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the right amount of all the right elements - 98%

thrashy, November 12th, 2010

Let me just start this by saying that I don't usually review doom and stoner albums, though I'm a huge fan of a lot of sludge and stoner bands, I find it hard to explain what such great bands do to impress me and keep my ears entertained, from Electric Wizard to Crowbar, Acid King to Big Business, Witchfinder General and Om, I like a lot of variety in my fuzz. Which brings me to my point: few and cherished are the bands that venture into this drug fused genre and manage to stay consistent for entire decades, while bringing variety in what they do.

I was introduced to this band through this record. Needless to say it's always great to be under influence while listening to stoner metal , hence the name of the genre. The minute Vodoo Fire started, some strange thoughts crossed my mind. The music, then the talking (obviously in another language), the whole atmosphere this first impression was creating made me uneasy. But I was immediately headbanging after the weird intro gave way to a very heavy, riff driven tune. The production is perfect for this kind of music, I could hear everything and nothing was too loud yet it was all perfectly deafening. The vocals got more and more catchy, especially with the lyrics, I always sing along to this. But what marked me more was the outro of this opener. After what felt like a punch in the teeth, the cadence is brought down to an extremely soothing progression that sounds like it was there to put me back at ease.

Cathedral don't have a typical stoner or doom sound at all, the guitars are heavy alright but not overly distorted, the bass is very low and round, the drums very clear. When the guitar leads you could perfectly hear everything, all instruments were under perfect control of their respective players as well. There are a lot of very intricately written riffs, awesome solos full of flavor, and the rhythm section is outstanding. The bass tone and the licks as well as the drumming make this one of the heaviest records I own.

To play at such a high level and to sound as such can get repetitive. But unlike so many records I find myself going back to this one always because if everything the songs provide. The tenacity, the variety, the musicianship, the themes, the heaviness, it's all there. No song really resembles the other, except in the sense where they all crush. There is no getting bored off this.

The highlight's gotta be about halfway through the record, with the track The Caravan. It almost sounds out of place. Almost easy-listening, it still manages to lift me up high than I am at the moment I start listening to the album. Definitely one of my favorite instrumental tracks of all times, pretty much the same thing that goes over and over all the way to the end.

If you could conjure up some balls and listen to some face melting heavy stuff, while not getting too serious, getting silly and entertained, then you should look no further than this release, another one in another great band's catalog.


Mediocre and Adolescent - 44%

DawnoftheShred, February 18th, 2009

“Magic lady of the Snake Cult stands, high on the voodoo mountain”

Cathedral is about the strangest band to come out of the 90’s doom revival. Opting to go with neither the epic sound of bands like Solitude Aeturnus, nor the gritty devastation of a band like Saint Vitus, Cathedral developed a variation on Sleep-style stoner metal that is as bizarre as it is heavy. Songs littered with sound clips, simple riffs with complicated soundscapes, and a singer with an absurd resolve for the unorthodox: all these are trademarks of the Cathedral sound. And for the most part, it’s not a good thing.

For a release described as doom metal, there isn’t a hell of a lot of doom to be found. People say their sludgy downtuned riffs are reminiscent of Black Sabbath; I say the only thing they have in common with Sabbath are that they’re a four-piece. Downtempo heavy rock is a better description for songs like “The Unnatural World” and “Freedom,” with the only doom manifesting in the occasional riff or two (or “Dust of Paradise”). If anything this stuff is more like Rob Zombie or Black Label Society, and at times it borders on indie rock (“Captain Clegg,” “Kaleidoscope of Desire”). The only real musically enjoyable passages occur during acoustic departures, such as the “Symptom of the Universe” inspired outro to “Voodoo Fire” or the instrumental “The Caravan.”

But the thing that strikes me most about this band is their immaturity. I’m not talking about the charming, purposeful crudeness utilized by GWAR; Caravan Beyond Redemption is the result of impulsive, adolescent musicianship. Everything about these songs seems so misplaced, from the random funk groove of “Freedom” or “Heavy Load” to the abundant clip sampling and random acoustic interludes (despite how nice the band’s atmospheric work is the departures are no less out of place in the songs). Cathedral are like the Cephalic Carnage of doom metal: interspersing whatever they want into their otherwise basic formula whenever they want to.

Lyrical immaturity is even more notable. Imagine this conversation if you will:

Scene: Cathedral band practice, Lee Dorian’s Basement

Lee: Hey guys, I just came up some killer riffs for a song, but I don’t have any lyrics yet. Any ideas?
Brian: uh…..
Garry: hmmm…what if we wrote about Satan? No….
Leo: uh… how about robots? No….
Lee: I got it! Satanic robots.
All: sweeeeet
Lee’s Mom (from upstairs): You boys getting hungry? I made some sandwiches…
Garry: No relish on mine please. That stuff makes me barf.

This scene runs through my head every time I listen to “Captain Clegg” or “Satanikus Robotikus.” Listening to Caravan Beyond Redemption is like listening to a bunch of kids, or more specifically, a bunch of kids who grew up listening to Black Sabbath and wrote their own lyrics about ridiculous fantasy crap and saved them ‘til they were old enough to use them in a band. Take into account that the singer’s delivery (which is hard to describe, you better just hear it) makes the words sound even sillier and the record loses a lot of credibility. I could see my kid brother listening to this, but not myself. Get the picture?

It’s a curiously bad record too, as I’ve heard earlier and later Cathedral releases that are far less embarrassing than this one (though still plagued by that damn singer…). Indulging a bit too much in their stoner rock fetish mars what would otherwise be an okay listen.

Badass doom metal by Lee Dorrian & co. - 90%

TallManPhantasm, May 25th, 2007

Cathedral put out this great release in the late 90's, when actual metal wasn't doing so good. This album brings out a lot of great riffs, and a lot of generally fun and catchy music. There's even a bit of funk on here. "Caravan Beyond Redemption" starts out with "Voodoo Fire", which has some great riffs and vocals, as do a majority of the songs on here. "Freedom" has some very funky and groovy sounding guitar playing. It's really quite fun.

"The Caravan" is like a nice little intermission in the middle of the album. It's a little short though, it's the shortest song on the album at about 3 minutes long. That's a good thing with this album though, a majority of the songs on here are over 5 minutes long. Right after "The Caravan" the album picks right back up with the great heavy riffer "Revolution". At the end is the super heavy "Dust of Paradise", which is 14 minutes of pure ass-kicking.

Because of releases like this, Cathedral helped metal out a lot in the 90's. I would say that this would be a great pick-up for anyone, especially fans of Sabbath and other traditional sounding doom.

Highlites of the album are: "Voodoo Fire", "The Unnatural World", "Captain Clegg", "Earth Messiah", "Revolution", and "Heavy Load".