GIG REVIEW: CRADLE OF FILTH Live Stream
An image flickers on the screen, the burning insignia of the Order of the Dragon to the backdrop of “At the Gates of Midian”. This could not have been a more enthralling setup for the recent Cradle of Filth Livestream and as a long-time fan, I understood exactly where this presentation was going. This wasn’t just a band playing their songs in an empty hall with some fancy lighting and multimedia, this was a guided tour of Midian itself!
To get you up to speed on some lore; the COF album Midian was released in the year 2000 and was a loosely connected concept album about a place of the same name that served as a refuge for monsters from humans, each track being about a particular resident of the refuge. This Livestream was a poetic update to the spirit of that album and concept in the context of a broadened scope sourced from across the band’s career to create something with an incredible amount of depth. Whilst waxing lyrical about mythical monsters and demons, there was also a focus on the demons that plague the heart. I’d go out on a limb and say, this version of Midian is one reflective of the dark side of humanity at large in form, action, and spirit.
To this end, the cultivation of cuts was carefully thought out, and at no point did I feel as though the performances were phoned in or tired. There was genuine excitement that could be witnessed in the opening track “Cthulhu Dawn” where so much energy was being expended, the band almost flew apart at the seams. I have to be careful how I describe this; they were so energetic that it took the entire track to calm down and lock in with each other properly. It sounded dangerous!
By the time they slammed into “The Blackest Magick in Practice”, they had evolved from a series of individual explosive elements to a cohesive unit. On track three though “Lilith Immaculate”, they utterly transcended and this was mainly due to the performance of newcomer Anabelle Irnati who was making her debut with the band on this stream. Until this point, she had provided some awesome backing vocals where appropriate but in Lilith, she OWNED IT! Every note and inflection was delivered with the same confidence as Dani Filth but with surgical pitch accuracy and timbre. This in itself was impressive, but she was dancing the whole time as well as playing keys! This woman is an absolute MONSTER of talent and it was almost impossible to take your eyes off her!
That’s not to say that the band itself doesn’t deserve any positive attention… Dani Filth is as menacing as ever with the expectedly superb vocal and visual delivery. I do have to make a special mention; during “Lilith Immaculate” whilst Marek Smerda was starting his solo, it was clear that Filth had lost himself in the moment by approaching Smerda from the side and performing a quirky and hilarious little jumping dance before realizing the camera was on them both, then quickly turned away. It’s little moments like this throughout the show that makes you realize that these people aren’t just insanely talented and extremely professional, they’re also human too. It was an extremely touching moment.
The guitar pairing of Smerda and Richard Shaw is a potent one with the two being locked in with each other tighter than a planetary collision, passing solos off to one another and exhibiting an extremely large proficiency of styles and accuracy along with a brute force stage presence mixed of equal parts excitement and strength. You’d often find bassist Daniel Firth helicoptering from place to place, spinning around in circles with Shaw and being an absolute rocket, playing with precision and power all the while.
Lastly, Martin ‘Marthus’ Škaroupka. Show me a more accurate drummer. I’ll wait. From the top of the show to the closer “From the Cradle to Enslave”, the guy didn’t miss a beat and was so perfect, he was ironically hard to notice. I guess that’s a compliment and a criticism, but he didn’t have any need for stage presence with a performance as strong as his. The guy is just like a human heart, voluntarily reliable.
As far as the presentation itself goes, talk about getting it right! There was fog, there were flames, there was snow! The set changed dynamically with the assistance of a massive backdrop displaying parts of video clips related to the songs being played or other eerie imagery. I already went into detail about the band’s presentation so I’ll only touch on it here as a whole; cohesive, engaging, and utterly thrilling!
There are only two places I feel where the presentation could have been improved; the first is in the camera work. The angles and cinematography were spot on but while I’m a fan of the low contrast look, I felt as though the contrast was a little too low and the band segments were a bit washed out. This was apparent when the video switched from the live shots to the backdrop videos taking precedence on screen, it was a little jarring. Nowhere near enough to be a massive problem but it’s definitely noticeable.
The other place is the lighting. Again, for the most part, it was very well done though I felt as though the amount of strobe was just far too much and would definitely be a problem for those with issues when viewing flashing lights. I don’t have that issue but it was slightly uncomfortable for me and I strongly felt as though a great effect with lights could have been had without the overreliance on strobes. This also compounded the problem with the washed-out video a little, the video compression didn’t cope with it so well and the two issues combined seemed to blow out the available video bandwidth required for clean viewing supplied by the streaming provider Veeps.
These issues aside, the Cradle of Filth live stream was an amazing exhibit of tracks that I’m grateful to have seen in this format and production. It exemplifies why the band remains such a vital and powerful force after 27 years, thankfully with no end in sight.
- At the gates of Midian
- Cthulhu Dawn
- Blackest Magick in Practice
- Lilith Immaculate
- The Principal of Evil Made Flesh
- Honey and Sulfur
- Heartbreak and Seance
- Malice Through the Looking Glass
- Creatures that Kissed in Cold Mirrors
- Her Ghost in the Fog
- Saffron’ Curse
- The Twisted Nails of Faith
- Born Ina Burial Gown
- From the Cradle to Enslave