Cradle Of Filth – Vempire; Or Dark Faerytales In Phallustein (1996)

I was a big COF nerd when I was a teenager. Thankfully, the lust for hammy symphonic metal didn’t follow me far past the age of 16, but I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t jam any Cradle now and then. Cradle of Filth have a long, meandering, hit-and-miss series of records, but Vempire is my absolute favourite by a country mile. You cannot beat the atmosphere, songwriting and musical dexterity on display by this young incarnation of the band.

Things don’t exactly get off to a flying start. Opener “Ebony Dressed For Sunset” is a garbled mush, and the great “Forest Whispers My Name” worked better in a more necro format on the previous album, Principle Of Evil Made Flesh, but when “Queen Of Winter, Throned” kicks off after a spooky Dracula quote you know shit is about to go down. “Queen Of Winter, Throned” remains one of my favourite songs of all time; a ten minute long catastrophe that blasts, crawls and shrieks through a gamut of epic proportions. The last few minutes are incredibly grandiose.

“Nocturnal Supremacy” follows; a slightly more thrashier affair with less scope but more brutality. “She Mourns A Lengthening Shadow” offers a respite before the closing epic “The Rape And Ruin Of Angels (Hosannahs In Extremis)” takes us on eight minute journey through the windows of heaven and hell… of salvation and damnation…