Concert Review – Cradle of Filth (The Opera House, Toronto, ON, 06/04/2022)

Existence might be futile, but witnessing Cradle of Filth live in Toronto every single time they come to the city is more than essential.

OPENING ACTS: Phantom High and Frayle

I always find it truly impressive how the traffic to get in and out of Toronto during the spring and summer seasons, mainly when the weather is clear and the temperatures are above +20oC, is multiplied by a thousand or more, making it impossible to arrive wherever you have planned on time. That’s the main reason why it took me hours to get to The Opera House this Saturday for the Existence Is Futile Tour with the bands PHANTOM HIGH, FRAYLE and the almighty CRADLE OF FILTH (not to mention American Thrash Metal act Misfire, who are missing part of the tour due to Covid-19 related issues), and because of that I sadly missed most of the awesome concert by Toronto’s own Glamcore/Death Pop/Alternative Metal outfit PHANTOM HIGH. Anyway, the few minutes of their performance I was able to witness were excellent, with their frontwoman Peril Erinyes showcasing all her talent, charisma and passion for what she does. I hope I can see them again in a not-so-distant future as their music and onstage performance are outstanding, and next time I promise I’ll beat traffic (even if that’s humanly impossible).

Band members
Peril Erinyes – vocals
Seven Six – guitars
Greg Shier – guitars
Faraz Jabbari – bass
Joey Prolx – drums

After a (very) quick break it was time for Cleveland, Ohio-based Doom Metal/Occult Rock band FRAYLE to kick some ass onstage with their massive, low-tuned, sluggish sounds, spearheaded by the angelic vocals by their stunning frontwoman Gwyn Strang, who by the way grew up on the east coast of Canada in the province of New Brunswick (which is why she said “I’m home” to the crowd several times during their performance). Playing a mix of songs from their awesome 2020 album 1692 plus a brand new song entitled Treacle & Revenge, from their upcoming album Skin & Sorrow (to be released on July 7), Gwyn and the boys put on a mesmerizing show, with Sean Bilovecky extracting sheer electricity from his guitar while bassist Eric Mzik and drummer Pat Ginley added endless heaviness and groove to the music. Nobody was capable of taking their eyes off Gwyn during their entire set, as not only she was at the same time the personification of good and evil, but her minimalist, delicate vocals and moves were a thing of beauty. There weren’t any mosh pits for obvious reasons, but everyone at The Opera House loved what Frayle had to show us, and Toronto is waiting for Gwyn to “return home” whenever she wants with her whimsical music.

Band members
Gwyn Strang – vocals
Sean Bilovecky – lead guitar
Eric Mzik – bass
Pat Ginley – drums

CRADLE OF FILTH

The last time I saw the unparalleled CRADLE OF FILTH was at the same venue back in 2019, before all this Covid-19 madness hit the world and still with Lindsay Schoolcraft on keyboards, and as you can see from their 2019 setlist only two songs were the same this Saturday, those being Nymphetamine (Fix) and Her Ghost in the Fog, with everything else being either based on their 2021 ass-kicking opus Existence Is Futile, such as Existential Terror, How Many Tears to Nurture a Rose? and Necromantic Fantasies, or some welcome surprises the likes of Nocturnal Supremacy, I Am the Thorn, A Gothic Romance (Red Roses for the Devil’s Whore) and Lustmord and Wargasm (The Lick of Carnivorous Winds). Was it better, the same or worse than their 2019 performance? Well, I don’t like to compare concerts, as I strongly believe each performance has its own taste, its own details and its own energy, but what I can say is that Dani and his horde were as electrifying as expected, inspiring the fans at the venue to slam into the nonstop circle pits (even if you’re on a power mobility scooter) while screaming together with the band in the name of evil.

Most fans of course had an absolute blast with classics such as the aforementioned Nymphetamine (Fix) and the closing song Her Ghost in the Fog, but I might say their new songs Crawling King Chaos and Us, Dark, Invincible sounded simply superb live, proving once again how alive the band is and that we can expect at least a few more decades of pure filth from those devilish metallers. Dani, Ashok, Daniel Firth and Marthus were on fire as usual, but I must mention how powerful the performances by guest guitarist Donny Burbage (of Melodic Death/Folk Metal act Æther Realm) and the gorgeous keyboardist Zoë Marie Federoff (of Symphonic Metal act Catalyst Crime) were as well, translating into an even more incendiary concert by one of the trailblazers of Symphonic Extreme Metal. As a Cradle of Filth fanboy I think they should return to Toronto next week already, but of course I think all fans who attended another memorable concert by Dani and his crew will be more than happy to wait another year or so for the band to come to our beloved city again. The traffic back home was just as bad as when I was going to the concert, but who cares? It’s CRADLE OF FUCKIN’ FILTH, a metal institution that deserves all our admiration, and if next time they come to Toronto I have to walk 40km to get there, so be it.

Setlist
The Fate of the World on Our Shoulders
Existential Terror
Nocturnal Supremacy
Lilith Immaculate
I Am the Thorn
Crawling King Chaos
Nymphetamine (Fix)
A Gothic Romance (Red Roses for the Devil’s Whore)
How Many Tears to Nurture a Rose?
Scorched Earth Erotica
Us, Dark, Invincible
Portrait of the Dead Countess
Lustmord and Wargasm (The Lick of Carnivorous Winds)
Necromantic Fantasies
Her Ghost in the Fog

Band members
Dani Filth – lead vocals
Marek “Ashok” Šmerda – guitars
Donny Burbage – guitars
Daniel Firth – bass
Zoë Marie Federoff – female vocals, keyboards
Martin “Marthus” Škaroupka – drums

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Album Review – Cradle of Filth / Existence Is Futile (2021)

A bewitching, fearless nosedive into the abyss masterfully brought into being by UK’s most infernal Extreme Metal institution of all ages.

All hope has disappeared into the void. The flames that flickered on the horizon for so long have reached our backyard, leaving endless fields of black ashes and smoke rising from the ruins of our lands. Yet, why shall we not enjoy a last ferocious soundtrack to our inevitable end? That’s exactly what UK’s own Extreme Metal institution Cradle of Fitlh has to offer us all in Existence Is Futile, their thirteenth studio opus and the follow-up to their critically acclaimed albums Hammer Of The Witches and Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay. Produced by Scott Atkins at Grindstone Studios and displaying another bestial artwork by Arthur Berzinsh, who took inspiration from The Garden of Earthly Delights by Dutch artist Hieronymus Bosch, Existence Is Futile is about existential terror, the threat of everything and the end of the world according to the band’s frontman and mastermind Dani Filth, all embraced by the grandiose metal music carefully brought into being by Dani and his henchmen Richard Shaw and Marek “Ashok” Šmerda on the guitars, Daniel Firth on bass, Martin “Marthus” Škaroupka on drums, and newcomer Anabelle Iratni (who also plays with Dani on the Symphonic Gothic/Groove Metal project Devilment) on female vocals, keyboards, lyre and orchestrations.

The classic intro The Fate of the World on Our Shoulders is absolutely obscure, cinematic and epic, opening the gates of hell for the band to kill in Existential Terror, with all background orchestrations making Dani’s demonic gnarls sound even creepier accompanied by the sulfurous guitars by Richard and Ashok. In other words, it’s an imposing Symphonic Black Metal tune to properly kick things off, whereas switching to their trademark fusion of Gothic and Black Metal we’re treated to Necromantic Fantasies, where Anabelle proves why she was chosen to be the band’s new keyboardist delivering crisp, phantasmagorical keys for our absolute delight. The first single of the album, Crawling King Chaos, is a demonic creature in the form of extreme music where the heaviness of the guitars create an awesome paradox with the song’s whimsical keys, not to mention how infernal Marthus sounds on drums as usual; then it’s time to soothe our damned souls to the enfolding interlude Here Comes a Candle… (Infernal Lullaby) before we face five minutes of sheer darkness in the acid Black Smoke Curling from the Lips of War, with Dani’s hellish screeches walking hand in hand with Anabelle’s clean vocals and the demolishing kitchen crafted by Daniel and Marthus. And Discourse Between a Man and His Soul is another dark and melancholic tune that matches perfectly with the band’s theatrical vibe, with Daniel bringing tons of heaviness to the overall result.

Cradle of Filth Existence Is Futile Mailorder Edition Box Set

Another massive wall of sounds will hammer your heads mercilessly in the sinister The Dying of the Embers, once again presenting the band’s trademark blast beats infused with more melodic and gothic nuances, followed by the Mephistophelian interlude Ashen Mortality, spearheaded by Anabelle’s somber keys and warming up our senses for How Many Tears to Nurture a Rose?, a beautiful, old school Cradle of Filth composition that will sound amazing if played live. Furthermore, Dani is infernal on vocals as usual while Daniel and Marthus add endless groove and feeling to the music with their respective bass jabs and pounding drums; and a guest narration by Doug Bradley talking about how our rotten society is coming to an end quickly explodes into brutal and melodic Extreme Metal in Suffer Our Dominion, with Anabelle stealing the spotlight one more time. Us, Dark, Invincible, the last song from the regular version of the album, is as imposing and grim as its predecessors, with Dani roaring, growling and screaming nonstop for the delectation of all his fanbase while the band’s guitar duo adds sheer aggressiveness to the overall result. Lastly, if you go for the digital and deluxe edition of the album you’ll be treated to two amazing bonus tracks Sisters of the Mist and Unleash the Hellion, both extreme and demented, with Marthus smashing his drums ferociously until the very last second.

“Existence Is Futile is the apocalyptic conclusion of three years of Cradle of Filth’s world touring and is definitely our most severe album to date, reveling in existential dread, the fear of the unknown, the uncertainty of fate in a yawning cosmos and the meaninglessness of life also being the search for life’s meaning”, commented Dani about the band’s new album, also saying that “heavy stuff indeed and as a wise man was allegedly recently heard to say ‘The inevitable heat-death of the universe and subsequent closure of time and space itself, could have no better soundtrack than this album’.” If you want to join the almighty Cradle of Filth in their quest for extreme music and add Existence Is Futile to your apocalyptic collection, you can follow the band on Facebook and on Instagram for news, tour dates and other sorts of witchcraft, and purchase your favorite version of the album by clicking HERE, including the stunning mailorder edition box set limited to 650 copies worldwide containing the digipack and the silver double LP version of the album, buttons, a flag, a necklace, a lyrics sheet and an alternate cover. A bewitching, fearless nosedive into the abyss, Existence Is Futile is the perfect album for these most imperfect of times, and if the world comes to an end before their next opus is unleashed upon humanity at least we’ll enjoy our afterlife knowing their ultimate howl was indeed a beast of an album.

Best moments of the album: Crawling King Chaos, Black Smoke Curling from the Lips of War, The Dying of the Embers and How Many Tears to Nurture a Rose?

Worst moments of the album: Necromantic Fantasies.

Released in 2021 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. The Fate of the World on Our Shoulders 1:37
2. Existential Terror 6:17
3. Necromantic Fantasies 5:40
4. Crawling King Chaos 5:27
5. Here Comes a Candle… (Infernal Lullaby) 1:28
6. Black Smoke Curling from the Lips of War 5:21
7. Discourse Between a Man and His Soul 5:30
8. The Dying of the Embers 6:08
9. Ashen Mortality 1:50
10. How Many Tears to Nurture a Rose? 4:34
11. Suffer Our Dominion 6:22
12. Us, Dark, Invincible 6:26

Digital/Deluxe Edition bonus tracks
13. Sisters of the Mist 7:14
14. Unleash the Hellion 6:23

Band members
Dani Filth – lead vocals
Richard Shaw – guitars
Marek “Ashok” Šmerda – guitars
Daniel Firth – bass
Anabelle Iratni – female vocals, keyboards, lyre, orchestrations
Martin “Marthus” Škaroupka – drums, keyboards, orchestrations

Guest musician
Doug Bradley – narration on “Suffer Our Dominion” and “Sisters of the Mist”