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Review: Cradle Of Filth – Existence Is Futile

What does life in lockdown feel like? For many, it resembled hopelessness, or as Cradle Of Filth put it, ‘Existential Terror’. On their 13th album – an impressive feat in itself – Existence Is Futile, the Suffolk extreme metallers go back to basics… Well, as basic as Cradle Of Filth gets. 

Vocalist and primary lyricist Dani Filth maintains his interest in horror and all things occult while guitarists Ashok and Richard Shaw take cues from Slayer’s Seasons In The Abyss. Drummer Martin ‘Marthus’ Skaroupka employs numerous blastbeats between giant choruses, while bassist Daniel Firth manages to shine amongst the chaos, and newcomer Anabelle (keyboards, backing vocals) solidifies her place in a band running on a tremendous hot streak. 

The band’s 2018 album, Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness Of Decay, was an unmistakable achievement. Cradle of Filth proved to be explorers of music and concepts, and created one of BLUNT’s favourite extreme metal albums in years. On Existence Is Futile, the glitz that made Cryptoriana so fun – tons of keyboards, surprising time and key changes, nods to Iron Maiden on ‘Wester Vespertine’ – is all but gone. The lack of these elements will ultimately please black metal purists, but disappoint fans who love Cradle Of Filth for standing out. 

Existence Is Futile is packed with catchy, headbanging riffs and choruses – yes, there are choruses here! The album never lets up, sustaining an astoundingly aggressive momentum through its mysterious journey. Dani’s growls and screams sound as invigorated as they have since 2015’s Hammer Of The Witches, his vast vocal range displaying why he continues to be such a prolific figure in extreme music. 

Despite our complaints about the record’s lack of experimentation, Existence Is Futile is grand in every sense of the word. While the album’s title is morbid, ‘Necromantic Fantasies’, ‘Black Smoke Curling From The Lips Of War’, ‘The Dying Of The Embers’ and ‘How Many Tears To Nurture A Rose’ are inventive – even triumphant – tracks.

 “The album is about existentialism, existential dread and fear of the unknown,” Dani shared in a press release. “It’s about recognising that and saying that everything is permitted because nothing really matters, which mimics Aleister Crowley’s maxim. We all know we’re going to die, so we might as well indulge life while we have it.” We may as well indulge in life and Cradle Of Filth’s renewed energy while we have it.

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Existence Is Futile is out now via Nuclear Blast
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