by Mark Allard-Will
From between the ageless oak trees and darkening narrow roads that weave like streams through grassy farmlands affected only by the swaying of the breeze in Suffolk, a deeply rural county in England's East Anglia region, a new darkness was birthed forth onto the Metal landscape when Dani Filth formed Cradle Of Filth in 1991.
As North Sask Music Zine's resident Metalhead, Cradle Of Filth holds a very special place in my heart. Largely, because I too originate from the county of Suffolk. Punk and Metal found me at age 12, circa 1999. In what then was a small rural community of Haverhill, when a drummer friend of mine discovered I found my music fandom calling in Metal, he questioned me with: "You know there's a famous Metal band out of Suffolk, right?". My tiny mind was blown, because nothing famous, provocative or noteworthy ever came out of Suffolk at that time, we were the sleepy backwaters of England; seen as nothing more than a picturesque summer vacation spot for Londoners.
They were hard, heavy, and provocatively poetic, with a very stylised image. And the inhaled screams, my god, I had never heard anything like that before. I was hooked immediately. Dani wasn't just a Suffolk lad done good, he had the goods to back it up with.
When May 30th 2022 rolled around, this was my first time seeing them headline a show (every other time I had seen them was at one of the big British/European open-air festivals), so it's fair to say that excitement was abound. We'll circle back around to this in a bit.
The show opened with Saskatoon's very own Wrought. Minus a few very minor pauses that seemed to be related to technical issues with one of the guitar rigs, they hammered out a thunderous Death Metal set. Erring more on the technical side of the subgenre, they showed precision in their musicianship with the syncopation between guitars and drum work. Very impressive blast beats too. Showmanship abound from the vocalist, who got a still yet forming crowd amped and headbanging along to their crushing sounds.
Next up was the main tour support in the form of Cleveland, Ohio's Frayle. A slow, drudging Doom Metal band with haunting Björk-esque clean vocals provided by frontwoman, Gwyn Strang. Easy to headbang along to, their performance was made all the more captivating by Gwyn's stage attire, jet black priestess robes replete with faux occultist symbols on its wings and a small crown of LED lights that glowed around her head like a halo. The only complaint could be that the much slower BPM and set 4/4 structure was made to be slightly off kilter when sandwiched in-between the much faster Wrought and Cradle Of Filth's more progressive structures. A solid act that delivers a performance that is worthy of the utmost praise.
*Frayle was up to the task of bringing doom upon Coors Event Centre (photos by Aaron Brown Photography)
And, then, the time had come. After a short set change, Cradle Of Filth hit the stage. Big ticket classics such as "Nymphetamine" and "Her Ghost In The Fog" (among many others, of course) got the pit to come to life in a way only Dani and his band of ghoulish musicians can master, but a personal pleasure for me is to witness a band's evolution; so getting to see CoF perform new singles such as "Crawling King Chaos" and "How Many Tears To Nurture A Rose?", with their technically precise drum work courtesy of Martin Marthus Škaroupka and brutal vocals from Dani - envelope-pushing performances from the entire CoF crew, from their latest release Existence Is Futile was fantastic. Dani, maintaining character throughout, showed his long-earned chops as a frontman when interacting with the crowd. Something of note was how new keyboardist and female vocals on the more symphonic songs, Zoe Marie Federoff, handled the trickier vocals of Nymphetamine with ease.
What else can you say? CoF really showed us why they are still the kings (and queens) of what they do.
Cradle of Filth absolutely SLAYED Saskatoon (photos by Aaron Brown Photography)
The true highlight for me, however, was getting to meet Dani Filth at the meet and greet that happened earlier in the evening; giving me the distinct privilege to chat with him about being a fellow Suffolk lad (before making the move to Saskatoon eight years ago) and that I thought the new album was "brutal" (only in Metal would that be a compliment of truly the highest order).
As a fellow Suffolk resident, not to mention a horror fan, it seemed only fitting to gift Dani with a copy of my 2019 graphic novel, The Burning Black: The Legend Of Black Shuck, a book that reimagines the Suffolk folklore of Black Shuck into a gore-filled horror romp. (Thanks, Dani, for graciously accepting the gift).
Mark with Cradle Of Filth