Say what you want about Cradle of Filth. They have a quite a reputation and get a lot of flak from the Metal Underground, partly because I think people are jealous of the band's musical talent. It seems like anything involving talented musicians that bring quality music get hammered by those who strive for mediocrity. Cradle of Filth don't always soar high on every album they make, in fact most of their offerings don't possess what Cruelty does. This record is quality from start to finish.
If someone asked me what this CD sounded like I would tell them that it's pure drama made into music. The atmosphere can be incredibly dense at times, but then dip down and whirl back at you at the right time, never missing its mark. It's very beautiful the way COF pull the listener into their world and hold them until it's over. That kind of control is hard to master. A lot of this has to do with the way the songs are composed. Some are more complicated in their structure, but they are all equally engaging. You can't ignore it. Every aspect of the music interweaves like a flock of birds flying over head.
Lastly, I really enjoy how COF has the sensibility not to go all-out blasting through every song. The breaks and dips are all perfectly placed. For example, in "Beneath the Howling Stars" you get that gorgeous melodic breakdown where every note sucks into you like breath of fresh air, because up until that point in the song, its all up-tempo galloping.
For someone new to COF, I would recommend buying the Lovecraft and Witch Hearts double CD, or this CD. They are both great intros to the band.