Cradle Of Judah has its genesis in Boston with main man Gabriel Ohara Durkee of black metal/hardcore crust punk band Human Bodies (with whom he was the guitarist, vocalist, and primary songwriter). Once Durkee moved to New Hampshire he began writing more for this project, with recording commencing around October 2020.
By contrast to Human Bodies, Cradle Of Judah take a distinctly mellower route and one which stands in stark contrast to the band’s name. Upon further investigation, I discovered it was one of the most sophisticated of the Spanish Inquisition’s inventions, created as a way of dealing with heretics. Unfortunately, I cannot possibly disclose how it worked due to its extremely graphic nature, suffice to say it was far from pleasant and would have matched perfectly the cruelty and barbarity often exhibited by the Inquisition.
Marching To The Gallows Pt. I is the shortest track on the album and serves as an introduction to the record. Ominous sounding Drums, feedback, and bizarre sound effects are all present and effective at creating the illusion that it is you who is the poor unfortunate that is about to meet their maker. Gone will delight anyone (like me) who adores both Swans circa 89-92 and Gira’s overlooked Angels of Light Folk project. There is a beautifully mournful and hopeless quality exemplified by lyrics such as ‘Our sun has set forever, no afterglow’.
Roots Of Perdition meanwhile reminds one of Death In June who are pretty much the godfathers of the whole neo-folk genre, while Play With Fire is a cover of a Rolling Stones track (originally released under the Nanker Phelge moniker) which Durkee gives more of a gothic Americana twist to that will make followers of bands such as Wovenhand sit up and take notice. I’ve never been a fan of The Stones, but Cradle Of Judah does a sterling job of turning a fairly average track into something really special, a standout for sure.
depression has never sounded so enchanting…
The Absence Of Love has an experimental post-punk aesthetic and is predominantly instrumental. The sample (courtesy of Jason Tucker who also handles additional percussion/noises on the album) is not one I recognise but I wouldn’t be surprised if it originated from any number of New German Cinema movies by the likes of Wim Winders, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, and Werner Herzog. The track certainly shares the artistic ambitions of the aforementioned directors and hence is what makes it so alluring.
With lyrics like ‘Every day is ugly, black days are here’ Life And Love’s Futility is probably not a track you would want to be played at your wedding or any number of otherwise joyful occasions, but aurally at least depression has never sounded so enchanting. Afterglow at just over five minutes is the longest track on the record with a shoegaze/dream-pop aura along the lines of Galaxie 500 and Slowdive, there are even hints of neo-psychedelia reflective of bands such as The Church, all of which make for a sprawling divine piece that will have you enraptured throughout.
Marching To The Gallows Pt. II is a continuation of the opening track but with synths employed, making it sound akin to any number of late 80s/early 90s video game soundtracks, or as it’s annoyingly labelled these days, dungeon synth (I hate that term). Lonesome Planet adopts an apocalyptic tone which considering the grim lyrical themes heard throughout the album, makes this a seemingly appropriate way to conclude proceedings.
Whatever genre is ascribed to it (neo-folk, gothic-folk, dark-folk etc) is irrelevant, this is an assured and gorgeous album that I have no hesitation in heartily recommending.
Scribed by: Reza Mills