Cathedral – The Last Spire

by Jon Wild
May 3, 2013 –

cathedral-the_last_spireProduction: Digital compression presents a narrow range of murky distortion, rendering instruments detectable but unexciting.

Review: For their farewell album, Cathedral present a fusion of stoner rock and doom metal riffs, with the occasional synthesizer interlude to break up the monotony. Having chosen to forgo death metal growls, vocalist Lee Dorian belts out vocals in a style more in common with hard rock than with extreme metal.

Tracks are executed competently, as can be expected from a group of experienced musicians. However, what’s missing is any sense of purpose. Tracks drag on for an excessive length of time and while the notes and structures may change, the overall vapid and uninspired spirit does not take leave.

In an attempt to shake the listener awake, the band inserts a few abrupt changes of instrumentation that presumably are supposed to provide energy and new focus to the track, but instead have more in common with the modern metal technique of carnival show composition, whereby vastly different themes are placed in succession and the relationship between them is left ambiguous, while leaving the problem of missing spirit unresolved.

As a concluding release, this is undoubtedly a disappointing way to end the band’s career, as it has more in common with the band’s later work than with their first release, Forest of Equilibrium. Far into the future, that will be what is remembered as the band’s high mark and if it’s remembered at all, The Last Spire will be but a brief and unfortunate footnote.

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4 comments

  • bitterman

    Unfortunately, this is usually the result when bands make it their purpose to “go full circle” and make the “perfect last album” as contract closing, career ending fan service. It seems the whole romantic/dark early 90s doom/death style was just a moment in time, as even the “Peaceville 3″ immediately lost momentum after their first albums, eventually choosing to make commercial albums having more to do with New Model Army, Type O Negative, or Depeche Mode than Black Sabbath or Candlemass. The first song seemed like a “suite” of known 70s music cliches. It’s sad to see this once promising doom metal band go from developing the expression to it’s highest level alongside acts like Bolt Thrower, Thergothon, and Paradise Lost choosing to reduce themselves to the level of 70s music worship for the greater part of their career. This release will be forgotten in time, alongside other “doom/psyche” bands like The Sword, remembered only for being a dumbed down fusion of their first and third albums. Like modern bands such as The Devil’s Blood, Jess and the Ancient Ones, or Opeth who have currently re-purposed their band as a 70s music tribute, what’s the point? You can always buy music from the 70s instead of listening to third rate commentary on it.

    1. Brett Stevens

      Most bands “going back to their roots” are doing so as a surface style, not a musical question. They use the same amps, record in the same basement, or try to be simple and aggressive, forgetting that these do not define what made their earlier music what it was.

    2. fallot

      Perhaps they dont forget, perhaps they realize that all they really need to accomplish is the superficial because that is all that people ask of them. I am sure Cathedral truly understand their roots, their better works show insight and artistry.