Cradle of Filth have always been a band I’ve found quite alluring. Amidst the strong daemonic aesthetic and extreme-metal stylings of their music (a genre, personally, I’ve never been fully engaged with) dwells an essence that pulls me in every time I saw them in books, on websites and in various magazines. Additional to that essence is the personable humour and charisma of frontman Dani Filth which I find very inviting contrasting to the deep aggressiveness that stereotypes their peers. Tonight, I finally make the trek down to Limelight Belfast to see what I’ve been missing out on. The band, who have frequented Belfast venues on previous tours, now return for two Halloween-time shows on the Emerald Isle in support of their recent (to use Dani’s delightful words) ‘musical excretion’ Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness Of Decay.
First up, London-based metal outfit Savage Messiah graced the Limelight stage to a rapidly filling-up venue. Savage Messiah to the unfamiliar punter draw heavily on thrash metal stylings with compliments to Testament, Megadeth and Exodus accentuated throughout their 30-minute set. Whilst in the groove, the 4 piece showed extreme proficiency and confidence on their respective instruments with tight complex grooves, fast screaming solos, spider chords galore and bombarding drum fills that filled the room – with plenty of poses and shaped being thrown in tandem. Observing the crowd, many a foot were tapping and heads were banging along as Savage Messiah ripped through their setlist without hesitation. Treason look forward to their next visit to Belfast, even in one of the more intimate venues to get them up close and personal with the crowd.
As lights dimmed, an overture of forboding symphony projected from the Limelight’s sound system. One by one, Cradle of Filth marched onto the stage and positioned themselves accordingly, with Dani Filth holding back in anticipation for the right moment. Strutting out in full black regalia with possessed eyes, the frontman and his bandmates stood with their backs to the crowd. To the abrasiveness grindings of ‘Gilded Cunt’, the band swung into action with haste and intensity with its ferocious drumming and gritty riffage. Followed by ‘Beneath the Howling Stars’ and eagle-esque screechings, dedicated fans of the band watched the band kick off tonight with early COF tracks. The two tracks accentuated the band’s dynamism and maturation as songwriters – moving from the all-out aural assault of the former to the more symphonic and swaying interludes of the latter.
If anything, Cradle of Filth were here tonight to be as intense and overwhelming as possible in their performance. With the thrashing frenzying riffage and overturing of ‘Right Wing of the Garden Triptych’ and anthemic proceedings of latest single ‘Heartbreak and Seance’ that showed both guitarists dexterity and harmonisation and the drummer’s fantastic ankle strength [thon boy must need a bucket of ice for those ankles after each show!]. This sonic palette remained consistent throughout tonight’s show overlain with Dani’s infamous growls and grit contrasting pitch-perfect female accompaniment. This was particularly evident especially within ‘Under Huntress Moon’ where it embodied more the character of a theatrical symphony in its live structure, dynamic shifts and vocal swapping.
Tonight’s set consisted of several live debuts and reintroductions of songs buried in the band’s vast live and prolific studio catalogue. Such live debuts included ‘Bathory Aria’ [from 1998’s Cruelty and the Beast], new single ‘You Will Know the Lion by His Claw’ and 2017 album track ‘Achingly Beautiful’. Moreover, ‘A Promise of Fever’ [from 2003’s Damnation and a Day] peaked the excitement of dedicated fans and followers of Filth, which was a highlight of the set for many. If anything, the band must be further commended on their stamina and Dani’s crowd engagement lathered with tongue-in-cheek humour.
Closing tonight’s set with fan-favourites ‘Nymphetamine (Fix)’ with its crushing sustaining chords and haunting piano leads [which was very exciting to hear live and sated the inner 13-year-old me who listened frequently in his early musical development] and ‘Her Ghost in the Fog’ which had many a head banging away towards the front. To another overture of classical composition, Cradle of Filth closed their energetic set to applause and screams. A stunning set by a band who show decades of unmatched metal mastery and massive stage presence.
If only they played their cover of ‘Temptation’, alas, for another time…
Click on the photo below to view the full gallery on our official Flickr page:
Words: Steven Donnelly
Photos: Conor Kinahan
Big thanks to James Loveday for letting us cover the event!