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New direction or heralding swansong? Not sure ... - 75%

NausikaDalazBlindaz, December 10th, 2012

Winding down their activity to studio recording and promising one last full-length recording before they bring down the curtain on a long career together, Cathedral put out this short EP that's practically a single as if to keep the fans on edge. The title of the EP teasingly suggests a new direction that might - just might!- change Dorrian and Co's minds about abandoning Cathedral altogether or confirm that the next album will indeed be their swansong.

On the A-side is "Open Mind Surgery", a driving and aggressive track with a thick distorted and above very heavy rhythm texture and a distinctive bass line. The sudden quiet interludes with Dorrian's whispered vocals are a real jolt and send the listener on a dream trip into another dimension of romantic serenity. Changes of key and sudden bubble-like lead guitar soloing will keep an audience on edge. The drums are incredibly hard, almost militaristic in sound and power. Although I haven't heard all of Cathedral's output and am not familiar with every subject they've covered, this song might be the most political I've come across from the band: it's a condemnation of current British society under David Cameron's Tory government.

"Sabbadaius Sabbatum" has a smart, sharp and cheerful rhythm with a keen-edge guitar tone and more powerful drumming. The sound has a crisp crunch to it and there's a definite fuzz to the guitars as well. For a band coming close to its use-by date, Dorrian sounds remarkably enthusiastic as he half-sings / half-speaks his lines, often out of tune it seems, but he has never been one to shirk anything that his vocal range can't reach. The lyrics forewarn the end of halcyon days of summer and the onset of winter which can be read as a metaphor for the end of civilisation as we know it.

This EP actually would be a good recording on which Cathedral could hang their coats if for some reason the last album fails to see the light of day. It's not an especially doomy set, there's only so much that can go into two fairly short songs, but the band's sound has changed to something more aggressive and tough with the fuzzy edge and the powerful drumming, and the songs have a jaunty air as if the legacy of 22 years of Cathedral is feather-light on the musicians' shoulders. I only wish that a couple more songs could have been included to make "A New Ice Age" a mini-album that would keep the fans' attention levels fixed on the band's activities and future. Of course no-one could have foreseen that the last album might take more than a year to record and twelve months are a long time for an EP that's virtually a single with a B-side to maintain interest.