Oh, before we begin the beginning ... this should come as no real surprise but Cathedral and their album 'Forest of Equilibrium' were one of the first doom metal bands and albums that I discovered. In fact I was so new to it, I didn't even realize that it was considered doom metal. I wasn't even looking for doom, per se, when I found them. I found them on Decibel magazine's Hall of Fame records thing, I listened to a track on youtube and went down to Scrape and picked it up, and though it took a while for the record to grow on me, I've been a fan ever since.
Okay, time for some truth now. What I'm doing is avoiding the issue of actually getting down to reviewing this thing. I don't want to do it really. This being their acknowledged swansong, there's too much finality to it all, it's so hard to let go. It's a fact that looms over the record thematically as well. The ambient, crow cawing intro "Entrance To Hell" is a bell-ringing call to "Bring out yer dead!" and leads into the 11 and a half minute "Pallbearer" (there's that death theme). Most noticeable of all are some of the lyrics which are well worth looking into: "Living in the shadow / of the damned Cathedral" jumps out at you as do the lyrics of the lead single "Tower of Silence". If one wanted to read into them, the lyrics would certainly appear to tell the story of a conflicted Lee Dorrian who on the one hand is happy to shuck the carapace of the band he has made an institution while at the same time suffering some doubt and anxiety about doing so.
One gets the feeling however, that Dorrian and co. have moved on creatively from most of what Cathedral represents. One of the band's most signature techniques, that being Dorrian's sing-songy vocal style so familiar and prominent on the earlier albums, makes but brief appearances on "Pallbearer" and "Infestation of Grey Death" and is largely muzzled. But the riffs are there, the vibe is there for one last blaze and the effort is genuine. At the end of the day, it's a good job that they didn't just phone the effort in, because knowing this to be the last album, the feeling is that fans might have been happy with a 40 minute album but they went full bore and gave the listener a full 56 minute farewell.
|Photo by Ester Segarra.|
Some twenty plus years ago Cathedral created a monolith. Without a doubt Cathedral is one of the most influential bands in the Doom Metal genre (just look at and listen to Electric Wizard's first album, then see what they went on to do) and their legacy was secure long before work even began on this album. Will 'The Last Spire' add to this legacy and win the band legions of new fans? It hardly matters. As an exclamation point on a long and varied career it's no slam dunk perhaps, but it allows the venerated band to go out with dignity and is well worth a listen. With such new wave bands as Witchsorrow, Moss and Alunah patrolling the British shores, the UK stoner / doom / sludge scene is in excellent hands, and it's all thanks to this band, who now turn it over to them to inspire the next generation of doomed and sludgy stoners.
Highlights include: "Infestation of Grey Death" and "Tower of Silence"
1). Entrance To Hell (3:07)
2). Pallbearer (11:38)
3). Cathedral of the Damned (5:48)
4). Tower of Silence (6:53)
5). Infestation of Grey Death (9:02)
6). An Observation (10:19)
7). The Last Laugh (0:38)
8). This Body, Thy Tomb (8:47)
Total Run Time: 56:10
From: Coventry, England
Reminds me of: Alunah, Electric Wizard, Moss, Witchsorrow and every other band in the doom subgenre that has come since them
Release Date: April 30, 2013
Suggested listening activity for fellow non-stoners: Weep, cry and mourn or smile.
Dr. Doom's Lair
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