1998, Music

Cruelty and the Beast (1998) by Cradle of Filth

I usually have no problem with weird voices. Sure, there’s the odd one that rubs me the wrong way but, more often than not, I can ignore or even enjoy a weird voice when I hear it if I like everything else about the music (and especially if that voice is talented).

But I don’t know what happened the first time I heard Dani Filth, I just couldn’t handle his voice. I actually felt sick to my stomach, as if my body couldn’t handle someone singing the way he does.

The good news is that by the second listen, I got over whatever this feeling was and could sit back and appreciate his ridiculous apparent range. (I say “apparent” not because he doesn’t have an incredible range – he does – but rather because I know it’s not the greatest range in the history of rock music – though he’s fairly close – but he may be the only singer I’ve ever heard to sing both insanely low and insanely high, all the time – usually singing two parts at least – so that you are constantly reminded of his range. I honestly thought it was two different people.)

But the funny thing about Cradle of Filth, at least on this record, is that Filth’s voice is often the only really “extreme” aspect of this music. Replace Dani Filth with some belting German and some of this would sound positively cliche. (It’s an odd thing to hear someone screaming over music this melodic.) Sure, there’s the odd pummeling passage but, a lot of the time, the music is far less extreme than the singing.

Some of that has to do with the catchy melodies but a lot of it has to do with the production. The drums on this record are among the thinnest I’ve heard on a metal album – some of the thinnest I may have ever heard – as it sounds like a guy is playing some wood blocks and pillows or something, off in another room from the rest of the band. The bass isn’t much better, though at least it’s there, but there is no bottom to the record. (It’s a metal record!) The only real bottom is provided by Filth’s growling. And one wonders if Filth, the band’s leader, just insisted his singing be in front of the mix at the expense of everything else.

So, though I can honestly say I haven’t really heard anything like this before – and I’ve never heard a singer like Filth – I don’t love it. Someone else should produce these guys.


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