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Cradle Of Filth - Midian
(Music For Nations/Koch)

Aah yes. . . Circus Of Filth, Dani and his ever-dropping and reconstituting line-up, returning for another black dance under the microscope. To be British and black metal has always been this act's seemingly inconsequential trump. And Midian repronounces that importance by being less devilish and more devilishly literary, Dani looking under Ipswich rocks for expressions of sin on this earth, in your head, in rotten human housing. All the while his assembled filthies (now including At The Gates drummer Adrian Erlandsson and My Dying Bride keyboardist/violinists Martin Powell) create a furtive, obsessive heavy metal drama, more speed, thrash and death in velocity than black, crunched and cracked with more pronounced guitars, which carve into some of the increasing number of slow, doomy passages with a basic instinctual might uncharacteristic of the band's previous thin din. Vocally, Dani has added a few personalities which flit like flies around his career-limiting black caw. Some are more singful and some are even more grating, dry and breathless. The fact is, the filthies are the most successful black metal band on the planet. Why? Because they have flair, ambition and are uniquely British. It's almost as if the band has found heavy metal the roundabout way, wading through the cinematic visuals, no time for actually listening to their competitors, arranging a team of veteran pros who together burn a CD that is the full actualization of the band's collective firepower.
Rating 8.5

Lizzy Borden - Deal With The Devil
(Metal Blade)

Never much of a fan of Lizzy's b-league b-movie b-prime in the mid '80s, but the man has found a way to balance the surprisingly commercial melodies from that era with the good playing and production required right now. Deal With The Devil is a mix of songs melodramatic and dramatic. Lead track There Will Be Blood Tonight and The World Is Mine are two of the better tracks capturing that Alice Cooper/Tubes/Rocky Horror vibes that can turn something cheesy like this into Halloween fun. Then there's an actual Alice Cooper cover and a perky version of Blue Oyster Cult's (This Ain't) The Summer Of Love for light relief if Lizzy's tale gets tiring for you. Ultimately, Deal With The Devil is more than occasionally mediocre, but then the boys cycle back to some pretty sturdy traditional melodies that recall the NWOBHM especially with Lizzy's cool "Bruce in Samson" vocals. Like Metal Church with Masterpeace, it's hard to reach back and clutch the future at the same time, but when it works, it's a vaguely satisfying, fairly rare sensation.
Rating 7

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