Cathedral – The Garden of Unearthly Delights

Label: Nuclear Blast
Produced by Warren Riker

The eighth full-length Cathedral album sees them setting out to prove they are not dead as a creative force. Cathedral are not just going to turn out another Cathedral album. They are going to be challenging.

After a brief intro (entitled Death AD 2005) it seems this is going to be another classic Cathedral record in the same mold as their last opus The VIIth Coming. Lee Dorian is immense, his vocals much stronger than on the previous album (and they were pretty forceful on that one too) and the guitar playing of Garry Jennings is some of his best for many years. Tree of Life & Death and North Berwick Witch Trials are Cathedral at their absolute doom-laden best. There’s a bit of a hint that things might get a bit odd during Upon Azrael’s Wings, but it ends conventionally enough and Corpsecycle continues in typical fashion, before the beautiful acoustic instrumental Fields of Zagara and the breakneck Oro The Manslayer. But it’s towards the end that it all really starts to go a bit weird. Beneath A Funeral Sun features some eerie children’s vocals, a strangely bouncy mid-song interlude, and some frankly bizarre vocals from Lee.

Then something you really wouldn’t expect on a Cathedral album. Following an odd bass intro, the 25-minute epic The Garden features female vocals and more time and mood changes than your average ’70s prog yarn. There are parts where the band has never sounded more evil, parts where they’ve never been softer, parts where they’re almost, God forbid, happy, and all weird extremes in between.

For seven tracks this is a classic, crushing Cathedral album. Then it veers wildly into new and uncharted territory. And not in a remotely bad way. This is one of their finest ever moments.

“ uncharted territory ”

Tracklist: Death AD 2005 / Tree of Life & Death / North Berwick Witch Trials / Upon Azreal’s Wings / Corpsecycle / Fields of Zagara / Oro The Manslayer / Beneath A Funeral Sun / The Garden / Proga Europa

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