Cradle Of Filth - Total Fucking DarknessAfter releasing the double album of re-imagined material in both orchestral and narrative forms, the UK black metal veterans Cradle Of Filth have once again revisited old material in the form of this remastered re-release of their third demo from November 1993 together with other tracks from that period. Compiled by Dani Filth, former guitarist Paul Ryan and Frater Nihil, who founded Cacophonous Records, the first label to sign the band, this special release has been given a limited double vinyl edition (666 copies, of course) and digipack cd release.

In a time before the band had the budget for the highly polished sound that many may be used to, they were a highly rated band with a growing reputation in a scene that was quickly gaining notoriety worldwide. Now, 20 years after its original release, it has been remastered, re-packaged with artwork by Radio 1 DJ Daniel P. Carter and gathered together from several (and up until now lost) early recording sessions.

It opens with ‘Splattered In Faeces’, the only surviving track from the ‘Goetia’ sessions, and as well as the complete ‘Total Fucking Darkness’ demo. The two versions of the classic ‘The Black Goddess Rises’ are very different to the version found on their debut album “The Principle Of Evil Made Flesh” and it’s cool to be able to see how the track evolved in the time between this and the release of that full-length debut album just a year later. Elsewhere there are two instrumentals composed by Ben Ryan (Paul’s brother) and two versions of ‘The Raping Of Faith’ amongst the 12 tracks on offer.

There are a couple of big differences in the sound of the band then compared to now, the main one being that while the keyboards are still there, the raw production adds a vintage horror movie vibe to it, rather than the grand symphonic sound that most Cradle Of Filth fans will be used to. The second is Dani’s vocals. With much more focus on the deep guttural growls that were very much the backing or occasional vocals in their later material.

Overall, this is a fantastic package, finely presented and a thorough compilation of material that a lot of recent newcomers to the band may not have heard. This is something that should be of interest to the die-hard fan and the casual listener. As a fan of their earlier material over the more recent releases, this is just the type of thing that interests me. A chance to look back at the beginnings of a band that went on to become one of the biggest names on both gothic and extreme metal circles.

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