Hailing from Suffolk, England, Cradle of Filth has been a leader on the Metal scene for over two decades. Forming in 1991 by Vocalist/Lyricist Dani Filth, the band, combining styles such as Black, Gothic, and Symphonic Metal, would quickly distinguish themselves with their unique sound. Building a reputation with their theatrical performances mixed with Horror, drawing their musical references from Mythology, Poetry, Horror films, and a Gothic lifestyle, the band would spend their early years as a fixture in the underground. In 1998, their third album, entitled Cruelty and the Beast, would see more grand internationally success. This would lead to the powerful 2000 record Midian, thus putting Cradle of Filth on the map for many more years of music to follow.
Adapting and redefining their stories and style with every album, the band has released a total of eleven studio records, including their most recent in 2015, Hammer of the Witches. Led by numerous different lineups, founder Filth has stated in an interview with CrypticRock, “The band has had a lot of different people in it, but I am of the opinion that the logo itself, even if I was not in the band, would grow legs, walk, and find another host.” A true statement, Cradle of Filth does have a life of its own, and the current lineup of Filth on vocals, Martin Skaroupka on drums, Daniel Firth on bass, Lindsay Schoolcraft on keys/vocals, along with Richard Shaw and Marek “Ashok” Šmerda on guitars prove so with the impressive Hammer of the Witches album.
Now after concentrating on touring around Europe, including a successful co-headlining run with Behemoth in 2014, Cradle of Filth finally return to North American shores in 2016. Marking their first visit to The States in five years, the full-blown run kicked off in Charlotte, NC on January 31st and came to a peak when closing out in New York City on Tuesday, March 8th. Dealing with some past visa issues, perhaps explaining their extended absence, the last night of the Inquisitional Torture Tour, featuring tourmates Butcher Babies and Ne Obliviscaris, held at Webster Hall’s Grand Ballroom, would be a concert event where nothing was held back.
Leading off the festivities was Australian Progressive Death Metal band Ne Obliviscaris. Formed as a band in 2003, but did not hit the live music scene until 2006, Ne Obliviscaris would not release their debut full-length studio album until 2012’s Portal of I. Well received with rave reviews from the Metal community, the album would be followed up in 2014 with even more buzz on Citadel. Now visiting North America for their first time ever, Ne Obliviscaris have with them two new EPs in 2015’s Hiraeth and Sarabande to Nihil as they look to make a splash.
With the lineup of Xenoyr (harsh vocals), Tim Charles (violin/clean vocals), Matt Klavins (guitar), Benjamin Baret (lead guitar), Dan Presland (drums), and Cygnus (bass), Ne Obliviscaris came onto the stage, greeted by screams from a good-sized fanbase anxious to see the band. Taking their places, they began with the song “Devour Me” as Xenoyr’s strong crude vocals mixed with Charles’ amazingly gifted singing voice, showcasing the band’s diverse sound. Furthermore, in the midst of the heavy performance, came a sense of melodic beauty that did not dilute the intensity of the music being played.
With each song played, Klavins, Baret, Cygnus, and Presland added to the richness and heaviness of the piece as they provided the crowd with chances to headbang along with them. Bringing out his violin, Charles truly shined as he added a Classical element, and his passion for playing was noticed by all. Xenoyr and Charles’ vocals dueled throughout the performance, which included “Colossus/Part One,” “Pyrrhic,” and “Plague Flowers the Kaleidoscope” before the set ended with Charles crowd-surfing across the Grand Ballroom. If anything can be said about Ne Obliviscaris, it is that they live their music and make it come alive on stage. Ending their first North American tour on a high note, Ne Obliviscaris will continue to grow as an up-and-coming act in the Metal world that fans will not want to miss.
As the packed room were getting ready for Cradle of Filth, Los Angeles, CA’s own Butcher Babies were prepared to make their presence known. Come together back in 2010 with Vocalists Heidi Shepherd and Carla Harvey, Bassist Jason Klein, Guitarist Henry Flury, as well as Drummer Chris Warner, Butcher Babies could be considered one of the hardest working bands in American Metal. Initially releasing their self-titled debut EP in 2012 independently, the band grabbed the attention of Century Media and have been part of the family since, releasing their full-length album Goliath in 2013. Quickly thrown into the spotlight on Rockstar Energy Mayhem Festival in the Summer of 2013, it has been a whirlwind since as Butcher Babies have toured with everyone from In This Moment to Black Label Society along their way to dropping sophomore more album Take It Like a Man in 2015. With an in-your-face, take no prisoners, explosive Metal show, Butcher Babies has combined brutally aggressive vocals and musical riffs mixed with melodic melodies that have made them famous for their live acts, and Webster Hall was about to be reminded of such.
As the Butcher Babies took the stage, one could not help but notice the huge backdrop of their distinctive logo; Butcher Babies in huge white letters on a black background. Two standing signs were placed on both ends of the front of the stage, and they were huge silver B’s made to look like long knives. Shepherd and Harvey came out screaming, heading right onto the risers, jumping and headbanging. With that, Shepherd demanded the crowd to move in circles and to show her what they had, lifting off into “National Bloody Anthem.” The band, as a whole, proved to be revved up as they blasted out “Blonde Girls All Look the Same,” “The Butcher,” and “The Grave Maker,” while both Harvey and Shepherd led the pummeling. Having a great time, Harvey gave an animated trademark gesture of sticking out her tongue and smiling while Shepard jumped high in the air off the risers consistently, showing amazing stamina.
Like most Butcher Babies shows, Shepherd had the crowd involved and was very vocal about their participation. This exploded to new heights when “Jesus Needs More Babies for His War Machine” began, and Shepherd let security know that she was going to have a lot of crowd-surfers coming their way. With that, both vocalists promised they would high five and count every surfer that came up front. Having the audience going wild, the set moved on to “Monsters Ball,” “Magnolia Road,” and a three song medley of “The Deadsurround/Goliath/I Smell a Massacre.” Exhibiting immense energy, the entire band showed no signs of slowing down. In fact, as “Axewound” began, Harvey jumped off stage and got on the barricade and screamed out to the audience while Shepherd was found out in the crowd, in the mosh pit, for an epic finale to their set.
Butcher Babies’ live performance is one that should not be missed by any fan of extreme music. Still working hard and making their way to the top, Butcher Babies have come a long way in a relatively short span of time. Following their support of Cradle of Filth, they head out on a solo headlining tour, which started March 10th in Pittsburgh, PA at Altar Bar and will end March 20th in Scottsdale, AZ at the Pub Rock.
Now completely warmed up by two enjoyable opening acts, the anticipation was high for Cradle of Filth’s overdue return to New York City. The visit is so overdue as the last time they visited was March 3, 2011 when they played Best Buy Theater (now Playstation Theater) with Nachtmystium, as well as Turisas. To put things into perspective, they released 2012’s studio album The Manticore and Other Horrors, 2012’s orchestral album Midnight in the Labyrinth, and 2014’s remastered demos Total Fucking Darkness since. Needless to say, there was plenty of lost time to be accounted for, and these Cradle of Filth supporters were ready.
The first thing that was noticed by everyone was the microphone stand with an elaborate decorated cross on it as it was attached to a skeleton. Then, their backdrop was from Hammer of The Witches album; a goat-like creature holding two naked bloody women. Finally, the band entered the stage to the intro of the 1996 instrumental “Humana Inspired to Nightmare.” With the mood set, they took the audience by surprise, coming out to the theme of Dusk… and Her Embrace with “Heaven Torn Asunder,” followed by 1998’s “Cruelty Brought Thee Orchids.” Complemented by Schoolcraft’s strong, operatic-like vocalizations, the music got harder and heavier as Filth provided his one of a kind vocals. At this point, the crowd was completely enthralled, and some even began crowd-surfing before the start of newer tune “Blackest Magick in Practice.” Here, Skaroupka, Firth, Shaw, and Šmerda provided a very tight and heavy backdrop, as Filth’s bellows led the onslaught.
Moving along, next came Midian favorite “Lord Abortion,” followed by “Right Wing of the Garden Triptych,” which Filth dedicated to Butcher Babies and Ne Obliviscaris. Thereafter, the audience seemed to go wild as they began moshing more when “Malice through the Looking Glass” came before “Deflowering the Maidenhead, Displeasuring the Goddess.” Keeping the hearts racing, the relentless “Gilded Cunt” had some fans screaming “Dani, Dani” as he made many throats hurt just by hearing his deep, unholy growls. Working the stage and audience all set long, Filth made the show a theatrical experience with his vocal abilities, as well as his strong stage persona. Taking it back to 2001’s Bitter Suites to Succubi song “Born in a Burial Gown,” Cradle of Filth showed their more symphonic side with beautiful vocalizations from Schoolcraft. Meanwhile, Filth also sang some before the rendition turned heavy as the rest of the band provided double-time of drums, bass, and guitars, closing out the first portion of their set.
Hoping their would be more, fans yelled “Cradle” as the stage went blue. Completely worked up, the crowd would not let up until the band finally came on with intro music of “Walpurgis Eve.” Segueing into “Nymphetamine (Fix),” Filth dedicated the song to all the women in the crowd. Following the wonderful enchanting Gothic masterpiece, fellow touring mates from Butcher Babies and Ne Obliviscaris came on stage with black shirts with big E’s on them. Following next, Shepherd and Harvey came out with huge boxing gloves on. A fun bit of closing night antics, as everyone else became more excited, Cradle of Filth played three more songs with the signature “Her Ghost In the Fog,” “From the Cradle To Enslave,” and “The Principle of Evil Made Flesh.”
An outstanding way to end the show for any Cradle of Filth historian, Filth thanked the audience for coming, as well as his fellow tourmates, during the last track. Both Šmerda and Shaw shredded guitar solos at the same time while Firth and Skaroupka provided double time percussion while Filth and Schoolcraft sang to round out the composition. Before the band left the stage, Filth bowed and brought up Schoolcraft before the band faced their backdrop and had their photographer take a picture to time-stamp Cradle of Filth’s return to New York City with the outro of “Blooding the Hounds of Hell” in the background.
There is a reason that Cradle of Filth has been around for twenty-plus years; it is their ability to create music that is ever-changing, yet stays true to their art form. With this string of shows concluded, Cradle of Filth now turn their attention to Russia come May. All in all, the Webster Hall crowd got a once in a lifetime Metal show with the Inquisitional Torture Tour, and hopes are the band will be back much sooner than later next time around.