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Cradle of Filth

Cradle of Filth performs Friday, February 23, at the Meridian 1503 Chartres, 713-225-1717. The 69 Eyes and Three Inches of Blood also perform.

Cradle of Filth has been polarizing metal heads for 15 years. While the British band's fan base goes rabid for its bombastic black/thrash song-suites, others just loathe the group. Hard-core black-metal fans resent the act for getting lumped in with their hermetic and surly genre, accurately claiming that no group with such an obvious sense of humor and showbiz aesthetic could be "true" black metal. Some think that front man Dani Filth is a pretentious Limey jag-off and that the music sounds like the sound track to a shitty Italian horror movie.

But with the help of relentless touring and some genuinely memorable album covers and T-shirts, Cradle of Filth has slowly but surely become an undeniable presence in metal. Much of the band's success is a tribute to the work ethic of guitarist Paul Allender. "I pretty much wrote all of [Thornography], barring two or three tracks," Allender says. "I wanted to push the band not toward the mainstream, but a bit more of a metal feel. Luckily, the fans have totally accepted it, and it's opened a lot more doors for us. We don't have to stick to the same typical style that was Cradle."

Indeed, the formula of lightning-fast riffs, thundering blast beats and neoclassical flourishes and interludes (frequently provided by real orchestras and choirs, to label owners' dismay) has been expanded to include thrashy, more traditionally metallic guitars. This, in turn, has changed the atmosphere at shows quite a bit.

"There's a whole front row of kids headbanging, which was never the case at any of our gigs before," says Allender. "It gives you a major buzz to be playing and see a whole bunch of 18-year-olds swinging their hair around. You think, ÔFuck me, I used to be like that when I was their age.'"

Thornography is Cradle's most mainstream effort to date. Although still ferocious, the album finds the band straddling the same line between extremity and pop that Celtic Frost did on its classic Into the Pandemonium.

 
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