It’s hard to believe that it’s been 27 years since The Principle of Evil Made Flesh was released and furthermore that Cradle Of Filth is still going strong, but both these things are indeed true. COF remain a great success in the world of metal to have transcended the extreme niche that initially defined them and achieved mainstream recognition without being considered sellouts, leaving their mark with their own distinctive sound they’ve refined over the decades. Their saga only continues with their thirteenth album Existence Is Futile, the album being their latest studio release since 2017’s Cryptoriana- The Seductiveness of Decay and their first with new keyboardist/backup vocalist Anabelle Iratni who joined the band earlier this year.
Coming in off the stringy intro “The Fate of the World on Our Shoulders”, Existence kicks off properly with the mighty “Existential Terror”, graced by a series of trademark Dani Filth highs and lows- screams and growls, that is. “Necromantic Fantasies” dives deeper into the dark, beautiful abyss of Cradle-dom riff by riff, followed by the ferocious blast beat barrage of “Crawling King Chaos” and the haunting piano interlude “Here Comes a Candle… (Infernal Lullaby)”. You can vividly imagine bloody scenes of medieval warfare to the tune of “Black Smoke Curling from the Lips of War”, likewise “Discourse Between a Man and His Soul” is a grand depiction of existential contemplation.
The second half of Existence kicks off with the ripper “The Dying of the Embers” and the interlude “Ashen Morality”, thereafter jumping into regular shredding with the galloping, blasting “How Many Tears to Nurture a Rose?”. “Suffer Our Dominion” provides a straight shot of unadulterated thrash and death metal with “Us, Dark, Invincible” landing more in the black metal territory Cradle originated from many years ago. “Sisters of The Mist” is more straight-ahead COF than anything, the way the band would likely want to describe it. The closer “Unleash the Hellion” largely falls into this mould as well, giving us one last epic blast of dark, dramatic metal to revel in on the way out.
Existence Is Futile demonstrates that Cradle Of Filth’s continuing compositional efforts aren’t futile at all, they’ve got a lot of gas left in the tank after close to 30 years. They’re nothing if not consistent, and the well-cultivated talents that allow them to keep delivering at this level are on full display. When Cradle follows up Existence is anyone’s guess, but we can expect nothing less, and perhaps more than what we hear on this record when it arrives.