It’s pretty easy to say that Cradle of Filth has been extreme metal’s biggest British export since Carcass, and has maintained more presence of the years than the previously mentioned band. Given the band’s howling vocals and stylistically varied sound over the years (as well as a wild stage show and presence during some of the tours), metal purists sometimes are a little divided in their love or disdain of the band. But any band that has the cojones to start most shows with the songs “S—t Out of Hell”, followed by “Guiled C–” isn’t exactly going for subtlety.
The band is back with their latest album, “Darkly, Darkly, Venus Aversa”, which was released here in the States back in November. The album delivers the band’s brand of goth bombast and acrobatic sounding, while developing the idea of the album around the concept of the demon Lilith. During an early stop on their U.S. tour, I had a chance to talk with longtime guitarist Paul Allender. Paul and I discussed the creative process behind the new album, as well as how he feels about his bandmates are the years progress.
Here’s my interview with Paul:
AM: What made Cradle of Filth decide to discuss the story of the demon Lilith for the new album?
PA: When we initially discussed the idea for the album, Dani (Filth- lead singer) had this idea to do something gothic as he usually does. On albums in the past, we discussed people like Gillies de Rai and of course Elizabeth Bathory. We figured that we had already done Elizabeth Bathory and her story before, so let’s go with the next best thing, and that’s how we focused in on Lilith- it became an obvious choice.
AM: Was there any part of the story that was left out that you knew about?
PA: To be honest, I had no idea. In the studio, we write all the music first. We have working titles of songs, as well as music put together, but we don’t put lyrics onto the songs til after the music and arrangements are put together. The lyrics are added after the music, so as far as the story- I’m not sure what Dani left out and what he didn’t.
AM: How long did the album take to put together from the initial conceptualization to the finishing of recording?
PA: It was almost a year by the time it was done. It took 4 to 5 months to write the music and lyrics, and then another 4-5 months in the studio putting everything together to finish recording and mixing.
AM: Do you feel this album came together quicker than “Godspeed on the Devil’s Thunder” a few years back?
PA: Overall, I felt it was a little easier to put together. There were a lot more pieces to put together with this album, but I felt things went a little smoother this time out.
AM: What did first time (with COF) keyboardist Ashley Elleyeon bring to the table?
PA: We had met her through contacts at Roadrunner Records originally. During this album, we worked with Mark (Newby-Robson), who has worked with us a lot in the past, as well as Ashley. She was involved in several tracks, and did a fine job. But Ashley went off to do some art or film school project and Mark has been busy, so we actually have another keyboardist that is on tour with us for this tour.
AM: You have a line of guitars with Paul Reed Smith out now- how were you initially contacted about that?
PA: When I left the band in 1996 and came back in 1999, I had bought a few PRS guitars and I don’t know where, but someone took a picture with me with these guitars. The people at PRS saw them, and got a hold of me, asking me if I’d be interested in developing a signature guitar. I was in total shock when they asked, complete shock. At this point, PRS has done three different models of guitars, with the new version that just came out. They’ve done some interesting things with the pickups on the guitar and boards and I’m impressed with what they’ve done.
AM: You left the band for a few years early on, only to come back in 1999- how do you feel the band has progressed musically and personally in that time?
PA: Compared to the early days, I think everybody in the band is a lot more seriously about the band now. The writing and the music is really good and seem to work well together. Everybody in the band seems to have their head screwed on right these days, which wasn’t always the case in the early days of the band.
Cradle of Filth plays Harpo’s on Friday, February 25th. Tickets are $25 and are available at www.ticketmaster.com. Additional tour dates and band info can be found at www.cradleoffilth.com.