Heroes to their goth-clad legions of devotees, despised by fans of underground black metal, and arguably one of the most polarizing metal bands of the last decade, there’s no denying that Cradle of Filth have had a big impact on the entire metal genre over the course of their existence. The English band’s music, if anything, is decidedly unique; drawing heavily from both the goth side of metal (Type O Negative) and the symphonic side of Norwegian black metal (Emperor), songs are impeccably played and immaculately produced, superbly crafted offerings of thrillingly dark, ornate, and often twisted melodies. With all the massive production and staggering technical prowess by the band, it’s the domineering presence of lead vocalist Dani Filth that either enthralls people, or sends them scurrying in the opposite direction, hands over their ears. Not since King Diamond has a lead singer been so simultaneously adored and reviled. Resembling a hobbit dressed as an orc for Halloween, the diminutive, face-painted Filth spews his hilariously bombastic, slyly tongue-in-cheek lyrics with gnome-like grunts, guttural growls, black metal snarls, and most distinctively, raspy, hawk-like screeches.
Love him or hate him, Dani Filth is an unforgettable, highly original frontman, but most impressive is his knack for marketing. From the band’s official releases, which have been appearing on an annual basis over the last ten years, to the many t-shirts emblazoned with attention-grabbing, often obscene slogans that always seem to get kids into trouble at school, to the stylish music videos, to the lavish album artwork, to the always highly theatrical stage show, Filth is a genius at promoting his band. Musically, Cradle’s 2004 album Nymphetamine was a huge improvement over 2003’s epic, overwrought Damnation and a Day, as the band focused more on song craft instead of an entire concept album, as the superb single “Nymphetamine” won over more new fans. On the heels of a deluxe reissue of Nymphetamine that inexplicably came not six months after the initial release date, comes the latest product Filth is shilling, the band’s second DVD release, Peace Through Superior Firepower.
Cradle of Filth might be accused of saturating the market with products, but whenever they do, they never scrimp, and the new DVD is absolutely crammed with fan-pleasing features. The centerpiece of the disc is a full, 90 minute concert, filmed this past April in Paris, as the sextet deliver a tight set that spans their catalogue, from recent faves (“The Promise of Fever”, “Her Ghost in the Fog”), to earlier classics like “From the Cradle to Enslave”, “A Gothic Romance”, and “13 Autumns and a Widow”, to the new stuff, like the excellent “Gilded Cunt”. All the while, we get nifty little gimmicks such as walking gargoyles, scantily clad trapeze artists, and a gigantic, menacing, Eddie-like puppet stalking the stage. That said, it’s still all about the slightly pudgy Dani Filth, as his versatile scream is in good form (although at times is sounds curiously overdubbed), and the crowd eats up the shtick, chanting in their endearingly French way, “Crah-dle! Crah-dle!“
Also present are six of the band’s videos, dating back to 2000’s Midian (the well-made “Her Ghost in the Fog”) and 2001’s Bitter Suites to Succubi (“No Time to Cry”), with three clips from Damnation and a Day (“Babalon A.D.”, “Mannequin”, and “The Promise of Fever”), and the ubiquitous “Nymphetamine”. While the 15 minute short documentary “Virgin on the Stupid” is a fun account of a hugely-attended instore signing, the hour-long “Postcards From Vulgaria: A Shockumentary” is the same old videotaped studio and on-tour buffoonery we get on almost every metal DVD. Sure some of the gags are funny, but an hour of such endlessly sophomoric hijinks gets old quickly. What would have been better was if the DVD delved more into the band’s more serious side, showing them actually recording in the studio (and not blowing things up in the parking lot), giving the fans a look at the inner workings of a famous band. Dani Filth is obviously an enormously smart, articulate fellow, and it’s a shame we aren’t given the chance to get to know him better.
Still, for what it’s worth, most Cradle of Filth fans will get a kick out of this DVD, and will tide them over until their next opus hits the shelves next year. The goth kids might wear Cradle t-shirts that feature the words “Jesus” and “cunt” in the same sentence, but for all their posturing, we all know they secretly want to find this DVD under the Christmas tree.