Cathedral - The Guessing Game

Nuclear Blast
Produced by Warren Riker

With their last album, The Garden of Unearthly Delights, proving to be such a hit with critics and fans alike, especially the unexpected 25-minute The Garden, Cathedral have chosen to expand their progressive leanings into a full double album.

And The Guessing Game is without question their most adventurous album to date. The production of the drums is not amongst Warren Riker's best work, but otherwise sonically this checks all of the trademark Cathedral boxes, right down to the familiar cover-art style, courtesy of Dave Patchett.

Things get off to an unusual start with Funeral of Dreams, where many of the verses are spoken-word, and this signals the biggest difference between the songs here and what fans will be used to from Cathedral: Lee Dorrian's vocals. Although there are spells of his usual throaty doom growl, he adopts a flatter, softer tone for large parts of these songs.

Tracks like Edwige's Eyes, Death of An Anarchist, Painting In The Dark and Casket Chasers are classic Cathedral, mixing their doom style and progressive influences just as they always have and weaving through more relevant doom riffs than Into The Void; they could all easily fit on the previous album. In other areas things go in different directions, like the brilliant jazzy groove of La Noche Del Buque Maldito (aka Ghost Ship of The Blind Dead), the ominous sequel to Night of The Seagulls from The Carnival Bizarre. Or progressive meanderings of Funeral of Dreams. Every track has something out-of-the-ordinary to it, in vary amounts. The strange jazz-meets-The Jam of Cats, Incense, Candle & Wine might be a step too far for some, though.

There are a few unnecessary things here which, as is often the case with a double album, actually mean this could have been a full-length single album of around 80 minutes. An intro is all well and good, but spending two-and-a-half minutes on the directionless Immaculate Misconception is excessive, and the title track, although presenting it's 1970s Hammer Horror psychedelic scene music feel very well, doesn't cover an awful lot of ground in its three minutes. Likewise the noisey final two-minutes of The Running Man.

Journey's Into Jade is a celebratory track for the band's 20th Anniversary. Musically it's six-and-a-half minutes of prime Cathedral, but disjointed lyrics name-checking their albums so far don't make for a great song and is the only one that could be considered filler. A few minutes of silence and then some drunken ramblings about the concept behind the album and the band spin the track out to 10 minutes.

The album has a bit of everything that makes up Cathedral, plus a lot more. It's not all five-star stuff on its own, but together it's all so different, constantly changing, and interesting, that it's easily the most involving album to come out this year so far. Impossible to ignore at any point.

“ most adventurous album to date ”

CD1 - Immaculate Misconception / Funeral of Dreams / Painting In The Dark / Death of An Anarchist / The Guessing Game / Edwige's Eyes / Cats, Incense, Candle & Wine
CD2 - One-Deminsional People / Casket Chasers / La Noche Del Buque Maldito (aka Ghost Ship of The Blind Dead) / The Running Man / Requiem For The Voiceless / Journey's Into Jade

Written by Andy Lye
More: 2010, Albums, Doom Metal,

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