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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Cathedral - The Guessing Game

Jesus Would Give The Thumbs Up.

Cathedral is a psychedelic doom/sludge rock band from the UK. Having released such classic doom metal/rock albums in their career such as "Forest of Equilibrium" and "The Ethereal Mirror." This new album expands upon the influence of 60s and 70s progressive and psychedelic music's on the band's more traditional sound.
"The Guessing Game" is a double-album that encompasses the sound that Cathedral has fooled around with and experimented in throughout their career. An overall sound is both present and elusive within these albums; taking elements from classic doom/heavy metal, 70's prog-rock, 60's psychedelia, and even elements of blues and jazz make their way into the mix. If a fist in the face is what you're looking for, you better search elsewhere, cause that is not what you'll find here. The production on this record is also very fitting, the whole thing flows together, even though some tracks feel more modern and others more retro sounding, they never sound worse or better, production wise, than each other.
After the trippy-sludge intro track, Immaculate Misconception, the band kicks straight into a song that sounds like it came from the mid 70s era of prog-rock. Funeral of Dreams, despite it's name, perfectly fits that early heavy metal mixed with psychedelic rock fusion that Lee Dorrian has been perfecting for all these years. This track comes from a world where members of Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, and King Crimson all jammed together. The instrumental title-track, The Guessing Game, sounds like a page taken straight out of Genesis' book.
As much as the music is eclectic sounding, Dorrian's vocals are also able to change themselves up from song to song. Within a song like Death of An Anarchist, you'll find some rough sounding, punk-like singing that changes to a whisper type of singing during it's chorus; while the first track to be released, Edwige's Eyes, has a more traditional slower, rough spoken vocals that Dorrian has used for years.
The album title is one of the most fitting I've heard in a while, as it actually describes the music perfectly; every song will have you wondering what the next will sound like. For some, this may turn you off if you were looking for your standard doom metal record with slow tempos and dramatic vocals, as this is most certainly not that. As mentioned many times, and just to reiterate again, this album moves from a classic Black Sabbath styled doom sound to acoustic blues songs to trippy punk from song to song without missing a step.
Despite this album's length, around 85 minutes, it rarely gets boring or grating on your nerves. Shifts from style to style, or speed to speed, help to diversify the album immensely improves it's captivating abilities on a listener. The addition of extra instruments besides vocals, guitars, drums, and bass also make these songs more interesting; the use of keys and synthesizers, listen to The Running Man for an ideal picture of this, as well as extra percussion, the usual flutes, and an auto harp allow more to pick out within these songs. More listens will reveal more textured sounds on each song.
No song has ever helped to sum up the sound of Cathedral, within one song, as much as the final track on this album has, Journey Into Jade. This track is not only a piece of blues-doom-rock, Dorrian's lyrics are an oral history of the band, directly and not bull shit metaphors. This track also questions if there will ever be another Cathedral album ever again, lets hope there is, but this track ends the album on a high note. The only downside to this track is that the actual track is only about 6:30 and it drags on for 3 more minutes of silence before you hear Dorrian talking again.
Overall, this is another strong record in a line of strong albums by Cathedral. While some songs may become a little boring at times, it's mainly due to the simpler parts coming in after more intricate sections and becoming a little less tantalizing to the ear. Still a great record and worth checking out.
Overall Score: 9
Highlights: Funeral of Dreams, Painting In The Dark, Death of An Anarchist, Cats, Incense, Candles & Wine, The Casket Chasers, Journey Into Jade

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