CD Review: Cathedral – In Memorium

CD Review: Cathedral – In Memoriam
Rise Above Records
All Access Rating: B

Cathedral - In Memoriam 2015
Taking doom metal to a more solemn and spectral place than it had ever gone before, Cathedral's 1991 album Forest of Equilibrium was grim, suffocating stuff, indeed.

A monastery of singer Lee Dorrian's animalistic grunts, funereal melodies and spellbinding, majestic swells of malevolence greeted its visitors. With an air of mystery about it, the seminal work of these monks built monolithic walls of blackened, disciplined riffs, and its architecture was jaw-dropping. However, prior to constructing this imposing sonic citadel, the UK gloom mongers made a self-financed cassette recording  – originally released in October, 1990 – that documents Cathedral's raw stages of early development, and for that alone, it's an interesting find.

Seemingly caked in dirt and filth and so punishingly heavy it damages internal organs, the lurching, lumbering four original tracks  – "Mourning of a New Day," "All Your Sins," "Ebony Tears" and "March" – slam into ears like bombs, all swinging like a weighty pendulum back and forth in monotonous fashion, as the rusted-out gears of Cathedral's machinery grind ponderously along. Only minor differences in tempo and tonality separate them, as Dorrian's gnarly, but more discernible, vocals seem to bellow from the bowels of the earth – here is the wicked progeny of Pentagram and Saint Vitus, covered in afterbirth and screaming for the cord to be cut, where Forest of Equilibrium sounded somewhat more polished, more mature and dynamic.

And while the primordial rawness and deliberate churn of these embryonic efforts is jarring, they're also strangely absorbing, as In Memorium heaves to and fro, until ramming its massive hull into a five-song clutch of live recordings from Holland and Belgium in 1991. Here are found concert versions of "Ebony Tears," "All Your Sins" and "Mourning of a New Day" that implode on impact, growing in strength, with gleaming, melodic twin-guitar arcs shooting out of sonic rubble and Cathedral also bludgeoning "Neophytes for Serpent Eve" and "Intro/Comiserating the Celebration" to death. The CD version of Rise Above Records' release of In Memoriam comes with a live DVD of Cathedral performing at Groningen in the Netherlands that same year, making for a compelling package stuffed with an eight-page booklet and rare photos. And there's a vinyl edition as well, all of which present a picture of a nascent band, now defunct, finding its way and transforming a genre into something even more menacing and foul.
– Peter Lindblad

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