“Total Fucking Excellent”
Note that this review is focusing mostly on the remastered version of the demo from 2014.
The demos of Cradle has always been known as the good material before they “went to shit”. I don’t quite agree with that though, as I love Cradle of Filth and I don’t think they’ve made one bad album. Of course some albums are better than others, but the thing about “Total Fucking Darkness” is that I’ve never really listened to it. Why? Because every time I put on the first track The Black Goddess Rises I just couldn’t put up with the quality. I seriously cannot remember listening to all of the tracks in one go. Until now.
What made me pre-order this demo is that it contains the only surviving track from Cradle of Filth’s album “Goetia” which was supposed to have been their debut album. That track is Spattered in Faeces and it is my favourite track off this release without a doubt. It’s pretty reminiscent of what Cradle evolved into with the release of “Dusk… And Her Embrace”. For me the track is Cradle to the core with both atmosphere and brutality, the way only Cradle of Filth can deliver it. It’s an absolutely amazing track, and that alone makes this demo worth the money. It does however make me think about what could have been if the original “Goetia” recordings haven’t been erased. Since Spattered in Faeces was recorded prior to their debut album “Principle of Evil Made Flesh” you would expect the vocals to sound like on that album. But they don’t. They actually sound more like the vocal style that Dani developed on later albums in the ’90s. And for me, that is just great as I never managed to fully enjoy the vocals on “Principle of Evil Made Flesh”.
Furthermore we also get four tracks from the band’s Samhain rehearsal in ’92 that also contains an unreleased track: Devil Mayfair (Advocatus Diaboli), but besides that the rehearsed tracks are the same tracks as the ones on the original recording, just from the Samhain rehearsal. The track just mentioned is not as strong as Spattered in Faeces when it comes to both the music and vocal delivery. The main attraction on this demo is without a doubt the remastering and the missing “Goetia” track that I’ve already mentioned a dozen times. It’s interesting to get a feel of the Samhain rehearsal but it’s not as strong as the demo tracks as those tracks sound better and are better delivered. I often listen to everything on this release anyway, so don’t think the rehearsal tracks are redundant. It’s worth noticing that the demo’s runtime used to be around 24 minutes and now it clocks in at 57 minutes. If you are one of the lucky motherfuckers who got a hold of the LP version then you also get two other tracks which is two instrumental pieces from the old keyboardist Benjamin Ryan. That is a lot of bang for your buck.
With the re-release of this demo and the band’s recent tour with Behemoth where they played an old school set, and embraced their roots, I’ve really gotten my hopes up for the next album. “The Manticore and Other Horrors” had me thinking that Dani was out of screams but after seeing them two nights in a row in 2014 he proved me wrong.
So to sums things up, the remastering of this demo certainly brings some justice to the demo material, making it worth every penny. It’s a true pleasure listening to Cradle’s more brutal period in a more enhanced way than before. My favourite of the re-mastered tracks is without a doubt Unbridled at Dusk, the mid section just sounds fantastic. Get this if you love Cradle of Filth and their early period!