Firstly, I'm a massive Cradle of Filth fan, I also love classical music and the whole symphonic metal genre.
Dani's sleeve notes allude to emulating the great film composers and as a film score this music would be excellent, although there are no melodic themes in any of the tracks, it's all atmospheric background music. There are no catchy "Pirates of the Caribbean" style hooks lurking in here.
The problem with most of this album is that each piece sounds like a backing track. Something is missing, there is no real melody, just endless variations of arpeggiated strings with various orchestral stabs and chants. It's like the first violin section have all gone off for their tea break, or a few tracks have been accidentally left out of the final mix. That isn't to say that they should have written a melody because the original tracks don't have one, it just calls into question whether this album works as concept.
The orchestral passages in their regular albums always work well, maybe because they are so short, what we have here are the full length metal tracks minus the metal. I found myself just willing the drums and guitars to kick back in - but obviously this never happens! As I listened I found myself mentally superimposing the metal back into the mix.
Highlights for me were The Rape and Ruin of Angles, Funeral in Carpathia (some melody), Summer Dying Fast (as previewed on Evermore Darkly) and Thirteen Autumns and a Widow.
Lowlight is Goetia, great for a horror movie but utter tripe to just sit and listen to.
Regarding the alternative mixes on each disc I preferred disc 1 with the added vocals and effects, at least this serves to pep-up what is otherwise slightly lacking in content.
Overall a brave project for CoF though and I applaud them for doing it, but it just doesn't quite work.