British masters of Doom Cathedral return this Autumn with their eighth album ‘The Garden of Unearthly Delights’. The four piece have teamed up with producer Warren Ryker for a record that promises to incorporate all that has made the band such enduring cult favorites in the British metal scene. Those who felt the previous album had gone a touch commercial can be reassured in the knowledge that this has drifted back towards the bands traditional sound, while also following what seems to be a logical progression into pastures new. Fans of lengthy doom epics can also look forward to a 27 minute offering called ‘The Garden’ that is both mellow and intense at points.
This album is made up of ten tracks; although you’d be forgiven for thinking the first two are one as they blend effortlessly together. ‘Dearth AD2005’ is not a song, but merely an eerie, atmospheric intro that becomes ‘Tree of Life and Death’, a fast and furious, heavy rock track that leaves you in no doubt as to what sort of ride you’re in for. This combination forms one of the highlights of the record. Following this is ‘North Berwick Witch Trials’, which is one that promises to be a fan's favorite, groovy in the vein of ‘Hopkins: Witchfinder General’.
The next three tracks each take us to their own corner of Cathedral’s musical potential, ‘Upon Azrael’s Wings’ has an air of crust about it, ‘Corpsecycle’, whilst being melodic is still quite clearly a stereotypical Cathedral track, and as if from nowhere, ‘Fields of Zagara’ is an acoustic number, which fits perfectly at this point of the album, as if to give you a bit of breathing space before the pace is stepped up once again.
The final four contain just as much variety as the first six. ‘Oro the Manslayer’ has an air of crust about it and may remind Cathedral anoraks of a track called ‘Earth in the Grip of a Skeletal Hand’ which was recorded for their sixth album but never made it onto the final version, appearing instead backing up ‘Gargoylian’ on a 2001 limited edition 7”.
This section of the record is where the promised surprises appear, mostly in ‘The Garden’, which is twenty seven minutes long and is another that the masses should approve of. It opens in a minimalist and brooding way but becomes fairly random in parts, most notably the acoustic bits which feature dreamy female vocals before the experience is livened up considerably with crunching guitar rifts.
If ‘Endtyme’ was heading back towards their traditional doom routes, and ‘The VIIth Coming’ was drifting off in an early seventies heavy rock direction, then for me ‘The Garden of Unearthly Delights’ sits comfortably between the two. This record can be bought from late September and I think Cathedral congregation, you might be liking this one.