unlikely to make new fans but willcertainly slake the thirsts of those pining for new fodder.

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