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Cradle of Filth Godspeed On The Devil’s Thunder

Time for a history lesson, kiddies. Gilles de Rais was one of the world’s most notorious serial killers. Although the actual body count is hard to pin down because he cremated the victims, he murdered anywhere from 80 to 200 children during his Fifteenth Century reign of terror. Cradle of Filth tell his story as only they can against a backdrop of brilliant musicianship in their latest release, Godspeed On The Devil’s Thunder.

OK, Cliff Notes version: De Rais was originally a French Nobleman, who was a devout church supporter and French war hero fighting beside Joan of Arc herself during the Hundred Years War. After Joan’s death, he began a descent into debauchery, Alchemy, and murder. When he started to deplete his fortunes, his mentor Francesco Prelati – who was teaching him occultism – promised de Rais that he could regain his fortune by sacrificing children to a specific demon. This was a task de Rais took on with too much relish, taking pleasure in the suffering of his young victims. He was executed by hanging on Oct. 26, 1440 at the age of 36. In fact, the narration throughout the album – delivered by Doug Bradley’s haunting voice – was taken directly from the secular court’s trial transcripts.

Cradle- frontman Dani Filth, guitarists Paul Allender and Charles Hedger, bassist Dave Pybus, keyboardist Rosie Smith, female vocalist Sarah Jezebel Deva, and drummer Martin Skaroupka – ride along on thundering hooves on de Rais’ descent into darkness.

The atmospheric, mood building intro "In Grandeur and Frankincense Devilment Stirs" cushions the initial narrative by aforementioned guest Doug Bradley leading us into the sordid tale. "Shat Out of Hell" serves as an introduction or mini bio to this perverse persona. "The Death of Love" – my favorite on the album – is a duet between de Rais and the Maid of Orleans, de Rais showing his love and devotion to her. "The 13th Caesar" shows the hatred that filled him after Joan’s death and his descent into darkness. The reign of terror begins!

"Tiffauges" shows de Rais’ flirtation with and exploration of demonology. Outside of Bradley’s narration, the song is otherwise a dark instrumental. "Tragic Kingdom" lays bare the atrocities going on behind de Rais’ walls. "Sweetest Malefica" has Doug chanting what sounds like an authentic medieval conjuration, bringing Waite’s “Book of Black Magic” to mind. The epic "Honey & Sulpher" has minions dressed as wolves kidnapping children for the tortures and murders going on inside the castle walls (with gripping Latin chanting of “Praeclarum Custodem Ovium Lupum” interspersed).

"Midnight Shadows Crawl to Darken Counsel With Life" is taken directly from de Rais’ confessions during his trial. "Darkness Incarnate" is a pure nightmare where the ghosts of his victims come back to haunt de Rais. (There’s a child singing at the end, and the bass is brilliant!) " Ten Leagues Beneath Contempt" shows the pure fear and trepidation de Rais faces when church forces are coming for him. The unforgiving "Godspeed on the Devil’s Thunder" depicts de Rais’ execution. The dramatic "Corpseflower" is an outro with deep reflections by de Rais.

~Athena Schaffer