Cradle Of Filth - Midnight In The Labyrinth
Representing perhaps the band's biggest step outside of the box, Midnight In The Labyrinth is certainly Cradle of Filth in a way we've never heard them before. Featuring songs from their first 4 releases only, the band itself is all but absent on this record (except in spirit and songwriting credits, of course). What we have here are completely re-imagined versions of some of the band's best early works. Symphonic versions of songs that already contain elements of the style, apparently created completely by pianist and composer Mark Newby-Robson without actual symphonic or orchestral elements. This fact eluded me at first, but an information search confirmed it. The results are impressive both for this fact and for the obvious parralels between CoF's music and these grand re-tellings.
Some songs respond better to this treatment than others, however. "A Gothic Romance"is very well done, with each passage of the original adapting itself well into an eerie, chilling horror film soundtrack. Complete with narration by Dani Filth and the occasional vocal from longtime collaborator Sarah Jezebel Diva, the songs retain much of their original spirits and are easily recognized by knowing ears. "The Forest Whispers My Name" is one of several songs that take on an entirely different life under the symphonic treatment, with the original's heightened tempo grinded to a slow, patient halt. The epic, sweeping nature of "The Twisting Nails of Faith" make it one of the best adaptations in the set, with moving strings replacing the mighty guitar work of the original. "The Rape and Ruin of Angels" is another story, as much of the original's power is absent at times, but it certainly represents some of the best vocal work on the album. "Funeral In Carpathia" was chosen by Dani as his favorite recreated track, and it certainly is one of the best, similar in vein to The Twisting Nails but with more in the way of low-key, melodic passages. The biggest, most glaring disappointment for me is "Cruelty Brought Thee Orchids", my absolute favorite CoF song. It lacks so much of the original's bombast, and the dynamics between swirling melodies and pounding aggression are sadly absent.
Overall, Midnight In The Labyrinth is a successful dose of the unexpected, but not unusual, for Cradle of Filth. The epic nature of these pieces fits perfectly with the original's intended atmosphere and direction. However, I can certainly see how a few of these songs would have been better off left alone, as they were either good enough to begin with or made worse by this treatment. Of course, this is all subjective, and many fans have stated both love and hate for this record. I find myself somewhere in between, but for the most part, satisfied and happy to have a perfect bit of ambience for those times when I'm writing or reading something with a similar sinister air to it.
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