Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Cathedral: The Guessing Game (2010) Review

Cathedral is a legendary British stoner doom band, being one of the first in the genre two decades ago. I've never listened to them before, even though I've been a doom metal fan for quite some time now. I understand they've changed their sound a great deal over the years, and their 2010 release The Guessing Game is only marginally doom. Psychedelic metal would be a better label(the sound is much more Iron Butterfly than it is Candlemass), but you may just as well call it progressive doom metal.

This is a double album, but doesn't really feel like a double album at only 84 minutes. Really, it feels like a 74 minute album, because the last track (a ten minute one) doesn't feel like a part of the album, but instead a bonus track with a hidden track at the end.

If you throw out the last track, this is a very interesting release. Oddly enough, I don't think progressive doom metal has been tried very often, even though it's a lot more obvious than some other progressive hybrid genres. The shorter tracks (about two and a half minutes) aren't really fully-developed songs, but instead serve as introductions/interludes to complete the impression of a fully-realized album. Usually, these kinds of tracks are only mildly interesting, but the ones on this album are worth a listen unto themselves. Aside from that, there isn't a particular abundance of really great songs--"Death of an Anarchist" and "The Casket Chasers" are pretty great--but all of the songs are interesting and worthwhile, and the style is unique enough to make Cathedral stand out as an innovator after all these years.

The Verdict: Despite the lack of anything eye-popping on the album, Cathedral has managed to record an album that hangs together extremely well, and is interesting the whole way through. The result is an album that is greater than the sum of its parts, and warrants a 4 out of 5 star rating.

1 comment:

  1. I haven't checked out anything by Cathedral since their 1995 album, which is quite good by the way. I'm not sure why, just never really had the desire to do so.

    I tried to think of some other progressive doom metal bands, but I honestly can't. I kept thinking of Confessor, but that's more technical doom, another offshoot that has not been attempted much.