On May 5, Cradle of Filth’s Cruelty and the Beast album celebrated its 20th anniversary originally released by the label Music for Nations, its third full-length release from them, which provided a small window for fans to explore both gothic and black metal. Although CoF never truly had set a genre stretching from Death to Symphonic Black to Gothic and Extreme metal, perhaps this is the reason they have been able to keep and grow their fanbase especially with more conceptual alums and horror tales.

Speaking of conceptual albums made famous by King Diamond with regard to his ‘Abigail’ and ‘Them’ stories, this tale based itself on the legend of the Hungarian Elizabeth Báthory, The Countess. She tortured and murdered many young women perhaps 100s in the 16th and 17th centuries with unfounded stories telling of her bathing in the blood of her victims to rejuvenate her skin like if she was a vampire. Therefore, CoF already generating interesting conceptual artwork, lyrics and music that brought an aggressive nature to the forefront, attack one’s ears, and mind.

Track Listing:

01. Once Upon Atrocity (instrumental)
02. Thirteen Autumns And A Widow
03. Cruelty Brought Thee Orchids
04. Beneath The Howling Stars
05. Venus In Fear (instrumental)
06. Desire In Violent Overture
07. The Twisted Nails Of Faith
08. Bathory Aria

  • Benighted Like Usher
  • A Murder Of Ravens In Fugue
  • Eyes That Witnessed Madness

09. Portrait Of The Dead Countess (instrumental)
10. Lustmord And Wargasm (The Lick Of Carnivorous Winds)


Band Members:

Stuart Anstis – Guitars

Robin Graves – Bass

Nicholas Barker – Drums

Dani Filth – Vocal

Gian Pyres – Guitars

Lecter – Keyboards

Sarah Jezebel Deva – Vocals (Guest)

Ingrid Pitt – Elizabeth Bathory Narration – Tracks 7 and 8)

Mez – Artwork, Layout


This record is not a true manner a raw black metal album, as one thinks of the genre bands such as Darkthrone, Dissection and Marduk, however the tendencies exist, with “Cruelty and the Beast” borrowing from the past. They provide a thick level of atmospheric richness and add in a measured amount of gothic rock qualities, Dani’s vocals from the screeching screamings echoing a wounded wolf enhance the impressive concept overall.

*1 – Only one source stated the date of the of April 27, 1998, whole 10 other sources confirm the date of May 5, 1998.

*2 -A minor footnote: in 2001, Koch released a reissue of this album, which included a bonus CD:

  1. Black Metal [Venom cover]
    12. Hallowed Be Thy Name (Shallow Be My Grave) [Iron Maiden cover]
    13. Sodomy & Lust [Sodom cover]
    14. Twisting Further Nails [Cruci-fiction mix version]


Baron’s Rating: 4/5