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Cradle of Filth
Hammer of the Witches




Company: Nuclear Blast
Release: 2015
Genre: Extreme Gothic, Symphonic Black
Reviewer: Greg Watson

  • The splendour of a return to form



  • Ahhh...those zany, much maligned British metallers have returned with a new album. "Hammer of the Witches" is the 11th release by COF and it's a huge step up from 2012's "The Manticore and Other Horrors".

    The album features the debuts of a trio of new members--guitarists Richard Shaw and "Ashok" Smerda and keyboardist/vocalist Lindsay Schoolcraft. The return of the twin guitar attack gives "Hammer" a much more melodic sound with the aggression that has been a constant for COF with the exceptions of the last three releases. Dani's vocals still sound just as crisp and venomous as they have since the start of the band's career. His high pitched shrill would cause a banshee's blood to curdle and his barked vocals have grown even more sinister and diabolical. Add to that the angelic vocals of Schoolcraft and the band seem to have harkened back to the days of "Cruelty and the Beast". Odd that album comes to mind because Schoolcraft's vocals sound eerily like Sarah Jezebel Deva's, the female vocalist on "Cruelty". Shaw and Smerda provide a much needed dose of melody and twin guitar work that allows the band to return to having the influence of the great Iron Maiden ever present throughout as well as adding some much needed heaviness. Tracks like "Blackest Magick in Practice", "Enshrined in Crematoria" and "Hammer of the Witches" are classic Cradle of Filth with a bit of a modern twist.

    I do feel that the album uses the keyboards more evenly as well, allowing the ability to function as either a backing or lead instrument lending itself to the feel of the songs. As always, they provide tons of atmosphere on each track. The production is precise and perfected as has been the case since the band found their commercial success. Why people feel that the band had sold out when they made it big is beyond me but it's clear that there is still plenty of life left in Cradle these days.

    With this release, COF will surely regain some of the fans that had grown disenchanted with the recent stagnant sound and garner a whole new legion of fans as well. I have found a renewed love for this band that I hadn't felt in about seven years or so. Clearly, taking their longest break between albums gave Filth and company the ability to refocus their drive and come out with a banger of an album. So, when you pick this album up, don't be afraid of that feeling of nostalgia that plucks at the back of your mind. Revel in and enjoy the splendor of a return to form for this band.

    Get Hammered!


    About this Writer:
    Greg Watson // Greg Watson has been hooked on the loud and heavy sounds since the summer of 1994 when he first heard the opening notes of "Operation: Mindcrime" by Queensryche. Since then his tastes have expanded and grown like the ever evolving heavy metal tree of genres. He has been an active member of Maximum Metal off and on for 10 years. In his spare time, Greg enjoys deciding the fate of his loyal subjects in the realm of Skyrim and secretly playing air keyboard to "Separate Ways" by Journey when no one is watching. He currently resides in Roanoke, VA with his wife and his metal wannabe beagle.

    Maximum Metal Rating Legend - Click for Full Details
    5 Excellent - Buy it and say a prayer to the metal gods that you were tuned on to this masterpiece. A classic.
    4-4.5 Great - Almost perfect records but there's probably a clunker or a lacking somewhere to keep it from perfection. You won't feel bad about dropping some bones on these.
    3.5 Good - Most of the record is good, but there may be some filler. This is the OK range where you'd search for the record on sale or used.
    3 Average - Some good songs, some bad ones at about a half/half ratio. Could show skills but be dull overall. Redeeming qualities for indy bands are effort and passion. Majors that don't try or suck outright end up here.
    2-2.5 Fair - Worth a listen, but best obtained by collectors. There is much better metal out there.
    1-1.5 Bad - Major problems with music, lyrics, production, etc.
    0 Terrible or an otherwise waste of your life and time.

    Note: Reviews are graded from 0-5, anything higher or not showing is from our old style. Scores, however, do not reveal the important features. The written review that accompanies the ratings is the best source of information regarding the music on our site. Reviewing is opinionated, not a qualitative science, so scores are personal to the reviewer and could reflect anything from being technically brilliant to gloriously cheesy fun.

    Demos and independent releases get some slack since the bands are often spent broke supporting themselves and trying to improve. Major releases usually have big financial backing, so they may be judged by a heavier hand. All scores can be eventually adjusted up or down by comparison of subsequent releases by the same band. We attempt to keep biases out of reviews and be advocates of the consumer without the undo influence of any band, label, management, promoter, etc.

    The best way to determine how much you may like certain music is to listen to it yourself.



    ALL FULL REVIEWS FOR: CRADLE OF FILTH
    CD
    TITLE BAND
    DOR
    REVIEWER DATE
    Damnation And A DayCradle of Filth
    2003
    Greg Watson6/26/2003
    Darkly, Darkly, Venus AversaCradle of Filth
    2010
    Ben McCraw6/2/2011
    Evermore DarklyCradle of Filth
    2011
    Greg Watson1/29/2012
    Godspeed On The Devil's ThunderCradle of Filth
    2008
    Devil Dave10/17/2008
    Hammer of the WitchesCradle of Filth
    2015
    Greg Watson6/25/2015
    Principle of Evil Made FleshCradle of Filth
    1994
    Nate Turpin3/11/2003


    ALL SUMMARY REVIEWS FOR: CRADLE OF FILTH
    TITLE BAND
    DOR
    REVIEWER DATE
    The Manticore and Other HorrorsCradle of Filth
    2012
    Greg Watson11/11/2012


    ALL INTERVIEWS FOR: CRADLE OF FILTH
    INTERVIEW BAND INTERVIEWER DATE


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