Society always celebrates the records that top the Billboard 200 album chart. Back of The Billboards is a Music Times weekly segment that looks at the opposite end: the new record that finished closest to the back of the Billboard 200 for the previous week. We hope to give a fighting chance to the bands you haven't heard of. This week we look at 'Hammer of The Witches,' the new album from black metal standbys Cradle of Filth, featuring a new lineup in tow.
WHO: Cradle of Filth
WHAT: Hammer of The Witches
Cradle of Filth has returned from another lineup shift (once again involving the exit of founding guitarist Paul Allender) and it may seem as if the British black metal standards are up to the same ol' tricks: censor-baiting artwork and overly-long song titles. The addition of two guitarists to replace Allender doesn't neccesarily result in anything new, but that's a good thing: Hammer of The Witches, while not the gem of the band's discography, returns to a better era in the group's history...a rebound from the lackluster Manticore of 2012.
Those who enjoyed albums such as Cruelty and The Beast know what they're getting out of the group: Lyrical subject matter clichéd and creatively misspelled ("The Vampyre at My Side"), and an ever increasing number of shrieks from frontman Dani Filth. The most symphonic moments on the record ("Yours Immortally...") are worth it, and the standard array of alternate-picked riffs and blastbeats never get old. The second guitarist comes in handy for the unusually heavy "Misericord," one of two bonus tracks available on the deluxe edition of the album.
How much room is there for Cradle of Filth to grow after 11 albums? Not too much. The band's fans will take entries such as Hammer of The Witches with open arms, and hope that the band's mindset will focus on consistency for releases to come.