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CRADLE OF FILTH Performs In Pomona With Diverse Touring Line-Up

By Aniruddh "Andrew" Bansal

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Related: Cradle Of Filth interview | Nachtmystium interview | Turisas interview | Picture Gallery

February 5th 2011, Fox Theater, Pomona CA: With a support cast consisting of Nachtmystium, Turisas and Daniel Lioneye, Cradle Of Filth are here in North America with perhaps the most diverse line-up of bands they've ever toured with. This was their first dig at presenting material from the latest album "Darkly, Darkly, Venus Aversa" in this continent. They have certainly been a band with some interesting themes and orchestration surrounding the core content of their music, and hence I was looking forward to experience them in a live setting, to see how much of it they could replicate. As for the support bands, I was honestly pretty apprehensive about how they would be received by the typically closed-minded Cradle fans. Well, I was about to find out how this touring package would fare as a group.

Daniel Lioneye were the first band to hit the stage, but their set time conflicted with my Nachtmystium interview and I had to miss their performance. From what I gathered by talking to people after they were done, I was told that they came across as a weird mix of hard rock and black metal, and didn't prove to be everybody's thing. But they ended up getting an overall decent response from the crowd.

Finnish Battle metallers Turisas were up next. This was a band I'd been waiting to see for more than two years now, ever since I saw them for the first time with DragonForce back in November of 2008. That night they made a lasting impression on me and turned out to be one of the most fun live bands I had ever seen up to that point. Tonight their set was preceded by an intro monologue, during which the six band members appeared on stage one by one. They succeeded in creating the folk spirit straight away, by kicking off their show with "To Holmgard And Beyond". It was clear that there was a dedicated group of people in the crowd that had turned up in their battle make-up and outfits, with the sole aim of supporting Turisas. These select few got their dancing shoes on as it were, and moved up to the front few rows to get a closer look.

My favorite Turisas tune "One More" was played next, and even as I was taking pictures in the photo pit, I couldn't help but stop what I was doing, simply in order to enjoy the music. After this, frontman Mathias Nygard, the sole creative brain behind the band's music, indulged in a long and funny dialogue with the crowd, during which he mocked Bud Light as something that shouldn't qualify as beer. He urged the gathering to raise their beers and start dancing to the next tune "Jarislev". The title song from the latest album "Stand Up And Fight" followed, and it was slightly slower and more progressive as compared to their earlier work. Even though it got a good response, I wasn't surprised to hear from Mathias in my after-show interview that he was considering switching it up with some other new song. Their return to the LA area was highly short lived as they played just one more song, "Battle Metal". Despite the fact that every Turisas fan in the building appeared miffed at the short set, being the 2nd band on the bill they got a fair set time. Sensing the fans' hunger for more Turisas tunes, Mathias promised that the band will be back to these shores again this year, drawing a loud cheer from the fans. For me Turisas proved themselves yet again as an incredibly fun live band, but this tour is going to be quite an adventure for them.

Here's their complete set list:
To Holmgard And Beyond
One More
Stand Up and Fight
Battle Metal

From dark hard rock to folk metal to pure black metal we went, as Chicago quintet Nachtmystium took the stage next. They usually don't tour as a quintet, but on this particular tour they have their engineer/mixer Sanford Parker to take care of the live keyboard and samples, thus giving their music even more of a "live" feel than before. As for the set list, four out of the eight songs were from the latest album "Addicts: Black Meddle Part II", namely "Addicts", "Nightfall", "Ruined Life Continuum" and the closing song "High On Hate". The remaining portion of the set was dominated by material from the Black Meddle Part I album, perhaps indicating that frontman Blake Judd considers these two albums as the best work in the band's career.

As Cradle Of Filth is more of a goth band these days rather than a black metal band, I was under the assumption that fans of early COF material would enjoy the pure black metal element they find in Nachtmystium's music. But judging from tonight, that certainly wasn't the case, and the crowd seemed dead for most of the set. It suggested to me that there weren't too many fans of early COF present tonight. That however isn't a true reflection of the band's performance, which consisted of eclectic compositions that were psychedelic and ambient at certain times, but definitely extreme and brutal at all times. They made good use of the 40 minutes given to them, and even though I'm happy for them that they are getting to play these big venues as openers for a popular band like Cradle Of Filth, the smaller, murkier venues is where their music truly belongs, and that's where they would create the crushing impact they are very well capable of delivering.

Here's their complete set list:

One of These Nights
Hellish Overdose
Ruined Life Continuum
Ghosts of Grace
High On Hate

Personally I really enjoyed those two support acts, but it was hard for me to find people in the crowd who would say the same thing. Anyway, Cradle Of Filth finally took the stage. Their stage set-up wasn't as grand or elaborate as I thought it would be. There was pretty much nothing except for the screen in the backdrop and a couple of strobe lights. But it didn't seem to matter to their crazy fan base that was going wild with anticipation. I was very surprised by the fact that only two songs from the latest album were included in the set, despite this being their first US tour in support of the album. The two songs that were chosen, "The Cult Of Venus Aversa" and "Little Immaculate", turned out to be pretty good live songs and got a good reception, but I was expecting to hear "One Foul Step From The Abyss", a more guitar driven song and one of Paul Allender's favorites on the album.

From the old material, I enjoyed the slower songs more because keyboardist Caroline Campbell's operatic vocals created a powerful atmosphere during these songs and in fact, whenever she laid down her backing vocals, it added a lot to the band's sound, and is something that suits their music excellently. The fans, specially the chicks in the crowd cheered loudly every time Dani Filth addressed them, and he didn't even have to make any effort to get them on his side.

Other than the new material and the slower old songs, for me everything else seemed to run together and even though most of these songs were fan favorites greatly appreciated by this crowd, the set could have been more varied in terms of tempo. And the stage show was definitely lacking. On this tour they are playing on stages that are big enough, and they can easily make more of an effort towards putting on an actual show that compliments the music. I'm not hating on them, I simply want them to put on more of a "show" for their paying fans. I'm not the kind of person who enjoys picking on bands and goes to shows for that reason. I enjoy good live music, and I want Cradle Of Filth to be more entertaining. I hope that's the case next time they come around here on tour, and I also hope to see them show a bit more confidence in their newest material.

All in all, a weirdly interesting night.

Here's their complete set list:

Heaven Torn Asunder
Funeral in Carpathia
Honey And Sulphur
Lilith Immaculate
Her Ghost In The Fog
Nymphetamine Fix
The Principle of Evil Made Flesh
Under Huntress Moon
Ebony Dressed For Sunset
The Forest Whispers My Name

The Cult of Venus Aversa
Cruelty Brought Thee Orchids
From The Cradle To Enslave

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