CRADLE OF FILTH: The Inquisitional Torture North American Tour
w/ Butcher Babies, Ne Obliviscaris
31 January 2016 @ Fillmore Charlotte – Charlotte, NC
The Inquisitional Torture tour ravaged Charlotte recently with English stalwarts Cradle of Filth leading the charge with the Butcher Babies as well as Australian outfit Ne Obliviscaris.
The Australian tech-death maestro’s of Ne Obliviscaris were set to open the entire tour, but Cradle of Filth ran into some visa issues early on and Ne Obliviscaris performed a handful of solo dates in the Northeastern part of the U.S. early on. Given the situation, this really was the new official start of the tour. Those already familiar with the band’s albums know what to expect musically, but getting to experience it live is another thing entirely. And as someone who was already familiar with their albums, it wasn’t until seeing them live that really got my blood flowing.
There are very few bands that can unequivocally win me over with a live show, and even fewer that can be filed under “tech.” This style is usually relegated to keeping the “real” experience recorded where 120 loops in Pro Tools makes life easy. And while hearing a perfect song is great, sometimes it just ends up feeling cold. I’d rather hear the imperfections as it’s what gives songs their character oftentimes. But now I’m digressing into some haphazard philosophical nonsense here and that’s something I’ll leave alone.
All you need to know is they have live violin — and if that can’t sell you I don’t know what else can. I know I was wet.
Need to be honest here, Butcher Babies don’t excite any part of me. I sat through the whole show hoping something would leap out at me aside from the singers themselves but nothing happened. Additionally, they had the worst lighting of the night. You’d think a band that had two attractive lead singers would have had a bit more going on in the lighting department aside from drowning them out in red for most of the show. I can’t help but feel that this is a very real instance of ‘sex sells’ within the metal scene and as a business decision it makes perfect sense, but in terms of creativity and genuineness it ends up being merely a product rather than art. Unless we are willing to look at business decisions as art, which an argument could be made for — but not here.
Be that as it may, there’s no denying that they have tremendous crowd pull. Easily half of the audience was there for Butcher Babies — how do I know? Well, a funny thing happened to me when I went to go speak to the Ne Obliviscaris guys for a few minutes. I stood in line to talk to them and was pretty happy that they were getting a line of people wanting to talk to them. But something felt off about the line — I don’t know what it was and still can’t put my finger on it. I asked some of the people what they were in line for and got a very quick “The Butcher Babies are all here and signing and taking pictures!” I immediately hopped out of the line and went to chat with NeO.
And that’s when I realized fully just how big of a draw the Butcher Babies had.
Cradle of Filth’s first few albums had a pretty big impact on my introduction to any form of extreme metal. Dusk and Her Embrace and Cruelty and the Beast were pretty common albums for me to have playing in my car. Midian had its moments and then I fell off the Cradle of Filth bandwagon. I haven’t kept up with the band at all since then but I’ve checked out a little bit here and there including 2015’s Hammer of the Witches. That being said, despite their heavy influence on me when I was younger, I never got around to seeing them live until now.
Let’s be honest here, Cradle of Filth’s sound is single-handedly defined by Dani’s high pitched squeals and shrieks. And Dani brought that in spades. Having never seen the band before, it’s hard to compare this performance to others. While I wasn’t disappointed with the show — I wasn’t exactly blown away either. There was always something in the back of my head telling me that things weren’t quite right with the performance and I couldn’t really nail down what. Everyone seemed on their game to my ears, even Dani or so I thought. More on that momentarily.
The setlist was not kind to someone only really familiar with their first few albums. That isn’t exactly surprising and I wasn’t expecting a setlist catered to me. But I think this was one of the main causes that made me feel something was off with the performance. Almost as if Cradle was merely imitating itself at this point. And it wasn’t until they closed with ‘Her Ghost in the Fog’ that I was able to reconcile the issue.
You see, while Cradle is most known for Dani’s high’s — you can’t forget about his mids and lows. I always felt ‘Her Ghost in the Fog’ caught a lot of all three ranges. But when it was performed live, it ended up with Dani just speaking the lower end parts and shrieking through the rest. Maybe it was just an off night since he was only hours from being off the plane or maybe it’s typical Cradle in a live setting, but man did I really miss the lower end of things. The song just lost all vocal dynamics and theatrics and became a bit of a downer for me.
I know a lot of people have joked about the band since their inception really. Dani’s voice is either “love it or hate it.” I’ve always liked it, but I didn’t really want a set full of Dani Shriek.