Review by shadowdoom9 (Andi) for Cradle of Filth - Dusk... and Her Embrace (1996)
If I were to give this album a precise genre description, I would settle with "symphonic gothic black metal" because that's really what this album is. Yet with all this debating over Cradle of Filth's genre, the band has been labeled "extreme metal" by many people including former guitarist Paul Allender. I'm one of those people who believe extreme metal is an umbrella term that shouldn't be labeled as an excuse for a genre. If I ever use the term "extreme metal" to describe bands from genres I like such as thrash metal, melodeath, metalcore, people might think I listen to bands like Cradle of Filth, which I don't. See, it's tough having to handpick extreme genres that you're comfortable with...
Dusk and Her Embrace is actually pretty good, except one thing; the awful production! The cloudy muffled mix separates the distance between instruments. Thin guitars, soft bass, drums that sound like they're trying to pound their way out of a quicksand swamp. That's another thing I can't stand about black metal, intentional lo-fi production sh*t. Then again, it's only their second album, and I'm sure they've improved on their production since then.
"Humana Inspired to Nightmare" is the typical keyboard-symphonic intro that ends with the sound of a burning pyre. The first real song "Heaven Torn Asunder" sounds a bit like Iron Maiden in the intro riff and verse, except with a horror vibe and tortured shrieks. Then it speeds up to speed metal before moving into kick-A black metal blast beats. That's probably their most Maiden-ish song here. Classic "Funeral In Carpathia" opens by violently ripping your a** open and f***ing through with high-speed relentless drumming. Over the top, but great for the extreme fans!
"A Gothic Romance" is a gothic black metal song with a few small jump-scares including the spoken narration "Portrait of the dead countess..." followed by maniacal witch laughter. One of my favorite tracks here! "Malice Through the Looking Glass" is definitely NOT one of my favorites, being too light on the riffs. Another favorite, the title track has intense blast beats that slice through your neck then put your head back in place repeatedly.
"The Graveyard by Moonlight" is another beautiful instrumental. "Beauty Slept in Sodom" is a wonderful epic track that is gothic black metal at its best. "Haunted Shores" has an inspirational war speech by Venom's Cronos after a lethal war through blazing riffs and fast thrashy drums that blast like a b***h.
Dusk and Her Embrace has some masterful potential despite the production being weak and the gothic black metal sound being too much for me. I would recommend it to new Cradle of Filth fans starting their journey with the debut album and debut EP. I'm sure heavier listeners wouldn't mind some Filth....
Favorites: "Funeral In Carpathia", "A Gothic Romance", "Dusk and Her Embrace", "Beauty Slept in Sodom"