England’s biggest metal band continues to bring the filth

There’s a certain morbid allure to Cradle of Filth that no self-respecting 17-year-old metal fan can resist. The dual pleasures of simultaneously pissing off one’s parental units whilst basking in the funerary glory of the band’s gothic symphonies is a two-headed demon of mythic proportions to be sure. Embracing the innocence of youth along with the trappings of liturgical symbolism older than history itself Cradle of Filth evolved out of the primordial sludge that festered around their hometown of Suffolk England in the early ’90s. Audiences were lured in by the band’s acute sense of timing sophisticated melodies and forthright heavy metal sound all overwritten by singer Dani Filth’s signature howls. Sharing a so-called singing Suffolk accent — marked by a wide pitch range and a high-rising intonation at the end of sentences — lead guitarist and veteran member Paul Allender speaks in a notably broad Midland rhythm that is perfect for a metal-head right down to the Spinal Tap drawl. Although what he says isn’t always all that metal.

“I have the notorious reputation for being able to sleep through anything” says Allender. “That tends to be how I cope with things when we’re on the road. Everybody is off snowboarding and I’m stuck on the bus because our insurance won’t cover me getting busted up on the ski slopes. They’re like ‘Those hands? No way!’ So that means that I don’t get to see as much of the places we perform in as I might like but to me it’s more important that I’m completely energized when I hit the stage every night. I mean that’s what it’s really about isn’t it?”

That drive has led Cradle to produce black metal albums of the highest calibre despite being haunted by label conflicts (the band has had issues with both Sony and Cacophonous Records) financial ruin legal woes and a seemingly never-ending war of attrition amongst bandmates. Cementing their status as gods of the heavy metal underworld with legendary releases such as The Principle of Evil Made Flesh Cruelty and the Beast Thornography and last year’s Godspeed on Devil’s Thunder Filth and Allender have ironed out past differences into a battle-hardened friendship.

“The way we see it it doesn’t matter what the label thinks” says a defiant Allender. “We’ve always done what we wanted contracts or no. We’d politely tell our label ‘It’s got fuck all to do with you’ even when we were on Sony. We run the show ourselves. It’s always been about freedom and I think that comes across in our music. Working without constraints allows for more flowing. We do it all by feel and without an agenda.”

Other developments have seen the elite metal group incorporate female vocals into their mix — most notably those of their new “satanic advisor” Sarah Jezebel Deva who replaced Andrea Meyer after her short run with the band. Content whether performing as a six or seven-piece Cradle always digs deep to bring their living nightmare to the stage. Gathering their collective sense of creative inspiration from Gothic literature classical mythology and horror films the grim collective enjoys adding a dash of the dramatic to their performances — something their audiences have come to appreciate admire and in some cases demand.

“We just did three shows in a row in Mexico where we played to a packed stadium of three-and-a-half thousand people every night” Allender recalls. “They were singing our songs from the time they were standing in line and even cheered our road crew through the whole set-up process. The amount of support they showed us was totally unbelievable. They were so appreciative and so into it that they refused to leave after our encore and still stayed around as the stage was dismantled. I think that when it comes to seeing live music a lot of us are really spoiled for choice but those kids are just so hungry for it. We’d go anywhere in the world to perform for people who love metal that much.”