Shelved since its completion two years ago, during which time a label home was fruitlessly sought, Lindsay Schoolcraft's debut solo album, 'Martyr', will imminently see the light of day through the self-released route. Known and embraced by Cradle of Filth fans, new and old, for the past 6 years as their keyboardist and clean vocalist, Schoolcraft's musical talents are given a workout within a different context on 'Martyr'. Originally releasing a solo EP in 2012, 'Rushing Through the Sky', this latest venture has seen her team up with former Evanescence and We Are The Fallen drummer and multi-instrumentalist Rocky Gray (at his suggestion), for a collaborative effort that's proven to be a very pleasant surprise indeed.
The emphasis here is not on blast beats, grand orchestrations and clichéd black metal idioms, so don't approach 'Martyr' expecting some sort of regurgitated Cradle sonics. The songs have been crafted more around noughties dark metal melancholy... albeit there are some great orchestrated parts to some of the songs (courtesy of Spencer Creaghan); just not in the sense of Cradle's cinematically charged grandeur. The true essence of this album, however, is Schoolcraft's voice and sense of melody.
Gray's guitars, bass and programmed drums (which give some tracks a kind of industrial flavour), are finely deployed throughout, bringing to life the compositions in ever-engaging ways, and integrated perfectly with Schoolcraft's keys and harp. However, it's her fantastic vocals that shine the brightest of all elements on 'Martyr' - a voice she's demonstrated through fleetingly sung parts in Cradle's repertoire, but proves herself more than capable of taking centre-stage and carrying the songs with some fantastic vocal lines ad refrains, all delivered through smooth-toned, captivating singing. In fact, she already proved her worth as a lead singer back on that 2012 EP, from which one song has been given a new makeover here - 'Into the Night'. However, her voice truly shines on her inaugural full-length outing.
Certain songs have been embellished by other elements, such as Ne Obliviscaris' Xenoyr guesting on 'See the Light' with some effective growls... maybe a teaser of what's to be expected from the long promised Schoolcraft/Xenoyr side-project, Antiqva? Gregorian and Orthodox chants also feature on a couple of different tracks, as does a children’s choir three more. And Schoolcraft/Gray take a step into cover territory for a great version of The Cure’s ‘Lullaby’.
Press blurb labels this as the “darkly romantic side of Schoolcraft's music”, and that’s a pretty apt description. Cradle, arguably, are also darkly romantic in their aesthetic, although ‘Martyr’ is more about songs than perpetuating any kind of genre expectations (and I love Cradle… always have, since the 90s… but their output has been largely dominated by paradigms over the years, through all their personnel changes). I hope ‘Martyr’ finds the audience of which it ever so deserves. I really do. This is great stuff from Schoolcraft/Gray.
Review by Mark Holmes
7th October 2019
2) Dangerous Game
4) Into the Night
5) Blood from a Stone
8) See the Light
9) Where I Fall
10) My Way Without You
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"...it's her fantastic vocals that shine the brightest of all elements on 'Martyr' - a voice she's demonstrated through fleetingly sung parts in Cradle's repertoire, but proves herself more than capable of taking centre-stage..."