Release DetailsLABEL Nuclear Blast
RELEASED ON 1/24/2006
The Garden Of Unearthly Delights
posted on 4/2006 By:
I love Cathedral. I have ever since 1994’s The Ethereal Mirror. I’m probably the only fan I know of that even found redeeming qualities in 1999’s poorly received Caravan Beyond Redemption. After a return to their doom roots with Endtyme and then once again fusing that with their love of 70s rock on The VIIth Coming, they now find themselves on Nuclear Blast Records and with one hell of a monstrous album in The Garden of Unearthly Delights.
I didn’t know what to make of this album initially. I wanted to love it right out of the box and never look back. But, as has become commonplace with Cathedral, I had to make some adjustments. It didn’t sound like any of their recent work and I do commend them for making each album sound different than the one before. After a few listens, though, the walls had been broken down and I could finally place this one where it rightfully belongs – up there with the band’s best work.
All the elements that make Cathedral great are present here: the powerful Lee Dorrian vocals, the incomparable Gaz Jennings guitar riffs and the tight, thunderous rhythm section. The band’s doom metal-meets-70s rock grooves are infectious enough to inspire even the most hardened badass to do a little grooving of their own. The production here really needs to be addressed, though. I rank it down because it’s not necessarily the greatest sounding thing, but damned if it doesn’t fit this album like a glove. In that regard, I probably should have given it a higher score, but sometimes the guitar and vocals do overpower the rhythm.
“The Tree of Life and Death” is a solid enough track, but “North Berwick Witch Trials” is what really kicks this album off, recalling the classic “Hopkins” while maintaining an identity all its own. “Upon Azrael’s Wings” is more fuzzed-out and plodding, leading right into the similarly styled “Corpsecycle” which doubles up on the groove and is just full of catchy riffs. “Oro the Manslayer” easily stands out as the album’s heaviest track, with a main ruff that just keeps pummeling into your skull. “Beneath a Funeral Sun” takes a more epic approach, cycling though peaks and valleys of low-end groove. Speaking of epic, “The Garden” clocks it at 26 minutes, Cathedral’s most ambitious work since 1996 and “The Voyage of the Homeless Sapien”. It’s got everything in it. Best of all, you don’t even notice how long it is until it’s almost over. A perfect ending to a near-perfect album.
I just realized I used the word “love” quite a bit here, and probably more than any metal reviewer has a right to, but that pretty much sums up how I feel about things here. These heavy, fuzzed-out grooves have already garnered a lot of listening time this year and are likely to gain a lot more as time progresses. Add The Garden of Unearthly Delights to the rapidly-growing list of top-notch metal releases this year – can you believe it’s only April? What a year.
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