Going back to their debut, Extreme Metal band Cradle Of Filth's distinct style arrives in an embryonic and unrefined form. I am guilty of never giving this one much time back in my youth when I was a big fan and going to it now their isn't a lot that's unfamiliar. Many of the songs have been re-recorded, re-written and adapted for use in future releases, always to sound superior. Something to keep in mind is this isn't the band's planned debut and whatever was on 93's Goetia this is a big shift in sound from the "Total Fucking Darkness" demo of the same year, where the group first distanced themselves from their Death Metal roots.
A lot of the musics spirit finds itself slightly buried in the poor production quality and although the ears adapt it doesn't have the same immersion a rich production would bring. The guitars, drums and bass are all in the typical cradle style but it is Dani and the keyboards that are noticeably a step behind. There are moments throughout where the power of the keys and there sounds lack the oomph and direction to be fully involved. Often sounding like an underwhelming accessory it is remarkable to hear how much the choice of instrument tone can impact its roll in the song. On this record though the keys are stiff and rigid, the quality is low and it shows. At regular intervals a short two minute keyboard instrumental pops up, throwing off the momentum and energy of the main songs and on one track a one second loop of flowing water plays under glistening, sparkly noises that get repetitive so quickly. It has charm but exposes the lack of budget a record of this ambition needs.
Secondly Dani hasn't quite found his voice, the surreal shrill scream makes its debut in a raw and powerful form but the regular guttural and throaty screams are a touch raspy, thin and tame in comparison. Its the problem with retrospect, you know whats to come and at the time this was probably a very exciting record to get your hands on, a new and wild sound emerging from the aftermath of Norwegian Black Metal and one of the first to embrace the possibilities of at least prototype Symphonies in Metal music.
The track "A Dream Of Wolves In The Snow" gives a sense of a rushed writing process, a short two minute piece with an epic intro that seems to quickly fizzle out on itself. It is without the epic riff that sparks the madness which it would become when re-written as "Queen Of Winter, Throned". Its a heavily flawed debut which still manages to showcase their creativity and vision. The production.. lackluster, wobbly with volume inconsistencies and an awful, sloppy sounding double pedal capture. Flawed, far from perfect it still made for a fun listen. Not one to start with if you are new to this band.