Cradle Of Filth, Existence Is Futile (Nuclear Blast 2021)

The new album from Cradle of Filth, Existence Is Futile, is one of the most savage an unsettling they have released in recent memory.

For thirty years Cradle of Filth has been ravaging the heavy music scene. The band’s discography is massive, with twelve previous studio albums, many live records, compilations, EPs, and early demos. Diehard fans know them all and those same fans will surely welcome this latest addition to the canon. The lineup has changed over the long career of Cradle of Filth, naturally, and musicians on Existence Is Futile are Dani Filth (vocals), Richard Shaw (guitar), Ashok (guitar), Daniel Firth (bass), Martin Skaroupka (drums), and Anabelle (vocals, keys, lyre, and orchestration).

The new album is almost schizophrenic in its richness, with absolutely mad extreme parts somehow perfectly coexisting with catchy moments and theatrical flourishes. The impact is overwhelming and entirely satisfying.

There are fourteen tracks (counting the bonus tracks) on the album, including three transition pieces. The opener is a big, eerie, dramatic orchestration designed to raise your hackles for the first big song, “Existential Terror.” When this music enters your ears it creates a picture in your brain vividly depicting both the atmosphere and the direct narrative. The lyrics tell us, “Time to embrace the inevitable / we’re all going to fucking die.” With this at the start of the album you have to expect that this is going to be a wild ride.

The next two songs were released as singles, “Necromantic Fantasies” and “Crawling King Chaos.” Great choices as advance teasers as they are in turns savage, dramatic, theatrical, and catchy – now and then sounding like a tortured Danny Elfman locked in a dungeon on acid. Later on, Doug Bradley (the actor who plays Pinhead in the Hellraiser movies) makes an appearance on two songs to reprise his earlier role on Midian, “Suffer Our Dominion” and “Sisters of the Mist.” His unmistakable voice is a pure narrative delight.

My favorite track is “Black Smoke Curling from the Lips of War” because, to my ears, it has everything. There are gruff vocals and lyrical ones, soft orchestrations and brutal percussion, and all along exceptional guitar riffs and amazing lead work. I point to this song, but all the others fall into the same category of excellence. This is an album you’ll listen to time and again. Highly recommended.

Existence Is Futile is out now through Nuclear Blast in a great variety of incarnations. The label link below is a good place to browse.

Links.

Cradle of Filth website, www.cradleoffilth.com

Facebook, www.facebook.com/cradleoffilth

Nuclear Blast, https://shop.nuclearblast.com/en/products/sound/cd/cd/cradle-of-filth-existence-is-futile.html

Cradle Of Filth, Existence Is Futile (Nuclear Blast 2021)

Sataray and Zania Morgan, Argyropoeia split (Scry Recordings 2021)

If you are looking for an aural companion to assist you in achieving an altered state or altered reality, the new split from Sataray and Zania Morgan is the tool for you.

Whoever had the idea for this combination on an ambient split deserves a raise. Sataray is a soloist who combines rituals and artistic interactions with creating and performing music. Zania Morgan is Zaskia S. Morgan who also performs music live for rituals. The music produced by these two artists do not sound the same, even when some of the intentions behind the work might overlap. Ergo, a good split.

The story is long and complicated; delicate, complex. So I am going to set it aside and listen to the music. The Sataray tracks number three. Titled “Saturn,” “Rain,” and “The Flood,” they open like the subdued tones of a gigantic intergalactic being rolling over in space. The vocal track is frightening on the first one, at least it was to me, and the building music and volume enhances and magnifies the feelings of unease. The vocalizations in the middle piece were more ghostly and calming, less threatening, even when they became urgent past he center. The final bit is disembodied, and has the feeling of pulling (or taking) away.

The Zania Morgan music is in two parts. “Crepulsculum” contains elements that sound like they could be analog approximates weaving in and around the digital flow. The vocals here are melodic, sometimes sweet, against parallel calamities. “Nyx Ambrosia” is theatrical, more dramatic. Vocals past the midpoint have a croaking, struggling execution, nudging the narrative in a darker direction, and they are elevated by the disturbing percussion.

Argyropoeia is out on Friday, January 29th. Get the digital-only release at Bandcamp and hear it anywhere, whenever you are ready for what it will do to you.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://sataray.bandcamp.com/album/argyropoeia-split-with-zania-morgan

Sataray Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/sataray7

Zania Morgan Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/ZaniaMorgan

Scry Recordings, https://www.scryrecordings.com/

Sataray and Zania Morgan, Argyropoeia split (Scry Recordings 2021)

Draconian, Under A Godless Veil (Napalm Records 2020)

After a five year gap, Draconian gives us a solemn gothic album of sadness and reflection.

From the small town of Säffle, Sweden, the band coalesced from the art and intention of local musicians Johan Ericson, Jesper Stolpe, Andy Hindenäs, and Anders Jacobsson. Modulating a melodic Death Metal sound with a somber Gothicism resulted in a specific land of Doom that Draconian has helmed ever since. The sound has changed somewhat over the years, and so has the lineup, from time to time. The new album is particularly gloomy and less heavy than earlier sets. Following 2015’s Sovran, this is the second album with singer Heike Langhans, and her influence on the music has strengthened.

There are ten tracks on the new album, ranging from radio length to nearly nine minutes. Langhans’ beautiful, haunting voice is the preëminent element in the pieces, surrounded by layers of synth and guitar and juxtaposed with Anders Jacobsson’s gruffer singing. From “Sorrow of Sophia” to “Ascend Into Darkness,” shadows and demise are made alluring and unavoidable by the voluptuous Gothic entrenchment of the compositions. The music is uniformly infused by a dark forest mist of emotional hunger is unrelenting, encompassing, consuming. There are songs that have stronger Doom elements, like “Moon Over Saboath,” where the mood is more sinister and eerie, but they are in the minority. In the main, these songs come across to me as more human than fantastical. If the guitars have diminished somewhat on this album the impact of the music has not. Recommended.

Under A Godless Veil is available now – see the links below for the digital, physical, and merch.

Links.

Draconian website, https://draconianofficial.com/

Draconian Bandcamp, https://draconian.bandcamp.com/

Draconian Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/draconianofficial

Napalm Records, https://napalmrecords.com/english/draconian/

Draconian, Under A Godless Veil (Napalm Records 2020)