Cradle of Filth

Live at Club Nokia

in Downtown Los Angeles, CA

February 8th, 2011

Review and photos by Travis Baumann

I have seen the legendary Black Metal Masters, Cradle of Filth numerous times over the last decade and have always enjoyed their performances and I was really excited to be able to cover them for the website for the first time with this tour.

Cradle is headlining the Creatures from the Black Abyss tour and promoting their newly released album "Darkly, Darkly Venus Aversa". This album falls in line with their previous recordings in that it retains that excellent mixture of head moving riffs, brutal blast beat drums, powerful synths layering with melodic female vocals, and of course, the signature vocal delivery of the man himself, Dani Filth.

I would have to categorize Cradle of Filth in their own world even within the dark metal genre due mainly to the vocals. They vary from raspy deep spoken word to shrill pterodactyl screams, to blazing fast delivery of sung verses that fall somewhere between the two extremes. They also hail from England instead of the Nordic or Scandinavian realms where the majority of the genre-mates come from. This lends itself to a very different lyrical base and Dani has a poetic dark romanticism that brings to mind melancholic gothic literary masters of verse like Byron.

This was definitely the best time seeing them both in terms of sound and set list. The set list ranged all over their back catalog with them hitting a number of favorites off the last four albums that especially made the night for me.

Overall it was an entertaining night just showing up to the venue. Club Nokia is located right downtown across from the Staples Center and as I showed up, the first day of rehearsals for the Grammies was just getting done with and to top that off, a stage had been erected in the courtyard out front and Justin Beiber was hopping around the stage accompanied by at least a thousand screaming girls and their mothers.

After making my way through the crowd I drained a few choice craft pints at the Yard House and made it into the show. When Cradle took the stage after three interesting opening bands Dani announced, "I am Justin Beiber, and this is fucking Cradle of Filth!" He seemed to be in good spirits and made a number of jokes through out the night as well as announced some of the songs as they went.

The mosh pit was insane but the security was pretty cool this time. Previous excursions to this venue had lead to major disappointment with each tier of the oddly shaped room being controlled by security and requiring a special bracelet. Of course the tier I was relegated to had two giant columns and the sound booth dominating major fields of view so I was really happy to see none of this compartmentalization in effect this night and we were free to roam as we might throughout the venue and I had a great view for the entire show.

For the last two tours they have had a woman playing keyboards and also singing backup vocals. Previous tours they had Sara Jezebel Diva doing operatic style back up vocals but with this new comer, Ashley, the vocal parts have become more defined and integrated into the songs which I really like.  

Dani is appropriately hyper on stage for this intense of music. The blast beats are incredibly powerful and I found myself head banging more than any Cradle show previously, the dual guitars and bass really sounded great in this venue and cleanly stood out from each other and the rest of the layers.

They started the set with a recorded intro,"Human Inspired to Nightmare" which lead into "Heaven Torn Asunder". They followed it up with "Funeral in Carpathia" and then played "Honey and Sulphur" off of "Godspeed On The Devil's Thunder" which was one of my favorite songs of the night.

Next they did "Lilith Immaculate" off the new album which is one of the songs that utilizes the talents of their new keyboard player, Ashley, singing the chorus vocals.

"Her Ghost in the Fog" was next and they followed that up with "Nymphetamine Fix" which is an awesome song. The original album version has Liv Kristine singing the duet but Ashley did an excellent job.

"The Principle of Evil Made Flesh" lead into another stand out for me,"Under Huntress Moon" which has a great sing along in it "You mesmerize my soul Diana, you mesmerize my soul!"  

I really liked every song though, the old ones sounded really great tonight like "Ebony Dressed For Sunset". They sadly came to the end of their main set with "The Forest Whispers My Name" and left the stage. I had been so wrapped up in the show I had lost track of time and how many songs had gone by so I was a bit surprised when they hit the end.

After some heavy chanting and another recorded interlude, the band re-emerged and played the awesome opener of their new album, "The Cult of Venus Aversa". They also did "Cruelty Brought Thee Orchids" which seems to be a staple of their live sets and then ended the night with the classic "From the Cradle to Enslave".

It is interesting to hear everyone else's take on Cradle of Filth. Some people love them and think they are the best Black Metal band ever, others can't stand them and even more do not know what to make of them. Judging by the mass of attendees, all wearing Cradle merchandise mind you, they have a huge following of devoted fans. Some people came in makeup to match their idols on the stage, others were obviously from other genres and fell into industrial, gothic, and even punk scenes and then of course there were a bunch of classic metallers too.

I personally love Cradle of Filth and while I would not recommend them to everyone as an entry point into extreme metal as they may be just a bit too extreme for people not acclimated to the incredible brutality they unleash, I definitely find myself loving them more and more with each release.

I think this was a great show and great tour as well, with a band as awesome as Turisas opening for them, the whole night was fun. If you are into Cradle even a little bit, you should see them live because everything from the spectacle of the stage presence and trappings to their intense sound and especially their awesome front man, Dani is worth the price of admission and then some.

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