In the interest of not letting this album sit close to 200 days before being reviewed, I’ve decided to just bite the bullet and take on my 4th Cradle Of Filth review for their 10th full length entitled, The Manticore And Other Horrors.

By now it’s not much of a secret that Cradle Of Filth has long since abandoned their black metal roots that were found on classic records like Cruelty And The Beast and Dusk And Her Embrace, for a more mainstream sound starting with the first major label release in 2003, Damnation And A Day. Pushing the traditional elements to the front instead of being on an even blend with the keys, COF started including more thrash riffing instead of the tremolo picking that is the core of the black metal sound. A few records later there were experimentations with Gothic and Pseudo-Industrial elements that were a real turnoff for a lot of fans. The last two records were a huge improvement and although didn’t full return to their former selves, they started writing heavier and strayed away from the unnecessary experiments. Neither of the last two records was great but they were proving that COF was trying to gain some ground they lost.

That brings us to this new record, which is easily the best record they’ve done since Damnation And A Day in terms of the music. Unfortunately for fans of the old style, they have completely abandoned their black metal foundation with this record. Long time guitarist and chief song writer, Paul Allender, decided to implore more traditional trash and even some punk like guitars for this record and with the exception of a riff or two, the black metal tremolo picking is non-existent. What this decision created was by far the overall heaviest record to date.

The unfortunate thing is while Allender really stepped up his game, the rest of the band seemed to fall behind. Drummer Martin Skaroupka, who has been in the band since 2008, is just not Adrian Erlandsson or Nick Barker. The creativity and charisma behind the kit has been replaced with a predictive and mechanical style that will fail to capture a drum enthusiast’s attention. Female backing vocalist, Lucy Atkins, falls incredibly short in trying to fill the shoes of Sarah Jezebel Deva. One thing I always thought really worked for COF was the inclusion of an opera style female backing vocals. Now the vocals are run of the mill and sound like a poor man’s Lacuna Coil or even Evanescence.

This brings me to the one constant figure of the band, front man Dani Filth. While his use of a very extensive vocabulary to aid in his incredible knack for storytelling is still on point for this record, his vocals appear to be shot. It’s no surprise because I can only imagine screaming like a banshee for 20 years will do quite some damage to the vocal chords. His vocals have always been an acquired taste and have always been one of the main reasons that people tended to shy away from the band. I, for one, have always appreciated them. They were viscous and, most importantly, different. Now he lacks any power and appears to struggle through every track. It’s very seldom that something that is of his normal power makes an appearance. If he plans on pushing the band for many more years, he’s going to need to figure out something new because on this album, they just aren’t working.

If you can get past the poor vocal performance by Dani, you have a pretty solid symphonic thrash record. I’ll give kudos for the band finally writing something that I would consider “good” in terms of music, even with all of its flaws I listed but with Dani appearing to be on his final breath, I can’t see this band getting much after this album. If this is in fact the last Cradle Of Filth record (only an assumption) then this is a mediocre send off but better than ending on one of the last albums they released.