Cathedral Go Back into the Forest

I made sure to get the one with the sticker. Definitely the reissue. See how thorough I am? I can't believe nobody reads this site.Usually when an allegedly limited edition reissue comes out and it’s packing a bonus DVD, it’s a completely skip worthy live set shot on one or two cameras with crappy sound that’s boring as hell. That, or like in the case of Earache‘s tackling last year of Cathedral‘s 1995 classic, The Carnival Bizarre, it’s all previously released. Review-wise, the second disc obliges a mention and little else. For their remaster of the seminal UK doomers’ 1991 I don't even know if this is the right lineup, but there's five of them, so I'm rolling with it.debut, Forest of Equilibrium, however, the label has included a new 40-minute interview with the band about their career and making this album. Previously unreleased and relevant.

Granted, it’s shot mostly on one camera — other footage is spliced in — and it requires serious attention paid to dig words out of those Coventry accents, but it was enough for me to at least check it out before doing the review, hoping I’d learn something. I learned the “Ebony Tears” video (also included) kicks ass.

The audio portion of the release includes 1992’s Soul Sacrifice EP as another bonus and is a landmark in doom. Vocalist Lee Dorrian (blah blah Napalm Death, blah blah Rise Above Records), guitarists Gaz Jennings and Adam Lehan, bassist Mark Griffiths and drummer Mike Smail created a seven-track classic that’s morose by any standard you want to apply — even in comparing it to what was happening doom-wise in the UK at the time with My Dying Bride, Paradise Lost and Anathema. Put it next to Cathedral‘s last release, 2005’s The Garden of Unearthly Delights, and it almost sounds like a completely different band (Lehan, Griffiths and Smail being long gone might also have something to do with that).

The logoBut what’s really happening on Forest of Equilibrium is Cathedral as a whole, and Jennings and Dorrian especially as songwriters and performers, are trying to figure out who they are as musicians. Slower even than the EP which follows it immediately both on this disc and in the band’s catalog, but with quicker, more rocking moments like the shorter “Soul Sacrifice,” the debut has the roots of what Cathedral would eventually become, but in its unpolished, undeveloped state as it is here, a special moment for the band is captured that could never be remade. You only get one chance to make a first impression? Well, this was Cathedral‘s, and it showed them as an entity like no other within the growing doom movement.

Of course, their influences stood apart from their countrymen contemporaries mentioned above and all of them went in radically different directions (stoner, stationary, disco and Floyd, to be precise), but Cathedral‘s impact on what doom is today is second to none. The painfully macabre, flute-infused “Reaching Happiness Touching Pain” and the ungodly, inimitable “Serpent Eve” are audible in too many bands to have come since to even list them. Call this reissue a cash-grab if you want, between the DVD and Soul Sacrifice, there’s enough here to make it worth investing. It’s fucking Cathedral. They deserve your money more than you do anyway.

Cathedral on MySpace

Earache Records

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