CRADLE OF FILTH / JINJER / UNCURED
It was Friday the 13th and I cannot think of better date to have CRADLE OF FILTH in town (ok, maybe Halloween would be more fitting), especially when it has been that long since the last time Dani and Co. had visited the US. Although, on this day bad things supposed to happen, it was a great occasion to get another CoF fix, especially with a killer new album under the band’s belt. However, if you consider that this turned out to be a sold-out show, then there were some unlucky ones that night... The ones without a ticket.
To my mind, CRADLE OF FILTH have gone under a second youth here in the States as they have gathered a solid fanbase, so entering a sold-out The Forge was a pleasant surprise for us, although in all honesty, having trouble to find a good spot and a clear path to the photo-pit is always frustrating. And speaking of taking photos, there was a mishap, meaning that there were not photo-passes in the beginning, and basically we lost the UNCURED set trying to find a solution, something that happened some minutes before JINJER.
Leaving the photo-pass related stress aside, the youngsters of UNCURED and the way they were welcomed by the also young audience underlined something I may have missed or even ignored. There is an entire new generation of Metal fans nowadays, and come to think about it, they turn gigs like this one into sold-out shows. On top of this, their hunger for shows makes the experience even better for everyone as the energy levels remain high for almost every band on the billing. Sure, UNCURED’s modern Groove Metal with a Death Metal backbone did not sound appealing to me, but watching the audience reacting to the high-energy of the four-piece band made me think I was wrong. Checking the band afterwards, I realized that UNCURED's music is quite technical, something that was totally buried under the rather busy sound that did not leave much room for the guitar leads to show their colors. At least, the groovy parts were clearer, and so the audience’s appetite to blow lots of steam had been properly watered.
After shorting out the photo-pass situation and securing an acceptable viewing spot, it was time to enter the unknown... On purpose, I did not check JINJER before the show and I did this intentionally after reading online all those raving comments about "not missing this band live". I had no idea what to expect but for some reason I thought old-school Black Metal would be their deal. I mean, what’s the point of having a band from another Metal genre just before CRADLE OF FILTH? I was soon to find out how wrong I was...
What I did not (also) expect was the wave of enthusiasm that greeted the band onstage as the taped intro marked the time for JINJER. Apparently, the venue hosted lots of JINJER fans who went bananas the moment Tatiana Shmailyuk showed up. Yep, the band is female-fronted but the vocals have absolutely nothing to do with the usual (and overused) recipes we keep seeing. The down-tuned guitar riff started the show with “Who's Gonna Be The One” and soon enough it went into Metalcore mode having Tatiana delivering some deep growls. Her onstage energy and groovy rhythm section skipped warming-up, making it feel like it was in the middle of the set. There was some clean singing and a nice almost Funky part in this one, but the still muddy sound did not give the appropriate room to really get what was going on. However, the audience’s singing-along made up for this mishap despite the fact that the lights were giving them a hard time to watch (and for the photographers, to take some decent photos of course). Yeah, I had to check the songs after the show to understand that JINJER is not the typical Metalcore band and, in fact, the songs have more layers than the live sound was revealing. Ok, “Sit Stay Roll Over” was a punch in the face and it did not take much time to see some crowdsurfing happening. Of course, this sound was not friendly to my ears (especially the way it was delivered from the PAs) but the band’s performance was exactly what the young metalheads needed to get going.
Tatiana was spreadheading the show with her moves that in some occasions seemed strange to the music, but whatever she did, it worked and in hindsight I think gives JINJER a different flavor than the other run-of-the-mill Metalcore bands. Of course, the guitar and bass (the slap-bass parts sounded great) action work too, but having an out of the ordinary front-woman really boosts things up. The calm start of “Pisces” showed a different face of the band, showcasing there might be parts of JINJER that can be appealing even to a pair of old ears like mine. “Are you still alive?” Tatiana asked and then added: “I am so grateful for your support and your help tonight” obviously acknowledging The Forge’s audience's performance with all the moshing and singing-along. Yeah, unless my ears were playing games, I think the crowd kept singing almost every lyric line and that’s a huge boost in every live show. Watching the happy and sweaty faces after “Scissors” that closed JINJER’s 40-minute set, I immediately understand why CRADLE OF FILTH picked them as direct support; a) they have a huge following here in the States, and b) their energy is so addictive that everyone was ready for the headliners. If you like Metalcore with a twist, the JINJER is a band that you should check, especially live.
01. “Who's Gonna Be The One”
02. “Words Of Wisdom”
03. “Sit Stay Roll Over”
04. “I Speak Astronomy”
05. “Just Another”
07. “Captain Clock”
09. “No Hoard Of Value”
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One more benefit for having a young audience is that the energy remains at high levels, even after a powerful set like JINJER’s was. I was bit worried about the sound quality and if it would become better during CRADLE OF FILTH. Anyway, following the schedule to the T, the lights went out a few minutes after 10pm and the taped intro “Ave Satani” saw the entire band stepping onstage. Dani was wearing some type of hood and with his ceremonial moves and gestures added a lot to the entering-the-stage dramatics. Yeah, this band knows exactly how to build up an atmosphere and also it is great to see the Gothic finishing touches being appealing to the audience. I mean, it’s been really a long time since the last concert where I’d seen metalheads wearing corpsepaint and young girls in their best Gothic outfits. Ok, I do not understand filming a huge portion of the show with your iPhone but this maybe the old age speaking... Who knows, maybe the smartphones have become so smart that they want to enjoy the show too...
The double-bass drum and Dani’s deep growl started the show with headbanger’s delight “Gilded Cunt”. As I said, the band is going through a second youth and part of this is due to the lineup additions which have breathed a fresh air to CRADLE OF FILTH’s studio and onstage doings. Especially the guitar duo of Ashok and Rich Shaw is so upfront and audience-engaging that adds a lot to the band’s overall looks. Sure, Marthus and Lindsay Schoolcraft seemed to be a bit isolated, especially the former who was sitting behind the plexiglass sound-proofing wall but I believe if the stage was bigger, there would have been more things to watch. It was fun watching the guitarists and bassist standing above the fog jets being showered by the fake smoke. Little things like that add a lot to the show. It was time to hit the oldies with the amazing “Beneath The Howling Stars” putting the pedal to the Metal, especially to the blast-beat part, although I did not enjoy as I’d like the guitars, but maybe this was due to my position related to the stage. With the fear of being nitpicking, I’d like to say that I miss Sarah Jezebel Deva’s vocals and onstage presence.
Following up with the newer one “Blackest Magick In Practice” made it also clear how great the old and new CRADLE OF FILTH material work together without showing two different versions of the same band, and this is extremely important for long-running acts like this one. “This is a Friday night, how many of you are drunk?” asked Dani who seemed to be in a top mood feeding off the still going strong audience. I think by the time “Heartbreak And Séance” kicked in, the sound had gravely improved since I got to really enjoy the riff action and got a better listening on Dani’s multi-effect singing; the part “These numbers fount like water / The dead, the dying, those on route to slaughter” sent massive shivers down my spine.
“This is the 20th anniversary for this album”, said Dani before announcing that “Cruelty And The Beast” would be soon re-released with new mastering and mixing from the original tapes - although from my own perspective and taste I totally prefer the original’s atmosphere which still gives me the chills. Anyhow, the 11 minutes of “Bathory Aria” hit us like a ton of bricks, serving all the different layers this epos contains; from the fast riffs, Dani’s low register narration-singing to the haunting keyboard melodies. In fewer words, absolutely fantastic! The blast from the past concluded in the be(a)st way with “Dusk And Her Embrace” and the bodies kept surfing from the back all the way to the front rows but no one got hurt and no one was annoyed, something I have to also acknowledge and praise the young crowd for - great job, everyone!
Dani referred to the Gilled de Rais story and to my surprise there were a lot of metalheads who recognized the “Godspeed On The Devil’s Thunder” thematology and hence were super-excited during the mid-tempo and dramatic “Death Of Love”. The last stop at CRADLE OF FILTH’ latest album was also the end of the first part of the set; “You Will Know The Lion By His Claw” came out great and it was fun watching Rich Shaw’s puppet-looking guitar playing and his way of interacting with the audience (ok, sticking the guitar pick on this forehead is a new one for me...). The taped “damnatio, ad bestias” accompanied the band off stage but soon enough the horror-movie-esque “A Bruise Upon The Silent Moon” marked the beginning of the second part of the set and – of course – was followed by “The Promised Of Fever”. It was time to drop the curtain with a bang; the last four songs are considered as super-hits and that’s how they were greeted; more crowdsurfing, headbanging and moshing went down, seeing the band and audience being in absolutely sync. As expected with all these Gothic-looking girls, there were too many smartphones in the air and a loud singing-along during the short version of “Nymphetamine”, with “Her Ghost In The Fog” as a worthy follow-up. The keyboard intro with the characteristic riff and Dani’s low register singing brought the fantastic “Born In A Burial Gown” that was topped off by “From The Cradle To Enslave” (both tracks were dedicated by Dani to everyone inside the venue). And this was the ending this intense show deserved; sure, there were some issues with the sound (especially for the openers) and the venue was packed to the rim, but the band, looked and sounded in a perfect form and so did the audience. Sometimes, the last two ingredients are that make a great show, and this was exactly the case.
CRADLE OF FILTH setlist:
01. “Ave Satani” (taped intro)
02. “Gilded Cunt”
03. “Beneath The Howling Stars”
04. “Blackest Magick In Practice”
05. “Heartbreak And Séance”
06. “Bathory Aria: Benighted Like Usher / A Murder Of Ravens In Fugue / Eyes That Witnessed Madness”
07. “Dusk And Her Embrace”
08. “The Death Of Love”
09. “You Will Know The Lion By His Claw”
10. “Creatures That Kissed In Cold Mirrors” (taped)
11. “A Bruise Upon The Silent Moon” (taped)
12. “The Promise Of Fever”
13. “Nymphetamine (Fix)”
14. “Her Ghost In The Fog”
15. “Born In A Burial Gown”
16. “From The Cradle To Enslave”
17. “Blooding The Hounds Of Hell” (taped outro)
CRADLE OF FILTH
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