Cradle Of Filth – Koko, Camden 23/10/15

On October 23, Koko in Camden played host to an evening of extreme metal. It had been a long time since I last saw Cradle Of Filth and I was excited to see how they have evolved in that time.

Opening up the show was London band She Must Burn (7/10). They came on to the stage with confidence and blasted through a short but impressive set. Their synchronised headbanging was a joy to watch and their Cradle style vocals hit the spot for a lot of the early arriving fans. As is the way for the opening act, the crowd were slow to start moving, but showed a lot of respect for this band and the effort they put in.

Ne Obliviscaris (8/10) were the second act tonight and their performance was highly anticipated. The Australian extreme melodic metal six-piece have built up a strong fanbase and it showed. They seamlessly blend harsh vocals and beautiful clean singing together to form a truly haunting and awe-inspiring concoction of sound. Having two singers seems to be a common decision these days; sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t but with this performance, the difference was stark and it was obvious that this was a very tight band.

Not to take anything away from their performance, but when I started to listen to them, I was worried that they would be a band more suited to listen to on CD, as the music didn’t seem conducive to crowd movement or interaction. But as the set progressed, these fears are soon dispelled. Rather than start a wall of death or crazy moshpit, they captivated the audience and almost held them in a trance. Despite a standard length of set, they only played four songs but these were lengthy, ethereal pieces of music, not just tracks from an album. The whole performance was a joy to watch, especially as we were treated to a beautifully played violin interlude. I hope it’s not too long before I can experience them again.

Before the headliners took to the stage, a giant screen and skeletons on crosses appeared, and smoke filled the air. Cradle Of Filth (9/10) are renowned for their stage shows & theatrics and this show did nothing to discredit this belief. The mood was set for a macabre night of metal and the fans were ready for it all. The band walk onto the stage to roars of approval from the crowd, which lifted even higher when Dani made his entrance. Looking like the Devil’s right hand man, he gave off an aura that is hard to describe and despite his diminutive size, the frontman commanded everyone’s attention.

Kicking off with some older tracks to get the crowd in the mood, Cruelty Brought Thee Orchids being a personal favourite, the fan reaction raised the roof. The current lineup is arguably their strongest for a long time; the music sounds flawless and Dani’s vocals are as sharp as ever. He has the ability to make even indecipherable screams take on a melodic quality.

Some fans have drifted away from Cradle in recent years and they seemed to be running out of momentum but their latest opus Hammer Of The Witches has brought them right back into relevance. It’s a fantastic return to form and seems to hark back to the Midian era with its style. The choice of setlist was very pleasing, an unusual mix of the obscure, old, new and hits that makes it a joy to listen to.

Suffolk’s blackest exports are as much a treat for the eyes as the ears – just as the feeling of disappointment fell upon us at the lacklustre skeletons at the side of the stage, the big screen erupted into life, the skeletons spewed out smoke into the crowd and two pretty PVC clad dancers skulk onto the stage, who gradually undressed themselves as the band sped meticulously through their performance. It was a nice touch and brought back the aesthetic that Cradle are known for.

After keyboardist Lindsay Schoolcraft showed off her equally impressive vocal abilities, the band left the stage before returning for a lengthy encore, much to the crowd’s delight. Playing Nymphetamine and Her Ghost In The Fog, the band left no one in any doubt that they are still here, still relevant and still able to outperform almost anyone else on the circuit.

With the band and crowd having fun, the gothic atmosphere and the impeccable sound quality, it was a thoroughly brilliant show.

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