7) “The Fire Still Burns”
Cradle’s 2002 stopgap live release, Live Bait For The Dead, featured a second disc of rare and exclusive extras. The bonus content’s finale was a rousing cover of Twisted Sister’s “The Fire Still Burns.” Like pretty much every song Cradle of Filth covers (barring that “Temptation” atrocity), the band are second to none with making other outfits’ work their own, and this track is no exception. In fact, if you’d never heard the Twisted Sister version, I think it’d be tough to decide if it was a Cradle original or not. The live disc of Live Bait was later repackaged and released as Eleven Burial Masses, but as I understand it, the second disc of material wasn’t included. If you want this one, you’ve gotta run down Live Bait.
8) “All Hope In Eclipse”
This is the only song on this list that comes straight from a standard-issue album sequence. Following the success of Midian, Cradle put out Bitter Suites To Succubi, an oddity that isn’t exactly a full-length or an EP. It’s composed of some re-recordings from the Principle era, a cover, and several new compositions, two of which happen to be a couple of my all-time favorite Cradle of Filth tracks. The closer, “Scorched Earth Erotica,” is some of the catchiest, sharpest stuff the band ever laid down, and its edge indicates that the band still felt they had something to prove as far as their worth in a scene that wasn’t really sure what to do with them. But for this list, I’ve included epic opener “All Hope In Eclipse.” This song features peak examples of everything Cradle does best: grandiose orchestration, slow, sweeping marches, and razor-sharp guitar acrobatics supported by blasting from legendary percussion journeyman Adrian Erlandsson. These dudes have a lot of really long songs, so I understand that real estate is precious when it comes to the live set… and having said that, I still don’t know why this doesn’t open every damn show they play.
9) Of Dark Blood and Fucking”
Calling any band “sellouts” is usually some ignorant shit to do, and Cradle have definitely borne their share of the term. The majority of former fans who do the hurling typically choose From The Cradle To Enslave as the moment when the transition solidified. The EP’s title track is the most infectious number the band’s ever written… but that doesn’t make them sellouts. It’s still Cradle, and it’s still as lethal as anything from the celebrated Dusk era. The EP’s second new song, “Of Dark Blood and Fucking,” was substantially different than the polished title track. It features some of the grimiest bass work the band’s ever had, some of Dani Filth’s most perverted lyrics (the dude comes off as intimidatingly well-read), and a thrashy punk vibe that Cradle never managed to recapture until Manticore, which incidentally featured a completely different musical lineup. It’s as if with these two tracks, Cradle wanted to prove just how far they could go in either direction, the title track leaning towards commercial viability, and “Of Dark Blood” angling back towards their dirty roots.
If you’re unfamiliar with Cradle pre-From The Cradle To Enslave, don’t worry about odds and ends; run it all down. Dusk… and Her Embrace, Cruelty and The Beast, Midian, and The Principle of Evil Made Flesh, as well as the V Empire EP, contain the essence of the band’s legacy, as well as ample indications toward current trajectory. Where they started and how they’ve evolved may seem pretty disparate, but if you pay attention, it’s really all there in those first few, crucial releases. If you’re new to the band, man… really just don’t shy away from any of their output, even the stuff I’ve snubbed here. Part of what makes the band cool is how their different eras appeal to different fans. There’s a timelessness to a quality like that, theatrics and ephemera be damned. With as long of a history as their past output documents, and with as much acclaim and appeal as Cradle of Filth still enjoys, there’s never been a better time to hop on board.