By Carl Begai
British black metal heathens Cradle Of Filth have been through over 25 line-up changes since clawing their way into the spotlight in 1991. Following their 2012 album, The Manticore And Other Horrors, the band went through a noteworthy shake-up with the exit of original guitarist Paul Allender (for the second time), resulting in founding hellmouth Dani Filth conscripting two new guitarists and a keyboardist / backing vocalist. Canadian songstress Lindsay Matheson – better known pre-Cradle as the voice, heart and soul of Schoolcraft – was brought on board as said keyboardist / vocalist and, ultimately, Dani Filth’s on-stage foil. It’s a post she’s held since 2013 and she has no intention of leaving any time soon, which is a good thing when fans consider Lindsay played an important role in the making of Cradle Of Filth’s new critically acclaimed album, Hammer Of The Witches.
“I got so lucky,” says Lindsay. “They found me on Facebook. My predecessor left because she’d moved on to another gig, but it put the band in a tight spot because a world tour was coming up. At the time our old guitarist (Paul Allender) was living in Minnesota, and he knew Melissa Ferlaak from Visions Of Atlantis and asked her to do the tour. She told him she couldn’t do it, but she knew someone who could. I was freaking out when I sent in my cover letter and my demo, which was my acoustic version of ‘Nymphetamine’, because I wanted the job so badly. I waited from Christmas to New Year’s for an answer and it was the longest two weeks of my life. Their manager called in the first week of January 2013 and told me I got it. I had to fly out to Minnesota to meet our guitarist, and I got to quit university which was kinda cool (laughs).”
Lindsay admits that being a Cradle Of Filth fan didn’t prepare her for the experience of being part of the band. She had no idea how deeply she would be involved in creating Hammer Of The Witches.
“I didn’t know what I was getting into because I’ve never written an album long distance before. It was the strangest experience. The thing was, I was hired as a temporary replacement just as a part of the live band. In the first few weeks of the tour Dani got to know me – we didn’t really get a chance to talk until we were into the South American tour – and we figured we’d just grab a drink and talk for an hour. We stayed up until 5:30am talking. I showed him my solo stuff and he said ‘That’s beautiful: can you do that for Cradle?’ which surprised me, but that didn’t transpire until we got our new guitarists Rich (Shaw) and Ashok (Šmerda) in the band. Me and bassist Dan Firth started writing stuff on our own for Cradle, and ‘Yours Immortally…’ and ‘Hammer Of The Witches’ were the first demos for the new album that we did together. We showed them to Dani and I think that kind of lit a fire under his ass and convinced him we could do things with this new line-up.” Continue reading CRADLE OF FILTH – A Lesson In The Art Of SCHOOLCRAFT
By Carl Begai
During Masterplan’s recent European tour in support of their new album, Novum Intium, I caught up with guitarist / founder Roland Grapow (ex-Helloween) to discuss the current state of the band, which went through some major line-up changes between the recording of the new record and Time To Be King from 2010. Not only did At Vance singer Rick Altzi replace original vocalist Jorn Lande, but somewhere along the way Grapow managed to pick up ex-Stratovarius bassist Jari Kainulainen and current Cradle Of Filth drummer Martin Skaroupka.
“I’m just searching for the best musicians,” says Grapow. “Jari contacted me three years ago on Facebook and mentioned that if Masterplan needed a bassist he was available. I told him no, that I wasn’t interested, but when Jan (S. Eckert) left I contacted Jari because if somebody wants to be a part of the band, they have experience, and he’s a nice guy I’ll welcome him on board. I knew Jari from when Stratovarius toured with Helloween and from doing a solo show with Stratovarius in Paris. I want good musicians, not egotistical people or troublemakers, and Jari is a great guy.”
Kainulainen is also cut from the same musical cloth as Grapow, making for an easy partnership. Skaroupka’s presence in the band both in the studio and on the road is harder to grasp given his black metal day job with Cradle Of Filth.
“I was recording a band from the Czech Republic who told me their drummer was in a famous band called Cradle Of Filth,” Grapow says of bringing Skaroupka on board. “I’d heard some of the Cradle albums because I’m always checking out different productions, but I kind of rolled my eyes at that. Then I saw some rehearsal room footage on YouTube – no tricks – and I thought ‘What the fuck? This guy is amazing.’ He’s such a tight and powerful drummer, so I invited him to come down to the studio. He told me it was an honour because he was a big Masterplan fan. I was like, ‘What?!’ But it’s true, he’s in Cradle Of Filth and he loves Helloween, Gamma Ray and Stratovarius. In fact, when Jörg Michael left Stratovarius, Martin was interested in playing for them.” Continue reading MASTERPLAN – Rocking With CRADLE OF FILTH, Rolling Back To HELLOWEEN (Sort Of…)
By Carl Begai
Back in May singer Sarah Jezebel Deva – best known as Cradle Of Filth’s backing vocalist – released a three song EP entitled Malediction. A noteworthy move not only because it came out barely a year after her second full length album, The Corruption Of Mercy, but because of the guest artists she and guitarist / producer Dan Abela welcomed on board for the production. Sarah’s former Cradle Of Filth bandmate Martin Powell (keyboards) was reportedly lured in with the promise of a Mars bar and some soap, while Soilwork frontman Björn “Speed” Strid agreed quite unexpectedly to sing on the duet ‘Lies Define Us’ without ever having met anyone involved. The biggest shock, however, was Cradle Of Filth frontman Dani Filth willingly lending his talents to the last song, ‘This Is My Curse’. A “shock” not only because the short-but-deadly singer is basically playing second string to part of his former support staff, but because Sarah had said numerous times in interviews that she would “never” work with Cradle Of Filth in any capacity ever again.
Lo and behold, she appears on the Cradle’s new orchestral album Midnight In The Labyrinth and Dani can be heard shrieking up a storm in Sarah’s house.
“I won’t make it a secret that me and Dani didn’t speak for three years, until he contacted me in January of this year asking me to do Midnight In The Labyrinth,” Sarah reveals. “I left Cradle because it was the right time. Me and Dani were having all kinds of altercations, and I’ve always viewed Dani as my brother, so it was hard. I love him but I hate him (laughs). We’re very much on the same page in some aspects, but it was time to go. I always thought that Dani and I would never communicate again, and I was quite happy with that even though there was a sense of missing him. I’d also met someone, and I wanted to do my own thing, so I left the band and went to Australia in November 2008. I never got a ‘Thank you for all that you’ve done for this band…’ or anything. I was in contact with Dave (Pybus/bass) but that was the only real contact I had to that part of my life. So, getting that call from Dani, I was really chuffed. I was skeptical at first, but I thought to myself, ‘You know, now it’s time to grow up.’” Continue reading SARAH JEZEBEL DEVA – Curse And Cradle (Living Filthy)
By Carl Begai
Not quite a year has passed since the release of her second official solo album, The Corruption Of Mercy, yet former Cradle Of Filth backing vocalist Sarah Jezebel Deva is back with new music. Short but not exactly sweet, the three-song Malediction EP will be embraced by the diehard fans as a rousing stand-alone success. It’s also guaranteed to attract the attention of folks that normally wouldn’t have given Sarah and her bandmates the time of day, perhaps convincing them to stick around future escapades
Sarah makes it clear up front that Malediction isn’t the result of too many leftovers from the Corruption Of Mercy sessions. Nor is it a shot at trying to obliterate said album from memory as she did to her 2010 solo debut A Sign Of Sublime – which she considers a disappointment – with her previous outing.
“We didn’t have these songs lying about or anything like that,” she begins. “We never planned on doing this EP up until four or five months ago, and it was actually three things that led to making Malediction. We had a UK tour coming up, and the UK doesn’t give a shit about us. I suppose if I was a size 0 and had fake boobs to sell magazines they’d give a shit about me, but because we had the tour coming up we needed something to promote it so that people know we exist. The other part of it was loyalty to the record company (Listenable Records). We’ve suffered a lot because of illegal downloading and our physical sales are minimal, but the label has been so supportive since signing Angtoria (in 2006) that I felt I owed them something. And we did this for the fans. It’s a cheap buy so it’s not going to break the bank, and we’re not expecting to make any money off it. We want our fans to know we give a shit and they’ll be able to spread the word about the band. We absolutely love it and we hope that everyone sees what we see in it.”
“The internet is such a powerful tool, and we want or fans to be able to see us. We get so many requests from all over the world, and the chances of us playing the US or Canada or South America are really low without people knowing who we are.”
Sarah is adamant about pushing the new EP as a band effort rather than a solo project, stepping up the claim of working in a unit that was established with The Corruption Of Mercy. She and guitarist/producer Dan Abela are the creative heart of the band, and their collective brainstorm of ideas for Malediction resulted in a few outstanding surprises for fans and naysayers alike.
“Me and Dan do everything together – and to elaborate on that, we don’t sleep together and we don’t use the same toothbrush – which means that whatever I do for this band I clear with him, and vice versa. It’s not because we’re the bosses, it’s because we do most of the songwriting. We believe, and from my past experience, if you don’t communicate in a band it goes tits up very quickly. We have this understanding that we tell each other everything so that nobody can be accused of anything and there won’t be any problems.” Continue reading BW&BK Interview: SARAH JEZEBEL DEVA – Band For Life
I was recently given an advance listen to vocalist Sarah Jezebel Deva’s new three-track Malediction EP, due to be released via Listenable Records on May 28th. Following is a rundown of what the digital-only shot in the head has to offer…
Back when vinyl was king, it was common for bands to release 12” EPs featuring exclusive material to tide fans over while waiting for the artist’s next full length album. More often than not this material was top notch stuff rather than the uninspired cut / paste filler “bonus tracks” that often get tacked onto the end of present day releases. That said, it’s something of a pity that vocalist Sarah Jezebel Deva’s new Malediction EP is a digital-only affair, because the three songs featured reflect that era; quality music created in the interest of giving the fans something special.
Malediction is short, sweet, and to the bloody point, boasting material as good as if not better than that featured on Sarah’s previous solo outing, The Corruption Of Mercy. Lead track ‘Lies Define Us’ is a gorgeous and memorable hook-laden piece standing head and shoulders above typical goth metal fluff, featuring Soilwork frontman Björn “Speed” Strid singing clean harmonies against Sarah’s leads and clocking in under four minutes for maximum impact. In contrast, ‘When “It” Catches Up With You’ is about the Sarah Jezebel Deva band as a whole rather than being a vocal showcase, officially smacking Angtoria off its pedestal as being the strongest band-oriented work Ms. Deva has ever done thanks to riff-heavy guitars, monster drums, with everyone involved getting a chance to shine.
The icing on the cake, however – or the thorn in the eye as he’d probably dub it himself – is Cradle Of Filth frontman Dani trading lead vocals with his former backing singer on ‘This Is My Curse’. And it’s a performance guaranteed to please any fan of the Nyphetamine and Thornography albums. Continue reading SARAH JEZEBEL DEVA – Malediction
By Carl Begai
It doesn’t matter if you don’t like Sarah Jezebel Deva’s first solo album, A Sign Of Sublime. It matters that she doesn’t like it.
Released in early 2010, A Sign Of Sublime should have been Sarah’s triumphant return to center stage after making her mark four years earlier fronting Angtoria. A host of production woes and assorted cock-ups turned into little more than a nice try as far as she’s concerned. Rather than cop a wallowing “why me?” attitude,she chose to play live as much as her wallet and promoters would allow, with her heart set on a follow-up that would smoke A Sign Of Sublime into nothing more than a drink-addled memory. That mission has been accomplished in epic fashion with The Corruption Of Mercy, the album that should have followed Angtoria’s debut, God Has A Plan For Us All, and shares a similar vibe and attitude.
“You know, to be honest I don’t think it sounds anything like Angtoria in any way, other than some big orchestrations,” says Sarah, “but people need to find something to compare it to. And yes, it does smoke A Sign Of Sublime. That was the intention; to make sure people forgot that album, but only because of the mess it was left in thanks to a certain man at a certain record company. Dan (Abela / guitars) and I wrote this album together, alone, in a dark room, naked…. actually, no dark room (laughs). AblaZ (God’s Army), the bass player, wrote a track, so did Luke Sibthorpe (The Dead Lay Waiting), and then Pzy-Clone (The Kovenant) added his amazing parts, which was the icing on the cake for us.”
“So, to answer your question, Dan and I were directors with an aim, and that aim was to take over the world and to make sure people could notice a major difference in writing, recording and all aspects of production. We have the same musical tastes, or very similar, but of course we never once said ‘Right, gotta rip this band off’ or ‘Gotta sound like this band to give us huge record sales…’.”
Continue reading SARAH JEZEBEL DEVA – Redemption Songs