Years before they played orchestral, convoluted gothic / black metal and titillated rebellious fans with slogans like “Jesus is a C--t,” Cradle of Filth were a novel, literate death metal band that played straightforward chainsaw riffs and relied on classical-influenced keyboard passages to provide atmosphere, not drive the songs. The group’s first album, The Principle of Evil Made Flesh, which came out Feb. 24, 1994, is raw and simple, but not icy or nature-influenced enough to qualify as genuine black metal.
That doesn’t mean it’s not a visceral or innovative. In fact, the scarcity of tremolo riffs, sepulchral shrieks and perpetual blast beats makes it a more enticing debut than many albums by Nordic bands the underground was fawning after. At the same time, compared to the handful of death metal demos that preceded it, The Principle of Evil Made Flesh is a leap further into the black.