Cathedral: Another Look into the Ethereal Mirror

Statik Majik is around back.Though I?ve come over the years to appreciate the massive influence and impact long-running UK doom lords Cathedral have had on the international scene, they?re not really a band I listen to every day. Not so say I?m not a fan — ?twould be heresy — but I came late to the party and missed what?s widely regarded as their best era.

That era might be best presented in 1993?s The Ethereal Mirror, on which they kept holy the Black Sabbath while bringing more rock elements to their sound than there had been on the 1991 debut, Forest of Equilibrium. Frontman Lee Dorrian?s voice growled less (?disco supernova!?), the riffs were higher in the mix and the band, all around, seemed to have more focus. It?s an album well-deserving the reissue treatment Earache has already given Forest of Equilibrium and 1995?s follow-up, The Carnival Bizarre.

In a way, The Ethereal Mirror delivers the best and worst of the reissue process. Like Forest of Equilibrium, there?s a DVD included with a 40-minute interview about the album (actually, I think it was filmed the same day at the Forest of Equilibrium one — if not that, definitely the same bar), and even includes 1994?s Statik Majik EP, which is nearly 35 minutes of extra music. Would have been over 40, but ?Midnight Mountain,? originally the opener, is nowhere to be found.

Here it is. Found it.The Forest of Equilibrium documentary literally put me to sleep the first time I watched it because of the stillness of its camera, and not much is different about Ethereal Reflections, which is the title given to the DVD segment here. There are some questions fielded by cover artist Dave Patchett, but beyond that, it?s four dudes, sitting, sipping beers and talking about making a record. Would be cool to be in the next booth, but from the couch, it?s hardly this season?s greatest thrill ride.

But still, the built-in interest level that has for fans is suitable redemption, and nowhere is it written on the DVD that you have to watch it all in one sitting (I didn?t). The biggest gripe with this reissue is the packaging. The Ethereal Mirror and the DVD come in a double-disc case. Fine. But Statik Majik is glued to the back of the jewel case in a cardboard sleeve! Really? That?s what we?re doing now? The cover isn?t even facing out.

Peel slowly, my friends, to remove it, lest you rip the sleeve and ruin your copy.

It?s just a mystery to me why the label would go that route. I understand you can only fit so many CDs in one jewel case, but why not do like they?ve been doing with the recent Godflesh reissues and put two jewel cases in a box, making the buyer feel like they?re getting even more for their money? Statik Majik kicks ass and is owed better than it?s gotten here.

Still, as a package for Cathedral fans new or old, there was no way The Ethereal Mirror was really going to miss, and as the band discusses the success of the album on the DVD, they have some pretty interesting stuff to say about the effect it had on their career. This is probably Cathedral at their peak (though I?d argue 2005?s The Garden of Unearthly Delights stands up to anything done prior to it); psychedelic, driven, rocking. If this reissue gets into the hands of some headbangers yet unexposed to the band, it?s a win.

Cathedral on MySpace

Earache Records

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