Cradle of Filth
The Basement, Canberra ACT
May 9th 2018
Support: Claret Ash
I should start with a small disclaimer – when Browny hit me up asking if I’d like to check out black metal heavyweights Cradle of Filth on the first night of their long-awaited Australian tour, I was slightly excited. I’ve been wanting to see their show since watching the DVD Peace Through Superior Firepower back in 2005 but hadn’t yet had the chance.
Thing is though, the last Cradle album I’ve heard in full is actually 2006’s Thornography. Don’t get me wrong – I like the band and think that Dani Filth is one of metal’s most unique vocalists (his contribution to the Roadrunner United album makes for one of the standout tracks.) But the thing I find is, unless you’re an absolute die-hard black metal fan, to the point where your dream vacation is sipping goat’s blood margaritas in the ruins of a Norwegian cathedral, you really need to be in the mood to listen to them.
I should really catch up though, as I’ve been missing some great metal. Cradle of Filth have evolved into a solid machine. And while the show I saw at The Basement in Canberra had some technical hiccups, the band still gave us a great night of theatrics and riffs.
Local band Claret Ash kicked off the night, bringing their own home-grown brand of black to their local town. Clad in war paint and black shirts, Claret Ash put on a great, although short, set that included songs from their new album, The Great Adjudication. Vocalist James tears it up in true black metal fashion, while he and co-guitarist Josh thrash out their parts to drummer Stuart’s blast beats and fills. All the while held steady by some solid bass work by Nick. I was disappointed that their set was relatively short, though, only coming in at about five or six songs.
I guess the room was really hanging out for the headliners, which after a short while of setting up, hit the stage to a thunderous reception.
Cradle of Filth give a truly atmospheric show. And, to my delight, opened with possibly my favorite opener to a metal album, ‘Gilded Cunt’. From there the band impressed me with a 90-minute set of some of the best live metal I’ve witnessed. Guitarists Richard Shaw and Marek ‘Ashok’ Smerda are bloody brilliant at what they do – with Richard often headbanging it out in true metal fashion, even simultaneously managing to get a video for a fan’s socials while still playing.
The set drew from the band’s extensive catalogue, from The Principle of Evil Made Flesh through to their recent offering Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay. So, while I may not have instantly recognised (yet enjoyed) newer songs like ‘Heartbreak and Séance’ or ‘You Will Know the Lion By His Claw’, I did recognize older tracks such as ‘Born In A Burial Gown’.
A few of the other fan favorites were in there too, including ‘Nymphetamine’ and ‘Her Ghost In The Fog’, backed by the operatic talents of keyboardist and singer Lindsay Schoolcraft. Drummer Martin ‘Marthus’ Skaroupka serves as an excellent timekeeper behind the kit, while Daniel Firth wasn’t overly prominent in the mix, but seemed to hold bass duties down like a pro.
The centerpiece of Cradle, however, is Dani Filth, who has one heck of a set of pipes on him. Switching octaves on a dime, his unique voice compliments a black metal soundtrack that is at one moment a symphonic melody, yet easily switching gears to pure thrash in the next. As a frontman, Dani did his best to get the most out of a Canberra crowd battling hump day, who responded as best they could, although at times needed a bit of extra prodding from the man.
Technical issues struck in the middle of the set, however, towards the end of’ Dusk and Her Embrace’, when a power cut left room in darkness, cutting out both lights and sound for the band. They took it in their stride though, prompting a spontaneous drum solo while gremlins were sorted, and power was restored.
By the time the band rolled around to its final song, ‘From the Cradle to Enslave’, Cradle of Filth had made their mark upon the smaller Canberra crowd, sending fans out into the chill of the night with their black metal cravings fulfilled.
It’s always a treat when the more international bands include the nation’s capital as a stop on their itinerary. Yes, the prospect of a smaller crowd might seem risky to some promoters. But as someone who’s been amongst both Sydney and Melbourne crowds, Canberra’s atmosphere is much more relaxed and intimate, making for a more enjoyable gig for both the band and the audience.
Canberra Review by Simon Valentine @SimonValentine1
Revisit Dani Filth co-hosting our Wall of Sound: Up Against The Wall podcast here
**Note Photos are from the Brisbane show at The Triffid on May 10th**
Cradle of Filth
Cradle of Filth – Cryptoriana Australian Tour
Friday 11 May – Melbourne, 170 Russell – 18+
Saturday 12 May – Sydney, Metro Theatre – 18+
Monday 14 May – Perth, Capitol – 18+