Indeed, it was kind of a shock seeing the changes in the CRADLE OF FILTH lineup (especially the split with Paul Allender) but the outcome of this was the impressive “Hammer Of The Witches” which proved to be a golden mix of the old and the new CRADLE OF FILTH. Or maybe instead of ‘new’, use the term ‘current’ that Dani Filth used to describe the new album’s sound in response to one of METAL KAOZ’s questions featured below.
Hello Dani, this is Dimitris, welcome back to METAL KAOZ!
Hi Dimitris, thanks for having me again.
Things are getting really busy as the release day of the new CRADLE OF FILTH album is getting closer, right?
Well, I have been busy for the last three months.
Of course, many fans, myself included, consider “Hammer Of The Witches” as the best CRADLE OF FILTH album for the band’s second decade. How do you feel about this?
Well, it’s good (laughs). I mean, we try our best and I am very proud of the record; I think it sounds great.
Considering that the CRADLE OF FILTH lineup features three new band members, how did you manage to keep pretty much the same sound?
Well, three members... we didn’t really add three new members because we always have a live keyboardist and, in fact, Lindsey joined us literally after the last record, so she has been in the band for three years now . Daniel Firth, the bass player, played in the last record, so it’s really two new members that we got. But we have been playing a lot of shows together and we spent a year writing and recording the new album, playing in summer festivals and also in Russia for a month last year. Then I did some shows for a month with my other band, DEVILMENT. It’s not easy choosing someone to be in CRADLE OF FILTH and fit in quite a significant amount of criteria which involves being a fan, knowing the music, integrity and after the musicianship skills he has to be able to get along with the band - I mean, we have to be compatible and be a family. Last year, we co-headlined a tour with BEHEMOTH and we brought two guitarists because Paul Allender had some issues - I don’t know what – and he didn’t want to do the tour. So, at the eleventh hour we had to find two guitarists to replace him and James who suffered from a neck injury and had to do a major surgery couldn’t do the tour either. We found a second guitarist, Ashok who is also from the Czech Republic. And it just worked really well; we got very good reviews, favorable press feedback and we got along very well as a band and it just clicked. So yeah, here we are.
Was there a specific need that you wanted to have two guitarists in the studio lineup like it was in the past?
The last couple records were recorded with one guitarist, and being a two-guitarist band made a huge difference because the albums that people call our ‘glory albums’ are those which got twin guitar harmonies, leads and guitar worth throughout, so it is expected that a return to that structure and layout would be better. And it was great in the studio because everybody contributed to this record and some people had their own songs, two or three songs that got adjusted. We actually turned down three tracks when we went into the studio because we basically wanted to concentrate on quality and not quantity. So, we were writing very prolifically at a high level, and everybody finally was enjoying it and this obviously helps. We also had been playing songs like “Haunted Shores”, “Beneath The Howling Stars”, “Cruelty Brought The Orchids”, “Funeral In Carpathia” and that short of thing during the last tour, so this rubbed off on the stylistic element of the guitarists and their writing procedure.
Yeah, and I’d say the “Hammer Of The Witches” is something like a mix between the new and the old CRADLE OF FILTH…
Well, it has to be new. I mean, when “Dusk And Her Embrace” came out people were like “ugh, this is a bit strange” and the album didn’t become popular right away. It took years to work and nowadays people call it a classic but this is not what happened when it came out. But that album was current like this one is. Yeah, it’s got the trademarks of CRADLE OF FILTH with the great parts that got people excited originally. I’d say that we wrote the album like we did in the past but the atmosphere is current. Obviously we have to write as a band and as we are now.
Of course, and although I am not a professional musician, I think your vocals in the new album sound more natural with maybe less distortion; so, did you do something different this time?
Yeah, we worked on hitting hard on the screams and the music demanded a different style. Like it happens with DEVILMENT; the music is different, so I have to sing differently to complement it. What works for one thing doesn’t work for the other. We went to get a very organic sound and that applies to the drums as well which were not triggered and we tried to get a natural sound like we did with the vocals.
What are those unreleased tracks that you mentioned earlier?
One track is an instrumental and it’s about eight minutes long with a “Transylvania” MAIDEN short of style but it’s a bit more cinematic. There is a nine minute track which is right now untitled and another one, “Achingly Beautiful” which is close to the style of “Dusk and Her Embrace”. We couldn’t record everything at once, it was just ridiculous; those songs were underdeveloped at the time we were in the studio. Hopefully we will get the chance to air them separately at a later date, maybe for an EP because we’ve got some covers we’d like to do as well. Regarding the bonus tracks that you see in the special editions, I have to say that they became bonus tracks only because the record company required bonus tracks (laughs). I mean, we didn’t know the running order of the songs until we had finished the record because we couldn’t chose between the songs. In the end, I think it was a matter of what worked a little bit more lyrically and thematically with the rest of the album. But if I had my way, everything would have been included in the album.
Now that you mentioned the lyrics, is the entire album based on the persecution of witches?
Well, the title track of the album does, but this is not a concept record. There are lots of different things going on in the lyrics but there is a common theme that is demonology, witchcraft, retribution, resurgence, revenge... it’s like a book of spells.
I was thinking the persecution of witches is kind of a current theme considering the discrimination we are experiencing nowadays, so do you think this is imprinted in the human DNA?
I think so, yeah; I think this will always be the case point the finger and blame someone else and that’s the premise behind the album’s title that is our interpretation of the translation from Latin Maleous Maleficarum; Hammer Of Witches. Well, hammer of the witch is power being in the witch’s hand; it’s about let’s say resurgent, revenge, revolution, revival but yeah, I agree there is always someone, an underdog or someone else to take the blame as with the title, and it’s evident that CRADLE OF FILTH are in favor of the underdog.
Pretty much following the same train of thought, I was watching a video of you talking about the new album and it was interesting to see that the band is still facing censorship issues; I mean, will society become better if there was less nudity in the album cover artwork?
The thing is that it’s not like a CANNIBAL CORPSE or EXHUMED or something like that kind of artwork; it’s not tasteless. The whole premise behind the cover was to do something near classical, a marriage between sex, death, horror and beauty. And this was done in the style of hundreds of painters during maybe the Renaissance and slightly before. Kind of base it on biblical imaginary and if you go to any kind of art gallery, you’ll see nudes and it’s tastefully done; it’s not even erotic or maybe it slightly is. I think it’s only been America that is really taking offense to it and all it means that we have a slip cover that goes in there and we had some t-shirts being pulled out.
Ok, I see. You filmed a video for “Right Wing Of Garden Triptych”, so will you make a second one for this album?
Hopefully we will; we had set aside “Blackest Magic And Practice” for that very reason but because it’s a very different track and wouldn’t represent the album well, so we didn’t do it first. But we’d always done two videos for every album, so I presume we will do another. I am just trying to think when we will be able to do this because once we get out touring it’s going to be pretty extensive; the first tour starts mid-October and goes through to December and then we have South America, the US and Canada, Australia and, of course, the summer festival. So, recording the three songs we talked about and filming the second video will be extremely difficult. It will be lots of hard work but I think it will happen.
Have you solidified the touring plans for the US?
It’s been organized and finalized as we speak and it will be a headlining tour. It is going to be during the second week of January but I can’t say more because of all the details. I know for sure that we will do ‘70000Tons Of Metal’ and this is another difficulty fitting into the program.
Awesome Dani, and what’s the recent activity from DEVILMENT?
Well, we just played at the ‘RockHarz’ festival on Friday and CRADLE OF FILTH played on Saturday and it was a really cool weekend. DEVILMENT are busy writing an album and at present we have four to five songs in to that and we have lots of material ripped and we are basically writing over the summer. We have a video coming out for the track “Sanity Hits A Perfect Zero” and will be released on August 10th to coincide with our appearance at the ‘Summer Breeze’ festival. We are probably going to put out a track as a precursor to going into to the studio and recording the new album. So, we are pretty busy and we also have some live dates which will soon be announced. DEVILMENT is definitely not a project but it’s my other band. Obviously, CRADLE OF FILTH is a little bit more important, my bread and butter and they [DEVILMENT] understand this because that’s the way it’s been for the last twenty years. So, DEVILMENT have got to the back seat for a moment but the wheels are still turning and it’s on the preparation stage. Expect to see new DEVILMENT stuff next year.
Awesome! I will close this interview with pretty much the same question I asked you the last time we spoke; what about TEMPLE OF THE BLACK MOON?
Heh, we signed a contract, the drums and the bass were done in LA but obviously John Tempesta and King from GORGOROTH and me are basically waiting for a time for when the rest of us can do the album and it’s just a shame because the album has such an amazing set of tracks. The main problem is Rob Caggiano who – you known – is terrible busy and the band’s management is also his management so their concern is primarily about him more than anybody else, I think. So, I really cannot tell you when this will happen.
Well, this is common for superstar lineups, right?
Yes, you just need to get all the stars in alignment...
Ok Dani, once again it was a pleasure talking to you, and I can’t wait to see CRADLE OF FILTH live here in Chicago!
Cool Dimitris, I am glad that you liked the album! Thank you.