Cradle Of Filth – Existence Is Futile (Album Review)

Life is relentless, but it is also impossible to predictable just how long each of us will exist before the inevitable parish of the body. Not shying away from this glim subject matter, Extreme Metal leaders Cradle Of Filth are back with their latest masterpiece, Existence Is Futile.

Their 13th overall studio album, Existence Is Futile arrived on Friday, October 22, 2021 via Nuclear Blast. A follow up to 2017’s Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay, while most of efforts Cradle Of Filth are full conceptual pieces based in gothic or dark history, this new album relies more on the inner darkness itself. It plays with existentialism in various creations, which certainly relates to the downward spiral from the COVID-19 pandemic…yet it was born before its rise to fruition.

While most of current members of the band have been in the fold  for a significant time, their latest addition comes in the form of Anabella Iratni; the brand new lady on keyboards, providing orchestration, as well as vocals. A new dynamic, she brings a strong harmonizing presence and can certainly hold a candle to her predecessor. She joins founding Lead Vocalist Dani Filth, along with Richard Shaw and Marek ‘Ashok’ Šmerda on guitar, Daniel Firth on bass, and Martin ‘Marthus’ Skaroupka on drums. Together they are a solid collaborative team that drive Existence Is Futile above, beneath, and even to those beyond the grave.

Fourteen tracks in total, it begins with the inspirational instrumentation of darkness and serenity, “The Fate Of The World On Our Shoulders.” This sets the mood that remains the base for the remainder of album that is soon joined by exciting heart-wrenching layers that invites one’s inner demons to come out and play. For example, “Existential Terror” chimes in with a full package of Dani Filth energy that only a few other vocalists can provided. 

Now, it goes without saying that through the years Cradle Of Filth has adopted many influences from dark places, yet they have never really settled within one genre. They are most often referred to as Symphonic Black Metal, but clearly possess Gothic Horror influences that combine with some Thrash riffs and beats. These factors stated, many dedicated followers still turn to the band’s past, such as 1996’s Dusk… and Her Embrace or 1998’s Cruelty Of The Beast. Although, while Existence Is Futile possesses a modern sound, it also very much exemplifies the band’s roots too. In fact, the blending of all pleasantries soars this latest work of art to the top of the charts as one of Cradle of Filth’s strongest to date.

It is clear that ample time, focus, and dedication was spent this go around. Proving just that, “Crawling King Chaos” is an exemplary tune depicting the essence of excitement Cradle Of Filth brings to the forefront. And what Cradle Of Filth album would be complete without a lullaby interlude? Gifting such, in a short and sweet manner, there is “Here Comes A Candle” before we are launched into the heaviness of “Black Smoke Curling From The Lips Of War.” Thereafter we have the embracive beauty of “Discourse Between A Man And His Soul.” 

Then, through the climax of the intentionally rocky fluidity of the journey, there is “Ashen Mortality, ” a piece that raises awareness of what is yet to come. This is before the speedy loudness of “How Many Tears To Nurture A Rose.” Which then leads us into “Suffer Our Dominion” and “Us, Dark, Invincible,” a conclusion that offers possibly the most ethereal, beautiful moments of this entire collection. However, just as Existence Is Futile seems to have reached the ultimate high, two bonus tracks (“Sisters Of The Mist” and “Unleash The Hellion”) emerge to suck out your soul in the most delightful manner. 

Any album is enhanced when it’s concept is clear, driven, and expanded upon in a deep or analytical way. Existence Is Futile covers it all without hesitation. It feels like diving into the coldest darkest sea, and suddenly becoming an aquatic creature of the most beautiful, untouchable nature. The journey scours pain, but the safety comes from the ability to absorb it all without fear.

Simply put, nothing left to lose is everything to gain. No one should live life in fear of death when it is so inevitable, because no one ever truly escapes it. Cradle Of Filth certainly spent the last couple of years creating a successful work of art that drives this message home. Doing so in at least 666 different ways, Cryptic Rock gives Existence Is Futile 5 out of 5 stars. 

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