Cradle of Filth - Total Fucking Darkness

Posted on Thursday, July 03, 2014

Wow. Time travel is possible through compact disc, people. Believe it. The year was 1994 (technically Total Fucking Darkness came out in late ‘93, but shit took a while to circulate in the good ol’ pre-internet days). I had been into extreme music (i.e. stuff heavier than Slayer and Sepultura) for over a year and was already starting to play in my own Death Metal band. Life didn’t suck yet. (I mean, it did… but I only remember the good times.) The Norwegian Black Metal scene was really catching fire (HA!) and while those corpse-painted miscreants were making headlines, the buzz surrounding this new band from the UK was huge. You could cut the electricity in the air with a broadsword. This demo was a big fucking deal. I was never lucky enough to score an authentic copy, but old friend/co-Adversary founder Tom Benford had one, and his Dani Filth-inspired, high-pitch banshee wail would come to define band practice in those early days. To this day, even those who despise Cradle of Filth sing the praises of the band’s 3rd demo. Listening to it for the first time in two decades… I mean, I get it… but I don’t get it. It’s good —especially for an early ’90s demo— but it isn’t “the greatest demo of all time” as so many have proclaimed throughout the years. (For me, that honor easily goes to the legendary Sadness by Avernus.) Cradle of Filth was more of a Death Metal band in 1993. They used keyboards, eerie melodies, and Doomier structures to set themselves apart, but Dani had more of a straightforward growl back then, only breaking out his soon-to-be-trademark shriek once or twice at best. The highlights here include “The Raping of Faith” and “The Black Goddess Rises.” For my money, I’ve always preferred the far more refined version of the latter that appeared on the highly-anticipated-at-the-time debut LP The Principle of Evil Made Flesh. Granted, I am an unashamed Cradle of Filth fan. Other than Thornography and their last three piece-of-shit full-lengths, I celebrate the group’s entire discography. It’s most likely the embryonic rawness and rough edges of a band some feel got too big that endears Total Fucking Darkness to so many black hearts. As a piece of history and a memory lane stroll, it has unequivocal value —not to mention a slew of bonus material from the fine folks at Mordgrimm; I’m counting 12 tracks on the 2LP version and I only remember the original cassette having 4 or 5— but hardly the first thing I’ll reach for when craving a Filth fix.

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