Cradle Of Filth
Hammer Of The Witches
10th July 2015 – Nuclear Blast Records
01. Walpurgis Eve
02. Yours Immortally…
03. Enshrined in Crematoria
04. Deflowering the Maidenhead, Displeasuring the Goddess
05. Blackest Magick in Practice
06. The Monstrous Sabbat (Summoning the Coven)
07. Hammer of the Witches
08. Right Wing of the Garden Triptych
09. The Vampyre at My Side
10. Onward Christian Soldiers
11. Blooding the Hounds of Hell
Hammer of the Witches marks the eleventh outing for British extreme metal legends Cradle Of Filth. Since their first releases in the early nineties, the band have come a very long way, and with yet another new line up and another clutch of Lovecraftian tales to bemuse their audience, Cradle of Filth bring forth their Hammer of the Witches.
Cradle’s recent output has been somewhat lacking for one reason or another, and they are aware of this. This latest effort promised a sharpened Cradle and a return to form. The stalking and grandiose intro to “Walpurgis Eve” would suggest that a good proportion of Thornography-era Cradle of Filth has returned to enthral angsty hot topic shoppers everywhere. “Yours Immortally” is a cracker of a track, however; its speedy pace and more restrained Dani Filth, paired with a dual guitar assault, means that although at times it feels like there’s too much going on, it has enough character and charm to carry it off.
This is contrasted entirely by tracks like “Enshrined In Crematoria” and “Blackest Magick In Practice”, which feel far more like filler than I’d like from this self-decreed renaissance. Fortunately things pick up dramatically by the time we reach “Right Wing Of The Garden Triptych”. This is as close to classic Cradle as Hammer Of The Witches really gets, but its larger than life, synth-led attack is bracing enough for you to forgive its misgivings.
“Onward Christian Soldiers” is the last real track on the album, and with it comes the standard antiireligious cliche expected from Cradle. Honestly, it shows an inherent lack of maturity in the song writing that I’d have hoped would have been lost by now. Thankfully “Blooding the Hounds of Hell” rounds out the album with instrumental intensity; a clutch of orchestra and a choir closing the curtains on this release.
Hammer Of The Witches isn’t a bad release, but it is Dani Filth going through the motions with another gang of session musicians with nothing new to say. It is still very much Cradle of Filth, and fans with unwavering loyalty to the band are going to lap it up as another work of genius – but it’s fair to say that the age is starting to show on this unchanging approach to extreme metal, and it’s most noticeable in the vocals of Dani himself. They lack the punch they once had, and his over excessive use of that high-pitched squeal has him sounding less like a stalking vampire bat and more like an over boiled whistling kettle.