A good proportion of the Great British public probably still know Cradle Of Filth best for their blasphemous T-shirt design, but Thornography
- the seventh album from these first-wave British black metallers suggests that if Cradle occupy a niche, it's both a popular niche and an enjoyably camp one. That's not to say that Cradle have watered down their shrill, brimstone-scented metal rush. Unlike earlier, more symphonic albums like 2003's Damnation And A Day
finds Cradle possessed by the spirit of rock - the dual guitars of Paul Allender and Charles Hedger powering the likes of "Dirge Inferno" and "The Byronic Man" (featuring backing vocals from HIM's Ville Valo) on satisfyingly cruel riffs and solos of both barbed edge and ornate complexity. Two things mark this band apart from their extreme metal peers, however: a sense of humour see how Dani Filth (credited on the sleeve as 'Harlot Church') invests his vocal with a camp, almost pantomime delivery; and an ear for mainstream (dare we say it) pop hooks. These dark metal alchemists are playing with a dangerous formula, but it works at least until the closer, a cover of Heaven 17's "Temptation" that sees forked, lizard-like tongue pushed deep in cheek: a cheap shot, and given what's come before, somewhat unnecessary. --Louis Pattison
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