By: Steve Fallows
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Released on July 8, 2016 via Cacophonous Records
Throughout their career, Cradle of Filth have never been afraid of looking back and revisiting old material, whether it is re-recording new versions of old tracks as they have done with the Midnight In The Labyrinth double album in 2012, or more recently the release of the Total Fucking Darkness demo. Once again the band have decided to delve back into the archives to release the original version of their second album Dusk… And Her Embrace, originally intended to be released through Cacophonous Records, before the band went through a series of line up changes.
Two things immediately stand out between the 1996 release and this original version. First up, the track listing is very different, and it gives the whole album a completely different feel. Opening with the instrumental ‘Macabre, This Banquet’, it has much more in common with the debut The Principal Of Evil Made Flesh than the Music For Nations version of Dusk… And Her Embrace. ‘Nocturnal Supremacy’ (which eventually became part of the V Empire EP, but this early take has an even more visceral sound with its stripped back production. ‘Heaven Torn Asunder’ is the first track on here that appears on the 1996 version.
The other main difference is the production, and it really becomes apparent on ‘A Gothic Romance’. A full on Cradle of Filth epic that was hinted at on their debut, and became their trademark, with the orchestral intro, spoken word passages and Dani on fine form vocally, with his full range of talent on show. The album is broken up by the instrumental interlude of ‘Graveyard by Midnight’ before returning to the violent mix of old school metal, thrash and an orchestral music for the rest of the album. The inclusion of demo versions of ‘A Gothic Romance’ and ‘Nocturnal Supremacy’ gives further insight into the development of the bands song writing and musical growth.
The Music For Nations release is the album that really brought Cradle of Filth into the eyes of the mainstream metal media, taking them and black metal to a whole new level of coverage and support. Being a fan of the more primitive sound of their earlier work than the more polished sound that became their signature, this holds a lot more interest and enjoyment for me. The grand sweeping tracks are there, and the compositions and writing have evolved from that classic first album. To have put together such an impressive and eclectic sounding album with a much smaller budget is a remarkable feat, and being able to listen to the two different versions lets us into an important time creatively for the band. I prefer this to the 1996 release, but both are excellent recordings in their own right and deserve exploring.