The Principle Of Evil Made Flesh, is, simply put, one of my favourite albums of all time. Of course, I did not start with this as a teenager, and I got into Cradle through Bitter Suites… and Damnation And A Day, but I eventually worked my way backwards, where Principle… and Vempire became my favourite works of gothic horror.
A lot of people say that The Principle Of Evil… is where Cradle Of Filth came closest to being a black metal band. I have to disagree, because despite the massive gothic overtones, the corpse paint and the hammy keyboards, Cradle’s “metal” as it were – the meat behind the pomp – has always been based in more death metal riffage, or traditional heavy metal harmonies stepped up to 11 and dripping in black gloss and steroid sweat (lol). Nowhere is this death metal under-layer more prominent (demo tapes aside) than Principle…, with its dirty, drab and slightly rough production.
A lot of the time, the record reminds me of Serenades-era Anathema (not a coincidence that Darren White appears on guest vocals for “A Dream Of Wolves In The Snow”), from the tone of the death-doom of the guitars, to the almost identical drum production. It’s also worth noticing that Nick Barker’s pace is also much slower here than usual, maybe not so much to meet the songs but more to do with his youth and developing drumming skills? His performance here is the only one I’ve ever been able to personally keep up with, and his flourishes, fills and cymbal usage / variation taught me so much as an aspiring drummer.
Anyway, I’m rambling. This is bear-bones Cradle, but contains some absolute belters, “The Black Goddess Rises”, “To Eve The Art Of Witchcraft”, “Of Mist And Midnight Skies”, “Summer Dying Fast”… I could go on and on and on. Easily one of the best metal albums of all time, in my humble opinion.