When Cathedral announced that they were releasing one final album there was much bittersweet rejoicing. The coven was happy there would be another tome of incantations, yet disappointed that the end of one of the most important legacies in heavy metal history was nigh.
With the current resurgence in the doom scene, the timing of the release of “The Final Spire” is impeccable. Cathedral have never been afraid to flirt with different genres through the years and while “The Guessing Game” left many bemused with its multi-layered dark obscurity. Curve balls on “The Last Spire” are kept to a minimum as Messrs Dorrian, Jennings, Dixon and Carlson extol the virtues of unadulterated doom.
From the outset, the air of despondency is palpable. The caws of a solitary crow overlay a tolling death knell with Lee Dorrian’s strangled wail of “Bring out your dead” echoing amidst a wall of feedback. What follows is a cacophonous collection of monolithic misery. Gaz Jennings has delved deep into his riff-ridden heart and summoned some of his grittiest sludge-steeped constructions to date. The dirgeful “Pallbearer”, with its bridge of “War, Famine, Drought, Disease” is funeral-like. The addition of Rosalie Cunningham’s vocal helps create a Hammer Horror feel while a hammond embellished acoustic mid-section alters the focus before a crescendoing finale. Scott Carlson from Replusion has fit seamlessly into the line-up and his low end rumbling on “Tower of Silence” could curdle blood. “Cathedral of the Damned” features Autopsy’s Chris Reifert alongside the ever masterful and passionate Preacher Dorrian. Not to be outdone by his band mates, the decrepit “Infestation of Grey Death” spotlights some of Brian Dixon’s finest bludgeoning. The bizarre lashings of spontaneity throughout the progressive “An Observation” are compelling and Cathedral seal the casket forever with the solemn “This Body, Thy Tomb”.
Times have changed since the days of “Witchfinder General “and “Ride”. Throughout “The Last Spire” it feels that Cathedral have come full circle. Nestled somewhere between The Ethereal Mirror and The Forest Of Equilibrium with shades everything thereafter, this final offering is a fittingly mournful completion to their legacy.
Lee Dorrian has stated that the recording of The Last Spire felt like the band was writing its own will. If this is the last will and testament of the Lords of Doom, then let it be carved in the Headstone:
“Here Lies Cathedral – They Bestowed Unto Us, Their Blackened Souls”
Lead Vocals – Lee Dorrian
Guitars – Garry Jennings
Bass – Scott Carlson
Drums – Brian Dixon
Hammond, Mellotron, Moog & Synths – David Moore
Guest Vocals on ‘Cathedral Of The Damned’ – Chris Reifert
Backing Vocals – Rosalie Cunningham
CATHEDRAL ‘THE LAST SPIRE’ (RISE ABOVE 2013)
Recorded at Orgone Studios, High Barnet, London, Winter 2012.
Produced by Lee Dorrian and Garry Jennings with assistance from Jaime Gomez Arellano.
Mixed by Jaime Gomez Arellano
Artwork by Dave Patchett and Arik Roper.