Cathedral - _Endtyme_
(Earache, 2001)
by: Alvin Wee (9.5 out of 10)
After a two-album sojourn through the realms of groovy stoner-doom, Lee and Co. are back with a hugely surprising, monumental piece of depression. With a heaviness that's reminiscent of the band's pre-_Carnival..._ halcyon days, _Endtyme_ opens with the grindingly sluggish "Cathedral Flames", forcefully pounding home their newfound seriousness chord after crushing chord. The torturously wrenched-out "Melancholy Emperor" has enough bottom-end riffage and anguished wails to make any _Forest of Equilibrium_ maniac cream his pants; yet beneath the utter depression lie the undeniable dynamics characteristic of the band's mid-'90s work. It's a welcome change for die-hard fans to see the band steering back to their monstrously heavy roots, yet retain the psychedelic excitement of the later releases. Backing up the potent mix is a surprisingly grungey production, with the emphasis returning to the infamous Cathedral bottom-end plunged into a vat of grainy psychedelia. A sound which fits the band's new material well, taking the slightly non-serious edge off their previous attempts and coating it in a lysergic haze of leviathan proportions. Dorrian's tongue-in-cheek quirkiness hasn't entirely disappeared, as the no-holds-barred arena-chants towards the end of "Whores to Oblivion" show, and with twists like the soft, cosmic dream-sequence of "Astral Queen" sneaking in among the other devastatingly heavy pounders, there's proof enough that the band's got more tricks up their sleeve than anyone's ready to admit. You've got to hand it to a doom institution like Cathedral to hold their own against the deluge of stoner-rock pretenders to the throne: few others are capable of redefining the genre while revisiting the benchmark merits of their past. That said, this crusher is absolutely essential for both long-time believers in the band and new followers of the stoner-rock scene, and pretty much everybody else in between. European release out since February; the US will have to wait as usual.

(article published 5/13/2001)


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