Cradle of Filth & DevilDriver Bring Double Trouble to Denver, CO 3-19-23

Cradle of Filth & DevilDriver Bring Double Trouble to Denver, CO 3-19-23

To an outsider, the Metal genre seems homogenous. Blast beats, pick shredding riffs ‘that all sound the same,’ ‘screaming,’ beer, and excessive headbanging are probably of the common stereotypes they would stick to. However, anyone who has spent even a little bit of time delving into the large umbrella genre of Metal knows there is so much more to it than the usual euphemisms. Let’s take for example two bands who just recently embarked on a co-headlining Double Trouble Tour together – Cradle of Filth and DevilDriver.

Cradle of Filth, formed in 1991 out of England, while their origins could be considered to be more Black Metal, over the years they developed their sound to be much grander. Since their 1994 debut The Principles of Evil Made Flesh the feeling was that the band wanted a much larger sound than your average under-produced Black Metal bands. 

By the time Cradle of Filth hit their second and third releases in ’96 and ’98 (Dusk… And Her Embrace, Cruelty and the Beast), their sound featuring haunting female vocals with the marriage of dual guitars, as well as orchestral synths which were unmistakable, that has since inspired numerous other artists. Already impressive, in an era of chasing ‘singles’ to keep audiences entertained, Dani Filth and company went in a different direction by establishing albums that told a story. Despite Dani Filth (vocalist) being the only original member, he has perfectly navigated obstacles by always bringing in some of the best groups of musicians. In fact, they may have just released one of their best works to date with 2021’s Existence is Futile.

Which leads us to DevilDriver, also a band who has gone through lineup changes, yet found their way in a constantly changing music industry. That however is pretty much where the similarities end for these two co-headliners. Just stating the obvious, DevilDriver hails from California, and let’s face it, California and England have about as much in common as hot dogs and blood sausage. 

While Cradle of Filth found the perfect union of Goth, Metal, Horror and the macabre; DevilDriver delivers some of the hardest hitting Groove Metal sounds one could create. And if there is any vocalist who is as unmistakable as Dani Filth, it would be founder/frontman of DevilDriver, Dez Fafara. Fafara, being no stranger to the industry (having just left Coal Chamber), proved his diversity right off the bat with DevilDriver’s self-titled debut. Tracks like “I Could Care Less” and “I Dream I Died” helped solidify the band as an entity that was going to stand apart from previous bands. For their live shows material – from staple albums 2007’s Last Kind Words or 2009’s Pray for Villains – they delivered grooves that had the ladies in motion and the guys in the pit in a full psychosis. The pit aspect cannot be overstated; all you have to do is look up the infamous pit of 2009 at Download Festival that almost made it into the Guinness Book of World Records. All this said, if you are going to see DevilDriver live you. better put on your big boy/girl pants and buckle up.

These histories laid out; it has now been a little over a year since venues began hosting shows again. At the same time, political unrest seems to be at an all-time high worldwide and economic hardship seems to be weighing on many. So, what better way is there to vent your frustrations and anger than going to a full contact Metal show? Providing just that, on Sunday, March 19th Denver was treated to a therapeutic visit from Cradle of Filth, DevilDriver, Black Satellite, and Oni at the Summit Music Hall. The second night in a row playing a Colorado venue, (the first the night prior in Colorado Springs) the state showed its need for a Metal show… as both shows were sold out. Shaking off a brutal winter, the crowd was anxious to get back to concert season as they filtered into the venue for the first band of the night, Oni.

Oni may have been given a small stage section to work with, but they made use of every bit of it to kick off the night with a shot of adrenaline. Conceived in Ontario in 2014 by singer Jake Oni, the band is no stranger to making the best of every opportunity afforded them. Having played along some of Metal’s best artists, they even worked with Randy Blythe of Lamb of God on the song “The Only Cure” on their debut album Ironshore. They also have a new video for “Secrets” from their sophomore album Loathing Light featuring Blythe and Punk Godfather Iggy Pop. Their set may have not been long, but they had the audience warmed up as the audience was more than familiar with every word of “Secrets.”

The band kept the audience moving with songs such as “Sequence Static,” “The Lie,” and closing out with “The Only Cure.” It was a solid blend of great melodic vocals from Jake Oni, but don’t worry folks, they also have plenty of brutal guttural vocals for you. In the end, they are definitely a band worth checking out for something a little different.

Moving on, you have to give it to Cradle of Filth and DevilDriver for bringing out some fresh acts on the road, and not just any talent, but different styles. Oni brought more of a Progressive Metal sound to it, and next came Black Satellite with its own Rock/Industrial approach to freshen up the evening.

To complete the global origins of each band, Black Satellite hail from New York with a core of duo Larissa Vale and Kyle Hawkin, however, they brought two more live members for the tour. Ready to go, they got their set going with a track called “Deadeye” from their anticipated new album Aftermath (TBA), and it certainly worked to promote the upcoming album as the crowd ate it up. Sticking with new material, they rolled right into their just released single “Broken” keeping the energy levels high.

Between the band’s energy and presence this was one hell of a show to see and a perfect warm up for the bands to come. Lastly, they closed out with their recent cover of Rammstein’s “Sonne”; a risky move, but it worked as the whole crowd went absolutely insane for it.

Now with no more warm ups to be had, Dez Fafara & Co were ready to show Summit Music Hall exactly what a ‘DevilDriver pit’ is all about. As the audience was greeted to the melodic intro to the song “Keep Away from Me” (2020’s Dealing with Demons), it served as the only musically mellow moment of their set as the song unleashed on a series of blistering guitars, while Fafara let loose his scream.

Already grabbing your attention, it was also refreshing to see Jon Miller on bass (after some time away from the band), along with the one and only Mike Spreitzer and Alex Lee on guitars, plus Davier Perez on drums. From here, the band wasted no time and went back to their second album 2005’s The Fury of Our Maker’s Hand with the bludgeoning intensity of “Hold Back the Day.”

From there they kept the circle pit going, and it almost seems too easy when you have anthems like “I Could Care Less,” “My Night Sky,” and “Before the Hangman’s Noose.” The energy of the current lineup of DevilDriver felt completely in sync, and dare we say having the time of their life. As they closed out with “Meet the Wretched” the audience was showing no sign of slowing down, but they were definitely ready for the next set from Cradle of Filth.

Now, you would think with such a diverse bill of bands that there would be a drop off in fans for one act to the next… but on this night that was far from the case. The hall seemed to only get more packed as the night went on, and it was in full frenzy when Cradle of Filth hit the stage. 

Going right into the classics, a series of arpeggiated guitars signaled the start of the track “Heaven Torn Asunder” from Dusk…And Her Embrace. The duo guitar work of Marek ‘Ashok’ Smerda and Donny Burbage was simply off the charts; they were in complete harmony with each other. Adding to this Dani Firth on bass, and the whole string section gave classic tracks such as “Cruelty Brought Thee Orchids” along with “The Principles of Evil Made Flesh” a whole new edge that fans were in love with. Additionally, on tracks like “Gilded Cunt,” the emergence of Dani Filth’s vocals with newer Singer Zoe Marie Federoff proved to be a perfect coupling that only adds to the narration. 

As the night closed out you were left with a very simple, strong observation; and it was just how diverse the world of Metal truly is. All four bands have a different approach to their art, different histories, but they all brought a universal intangible to the table – a love for their fans and music. Perhaps everyone should even take a chapter out of that book and apply it to their own life; never be content with the same thing… keep it different. Overall, this is a tour not to be missed and with shows selling out rapidly, it is highly recommended to waste no time in getting tickets.

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Rafi Shlosman
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