90s score: 8/10
2020 score: 8/10
I’ve talked in length in the past about the albums that defined me as a music fan, like Placebo’s Without You, I’m Nothing. And while that record certainly did a lot to open up my mind to different sounds, I was yet to discover the more extreme side of music at that point. Then one day, I met a friend who would ask me a very simple question. “Have you ever heard of Cradle of Filth?” At the time, I hadn’t. So, when he hit play for me on a record called Dusk… and Her Embrace, I had no clue I was about to hear the beautifully vile shriek of man named Dani Filth on a track called “Heaven Torn Asunder.”
Cradle of Filth’s second studio album, Dusk… and Her Embrace was released in August 1996. While bands like Oasis and The Smashing Pumpkins were dominating the radio airwaves at this time, Dusk… and Her Embrace was making the rounds in the underground circuit, almost like it was some greatly kept secret. Most record shops weren’t carrying it. You had to know someone to be able to hear it. Silly, when you think about it now.
The record begins with the haunting “Humana Inspired to Nightmare” intro, and then leads into “Heaven Torn Asunder.” This may have been Cradle’s second record, but it’s the first where Dani’s trademark raven-esque shrieking comes into play in a way that their first record, The Principles of Evil Made Flesh, just didn’t accomplish due to some lackluster production. This track is a continuous onslaught of the black metal gothica that would put Cradle on the map, whether black metal purists would like it or not.
Once “Funeral in Carpathia” begins, you know you’re in for a wild ride. Blasting open with a drum beat and guitar riff that hardly relents as Dani shrieks into the abyss, this is easily one of the heaviest tracks on the record, softened only by the few moments that Soprano back-up vocalist Sarah Jezebel Deva sings alongside Dani. The combination often evokes a sense of darkness and eloquence that Cradle of Filth pulls of so well.
The title track, “Malice Through the Looking Glass,” and album closer “Haunted Shores” all follow the same venomous black and gothic metal that the band would only perfect over the years on records like Cruelty and the Beast and my personal favourite, Midian. Production-wise, Dusk… and Her Embrace very much holds up to today’s standards. From the Dani’s demonically perverse low and high-end screams, to the blistering riffs peppered throughout, this is still a brutally heavy record that needs to be played at full volume. There’s a certain magnitude to the record that you’ll start to pick up on after two or three listens.
Written by Dominic Abate
*edited by Danielle Kenedy