Cathedral – The Last Spire (Rise Above/Metal Blade)Sunday, 26th May 2013
The supposed final album from Lee Dorrian and his gang of doomsters, The Last Spire puts a cap on a legendary and partially groundbreaking career in doom for Cathedral. For a band who got its start in the early 90’s U.K. extreme metal scene, the fact Cathedral has been able to hang around for so long speaks to the enduring strength of seminal albums Forest of Equilibrium, and what is perhaps their best moment, 1993’s The Ethereal Mirror. The Last Spire isn’t on par with either of those, yet it gives Cathedral the chance to have a graceful bow.
Eschewing the angle of the sometimes tedious and too-60’s flavored The Guessing Game, The Last Spire has the band mucking it up in the more comfortable dark and sludgy Trouble/Sabbath realm. Guitarist Gaz Jennings has a lethal tone here, dropping powerful chord thrusts and chugs with ease. There’s always been a degree of character to the man’s riffs, and it shows on “Pallbearer,” an 11-minute exercise in blunt, simple heaviness. Elsewhere, “Cathedral of the Damned” pushes the tempo out of slow-mo ville, while the earthy medium of “Infestation of Grey Death” is a mid-album highlight.
If one is able to work in tandem with Dorrian’s one-of-a-kind vocal appeals (or “shouting in key” as he likes to call it), then the suffocating doom strokes of The Last Spire should hit the mark. Long songs, even tougher riffs, and personality in the vocal department help make this a quality parting shot, and more important – the best way for Cathedral to call it a day.