The original doom metallers return to the festival circuit

It’s late. We’re tired. And possibly drunk. But the opportunity to see newly revived original doom metallers Cathedral finish the night off is too tempting to pass up. With a simple “Lets get high, c’mon”, frontman Lee Dorrian leads us into ‘Utopian Blaster’. Despite being labelled ‘stoner rock’ in the past, tonight they’re heavier than ever.

There’s a solid half room reply to Dorrian’s “How’ve ya bin?” and it’s a distinctly more masculine audience than expected at a pretty well mixed festival. Maybe it’s because it’s 1am. It’s a night of Sabbath-heavy riffing and progressive instrumentals. Dorrian spends his time clutching the mic stand like he’s about to sink through the floor, and headbanging along with the audience. “Is everyone still alive out there?” It’s doubtful. Good as Cathedral are, there’s no way they can sustain the enthusiasm of those who witnessed Sepultura and Saxon, nor compete with Wolf on the main stage. The best they can hope for is to be a wind-down act for those looking for a bit of nineties nostalgia before bedtime.

With this in mind, we’re in for an hour of solid, straightforward heavy metal, mostly instrumentals. At several points Dorrian disappears from view, but a quick check from the side of the stage shows that he’s crouching with his back to the audience while the rest of the musicians do their thing, almost becoming part of the stage. Never ones to overplay it, Cathedral do create a great vibe with their spaced-out anthems, and have their own dedicated audience as well as a few curious bystanders.

“It’s great to see so many people awake,” Dorrian quips. Frankly, we’re surprised as well. Good as they are, and welcome as their return is, Cathedral’s slow progressive metal melodies are more than likely to have finished several of the flagging audience members off. Bringing their set to a close with ‘Hopkins (the Witchfinder General)’ it seems that Cathedral’s return to the scene isn’t particularly explosive. More of a slow burn.