Cradle of Filth – Total Fucking Darkness

“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!

Rating – 8.4 out of 10

(Originally published on December 10th, 2014.)

Ministry – From Beer to Eternity

“From Worthy to Unworthy”

Tragedy struck when veteran Mike Scaccia suddenly passed away leaving Al Jourgensen to finish this album on his own. So… this is the end of Ministry. I was thrilled back when Ministry announced their comeback. I’ve been a fan for years and I finally got to see them at Wacken in 2012. But the albums that followed from the “relapse” of Ministry have just not been up-to-par. Just read the damn title of this album: “From Beer to Eternity”. I don’t even know what to say. I… *facepalm*

So now I welcome you to my opinion and vision of the final Ministry album.

Like with “Relapse” and its first single 99 Percenters I was looking forward to the album when I heard PermaWar. I hoped the album would continue down that road, improve, and close up Ministry with a smashing album. But when I first put on the album I was just waiting for PermaWar to play, as the two first tracks offers nothing worthwhile, and after PermaWar had played, I just waited for the album to end. I didn’t just wait for it to end, I wanted it to end. On my first listen I didn’t even get half way through the album and the times I did, it was not a listening pleasure in any way.

But how does the album sound? It continues in the steps of “Relapse”, so it basically sounds like Ministry. However it is not as fast and metal, actually. Besides that you’ll hear almost everything you expect from a Ministry recipe. Industrial elements, signature drums, Al’s vocals sounds as always and of course samples. However an important ingredient was left out: Consistency.

Lesson Unlearned more or less puts Al aside and primarily features a woman on vocals. I don’t know if it is Al’s wife, Angie, but what I do know is that it does not mix well with Ministry. It sounds too “popish” in this instance. In some other songs you will even hear Arabian influences, reggae, and electronic influences as well, and trust me, nothing of it fits Ministry. Now, if you think back to “Psalm 69”, you might remember the track TV II? If yes, you might have been looking forward to the track Side FX Include Mikey’s Middle Finger (TV 4). But it is just another let-down. Half of the track is actually in the likes of TV II. But it ends up as unbearable mayhem and the last half is a bunch of samples of various voices and then 2-3 seconds of more mayhem that suddenly just breaks into the song and then stops. In that song Al says “I feel like shit”. Yeah? So do I, anybody care to guess the reason? The last thing I briefly want to bring up is the final song of the album, Enjoy the Quiet, is almost 3 minutes of radio static. Just imagine that for a second, because then I won’t have to explain how bad it is.

At least there’s been some progression regarding the cover. The cover for “Relapse” was horrible… and though “From Beer to Eternity” isn’t the greatest cover, it looks better and features the original Ministry logo! There’s not many highlights on this album. There is PermaWar, and that’s it, but it’s a damn good highlight. Perfect Storm could also be added to the list as well as it continues where PermaWar left off. Oh, and if you’re wondering if the album is better than “Relapse”? It’s not. I’ll put it like this: If you like me, were disappointed with “Relapse”, then you will find it ironic that “From Beer to Eternity” makes “Relapse” sound like a great album.

Before I give you my conclusion you should know that I am a HUGE Ministry fan, and this review has definitely mostly been negative. I’ve been listening to this band for years and I find bright sides of every single album they’ve made. “From Beer to Eternity” is just a massive disappointment. I was hoping for much, much more than this since it is their last album, so…

If I could change Ministry’s history, this album and “Relapse” would never have been made and the reunion would just have been a touring thing. When it comes to consistency, these two albums just does not cut it. And even though there are a few tracks I like, I could easily live without them. It is a matter of taste of course, but I think that “The Last Sucker” was a perfect farewell album. It was intended and created as a farewell album and when I first heard The End of Days Part II it struck me right in the heart, as much as I love this band, it was the perfect album to bow out with. “From Beer to Eternity” is a half hearted album. The songs are repetitive and boring, the album has no consistency or replay value. I never thought I should say those words about a Ministry album.

Now, let us enjoy the quiet…

R.I.P. Mike Scaccia, 1965-2012.

Rating – 5.5 out of 10

(Originally published on September 10th, 2013.)

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