October 25, 2016
When it comes to extremity in art, Cradle of Filth have stood proudly above their peers. And, if they had their way, atop a pile of burning bodies.
Their three albums for Music for Nations (Sony Music’s ‘naughty corner’ alt/metal label) broke new ground in the Extreme Metal genre.
With Halloween round the corner, Dani Filth, vocalist from Suffolk’s proudest musical export, talks us through the artwork for these three seminal records.
The cover for ‘Dusk and Her Embrace’ was an amalgam of two very distinct artists -the photography director Nigel Wingrove and the ghost hunter/photographer Simon Marsden.
Simon’s haunted castles and landscapes were perfect representation for the album and coupled with Nigel’s salacious gothic models -which were super-imposed over the eerie scenes and sought to have something of the forest and ruins about them- served to bring to life the music we’d so long laboured over.
We’d already worked with Nigel Wingrove on the two previous album covers and he also contributed some solo art pieces to the ‘Dusk’ album and the inside band line-up parody of The Last Supper, complete with Christlike female victim.
In respect to our involvement with Simon Marsden, whilst recording the album myself and then-keyboardist Damien travelled halfway across England from Birmingham to rural Lincolnshire to visit him at his Gothic edifice to discuss what pieces we desired to use. He seemed the very epitome of a ghost-hunter or writer, everything about him felt like it was from another age, almost like a character from one of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s spookier jaunts. We were enthralled by this eccentric elder gentleman and his work, which is simply superb, suffusing the artwork throughout the album with a great swathe of haunting melancholia and serving as a perfect backdrop to Nigel Wingrove’s classically beautiful models.
On this particular album, which concerns itself with the story of Elizabeth Bathory, the 17th century Hungarian noble woman who was purported to have bathed in the blood of her female victims, we turned to a photographer by the name of Stu Williamson to flesh out her story. Stu has a very eclectic style, almost biblical, and I think the work he undertook for this album ranks amongst the band’s best.
Having finished the solo pictures and a full band photoshoot at an old Medieval manor, Stu was left alone with his own devices to encapsulate the essence of the album. And he almost succeeded in his first session with nightclub owner/model Louisa Morando, whom we had chosen for her archetypal vampiric look, having previously danced for us live. When I say ‘almost’ I mean he did a fantastic job with his interpretation, but when I spoke to him on the telephone shortly after the shoot, I asked him how the bloodbath shot had turned out.
Rather embarrassingly he admitted that he had forgotten to photograph said scene (despite it being the most obvious affiliation with Lady Bathory) and so he had to recall Louisa from the train back to London to hastily shoot the image before deadline.
Which is pretty strange considering just how iconic that image of her sitting in the bath actually is (it became the album cover after all and was also voted one of the best Metal artworks of all time).
True story, even if that of Elizabeth Bathory has been somewhat exaggerated over the centuries…
I had been a fan of J.K.Potter’s for years ever since a friend introduced me to his work.
And remember, this was prior to commercially available photoshop, so his blend of creepy photo montage was totally unique. At least to me. It perfectly encapsulated the essence we wanted to achieve with ‘Midian’, a title that represented the apostate underground kingdom of Clive Barker’s Nightbreed.
I approached Mr. Potter, once he agreed on undertaking the project (though apparently, and despite his illustrating all manner of depraved fiction, he was initially wary of working with us because of the subject matter, that is until he saw the reasonable budget and we’d had a chance to chat and verify things with him…), with a lengthy, descriptive missive faxed in the middle of the night, full of frothy word-bytes and lyrical ideas.
I actually might’ve overdone it a bit, as I didn’t hear from him for a couple of days, but then his twisted images started crawling through. And it was brilliant fun working alongside him. He really found the essence of the music although he didn’t actually get to hear the album until it was released, populating it’s corridors with a menagerie of mythical monsters and devilish outcasts. Just like it’s musicians!
The individual photos were a little tongue-in-cheek mind -and I believe Mr.Potter wishes he’d made them a little more intense- (Robin actually ended up as a face on a starfish at one point) but overall, the album once finished, became a magickal display of his photographic montage prowess.
A literal chamber of horrors.
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