Cradle of Filth may not be a band for everybody, but they really aren’t a band that parents should worry about.
Extreme metal — a kind of umbrella term that covers the many forms of metal made by bands with hard-to-read logos — has a history fraught with violence, vandalism and, of course, Satanism.
Breaking down the “extreme metal” label a bit, Cradle of Filth began as a black metal band in 1991 and has spent the last 28 years crafting a more produced version of it. Pinning down their current genre is the subject of much debate, with labels like “gothic metal” and “symphonic metal” thrown around.
For Cradle of Filth, who visit Dallas this week to play House of Blues, that content has never centered on some biblical figure. Instead, their lyrics have been more influenced by Gothic literature, mythology and paganism.
At a time when people carry around playlists that switch genres with whiplash-inducing speeds and artists who are dead-set on producing genre-defying music, perhaps genre is not as important as content.
“There was a lot of imitation in black metal,” singer Dani Filth says. “It was about isolation and about being cold and dark. Cradle has a different spirituality. It has classical mythology as its overarching theme, not Satanism. It’s sort of like a soundtrack. It’s cinematic.”
That well of inspiration is part of what explains the band’s nearly three-decade-long career.
“You have to take the lead in the creative gene pool,” he says. “You have to stay ahead of the game and be as original as possible. It takes a lot of hard work.
“We’ve stayed popular because of our creativity and creating this English Gothic horror vibe.”
In the last six years, Cradle of Filth has undergone a kind of creative renaissance, with a new lineup that has put out two albums, plus a third that they're set to begin recording in September. The band is on the second leg of a world tour in support of their 12th overall album, Cryptoriana — The Seductiveness Of Decay. Dallas will see the last North American date before the band goes on to Europe and South America.
On this second leg, fans will see an all-new, massive stage production to go along with the show.
“We’ve brought a new lighting rig,” Filth says, “and extended the look of the stage. We are also going to have Victorian lighting and costumes.”
The show will take place at House of Blues, which may seem like a fairly commercial venue for a band with an unequivocally underground following. But that just demonstrates the larger acceptance there is for extreme metal bands.
Since the advent of digital communities on social media, the fear that once surrounded the enigmatic nature of extreme metal has slowly faded into understanding, acceptance and even welcome from the genre's former detractors.
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“It’s definitely become more accepted,” Filth says. “There is a lot less mysticism around it. Back when we first started, there was no internet or social media, so everything took more time. Things remained mysterious and underground. Now that mysticism has left.”
If anything, Filth feels his band has come to be seen as a positive influence. “Now, we have parents thanking us for keeping their offspring away from bullies and drugs and getting them into literature. Another thing we’re seeing is parents actually getting their kids into music,” he says.
In support of Cradle of Filth, Michigan theatrical metal act Raven Black and former frontman of Murderdolls Wednesday 13’s solo project will perform at the House of Blues on Thursday night.
The show is all ages, so all are welcome to enjoy an evening of theatrics, Victorian Gothic horror, and of course, extreme metal.