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The Cradle of Filth Interview With Guitarist Paul Allender "We decided we couldn’t go backwards "

I recently had a chat by phone with Paul Allender, the multi-talented lead guitarist of British extreme metal band Cradle of Filth, who is currently touring North America in support of his band’s new album, Darkly, Darkly, Venus Aversa. If you haven’t heard it yet, it is an absolute ripper, full of blastbeats, lightning-quick riffs, and incredible solos and is permeated with dark playful melodies that create a powerful, atmospheric, and polished album. The album is a concept album and follows the story of Lilith, the Biblical Adam’s first wife; the story is dark, twisted, and full of the occult and violent imagery that Cradle have long espoused. In other words, it’s awesome.

 Currently in the Midwest, Cradle will be heading to Canada for a few dates before heading down the Eastern seaboard with supporting bands Nachtmystium, Turisas, and Daniel Lioneye. Get ready for a crazy show!

 Let me start off by saying congratulations on the new album, Darkly, Darkly, Venus Aversa. It’s a great album that has a grandiose cinematic and operatic quality to it while also being some of Cradle’s fastest and most aggressive material to date. How would you describe this album compared to the other albums in the Cradle of Filth catalogue?

 Well, you just said it! [laughs] I definitely think it’s faster. This time around, we focused on putting the keys and the orchestration underneath the guitars, so instead of having the guitars more audible this time we decided to give the guitars more of a symphonic base. When it comes to the orchestration, they all come to the forefront when necessary, but you can still understand the riffs better. We tried messing around with more synth and keyboard stuff this time as well as orchestration to make it sound a bit different, you know?

 When you listen to the album, with the figure of Lilith as the central figure of the album, you pick up on different story lines represented in the instrumentation. What you said, though, despite all the operatic elements, the guitars really are heavy hitting on this album.

 Yeah, absolutely. That’s kind of our focus as well. When we started off writing this album, it wasn’t like, “Oh, we got to make sure it’s this and this and this and this.” We decided we couldn’t go backwards again to the Thornogrophy stuff from Godspeed. Godspeed wasn’t the way we were going to go. So we couldn’t go backwards, so what we could do was go faster, so, well, we did go faster!

Well I think it’s a great decision and I love it and I think a lot of other people do too, judging from what I’ve heard about the reaction to the album.

Yeah, it’s been an amazing reaction.

Like you said, this album is perhaps your most musically complex, have you had to change anything when performing live?

No, not at all. All of the new stuff we’re performing live is basically the exact same as the album.

That’s amazing. Speaking of performing live, you recently embarked on the “Creatures from the Black Abyss Tour,” on the first of February, your first North American tour since 2009, and it’s really almost a brutal schedule. I did the counting and you have 31 venues all over the US and into Canada. How is it going so far?

It’s going amazing, actually! [laughs] We’ve been on the road for now two weeks or something like that, and we’re just starting to get in the swing of it. The band now, we’re starting to gel really well together onstage, and once you get used to playing and touring and stuff, it starts becoming effortless and you can really get into the shows and you don’t have to think what you’re doing.

I read on the Cradle of Filth blog that some of the band picked up a bug in Mexico, are you all feeling better?


Oh, no, we’re all still sick. Actually, today, I just started to feel better.

I’m sorry to hear that, I hope it passes quickly!

The last gig we did, we had a day off yesterday, but the day before I felt like fucking shit, man. I had no energy at all whatsoever.

So you were in Mexico and you’re going up to Canada soon, are there any differences between the crowds in America and Europe? I know the South Americans have a reputation for going crazy and being rowdy…

Yeah, South America is amazing for crowds. Don’t get me wrong, everywhere the crowds are amazing, but I think because in South America and Mexico bands don’t go down there, they’re not spoiled like everybody else is, like in America and Europe. England is completely spoiled with bands. Down there, it’s the only place where we play on stage and you’ve got 2,000 kids singing all the guitar riffs. You go, “Oh, fuck,” it’s amazing.


It must be great seeing so many people reacting so strongly to your music. I look forward to seeing you guys in New York and I’m sure you guys will have some tricks up your sleeves for the live show.

Oh yeah, there’s some fun stuff.

I’ve read about your next album coming up, which I believe Dani is on record as saying will be recorded in December, Midnight in the Labyrinth…

It’s not actually our next album, we’re not playing on it, it’s just an orchestral album. Basically what it is is songs taken from our first four albums turned into orchestral pieces. There are no vocals, guitar tracks, or anything like that. It doesn’t really constitute our next album, it’s more just something we want to release in the interim while we do the next full-length album.

That’s really exciting, bringing in a whole orchestra. What sort of involvement does the band have in something like that?

Well, all of it, basically. We sit down with everybody go over the orchestration, go over the whole lot with them, and talk to them and get the whole feel. Then we do it: score it all out, put it all down, and listen back to it. We say, “Yeah, that sounds cool,” or, “Change this and that bit.” We actually use one of the orchestral pieces from the album as an intro for our gigs.

Do you think there’s a possibility of you guys ever performing with an orchestra?

Yeah, one day. We’ve always wanted to do that. It’s difficult, you know. It’s like, in this day and age, the economies are tight.

Something else I would like to talk to you about is your art project, Vomitorium. I understand you work with photographer Cindy Frey and produce digitally altered images. I’ve looked at them and they are fascinating and downright scary.


Can you talk about how Vomitorium got started and what led to your collaboration with Cindy? And have you always had an inclination towards the visual arts as well as music or is that something that developed later in life?

I’ve always been more inclined to the visual arts, even before I got to music. My dad taught me years ago how to oil paint. So I got into that and then I got into guitar playing. Later, my friend Cindy and I just got talking and decided to put some artwork out and see what happens and it went really well. She took some photographs and I messed around with them and it all went from there. Right now, I’m really busy and she’s really busy, so I pretty much do it on my own now. I’m taking a lot of photographs myself. Instead of waiting, I want stuff done straight away, so when I’m walking around and see stuff I want to take pictures of, I do it. I will be doing some more stuff with her eventually, but most of it right now is done by myself.

Very cool. One image I thought was particularly cool was a picture of a small alcove in a church.

Oh, yeah. I’ve been approached by a bunch of companies as well that are interested in putting my artwork on t-shirts. I’ve got a lot on my plate right now so I’m not sure if it’ll happen or not, but there’s interest there and I’m going to follow it and if it happens then it happens.

I’m sure if you ever do turn them into t-shirts they’ll be bound to turn some heads because, as you know, many t-shirts associated with Cradle of Filth have done so in the past…

Well yeah, exactly. I mean the images are strong enough that you look at them and go, “What the fuck…” It’s got the shock factor as well, you know?

Definitely. Well I know you’ve got a show tonight, so I’d like to ask you one more question, spawned from something I read that Dani posted on the Cradle blog. With 2010 now in your rearview mirror, I was wondering what you would say are some of your top albums of the past year? I was happy to see Dani included Ghost’s Opus Eponymous in his top ten.

Yeah, Ghost, I really liked that album as well. To be honest, I’m not really into newer stuff, I haven’t really come across newer stuff where I go, “That’s fucking amazing.” The Ghost album is really cool, I bought that on iTunes. I’m still a massive fan of a lot of the old metal. All of my iTunes, iPod, and everything else, whatever you want to call it, all consists of the oldies, Priest and Maiden and Motörhead.

It’s hard to go wrong with those.

Yeah, exactly.

And here I said goodbye to Paul and wished him the best on the tour. I’ll be at their show in New York at the Best Buy Theatre on March 3rd, taking photographs and enjoying a night of great music. Hope to see some of you there!

1 Comment

  1. Silencio on November 21, 2021 at 4:09 pm

    Wow, it’s amazing to know how some others artforms can complement such complex person and talented guitarist.

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