Damnation and a Day marked a big change for Cradle, as they were signed by Sony for the release of this very album. A common feature for this band's music is that every single album they put out is different, and that is something I really love about this band. It also marked the departure of bassist, Robin Eaglestone, and guitarist Gian Pyres. And how exactly did Cradle of Filth manage to put up with the line-up changes?
Quite well. Many feared a mainstream change to the music, that the band would sell out, now that there would be a Sony label on the CD. But that did not happen. Instead we got one of Cradle's most adventurous releases to date with great creativity and inspiration. For this album, a big orchestra and a choir was dragged into the studio, but this does not mean a drastic shift towards a orchestra orientated album. On the contrary, those elements brings the album to life. It gives it more substance, merely supporting the band, and it worked out perfectly. On the opening track, "A Promise Fever", it is displayed quite nicely how the guitar can be in focus, complimented by the choir, and the other way around plus some well conducted orchestra interlude passages. Of course, this is not how every track on the album are composed, but just an example of the new element to the music. The very core of this album is still Cradle of Filth. No doubt about it.
The guitars sounds great on this record, as they have a really powerful sound. This crunch and power is a good combination with the riffs themselves as they come out just as the sound: Crunchy and powerful. This is Dave Pybus' first appearance on a Cradle record, and his bass lays well in the mix giving the music a solid foundation and base. Adrian Erlandsson also performs great on this album and the drums sounds exquisite. Martin Powell have not been left out of the mix, as he is a big part of keeping the album true to the core of Cradle with his keyboard. He was a major figure in this band I must say that I miss him dearly. He was a main songwriter for this album, and wrote the score which the orchestra plays on Damnation and a Day. Dani Filth's vocals are just immaculate. Ever since Cruelty and the Beast he got a better grip of his vocals and more control. The blend between his deep growls and high screeches are simply marvelous. The production and mix fits this album well. It sounds big and that is a wise choice from the knob-turners. I do not think that it is overproduced, however it has the clear, yet strong and powerful sound it should have with all the elements that's been weaved into the songs.
The lyrical theme on this record is different from the previous ones. Just as the music has another inspiration, so does the lyrics. The vampire and goth lyrics are gone. Now we're treated with somewhat of a concept album based on John Milton's poem "Paradise Lost", seeing the fall of Man through the eyes of Lucifer. The album is divided into four parts which all are introduced with choir and orchestra, perfectly blended into the song that comes afterwards. And it also features some great narration from David McEwen. I would definitely recommend that you just listen to the entire from start until finish. With its 76 minutes it could definitely be prone to being too long, but it does not feel like it. This album holds a well crafted story with just as well crafted music. Just like any other album by Cradle I recommend that you sit down and immerse yourself into the music by reading the lyrics along to the music. Among my favourite excerpts from this album you will find: "A Promise of Fever", "An Enemy Led the Tempest", "Carrion", "Presents from the Poison-Hearted" and "Thank God for the Suffering". The two last songs in particular almost always manages to give me goosebumps. Even after more than ten years as a Cradle fan.
So who would I recommend this album to? Well, it is always hard to recommend Cradle of Filth albums as there is so many people out there who hates them. If you are into the early stuff this band put out, you should definitely check this album out. It is often overlooked, but in my opinion it stands tall and should not be dismissed. One of many great Cradle of Filth albums.
R.I.P. David McEwen.