The VIIth Coming
I’ll first go on record as saying I agree wholeheartedly with the final statement of the press release — “classic Cathedral moments… perhaps the most well-rounded album of their careers.” Okay, that sounds like me — dance around the definite, skirt slightly to the side, and throw around the “perhaps” or “potentially” and all that. It’s hard to argue that listening to the doomsday practitioners seventh record — clever blokes they are — that it ranks atop their many latter day visionary exploits where the doom and gloom saw breaks in the clouds to allow in a little color and break beyond the barriers as a more complete band. And I was probably one of the few that really gunned ’em around the time Caravan Beyond Redemption made its way and what’s with this circus act going here? Next thing you know it was in heavy rotation in my then college metal show and damn near in the other DJs that I nearly managed to tear away from their ICP shit, but to no avail.
Cathedral began life over a decade ago, following in the footsteps of bands like Black Sabbath, Pentagram, St. Vitus, all those age-old cross burning, path marking-models that sold their soul years before anything closely resembling Dorrian made his original descent. But years later, Lee and the band remain one of the most revered groups within a tightly contested genre… which says a lot when we look at final step of fellow forerunners found floating somewhere amongst memory’s garden… pun intended, not to mention the “rise above” variety that Dorrian himself has helped groom through his popular label.
Up front, we find “Phoenix Rising” making a bold return to the earlier path where we first entered the “Forest,” riding a sinister riff that’s a step above plodding and blackened as you first remembered; “”Skull Flower” is the “sleeper” hit of the early going, again traipsing slowly down memory lane with an extra ounce of down tuning, a few sequential breaks and driving bass; “The Empty Mirror” features a mid-range stomp and grind, dousing Dorrian’s voice in a denseness of distort and catchy verse that’s easy to latch onto and dare sing along with — since the title’s about all yer granted; “Iconoclast” is the mid-’90s version combining hook and groove with Left Hand-era Entombed; For pure power “Congregation Of Sorcerers” is hard to beat. While up to this point, the songs have matched or surpassed the sinister intent of darker days with the trademark time change and north/southward tradeoffs prevailing upon the largesse of low-E’s and atonally sour theme impressing the magnitude of not just another here we go again arrival… “The Seventh Coming,” after all, why go there if you don’t mean it?
At times we’re driven to Blackened extremes in very close proximity to where we were at the dawn of black metal and thrash where names like Venom and Celtic Frost first torched the underworld throne; So returning back to the beginning, which Cathedral effectively does only with a decade’s worth experiential history and skill in tow, it’s a record that raises the intensity and deals the death blow to one dimensional up and nowhere types who thought they might finally steal thunder from the second wave of the original kings of evil… Not on this day.